Has Millions Of Friends, But Not Millions In The Bank

, , , , | Right | June 6, 2017

(I represent a major telecommunications firm, known primarily here in the USA as being one of the most popular cell phone service providers in the nation. I am currently talking to a customer about setting up a new phone line on her plan.)

Me: “It seems that before we can provide you with a new phone and phone line, we need you to pay your outstanding balance of $656.29.”

Customer: “What?! Why can’t you just add the line now, and I’ll pay my bill later?”

Me: “I apologize, ma’am, but our systems won’t let me add any new lines or equipment to your account until you’ve paid this past-due bill. If you like, I can process a payment with you here over the phone right now.”

Customer: “No way! I can’t afford to pay that right now, and I need this phone for my son!”

Me: “I apologize again, ma’am, but until you pay on your bill, there is nothing more I can do to help you with that.”

Customer: “You bunch of crooks! I’m gonna tell all my friends to stop using your s****y service! I’ve got enough friends that you’re gonna go out of business! I’LL SHUT YOU DOWN!”

Me: *calmly* “So just to be clear, you have enough friends to get the millions of customers we have to leave us and cause one of the world’s largest, international telecommunication firms to go out of business, but you can’t leverage any of that tremendous social influence you possess to raise a few hundred bucks to pay your bill?”

Customer: *click*

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  • Nightshade1972

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. One of the things they drilled into my head, when I worked retail, is that we were basically required to bend over backwards for problem customers, because if we didn’t, “they’ll go home and complain to ten of their friends! Then each of them will complain to ten of *their* friends, and before you know it, we won’t have any customers left!” I always responded with, “Yeah, well, if the ten ppl the problem customer complains to are just as bad as they are, and they all refuse to shop here as well, we’ve just ‘lost’ eleven problem customers. If at least half of the ppl the problem customer complains to don’t respond in kind, and instead tell the problem customer to get over themselves, at worst we’ve only lost six problem customers, the sane ones will still keep shopping here. I’m not seeing a downside!”

    • Alfred Day

      I can honestly say that almost every time a friend of mine has told me not to shop at a place, the story that follows is usually my friend behaving poorly. I don’t recall ever adjusting my shopping habits based on a friend’s opinion.

      • Blake Barrett

        I recall more times checking out a new place based on good word of mouth rather than stop visiting a place based on a story that may or may not be true.

      • Lev Borovoi

        Sorry for being nosy, but why do you have friends like that?

        • Dsru Bin

          Because nobody behaves perfectly all the time. He didn’t say that his friends always behave poorly, just that, on the (possibly rare) occasion that they recommend against a place, it is because they were in the wrong.

          • Alfred Day

            Absolutely. We’re all capable of idiocy. I could fill this site with examples of times I was convinced I was justified in my behavior, only to later realize I was in the wrong.

          • Trihan

            That’s what the site is for; you’d better get started!

    • Novelista

      You know who I heard the “ten friends” story from? An angry AM at Walmart.

      Oh yeah…that will really make Walmart hurt. Gee whiz.

    • Kitty

      I laugh at that idea. Sounds a bit like a pyramid scheme and those never work out, anyway. Plus, as you point out, those tend to be problem customers and who wants a reputation of “Oh, that’s the store where all those b****es go to”?

    • John Smith

      I’ve never put much stock in the ten friends story. Customers can’t even follow through themselves when they say they won’t shop at a store again. Why worry about their friends?

    • Ghostest

      I’ve always thought of the 80/20 rule when I hear something like this: 80% of your time is wasted trying to make your worst 20% of your customers happy and that by “firing” those customers you actually make your business more profitable and efficient. I will admit this works better in smaller situations than retail such as accounting or medicine.

      • Ophelia

        There was an Italian man from long ago named Vilfredo Pareto who surveyed land and found that in his country, 80% of the land belonged to the top 20% of people by wealth. When he studied land in other countries, he found that 80% of their land was controlled by the top 20% as well, and there were zero exceptions. This became known as the Pareto Principle.

        Other scholars have discovered that “80% of X belong to/are caused by/embody 20% of Y” applies to a wide variety of things. 80% of a computer program’s bugs and glitches are caused by the 20% worst code. 80% of sports awards are given to the top 20% of teams in any given league. 80% of crimes are committed by 20% of criminals. And indeed, it is commonly believed by customer service specialists that 80% of complaints to a business are caused by its 20% worst patrons.

    • Ophelia

      Anyone who genuinely believes having even one bad customer will ruin your business and that they can always be averted has never had to deal with a problem customer themselves.

      Working in retail convinced me that anyone applying for a corporate or executive position in a retail or service business must begin working in the rank-and-file for at least a month, preferably more. They can be paid well, and they don’t necessarily have to excel, but they ought to at least know what goes on at the ground level so they can make better judgments about why certain things happen.

    • Dragon Nexus

      It’s something managers seem to fail to realise. That customer who keeps coming in having a tantrum and demanding compensation (which you then give) is not earning you money. They’re *costing* you money each time they come in.
      and if they threaten to leave? Good! Now they’re the problem of your *rival* company, dragging them down instead of you.

      And now your employees are happier because you backed them up and they don’t have to deal with that person ever again. Win, win, win and win.

    • Stephanie McConnell

      If those ten people each tell ten more people…it sounds like a chain letter tbh
      And no one takes those seriously either so we’re all good.

  • RyderOrRiot1

    That shut her up

  • Chris Hubbard

    And then you were called into your supervisors office and fired because they monitor calls and thats way over the line of whats allowed. Deserved or not.

    • Kitty

      “I got fired for calling an idiot out on their idiotic lie. #howigotfired” Worth it.

  • faifai

    I really hope you actually said that. I really do. Because if you really did, then DAYUM! HA HA HA HA HA!

  • Souless night

    It’s called havinng a Facebook account

    • Will Flynn

      Which has what to do with anything, exactly? There are more misspelled, ignorant things posted on FB in 24 hours than should have ever existed in the history of humanity. Most “customer complaint” stories are BS, perpetrated by entitled idiots who are clearly in the wrong. Having a brain pretty much requires me to not ever base my shopping habits on what some random person posts online.

  • Kathryn Baggs

    I’d be surprised you didn’t get written up for that. I would always stick to the you must pay the overdue bill before we can get you back online. Nothing else. Any complaints about bad service, going elsewhere, etc. I’m sorry ma’am/sir but unless the outstanding bill is paid, I cannot turn your services back on.

    • I might’ve dared a “perhaps your friends can help with the outstanding bill”.

    • Stephanie McConnell

      Honestly I think they were counting on the customer (term used loosely since she doesn’t pay) to be too embarrassed by that burn to complain.

  • I like how OP decided to call them on that.

  • Denton Young

    Well played, OP.

  • John Mill

    Alright – I’ll do it.
    “I’ll take ‘Smart comments that never happened’ for $1,000 thanks Alex.”

    • Dsru Bin

      I’ll admit it – I’ve been on the receiving end of smartass comments like this. Keep in mind, after you’ve been working a call center for a number of months (assuming you haven’t burned out by then), you’ve heard most threats at least once and had the time to come up with a good response.

  • EffityJeffity

    This didn’t happen.

  • Ojevwe Naomi Odjegba

    Perfect response from OP.

    • Cathina Haynes

      No, it really isn’t.

      • Dsru Bin

        Why not?

        • Cathina Haynes

          Have you ever actually worked in customer service? Such a response would get the UP fired,I would hope. She’s representing the company, and if that’s how she talks to the customers, I would fired her on he spot.

          It’s only a perfect response if the OP doesn’t care about guidelines, respect, and has zero soft skills.

          Not that it matters. The whole story reeks of “made up, wishful thinking.”

          • Dsru Bin

            Yes, I’ve worked in Customer Service. I still do, as a matter of fact. And I’ve heard my direct manager say something very similar directly to a customer.

            This is a customer who is $650+ in debt and has no desire to pay it back. They’ve further stated that they aren’t going to pay it. Sounds like an EX-customer to me.

          • Cathina Haynes

            Yeah, your manager can say it, and when s/he does, she’ll have to justify her behavior.

            This isn’t monkey-see monkey-do.

            Who cares if she pays? It’s not OP’s problem. It’ll go to collections. The rebuttal wasn’t necessary or helpful in ANY way. Unless that’s how OP gets jher jollies. A lowly CSR, just itching to put a difficult customer in her place.

          • Dsru Bin

            And that’s where you’re wrong. How do I know? Because I know where I work, I know my manager, and I know what I can (and can’t) say. As you know none of those things, you’re forced to make assumptions, and be incorrect.

          • Stephanie McConnell

            Sounds like you really look down on CSRs in general

          • Cathina Haynes

            I do. I’ve been one for 20 years. I have little respect for people who do the bare minimum, even to solve an impossible request.

          • ShadeTail

            If you would fire OP for talking that way to *all* customers, then fair enough. If you would fire OP for talking that way just to obvious problem customers, then you are a bad manager.

          • Kirishima Touka

            I agree. It’s the kind of reply you WANT to make, but regs won’t permit it so instead you post the story online.

          • Gregmite

            the entire site is made up wishful thinking. no way all these people get these one liners out.

          • Stephanie McConnell

            As much as I hate to think about it this is 100% true.
            I’m usually the person that says “just shut up and let me enjoy this”

          • Gregmite

            there’s nothing wrong with enjoying it, I read it too, but it’s just that there are very few stories I believe on here.

          • Rebecca Charlton

            Glad I don’t work for you then. It’s a reasonable statement.

          • Cathina Haynes

            Yeah, that makes two of us.

  • John L

    They HATE it when you use logic on them……

  • Morthasa

    Wow. I think I scorched my eyebrows just from reading that burn.