Dear Customer, You’re SCREWED!


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Public transportation in the New York/New Jersey area is fairly efficient; it’s on time, cheap and moderately clean (er, well, for the most part). But, it has a huge gap in the level of customer service that the representatives provide to commuters.

NJTRAN 2 HOLL BROWNOn a Saturday afternoon, my boyfriend, dog and I crammed on a crowded train from NY to NJ. The rail system has an app in which you can purchase tickets on your phone. It’s great when you are on the run and don’t want to wait in line at the ticket counter or machines.

When the ticket agent passed by our seats, we showed him our tickets using our smart phone.

The agent glanced once, then looked back again and said,

“Oops, looks like you purchased four tickets. And, since both are activated, looks like you’re totally screwed and paid extra for nothing.”

We all look at the phone and see that there are two active tickets selected, each saying “2 Passengers” on them.

In confusion, I say, “That’s really weird. What can we do to fix this?”

The agent frowns at us and shrugs his shoulders. I ask, “Would we be able to reach out to customers support for assistance?”

As he walks away to check other tickets, he replies with, “Sure, you can try.”

After he leaves, we check the ticket order confirmation that was sent via email. We had only purchased two tickets and we found that when using the app, when both tickets are selected, it will display “2 Passengers” no matter what. When one ticket is selected, it displays “1 Passenger”. Easy enough mistake but did it deserve the “you’re screwed”?

But of course, despite his mistake with the ticket view, this situation got the wheels spinning about what to do when you are working with a customer and really cannot do a darn thing to help–how do you manage?

The Dear Customer You’re NOT SCREWED List

  1. Empathy: Even if the customer may be in a pickle, show that you care, for crying out loud!
  2. Options: Even if you cannot help the customer, who and what can? Give the customer some options of where to go for the help they need. Don’t just show them where to go–help them find it by providing phone numbers, emails, aisle numbers, departments, people’s names, etc.
  3. Own It: Again, even if you cannot personally solve the problem, find someone who can and try (as much as you can) to stick with the situation until the very end. This is also great to help you learn something new at your job.

So, when a customer gives you lemons and there’s no way out of the bad situation, make margaritas and cheers to The Dear Customer You’re Not Screwed List.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jenny Dempsey
Jenny is Consumer Experience Manager for Apeel Sciences and FruitStand with more than 15 years of customer service experience. She is co-founder and a regular contributor on


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