Last weekend I had a wonderful real-world example of why so many people think
customer service today is lousy. In too many cases, it is.
My wife and I were running errands Saturday on our way to dinner. (After 17
years of marriage, this has become our version of “date night”.) We stopped in a
large warehouse type do-it-yourself store. It wasn’t Home Depot or Lowes. If
you’re from Minnesota or Wisconsin, you know the place I’m talking about.
I had to return a shelf board. The young man (Jeremy) processed the return
with no problems, no words and no facial expressions. My guess was he’d have
preferred being out having fun with friends on a Saturday night rather than
working. Either that or he was personality-challenged.
It appeared we would have a smooth transaction until he finally spoke. “Uh, I
need the card you use to pay for the product.” I told him I didn’t have it with
me. He explained I could either come back with the right card or get a store
And just like that, we went from a fast and easy return to one of the worst
customer service experiences I have ever experienced.
I could feel the line of customers growing behind me. Jeremy was starting to
show some signs of personality but they weren’t friendly signs. I think he knew
what was coming. He must have seen the steam coming from my nose and mouth.
I took a deep breath and explained to Jeremy that both options he presented
were unacceptable. I paid with real money and I would like real money back. He
said he could not do that.
I waited for him to offer a solution. But he never did.
So I escalated the situation and asked if he could put the credit to the card
I had with me. Both were Visa cards so maybe that was an option.
He said he couldn’t.
I asked to speak to his manager. There it was. Another flash of emotion. This
time in the form of eyes rolling and an exhaling of breath. Clearly he was not
interested in helping me. Otherwise he would have suggested his manager get
His manager came over. I didn’t get his name. He said the same thing Jeremy
did. I reiterated my position. No change. No other solutions. I waited for him
to find one. He didn’t.
So, as with Jeremy, I asked the manager if he could put the credit on another
of my cards, one I had with me at that moment. He said sure, no problem.
What! What do you mean “no problem”? Of course it’s been a problem. Both the
manager and Jeremy have made it a problem.
Why did HE not offer that solution in the first place?
I don’t know why but I can guess. I would guess it’s company policy to
“encourage” customers to accept a store credit as often as possible. And you see
this in other stores too. Employees are trained to do this. Maybe they’re even
measured on it too.
It was clear to me that they did not want to give me a credit on my Visa
card. They both pushed me to take a store credit even after I made it painfully
clear that was not acceptable.
They broke the first rule of Amazing Service. They failed to give me what I
wanted right away. They made me fight for it.
At fault here are both the company and the employees.