Just how extreme of a reaction can you get from poor customer service?
Snopes just published a story about a bank which lost a million-dollar account and 30-year customer because it refused to validate a $0.50 parking coupon.
The incident happened in the late 1980’s (when a million bucks was real money) at the Old National Bank in Spokane, WA (now part of U.S. Bank). John Barrier was in the construction business and was dressed in shabby clothes when he went to the bank to cash a check.
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Both the teller and the bank manager, apparently failing to recognize the importance of the customer, refused to validate Barrier’s parking coupon to save him the $0.50 it cost to park at the bank. As a result, Barrier closed his account the next day and moved to a different bank down the street.
Why such a move? We can guess it probably wasn’t the fifty cents per se. From the quotes John Barrier gave in a newspaper article at the time, it sounds like he felt the bank didn’t give him the basic respect he deserved as a customer: speaking of the bank manager, Barrier said, “He looked me up and down and stood back and gave me one of those kinds of looks.” He was also quoted as saying, “If you have $1 in a bank or $1 million, I think they owe you the courtesy of stamping your parking ticket.”
The lesson from this is that customers will sometimes have an extreme reaction to a single poor experience. If a customer feels he’s been disrespected, then it becomes about something much more basic than a financial transaction. It’s about dignity, social standing, and respect.