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August 19, 2005 12:01 PM

Broken: Customer service horror stories

Customer service horror stories in this Chicago Tribune article.


asking me to register to read it is broken

Posted by: gmangw at August 19, 2005 12:15 PM

I can't get to it! Lol.

Posted by: someone at August 19, 2005 12:48 PM

The link is broken! I refuse to register & give away personal information just to read the article.

Posted by: Gary Edstrom at August 19, 2005 12:51 PM

For those who refuse to register:

Posted by: Roger at August 19, 2005 01:02 PM

For those of you with Firefox, here's the bugmenot Firefox extension:

Posted by: Roger at August 19, 2005 01:10 PM

Here's a link to a shorter version of the same news story.

Posted by: Tubbymom at August 19, 2005 01:18 PM

why do i need to give a way my personal info to read that? i think thats lame

Posted by: cheerdiva at August 19, 2005 03:26 PM

After some fooling around (going straight to the Chicago Trib website, then back to TIB) I got the link to work. This might also work (may need to copy and paste into browser):,0,6940989.story?track=mostemailedlink

Mark may want to have someone check operability of links before posting them. I'm not an expert but have seen links work in one system but not in another... (a cue for all you geeks out there chime in to explain why, and what to do about it...)

And yeah the customer "service" in the story is definitely broken.

Posted by: Pat at August 19, 2005 04:39 PM

Registration to read is broken broken broken (thanks to Roger for the BugMeNot Firefox extention link), but the customer service stories are not. As bad as they are, they are cases of a few bad apples and not a systemic problem.

Posted by: cmadler at August 19, 2005 04:43 PM

Pat's link really does work! I recommend that you try it.

cmadler, what is broken is having a costumer support line that doesn't do anything and not having effective enough record keeping processes to keep track of changes. Govan really did have a terrible user experience and should cancel her service for what she experienced.

Posted by: Kevin at August 19, 2005 09:11 PM

_@_v - almost online had that story.

Posted by: she-snailie_@_v at August 20, 2005 01:34 AM

Why would you give away personal information. Do you really think my name is sparky?

Posted by: sparky at August 20, 2005 02:56 AM

I really like the line, "This is not how we treat our customers."

Yes it is. You just did. "We" is your employee and "we" did treat our customer that way.

Invalidating bastids.

Posted by: sparky at August 20, 2005 03:03 AM

"If this is not that customer's name, it shouldn't be on that bill."

No, don't fire anyone! That's my legal name!

There's a lesson here for all of us- FORGET COMCAST!

Posted by: Bob at August 20, 2005 07:07 AM

cmadler, I don't want to get picky but any bad customer service that is not great is broken. I teach customer service in a large fiscal intermediary. There are standards in place in that, if not met, would allow the entity that we do business for to lose the contract forever. Period. According to these standards, if one incident of this nature occurred, the enitity that we service could yank our contract and in effect put 900 souls out of work virtually overnight. We screen a very large percentage of our calls and train, train, train.

We have a customer service satisfaction evaluation rate of over 99.95% daily. This is still not good enough. If you were one of the five customers in 1000 that called and didn't get great customer service, you're dissatisfaction rate would be 100%.

When you sell a service, you HAVE TO be great, everytime.

Posted by: Randy at August 20, 2005 04:19 PM

Those comcast people are really butthead astronomers, you know?

Posted by: Steve Jobs at August 20, 2005 05:20 PM

I don't believe for one second that this customer is an "innocent victim." Having worked in the customer service industry for 10 years, I know it takes a certain type of customer to earn the wrath of an employee. Repetive escalations of non-issues, using excessive explitives for no apparent reason, and degrading call center employees will earn a repeat caller a reputation. Even at the call center I'm at now, the mere mention of certain customers' names will send shudders down the spines of new-hires.

So when the customer in this article says that she's never abused a Comcast employee, I highly doubt it. At the same time, though, call center employees shouldn't let those customers know that they are hated. There are much better ways to screw with their heads.

Posted by: Johanson at August 20, 2005 07:50 PM

There is no way to achieve 99.95% customer satisfaction in dealing with people. customers or employees. Chill a bit and get the job done, quit worrying so much about whether everyone was 'happy.' Threatening them all with stats ot worse yet 'training,' sounds more like job security for the quality control team. blah blah blah...

Posted by: sernity now at August 21, 2005 12:54 AM

Okay... getting a bill with an obscenity in place of your name *is* broken. Especially when the bill follows service that never works. Think of it from the perspective of the consumer!

Posted by: errata at August 21, 2005 08:22 AM

Serenity Now, I am sorry that you do not believe that our rate is what it is. It is; that's it.

We set a goal of 100%. We realize that it is vitually. For the sake of our customer's it is what we strive for though. We just don't believe that anyone should ever be treated badly.

We train on things like dealing with emotional and resistent callers. Most of the time when our trainees walk out of the room, they can't wait to try out their new skills. Along with a generous incentive program for "getting it right" and a continuous improvement program (also with incentives), we go a long way toward acheiving our goals.

Posted by: Randy at August 21, 2005 10:41 AM

Randy, Setting a goal is one thing, but achieving that goal is something entirely different. Perhaps a goal of 100% sounds good in Perfect. But we don't live by a river in a valley. ; )

Posted by: 24601 at August 22, 2005 12:43 AM

First: It is never, ever appropriate to replace a customer's information with any sort of slur. Ever. Vent to your bartender/buddies/blow-up doll.

That said....

I have to agree with Johanson. I'm extremely curious to hear call logs of her "40" calls to Comcast over the course of a month. That's more than one call every single day. What did she say to the representatives? Did she use any expletives or derogatory phrases (either toward the representative directly or toward the company in general)?

Part of getting good customer service is being a good customer. This is what should have happened, in my opinion:

1) DVR (or whatever) ceases functioning. Call, politely discuss issue with representative, schedule a service call.

2) WAIT. Do not call again to harass Customer Service. You scheduled a service call; it'll happen. Do not call again until you have met with the field agent.

3) Find that replacement DVR also fails to function. (Arguably, the field agent should have stuck around to verify function). Call Customer Service, politely discuss the issue with a representative and note that it is a repeat problem with a brand new unit.

4) WAIT. See step #2.

5) Get fixed DVR. You've been a good customer and had a good customer service experience.

Without any evidence, I can't shake the feeling that this particular customer is the sort that screams at McDonald's employees for putting pickles on her Big Mac.

Posted by: Disgruntled Employee at August 23, 2005 03:17 PM center employees making (maybe) a dollar above minimum wage/minimum rage. Most are GED holders at best. Living hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck, pissed off because the babysitter watching their kids is making about the same hourly rate as them. Except, the sitter is home on THEIR couch, eating THEIR snacks and watching THEIR TV. So why would they have an attitude? Yes, it must be the fault of the customer. The customer that has paid for a service and been denied what they have paid for...repeatedly. Yes, now I can see that it is fault of the customer.

Posted by: friendlydrbobo at August 25, 2005 10:17 AM

That is very funny!

Posted by: ... at August 25, 2005 03:58 PM

You know, I dont care if a customer is screaming at the top of their lungs, there is always a way to diffuse a customer. If it gets to a point where the customer is repeatedly abusive WITHOUT REASON, it should be escalated to legal and a decision made about where the company should still offer service to this customer. That rarely happens, and more often than not, the company doesnt have the right people handling these type of escalations.

Posted by: oneconundrum at August 25, 2005 08:54 PM

Yo, Johansen, do us all a favor and get a different job. it's people like you who make us all waste hours of our lives on the phone. Go work at BK or something

Posted by: shmatt at August 27, 2005 08:32 PM


I can't read the damn article without registering. This needs to be REMOVED.

Posted by: adsfasdf at August 28, 2005 02:51 AM


I don't know whether or not this occurs all the time where you live, but, for example, if a G-rated program or movie is being shown on my family's Comcast cable area, you'd think the commercials the local cable provider plasters over the national 60-second commercials (like infomercials) would fit into that category too, but NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Seth Nelson at September 4, 2005 06:40 PM

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