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15 Maddening Customer Complaints

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Brian Cantor

For organizations with even a hint of customer-centricity in their cultures, it is relatively easy to convince agents of the big picture notion that they must commit themselves to satisfying customers.

For agents with even a hint of experience serving customers, it is relatively easy to see why many find themselves going astray.

When within the framework of a routine support issue or murky interpretation of store policy, it goes without saying that agents should prioritize satisfying the customer. Rather than brushing aside the customer’s concerns or downplaying their own ability to solve the problem, agents should accept the responsibility and do all they can to delight that customer, even if it requires a lengthy call time and multi-tiered collaboration with supervisors and fellow agents.

But agents will also encounter scenarios that test the holy notion that the customer is "always right." They will encounter requests so absurd, behavior so inappropriate and problems so non-existent that it becomes nearly impossible to empathize with the customer, let alone accept responsibility for solving his or her problem.

Demeanor is not the same as action, and so while the agent’s attitude should never reflect a totem pole without the customer at its apex, certain situations might compromise his ability to actually act on that hierarchical philosophy.

A recent thread on Reddit asked users to submit the "dumbest customer complaint you’ve ever heard." Given the grind associated with customer service jobs, it is easy to see why the Reddit community seems so united in poking fun at "dumb" customer complaints and honoring those with the gall to stand-up to customers.

But even if one removes himself from the customer service fraternity and thinks like a business leader—or like a customer—there is no guarantee he could surmise alternative solutions for some of the issues presented. His tone might change, but his ability to, let alone his interest in, resolving them the way the customer seems to be requesting would largely be unchanged.

It is via scenarios like those highlighted below that customer management professionals learn giving the customer precisely what he wants is not the only definition of customer-centricity. After all, sometimes what the customer wants is absurd, and sometimes the customer is actually mad because he got exactly what he wanted.

Customer-centricity, ultimately, comes down to philosophy and mindset. A brand cannot give the customer what he wants every time out—and that is true even when the brand actually knows what the customer wants—but it can work to understand how the customer feels and respect the importance of the service engagement in improving that sentiment.

Here are highlights of Reddit’s thread on "dumb" customer complaints. Feel free to share your own—or recommendations on rational, customer-centric ways the agents in question could have better served the complaining customers:

PK_Thundah: I had a guy order a cheeseburger for his kid, take a bite out of it in front of me, then raise absolute hell that the burger was "bitten into." He kept demanding free food for it, and I kept telling him no.

503 student: Work at gamestop, "I'm a huge gamer, I probably know more about any of these games than you; but I'd like to complain that you don't have any copies of [Nintendo-exclusive] Mario for the [Microsoft] Xbox. Why can't you do your job and put the copies out here for us."

G0ldfinga: Customer: These fries are too hot. They taste like they just came out of the fryer.

Jambojumbo: Had a woman phone up in the office I work in which is above a grocery store to complain that she cut into her orange and as she did juice fell out. So she wanted a replacement.

SnizzPants: I work at a phone store and just yesterday a customer came in pissed off about shitty service one of our other locations gave her. Because the other location was apparently so busy and made her wait, they generously gave her a $25 dollar gift card, or a 'second chance' card. So she's in my store returning a phone she didn't like for a different phone and the total comes to $0.00. Then she says "And I want to use this gift card too."

Me : "Um, the total is zero dollars so there's nothing to use it for"

Her : "Well then why the fuck did you guys give me this?!"

Me : "Well it never expires and you can use it for anything we sell to get it for free..?"

Her : "But I can't use it today? See?! There's always a catch with you guys"

Me : "Well, no. It's not a catch, its just we gave you money to spend on something that costs money. This does not. I can take it back if you don't want it."

Her : "No whatever I will keep it."

Hymie0: During last year's NHL lockout, a customer was receiving no NHL scores (because there were no games) and demanded that we "unlock" the NHL.

Kadno: I worked at Burger King in high school. I will never forget this. I was on drive-thru one night, and this lady orders a "large vanilla shake, in a medium cup." I ask if she meant a "medium shake, in a large cup," seeing as how physically, I cannot put more liquid in a container than it will hold. She gets INFURIATED and drives up to the window. Screaming at me for not listening to her. In a loud, slow tone, like she's talking to a deaf person, IIII. WWWAAANNNTTT. AAAAA. LLLLLAAAARRRRGGGGEEEE. VVVVAAAANNNNIIIIILLLLLAAAAAA. SSSSSHHHHHAAAAAKKKKEEEE. IIIINNNN. AAAAA. MMMMEEEDDDDIIIUUUMMM. CCCCUUUUPPPPPP. I almost got fired that night.

LLCRad: This woman calls really angry that we didn't call her to let her know we didn't receive her fax. I had to try and explain that there was no way we would know if she was attempting to send us a fax unless...we actually got the fax...

Koworz: A woman managed to spill gasoline all over herself at the gas station I worked at and demanded we pay for new clothing.

Derdeutschbag: I work at a bank inside of a grocery store. The customer was very upset that they couldn't buy their toilet paper and doritos at the teller window.

Mrszoso: Worked in a sandwich/wing place several years ago. Had a woman order hot wings for delivery. After they were delivered, she called raging that "those hot wings made her baby cry!" The manager politely offered to send her mild instead...

Merry_Bastard: A guy accused me of harassing him because I kicked him out of the store after the third time he stole from us. He then called the cops...

Drummer_aka_Jordan: Brought out chicken parmesan to a lady at the restaurant I work at. The lady takes a bite and asks if it's really chicken in the chicken parmesan, I say of course it is. She immediately breaks down crying because she's a vegetarian and asks to see a manager.

Shot Rodner: I work in a burger joint. One particular evening I had a table of college kids. Pretty standard for a Friday night. Anyways, I take their order. Very simple. Single no tomato, double with cheese add pickle, large fry, few shakes. Lastly a blonde girl orders one of our specialty burgers, the 'portobello and swiss'. A while later I get the food dropped off and when I'm checking back on them the blonde, visibly upset, is demanding a different sandwich. I ask if there's something wrong and she tells me her burger has mushrooms on it.

Madnizilla: Someone actually complained that I was too happy and polite. They were being serious.