There was an AskReddit thread about wtf bad customer service experiences, and I felt like typing up two of mine that have stood out (one recent). Here’s the post as it was on Reddit, I may brush up the formatting at some point:
I have two: (hindsight edit MASSIVE WALL OF TEXT, tl;drs at end)
1) My high school graduation present was to be dual 17″ flat panel displays for a computer I had rebuilt (this was ~2004). I had shopped around and found the model I wanted (some Sony, with VGA input) and a place with a very good price on them, nt-micro.com (thank fuck this place isn’t around any more, but their reviews on reseller ratings are still up apparently). My dad and I ordered two of them, and about a week later two appropriately-sized boxes showed up at home, win!
I opened them up to find that they were both actually a significantly more expensive model that had better panel quality and DVI+VGA inputs. As a high school geek I was very happy with my luck, figuring that they must have been out of stock on the ones we ordered and bumped up to the next model.
Upon setting them up, I noticed one had a bright red stuck pixel. I suspected they wouldn’t be able to do anything about it, but called anyway. They said (paraphrasing) “sure! here’s your RMA number, just send it back and we’ll replace it, no problem!”. I said that was awesome (which it was), but clarified that I really wanted the same model in exchange so that the panels were matched. I said if they couldn’t guarantee that be the case, I’d rather send both back and get the lower model for both. They said it would be no problem whatsoever.
Fast forward 2-3 weeks after we shipped the stuck-pixeled one back at our own expense, a box shows up. What do you know, it’s the lower end model. I called back and explained the situation and said I’d gladly ship either one back, as long as we got a matched pair of working panels. They apologized for the mix-up and said “let me go check what we have in stock in the warehouse”. He comes back to the phone and says “yep, we have one of the <better models> sitting right here. Just ship the wrong one back and we’ll get this out to you”
Fast forward another 2-3 weeks, shipping the lower model back to them at our own expense again. Another package shows up at home, the box indicates it is the right model this time!
I hooked it up to find that it was the one that was sent originally, with the bright red stuck pixel and the same serial number (which I had written down somewhere just to be diligent). What do you know the one in the warehouse was there because I HAD SHIPPED IT BACK 1.5 MONTHS PRIOR
So I call back, frustrated at this point. I explain the whole situation, very patiently.
“Sorry sir, our dead pixel policy is 5 or more stuck pixels or 7+ dead ones, we can’t accept an RMA for that item”. I spent the next 15 (?) minutes explaining that they already accepted this RMA on more than one occasion in the process of trying to make this correct. They apologized for that mistake (the mistake of trying to help in the first place when it should have been declined) and essentially stopped talking to me until I hung up.
I was heartbroken. I didn’t give a shit that it had a little red pixel. If they had declined the RMA the very first time I wouldn’t have cared in the slightest. But just that I had put so much time and energy into this just trying to let them make it right as they wanted to. I felt like so much time had been wasted working with them, and I was continually let down until finally insulted by being treated like crap on that last phone call. Also ignoring the fact that (iirc) this was a $850 order, and I had spent a bunch of my own part-time-job money shipping these back and forth to process RMAs
~~~ FIN (ish) 1 ~~~
2) This was very recently when I was ordering Comcast at our new apartment online. I had gone online in very early June to order service starting on July 1st. I got through the entire order process until the point when you select an installation date, and I saw that they only let you order service 2 weeks in advance. “Ok, that’s fine – I’ll come back in 2 weeks or so”
I went back around June 18th and went through the same process. First the special deal “for new customers!” or something very similar in phrasing – $19.99/mo for the first 6mo of <some tier> of service. Great! I went through that process (including one or two steps that confirmed I was a new customer with no pre-existing Comcast service) until it said “We are now finding a chat representative for you so you can finalize your order.” Hmm, I didn’t go through that last time.
The rep tells me (clearly not a native English speaker and working off a script of some sort) that the package I selected was for existing Comcast customers. I said it most certainly was not presented that way and I specifically was asked if I was a new customer while selecting it. He explained that it was a package for existing Comcast customers who are new Internet service customers. total wtf because he failed at explaining that the first few times he tried, and the site had enough information that it should not have led me down that path. Whatever, so now it’s $29.99. Even if something I misunderstood technically said it right, I was slightly bitter because it felt like a bait and switch (or more accurately, it felt intentionally misleading)
So now I go and start the process over, choose the right package, etc. At the screen where I had previously (in early June when I first tried) been shown the calendar to select my installation date, I instead was brought to the same screen “Please wait for a chat representative to join you and finish your order.” Fuck, I hope I didn’t screw up again…
He came online and explained that he was there to help with the order. Upon inquiry he said this was the normal process and nothing was wrong (they must have changed their process).
Now, on the previous screen right before being forced to chat with a non-native English speaker, you are prompted for your birth date and SSN for a credit check. Fine, that’s normal enough for a service where you are billed after service is delivered (and since they likely report back to the credit bureaus, which is good for someone younger like myself).
The first thing this guy does is ask for my SSN and birthdate. I explained that I just entered that into a previous screen on Comcast’s site and didn’t understand the need to provide it to a chat representative. He explained that it was for the credit check, I said “I know, but I already gave it for that.” He said “Yes, but we are not allowed to access the information from that previous form, For Your Security (TM)” (sarcastic trademark mine…). I facepalmed so hard he probably heard it in India and explained that I was uncomfortable giving this again because what he’s saying makes no sense to anyone who cares about information security or protecting their personal information. He insisted it was for my security that he didn’t have access to my information and I had to give it again. I again refused. I asked to speak to his supervisor because this was just baffling to me.
He has the supervisor call me, and we talk, and I explain how braindead this policy is. They both continually insist that this is For Your Security ™ and therefore it makes perfect sense that they aren’t allowed to access this exact same information that was supplied to Comcast. I continued to explain that I didn’t need to chat with anyone in the first place, I knew exactly what I wanted and thought the change in the order process was silly (and clearly flawed).
Anyway, I asked if there is any way for them to continue without my SSN/birthdate, they said no. “Ok I’ll give it to you but very begrudgingly so and I want to say for the record that this is ridiculous”. So I gave it to him on the phone, he gave it to the chat guy, and they finalized my order (and I stressed the same talking points to the chat agent).
So the talking points here:
1) Comcast’s marketing material on their site was very misleading
2) They changed their checkout process to REQUIRE that everyone chats with a non-native English speaker, even if zero assistance is actually needed
3) The process requires the agent asking for data a 2nd time, citing “security protections” which ironically say to me YOU DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO THAT INFORMATION FOR A REASON
footnote: Comcast actually really has their shit together technically – deploying DNSSEC-enabled resolvers for customers and having IPv6 available to a huge swath of their service area. It’s too bad that their customer service side is apparently ass (not technical support, haven’t dealt with that yet; no comment) and their politics are ass as well (playing games with their upstream ISPs, see: netflix/comcast/level3 debacle last year)
tl;dr 1: don’t buy hardware from small outlets, and if you do for the love of holyshit check resellerratings/etc first
tl;dr 2: Comcast has most of their non-technical heads up their giant company giant asshole; “Comcast won’t give us this information [that you already gave them] for security reasons, so you need to give it to me in this chat window”