Tag Archives: toxic customers

Customer Service…or Not

One of the often repeated mantras in the customer service business is that “the customer is always right”.  I don’t know who came up with that, but whoever it was, was full of shit.  If you’re actually IN the customer service business, that saying is modified: “The customer is always right…until they aren’t”.

One of the things you need to train yourself to be in the course of making it through life is being a good customer.  In the South, we have a saying for that too:  “You can attract more flies with honey”.  If you’re a customer with a problem, you get a lot better results by being respectful and asking for help than you do by screaming and threatening.  I don’t care how mad and frustrated you are. 

I’m very lucky.  I’m in the customer service business, but 99.9% of our customers are reasonable people.  It’s actually a pleasure to deal with them. And then there is that 0.1%. 

So consider the following scenario, which happened on Friday (yesterday):   a young man comes into the exit lane (with a young woman in the passenger seat) and says that he just came in, but his ticket has fallen into his dashboard, and he tells the cashier she needs to let him out.  She says she can’t, because without a ticket, she’ll have to charge him for a lost ticket, which is $6.00.

He says, I’m not doing that.  He briefly pleads.  Can’t you just give me a break?  At this point I get involved…she’s struggling.  I said, really, she can’t.  We can’t.  We aren’t permitted to let you out without a ticket unless you pay the lost ticket fee. 

From that point, the whole situation devolves.  The guy says to the cashier, I want to speak to your supervisor.  Cashier says, that’s her.  He says, then I want to speak to your supervisor.  Sorry, I said.  I’m it.  He said, well, who owns this garage?  I said, the City, and you can talk to them on Monday, but right now it’s too late.  It’s 5:00 P.M. and there’s no one there. 

Here’s the best part:  the guy says you “can’t” let me out?  So are you telling me that if an ambulance came through here on an emergency, you could not let them out?  I said, Sir, you aren’t an ambulance.  So he says, in other words, you COULD let them out but in my case you’re refusing?  I was done talking.  I said, Well, technically, yes.  We are refusing.

Then he backed up and parked. I was feeling a little bad about it, because I thought I maybe had escalated the issue.  Except for the fact that prior to reparking his car, he drove around and around in front of the office, which is half-glass all the way around screaming “Fuck you!  Fuck you!  Fuck you!”  Giving us the finger through the driver’s side window.  Blowing the horn repeatedly. 

Looking back, I ask myself if I could have done something to defuse the situation, and the answer is…yes.  But I didn’t want to.  This was a limit I wasn’t willing to breach.  Otherwise, both I and my employees would be subjected to management by loudmouths.  Sooo..

It was time for me to leave.  I talked to the security guard and said, Stay here.  If this guy comes back to the window and causes even the slightest disturbance, don’t even engage.  Call the police.  Mostly I like the police 🙂  In cases like this, they’re like, Let me get this straight:  YOU lost the ticket?  Our point exactly!  Pay or go to jail.  Because really, even trying to talk your way out of it is a form of theft.