The Kustomer Service Pulse: Worst Customer Service Moments

6 min read

Welcome to The Kustomer Service Pulse, a new series on the Kustomer blog where we share our point of view on customer service experiences that showcase how companies can create unforgettable moments with their customers, drive impact for their business, and elevate their brands. 

Earlier, we shared heartwarming stories of exceptional customer service moments that truly embodied the essence of going above and beyond. These instances are not always commonplace, and not everyone has the privilege of recounting such tales of remarkable human empathy and the commitment to leave a lasting positive impact.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that while it takes considerable effort for a situation to escalate into a negative customer experience, there are unfortunate individuals who find themselves in such situations. These experiences serve as cautionary tales and opportunities for us to enhance future interactions and prevent similar occurrences.

In today’s digital age, where countless individuals have access to the internet and social media platforms, any customer interaction, whether positive or negative, has the potential to become widely publicized. This can significantly impact a company’s reputation and influence the loyalty of their customer base.

In the interest of promoting transparency and learning from our mistakes, here is a compilation of customer service moments that fell short of expectations and left customers with a negative impression. These instances serve as valuable lessons in the pursuit of delivering exceptional customer experiences.

Customer Calls Comcast to Cancel Service, Instead Feels “Punked”

A San Francisco based resident attempted to cancel his Comcast service and one would have expected a straightforward and smooth process. However, the reality was quite different. The customer found the experience so perplexing and frustrating that he took the initiative to record the conversation with the Comcast representative.

During the conversation, which extended for an unexpectedly long time, the customer began to suspect that he was being pranked, as the situation became increasingly convoluted and difficult to comprehend. 

“I’m just trying to figure out here what it is about Comcast’s service you’re not liking,” the rep asks. “This phone call is actually an amazing, representative example of why I don’t want to stay with Comcast …  are you punking me?,” replied the customer. 

Subsequently, Comcast’s Senior Vice President of Customer Experience issued a public apology after the incident went viral. The senior executive acknowledged that the behavior of the employee was unacceptable and assured the public that they were conducting an investigation and would reach out to the customer.

Kustomer Reacts: While it’s not uncommon for company representatives to make efforts to retain a customer when faced with a cancellation request, the approach taken by the Comcast representative in this case was far from effective. Instead of conveying a genuine understanding and appreciation for the customer’s loyalty as a paying customer, it came across as a disregard for the customer’s time and a failure to acknowledge their desire to cancel the service.

This situation underscores the critical importance of the initial steps in delivering exceptional customer service. It highlights the necessity of understanding what constitutes high-quality service, both from the perspective of customers and employees alike. Recognizing and respecting the customer’s preferences and needs, even when they decide to discontinue a service, is an essential aspect of fostering positive customer relationships and ultimately, business success.

Airline Breaks Passengers Guitar & Refuses to Pay for the Repair

United Airlines faced significant backlash when they declined to cover the $1,200 repair cost for a passenger’s guitar that was damaged by baggage handlers. This incident left a lasting negative impression on the passenger, prompting him to express his frustration creatively. He composed a song titled “United Breaks Guitars,” which gained tremendous popularity, amassing 22 million views since its posting in 2014.

In the song, he chronicles his year-long struggle to compel United Airlines to take responsibility for the damage inflicted on his guitar. The YouTube video became a viral sensation, drawing widespread attention to the airline’s handling of the situation. In response to the negative publicity, United Airlines eventually sought to rectify the situation by offering to cover the repair costs and providing flight vouchers as a gesture of goodwill.

Kustomer Reacts: Travelers understand that the possibility of their belongings being damaged at an airport exists, but what they don’t anticipate is a lack of empathy and a sense of indifference toward their personal possessions. In today’s business landscape, demonstrating compassion and empathy towards customers has become a fundamental necessity, not just a desirable quality. Companies that enjoy a loyal and returning customer base prioritize delivering personalized service experiences. These businesses recognize that showing genuine care and understanding towards their customers is the cornerstone of building enduring relationships and ensuring customer satisfaction.

$7,000 for Toilet Paper on Amazon

A Georgia resident found herself facing a bill of $7,455 for three cartons of toilet paper she had purchased on Amazon. When the customer reached out to address this outrageous delivery cost, the Amazon representative redirected her to the third-party seller, an unwelcome response. Frustrated and determined to resolve the issue, she attempted to contact the company that sold her the toilet paper but encountered significant difficulties in reaching them. As her anxiety grew, she decided to take the matter into her own hands and penned a letter to Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos. She did so under the expectation that Amazon, known for its commitment to excellent customer service, would rectify the situation promptly.

Despite her numerous attempts (a total of six) to reach out to Amazon, each response she received stated that the toilet paper was delivered on time and without damages, thus negating the need for a refund. After persistent efforts to correct the problem, she contacted a local news station, WSB-TV, to share her story. Following the news coverage, Amazon finally took action and refunded her both the shipping charges and the cost of the toilet paper. However, this dispute lasted for a frustrating two-month period before a resolution was reached.

Kustomer Reacts: Verifying the total amount before finalizing a purchase is a critical step, yet many customers, pressed for time, may not make it a habitual practice. They often rely on the assumption that their Amazon transactions will follow the same pattern as previous ones. Something as straightforward as addressing an excessively high shipping cost should have been swiftly resolved, especially considering the customer’s purchase history with the company.

Once again, it underscores the fact that it sometimes takes a publicized incident in the media to prompt a company to address a customer service issue. This raises the question of why customers must go to such lengths to have their concerns heard and problems rectified, highlighting the need for companies to proactively prioritize customer satisfaction and efficient issue resolution.

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