2017 Customer Service Nightmares

Image of a woman scared of the worst customer service nightmares of 2017

The year 2017 has haunted the world with some nightmarish customer service experiences. Here are a few of the most horrific.

As a customer, you probably assume that customer service should be a positive and reinforcing experience. And why shouldn’t it be? You have made the choice to do business with a company over its competitors and are paying a business for their products or services. The trouble is, things can go sideways for a number of reasons. Sometimes a company’s employees don’t always act in the interest of the brand they are working for. Other times, a company can be positioned in an industry in such a way that your choices are so limited that they just don’t bother to invest in customer care.

In situations like this, customer service experiences can become a real nightmare. This Halloween season, we have put together some of this year’s most dishonorable customer service moments for your reading displeasure. We hope these customer service nightmares will inspire you to provide far better experiences for your clients.

United Airlines Infamous Passenger Drag

Of all the customer service nightmares that happened this year, probably the most well-known was when United Airlines forcibly removed one of their passengers. They made him give up his seat for one of their own employees after he had already paid for his ticket and been seated on the plane. When the passenger refused to give up his seat, United called police to board the plane to assist in removing the passenger. Needless to say, the other passengers were outraged, and many recorded the experience. People took to social media in a rage and called United Airlines out for being “greedy” due to their overbooking, which is arguably one of the many factors that led to this violent deboarding of an otherwise pleasant and paying customer.

It wasn’t long after this incident that United’s legal team ended up paying an undisclosed amount to settle with the abused passenger. They also made a point of majorly overhauling their boarding practices, including increasing their compensation limit to $10K for bumping passengers off their flights.

United Airlines Agent Retaliates Against Being Filmed By Canceling Reservation

It’s not been a great year for United Airlines customer service. They created another nightmare situation when a ticket agent cancelled a customer’s reservations because he began videotaping a poor customer experience. The airline was attempting to charge him $300 for his luggage on a return flight when the same luggage had only cost him $125 on his original outbound flight. Imagine how many mishandled customer service experiences would be swept under the rug if customer’s DIDN’T video tape the conduct of airline staff.


The Scented Geranium: Customer Service Email That Stunk

A Mom-and-Pop flower shop called The Scented Geranium was recently nominated for an ill will award after owners, Anne and Guy sent a particularly poignant email to one of their customers. They were irritated that the customer had the nerve to ask for a replacement of one of the plants they ordered that appeared too small to be viable. “I cannot recall during the past 10 years that any single person has ever emailed such a request. However, I do find that customers who opt for the cheap plugs are more likely to complain. Thankfully, you are in a tiny minority whom we will never please. Perhaps, we should register as a charity and just give away plants.”

T-Mobile Changes Customer Account Nickname to “IDIOT IDIOT”

Sometimes we can be suckered into a promotion before we take the time to read the fine print. This article from BGR shows what happened to a T-Mobile customer named Luke when he wanted to get the free upgrade on his iPhone through a promotion the company was running in September. What he learned after signing up is that the phone was only “free” after you paid for it upfront and receive bill credits for the next 24 months. It seems this doesn’t always work out for customers as expected, and Luke had to make follow up calls with billing to try to get it sorted out. After repeatedly proving that he actually did qualify and should be earning the bill credits from the promotion, to his surprise, he later logged in to his T-Mobile online account to find that someone had changed his account nickname to “IDIOT IDIOT.” After informing the company, T-Mobile insisted that this was a change he did himself. After some investigating, it seems that T-Mobile’s story doesn’t fully support their claim.

Agent Provocateur Loses Customer Orders

Customer service chaos seems to have ensued with Agent Provocateur, whose customers had struggled for weeks earlier this year to get the orders they paid for (or in some cases, get money back for orders lost or canceled by the company). Customers who complained to the company on their social media page seemed to all get the same, scripted response, as one commenter mentions on the post you see in the image below.

Luckily it is reported that this company got their act together down the line and began correcting order issues for customers and removing the shipping charges, or refunding the customer altogether.

The Truth About Customer Service

A recent study published in an article by Biz Report shows a stat that confirms what many business owners already assume: 8 out of 10 customers are willing to switch who they do business with because of a bad customer service experience. Now, we have no doubt that your business would never allow customer experiences like these to happen and damage your brand’s good name. However, there are always ways to improve.

Maybe it is time to consider opening up your phone support hours to be 24/7 so any customer or client who wants to connect to your company can do so at their convenience. Or maybe you have callers who contact you who speak Spanish that you could be serving better if someone on your team was bilingual. If these sound like opportunities that your business could benefit from, it’s probably time you gave Signius a call. Even if you aren’t worried about your business making the same mistakes as the ones committed in these nightmares, an affordable phone answering service that excels at live, 24-hour customer support for businesses could still be a great way to up your game and set you apart from the competition.

More articles you might be interested in:

The Key Elements to Providing Exceptional Customer Service

Proactive Customer Service: The Art of the Follow Up

First Impressions: The Backbone of Customer Service