Customer service interactions can turn scary pretty fast. You might be arguing with a service rep over cancelling your TV service, or getting stuck in an IVR for an interminable amount of time. Poor service can be such a deterrent that 89% of customers will start doing business with a competitor after a negative service experience.
It’s the stuff customer service nightmares are made of.
As a follow-up to last year’s Halloween post, and to get into the Halloween spirit, we thought we’d share the most hauntingly horrific customer service horror stories we’ve had on the phone. Read on…if you dare!
The Never-ending IVR
I called my health care provider to see if we had coverage for a specific health need. I navigated through an IVR and ended up waiting on hold for 45 minutes. When I finally got connected to the rep, he couldn’t hear me, so I had to repeat everything I had entered into the IVR. But you want to know the worst part? After 30 seconds, she hung up on me and I had to call in and do it all again. After I finally got through to a rep (AGAIN), the answer was literally, “Yes, you have that coverage…is there anything else you need help with?” Great use of 1.5 hours of my time! –Daisy
Pizza Delivery Disaster
I tried out Domino’s Anyware service, where you can text, tweet, or even use your smart TV to order pizza. I texted Domino’s a pizza emoji as instructed, but here’s where the user experience fell apart–you had to order online first before you even attempted to text, then save your order as an Easy Order so Domino’s would know what you wanted when you texted. Easy, right? Definitely not. Frustrated, I put in another order online so it could save my payment information and I could finally text, but it still didn’t work. I was happy to get my pizza and sodas delivered at the same time (way to go, delivery guy!) but this was a less-than-stellar user experience. –Gigi
Flight to Nowhere
I was scheduled for a flight to London with my wife when my flight was cancelled. The airline put us up in a hotel for the night and rebooked us 24 hours later. After 12 calls to their customer service department, they agreed to provide a travel voucher for the inconvenience. I found out later they only offered one voucher (instead of one for each of us). I couldn’t afford the time to make 12 more calls, so they won. –Kevin
One day, for no apparent reason, our TV provider’s cable shut off out of the blue. My boyfriend had been up-to-date on the payments, so he immediately went to the cable provider’s web chat to ask what the heck was going on. The first person told him that they had shut off the service because he had requested it be shut off. (What he had actually requested, three months prior, was for the service to be moved to our new house from his old apartment). He explained this to them, to which the rep said, “Oh well, the cable you have been watching for the past 3 months was for Sam.” Sam was my old roommate, who have moved out SIX months prior and who had the cable shut off before he even left.
When my boyfriend explained that he had been getting billed for cable for the past three months, the rep then said that our problem was out of his scope and he had to transfer him to sales. The sales rep enters the web chat and immediately starts asking for the exact same information that my boyfriend had JUST provided and tells him the same story about the cable being under my old roommate’s name. He even told my boyfriend that we somehow needed Sam’s permission to turn the cable back on. My boyfriend explained that we wanted cable under HIS name, not Sam’s and that they had supposedly transferred it over from his old apartment. The sales rep then said this situation was out of HIS scope and that he needed to transfer my boyfriend AGAIN. My boyfriend explained AGAIN that he did not want to have to repeat the whole situation another time and the agent again reassured him that the next agent would immediately pick up the conversation from that point.
When the third agent started asking my boyfriend the same exact questions, my bf started getting irritated and said, “Shouldn’t you have this information? Both of the previous reps said they would pass it along? So they just lied to me? You all should be ashamed of yourselves.” At this point, the agent just simply ENDED THE CONVERSATION. This issue was not resolved. My boyfriend had to go into the cable provider’s brick-and-mortar store, where they told him the same thing about needed my old roommate’s permission since his name was associated for the address… blah blah blah. Needless to say, my boyfriend gave them our cable box and said to cancel whatever service was associated with his name and walked out.
I go into the store the next day and ask for service for the same address under my name. Walked out with a brand new box, the service was turned on with a MOUSE CLICK. It could have been that simple from the beginning but for whatever reason, my boyfriend had to go through web chat hell instead. –Christina
The Cunning Cell Phone Carrier
About 10 years ago, right when they introduced this idea that you could keep your phone number, regardless of cell phone provider, I decided to switch from my current carrier to another carrier via a third-party company (I don’t remember their name, but let’s call them Lame-O) with an online web-form. I was 2 weeks from my contract expiring with my phone carrier, and because the web form said that it was possible that the number transfer could take 2-3 days, I didn’t want any gap in coverage, so I signed up with Lame-O, but I did not cancel my account with my about-to-expire phone carrier.
What followed was my soon-to-expire phone carrier immediately charging me $400 for breaking my contract early. I, of course, called them and explained that I had not broken contract, since I had not ever quit my account with them and was still paying my monthly fees. They suggested I talk to Lame-O about it, and when I did, Lame-O suggested I talk with my phone carrier. Nobody would take blame.
At one point, I managed a conference call with both of them, thinking that they would duke it out, but instead they ganged up on me. They explained that me transferring my number was like someone who transfers their membership from one gym to another. I explained that, in their metaphor, I had never quit my gym membership, but had simply transferred my gym bag from one gym to another. They didn’t like my interpretation and literally told me that I “have no common sense.” And yep, I ended up having to pay the $400. I have never used that phone carrier again, and I counsel everyone I know to not use them. –Jeremy
The Troublesome TV Provider
I originally signed up with my TV provider for a 2-year contract for TV and Internet. I was told the rate would be better if I purchased the triple play with TV, Phone, and Internet. I figured, “What the heck? I don’t need the phone but it’s cheaper than just getting TV and Internet.” For the first year, the monthly rate was low as advertised. The second-year prices went up but were still okay, considering there are not a lot of television service providers to choose from in my area.
However, near the end of the second year when the contract was getting ready to expire, my TV provider sent me a notice that the same triple play package would cost three times as much as it did in the second year of the contract term. I was not okay with that happening, so my wife calls in and talks to the first customer service rep. They tell my wife to call back in at the end of the current month when the contract is over, because if they change it early, there will be additional charges involved because the 2-year contract isn’t up yet. The only problem is that I’m going to be charged next month’s outrageous rate on the first of the following month.
So, my wife calls back the next day and is told a different story by a different rep, and then another rep and so on. I eventually call my TV provider and give the rep the low down on what has been going on. He suggests that I call into the TV provider two days before the contract ends and ask for the loyalty department as soon my call is answered. He tells me to just say, “I want to cancel my TV provider’s service”. He tells me they will immediately ask why I want to cancel and then do whatever they can, within reason, to keep you as a customer. I followed his advice, and after the usual TV provider runaround, ended up getting a lower monthly rate than the second year of my original contract with no contract term. –Shane
Got any customer service horror stories to share? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to download our whitepaper on how to provide great customer service over text message.