I've been on both ends of this one...whether you are the one working in customer service or are the one requesting to speak with a manager, the experience is dreadful on both ends. But in any case, let's all try our best to have some compassion for the folks on the opposite end.
And, for more stories, find the original source link at the end of the article.
‘Get Over Yourself’
“Approximately 15 years ago, I was working for a one-man business who specialized in accounting and all things taxation wise.
He had a small shop front with an office in the back for meetings, he did the accounting stuff, I managed the rest. It was a small business and just the two of us.
One day I was in the front of the shop, taking calls when a client came in to collect his latest tax assessment paperwork and recently audited books.
I knew he hadn’t paid us for the (substantial) work we’d done for him, and also that he’d paid late on the two previous occasions too. I apologized and said although the book was ready, we weren’t able to hand them back to him until he’d paid us the monies he owed us, as per the agreement he’d signed when he contracted our services.
He looked at me blankly at first, then again stated he was there to collect his paperwork. Again, I told him that due to his previous late payment, and as per our contract, I was not able to release his paperwork back to him without receiving a payment. Now don’t forget we’d just spent months wading through his financial details and trust me, he wasn’t going to suffer a dent by paying us.
Then when I got the shoulder role and was told he didn’t want to deal with a bimbo receptionist and the ‘I demand to see the manager’ line. I think he may have uttered the infamous,’Do you know who I am?’ line here too. I’ve raised a son single-handedly and am extremely strong-willed, DEMANDING anything from me is not going to go well and guaranteed I’m going to have a problem with you.
With glee, I said, ‘I apologize. I certainly do know who you are having also done a fair amount of work for your account, and actually I AM the manager! There are only the 2 of us here so If in fact, you’d prefer to speak to your accountant and the owner, he’s just out visiting a client but I can get him to call you later on.’
(Note, the manager was a burly male who was an over 6 feet accountant he’d met on various occasions already who was known to not ever take kindly to anyone even insulting never mind abusing his staff.)
His face went scarlet before he exploded. How dare we try to blackmail him in this way! What kind of scam business were we running! How dare I hold his business to ransom! And how dare I try to con him this way! And all this was being spat at me inches from my face.
After a good 5 minute of this he stopped to breathe, at which point I calmly told him that if he continued with this behavior, we would terminate his contract with us. He then got out his mobile phone and said he was going to call for police assistance as I was nothing but a blackmailing scam artist! I turned the office phone towards him and told him I’d pay for his call
And he really called them.
I like to think that Friday afternoon was a slow one at our local station brightened briefly by hearing this man rave indignantly that a young woman had kidnapped his business and was now holding his life for ransom…
After letting him yell his piece down the phone they simply asked to talk to me and asked if I was requesting payment for a service that was already done. On hearing my equally simple ‘yep’ the snorts emanating from the local headquarters could have been heard from our little shop front without the assistance of British Telecom.
Then the man put the phone down and stomped towards the door, turning as he walked and growled: ‘I’ll be back tomorrow – with some of my boys!’ To which I smiled sweetly and reminded him not to forget to bring a cheque to settle his account with.
The following day he actually came back too. But alone and very sheepish. He paid our bill – in cash – then gave me a HUGE tip (I donated it to charity – I just did my job, I enjoyed it and was well paid for it) and a massive bouquet of flowers (which I later heard he tried to claim as a ‘business expense’).
Whilst he never actually apologized, he did say how impressed he was with how I kept my cool and remained collected and professional in spite of his behavior, and that I was completely in the right, before saying he needed that kind of staff and offered me a job working for him! He also wrote a lovely letter to my boss explaining what had happened and singing my praises as a manager. I’d already told the boss and he was furious that anyone had treated me like that. My boss also gave me a raise and threw in a holiday where I was able to stay in one of his properties abroad for free. In any case, we are all human, we all over-react sometimes but just check yourself, your facts and your attitude first. And to anyone that demands to see a manager? Get over yourself!”
‘I Had To Leave Retail For The Sake Of My Teeth’
“This has happened to me one too many times. I’m okay with people, but as soon as ‘people’ transition to customers I hate them which is why I have so many stories to pick from.
I used to work in a phone shop that wasn’t too different from the comedy sketch called ‘Phone shop’. Anyway, we had this sale on and as a result it was particularly busy that day. My next customer was a lady with a child and her mom. She wanted to upgrade her contract and so I went through the process.
Now she was giving me attitude from the start as if I was harassing her and wanted to find out her postcode but wasn’t getting paid to just do my job. I tried killing her with kindness. That didn’t work. I just thought: Wow, seriously you managed to have a kid with someone? She was pretty so I guess her charm was the reason but however, it was questionable. Maybe you’re a lot nicer when you’re not a customer – I thought. Doubtful but maybe.
I asked her to give me her sim number because our systems needed it for every upgrade. At least I think I did, I may have slapped her in the face because otherwise, I did not understand her reaction to such a simple question. She started screaming at me saying I’m intrusive and incompetent and a jerk. I mean, I probably am, but not at work.
If you have no respect then you are incredibly insignificant to me. I looked at her mother as if to say, ‘You gonna step in here, lady?’ but her mom just stood there quietly. Sometimes kids really do take it out of ya, huh? Finally she demanded I get a manager.
I went to the back to speak to Avek. Avek was this tall big Polish guy just to paint you a picture. I told him this woman would not give me her sim number. He went out and I was thinking, ‘Oh yeah no way is Avek having her stinking attitude. This chick will be kicked out.’ I stood by him slightly just waiting to see leave.
But to my surprise, she smiled and stopped being hostile. She even asked Avek if he wanted the sim number. Like what? Okay, well at least the existence of her kid makes more sense now. She joked around with him – smiled and giggled all things I couldn’t imagine her doing.
He left after taking the sim number and told me to finish it off. I was reluctant, but I thought Avek tamed the lion. But as soon as Avek was out the way she went back to her attitude. I finished the process off as quick as possible. Avek thought I was crazy and so did Aaron who flirted with her while I went to get her stuff. My conclusion was that she despised women, but no one agreed.
She came back 2 weeks later and got kicked out for starting a fight with another female employee. So I’m not saying I was right, but I highly doubt I was wrong. Customers like this made me grit my teeth and despise people, especially if I sensed some undeserved entitlement. I had to leave retail for the sake of my teeth, any more grinding and I’d be down to my gums.”
Make Sure To Call The Correct Company
“I have been on the receiving end of the ‘can I speak to your manager?’ request . . . from a wrong number.
Working in marketing, I had a phone that hardly ever rang, and when it did, it was either a wrong number asking about appliance warranties or a telemarketer. They had set up phone numbers for two websites that never actually got posted to the sites, then the sites had been shut down, and I happened to be the one with these legacy numbers on my phone.
One day my phone rang, and a woman was on the other end complaining about some issue she had with some motorcycle parts she ordered. I explained it was a wrong number, and expected her to hang up and continue on her way. Nope. She asked what our company did. I didn’t want it to get too complicated, so I told her, ‘online marketing.’ ‘That’s like websites and things, right?’ I also didn’t want to get into a huge explanation of what exactly the company did, and what online marketing was so I told her yes. ‘Well, I ordered this from the website so you can help.’ She goes on about something that was supposed to be shipped by UPS not USPS, and the difference between the two. She informs me randomly that her husband was a disabled veteran. I kept insisting it was a wrong number, but she kept going on and on, and I hate to be rude and hang up, but I finally half tuned her out and tried to start working on my computer again. She could probably hear the keyboard clicking in the background and realizes I am not paying attention, so she finally asks to speak to a supervisor. This throws me completely off since I do not work in customer service, and I ‘umm’ for a few seconds while I try and process this. My only boss at the time was a company owner, and I am sure he would not want to waste his time talking to some random woman with a wrong number.
Finally, based on my hesitation, the woman clues in that she called the wrong number and finally gets off the phone. I have no idea if she ever reached her motorcycle parts retailer to get the correct parts for her disabled veteran husband.
Life lesson: if you are trying to get better service, sometimes asking for a manager can help, but only if you call the correct company.”
Being Nice Pays Off
“The person in front of me in line at an airline ticket counter did this in response to the ticket agent.
First of all, I have to take my hat off to anyone who does that thankless job. I can’t think of anyone who has to put up with so much vitriol from their customers.
I know… airlines suck, and there are plenty of situations where the customer has a right to be angry. But the ticket agent is rarely personally responsible for the situation. They just get to be the customer facing representative for a bad situation.
So this occurred when I was in college. I had been elected as the state representative and was traveling to a regional conference in Omaha Nebraska. I can’t remember where my connecting hub was (probably Dallas), but on arrival there I found my final flight to Omaha had been canceled.
So I’m standing in the ticket line, waiting to reschedule. I’m not happy, of course, as I was going to miss part of the conference. But the guy in front of me came completely unhinged. He was giving her the whole ‘do you know who I am?’ schpiel as if any of it would change the outcome. Of course, it was liberally sprinkled with choice expletives. Like okay, I was unhappy too, but really?
So I resolved to be as polite as possible when I got up to the counter. I apologized for the previous guy and was nice.
I must explain that this was back in the days before frequent flier programs completely changed the game. So a little kindness could go a long way with the ticket agent. I got a free hotel room for the night, which I would have gotten regardless of how nice I was. But I also got upgraded to first class for my flight the next day, which was very nice.
Also, as I said, I was a college agent with little experience traveling alone. I hadn’t planned for all the additional taxes of staying in a hotel. So, I realized after I arrived at my destination that I hadn’t brought enough money. So I had my original flight actually gone, I would have been stuck without any money to enjoy the trip.
Sometimes it pays to be nice.”
‘Ma’am, You Can’t Return Games You’ve Already Used’
“Currently I am a server at a restaurant. I witness these kinds of situations at least once a month and no more than once a week usually. One time, my table wanted to tell my manager how awesome they thought I was. Usually, though, it’s just somebody looking to score some or all of their food for free. Very rarely it’s because I or the kitchen screwed up.
When I use to work at Walmart, I heard them all the time. Often because I was a Customer Service Manager saying, ‘I am a Customer Service Manager, what can I do for you?’
My all-time favorite was the lady who wanted to exchange three games with no receipt. Due to federal regulations concerning piracy and opened media (DVDs, Blu-rays, games), this is not as simple as it sounds. She was speaking to one of the young ladies working customer service (a young woman we’ll call Jane) and started to get loud when she was denied her request. I was called over. I very politely and very calmly told this woman that no, she could not simply exchange these three – all opened – games for whatever she pleased.
She tried pleading. These games were bought by someone for her kid for his birthday, and he didn’t want them! Later, the excuse became that they were for the wrong system. Then, when we were going to allow an exchange for a different format, he already had those games and they wanted different ones.
She started cussing to my face. Telling me (I apparently look to be in my early 20’s at best, despite having a decade on that) and Jane about how we were young, uneducated brats, and knew nothing about customer service. Jane was standing behind me, facing the wall behind her, muffling giggles that she was starting to have difficulty stopping. I maintained my pleasant, neutral customer service face and continued to deny this woman’s request.
‘I WANT TO SEE YOUR MANAGER. RIGHT NOW.’ ‘Certainly’, I said.
I call the assistant manager over the radio, and she joins us. I leave at this point for something else needed of me and go to the other end of the registers for something else. Suddenly, I hear screaming, along the lines of, ‘You jerk, mumble want, mumble blah blah RIGHT NOW!’ You get the idea. The assistant manager dealing with it was very clear she couldn’t have whatever she pleased, and I believe eventually the woman was granted the closest possible thing to the correct format.
I don’t know how I didn’t laugh in her face but that was a fun time.”
Someone Dropped The Ball
“My best example was a patient in the middle of a psychotic break. He had already completely destroyed his room.
He was stripped and demanding to speak to the hospital CEO as a show of force gathered outside his room preparing to place him in leather restraints and sedate him.
So as we enter to take down the patient he makes a break for the door and through elusive maneuvers, even an NFL running back would envy he escape into the hallway.
Everyone chased after but he had twenty paces on us all having exited the room first. He not only had a head start but unencumbered by clothes which made him much faster.
In his escape, he took a hallway leading toward the cafeteria rounded a corner and ran face to face into the CEO.
‘May I help you?’ The CEO asked.
‘I want to see the CEO!’ he demanded.
‘You got him,’ the CEO said.
We arrived just as this occurred. We began to take control and the patient offered little resistance.
‘Can we get some clothes on him?’ The CEO asked, clueless as to how we got to this point.
He followed us back to the Emergency Room and sat in the room talking to the patient for twenty minutes. Then he exited, went to the charge nurse and said, ‘He is as crazy as a rat.’
We had a pending request for a couple positions that had been ‘up in the air’ for months. They were approved by the CEO the next day.”
‘I Am The Manager’
“This was a weekly occurrence when I worked in retail and I was the manager they were demanding to see most of the time.
I worked at an auto parts store, and most of the time they wanted to see me, it was because they ordered a part and when it came in, it was the wrong part. Then they got mad because they had to wait longer to get the right part, but it was their fault they got the wrong part the first time: they gave the salesperson wrong information.
A typical exchange would go like this:
Customer: May I please speak to a manager? This is ridiculous. My mechanic says you gave me the wrong part.
Me: What’s the problem?
Customer: I ordered front brake pads for my Jeep, and this is the wrong part. My Jeep has been in the shop for a week now while I waited for these pads, and the mechanic is charging me by the day to keep it there. What are you going to do about it?
Me: Let’s look up the part again. What type of Jeep is it?
Customer: A 1995 Wrangler.
Me: Two or four-wheel drive?
Customer: Four wheel drive.
Me: It says here these are the right brake pads. Who is your mechanic? I’ll call them and see what’s wrong.
Customer: [Gives me the name of the mechanic. I probably know the guy already. Mechanics were our best customers.]
Me: I spoke to the mechanic. You have a 1992 Wrangler four wheel drive, and he needs the rotors, not the brakes. Let’s look up this part with the right information this time. Oh…here…this is a common part. I have 20 of them here, and they’ve been here all week. Would you like two of them?
Yes, I had a bit of an attitude with the customers when they accused my people of doing something wrong when my people did what they were supposed to do based on the information the customer gave them.”
‘I’m Not A Fraud’
“I have asked to see a manager before. It was at Target and I came in to exchange a bottle of shampoo I bought. I accidentally grabbed it instead of the conditioner and I wanted to exchange and was willing to pay the difference if any or get a full refund.
At first, the customer service representative was nice enough but once she scanned the item and saw I used a manufacturers coupon to pay, she wouldn’t let me exchange it. I was confused because I had looked up Target’s exchange policy before I went in. Their refund policy clearly states that exchanges, and even refunds, are possible when you use a coupon. I showed her their corporate policy but she said no and accused me of coupon fraud. At this point, I was getting a bit frustrated, especially when she accused me of fraud. I told her I wanted to see a manager or a supervisor as their policy clearly stated I would be able to complete my requested transaction.
I saw her walk away, go to a lead, pointed at me and look at me with disdain. As soon as someone else, perhaps another lead or a supervisor came, I explained the situation, showed her their company policy and this person said fine and grudgingly exchanged my shampoo for conditioner.
I worked in customer service for years before my current job, so I’ve had my fair share of angry customers but I always delivered customer service to the best of my capabilities. I would never deny a customer request when the company policy so obviously backs up the customer. In fact, I’ve had customers who called or came in who were angry because of a product or another CSR and I always diffused the situation. Even when the customer came in screaming and cursing at me, they would always end up apologizing to me in the end.
One time I had a customer call because he had an overdrawn fee due to not having enough money for his purchase. He was angry and upset, yelling even. Though it was not our fault, he ordered the item, I felt bad for him. I talked to my boss and we ended refunding him and giving him the extra money he was charged by his bank. My boss said if he’s so upset about the $15 overdrawn fee, he must really need the money and to just give it to him. I also gave the customer some advice about banks that have overdraft protection. He thanked me profusely, apologized for cursing, and said he would let his friends know how good our customer service was.
I try my best to provide good customer service so I hope others will do the same.”
Points are edited for clarity.