NIGHTMARE: 7 Customer Service Blunders That Went Viral


Truth is, most people have dealt with terrible customer service in their lifetime.

Consumer Reports found 64 per cent of people walked out of a store last year because of bad service.

But as unpleasant as they may be, customer complaints help reveal blind spots in a business. With more vehicles than ever for people to air out their grievances, it’s crucial that businesses educate employees on how to react and respond to complaints, always be  professional — and when appropriate, use some creativity and humour.

For example, one man used Twitter to vent after Southwest Airlines told him he was “too fat to fly” after he had been seated. Another Alabama tornado victim posted his story on the Internet after Charter Communications told him to “look around” for his cable box if he didn’t want to pay a fee.

To illustrate these, we looked back at seven highly-publicized tales of poor customer service.

United Airlines broke this guy's guitar, and he sang about it on YouTube

Verizon continued to charge this woman for her dad's account, even after he died

After Cynthia Lacy's father died on December of 2009, she contacted Verizon to cancel his account. The cell phone company refused to cancel the account without his PIN number. The company continued to charge her until March of 2010, even after she sent Verizon her father's death certificate.

'Well, there's nothing else I can do for you,' a representative told her before laughing and hanging up the phone. 
It wasn't until Lacy contacted the Consumer's Edge column of the St. Petersburg Times, that Verizon took action and decided to refund her for the months she was charged.

Toyota waited a week to apologise for a defect that killed at least 34 people

When Toyota's U.S. head of sales Jim Lentz appeared on the Feb. 1, 2010 morning news to discuss the company's retail crisis, he was criticised for being a week too late. 

By then, 2.3 million vehicles in the U.S. had already been recalled due to a pedal defect linked to acceleration, and Toyota's president had already issued a 75-second apology.
 By the end of the month, Lentz admitted that it had taken Toyota 'too long' to respond. 
The recall cost Toyota $21 billion in market value.

Bank of America doubled this woman's interest rate

After Bank of America set an unfair interest-rate hike (from 13 to 30 per cent), Ann Minch returned the favour with a 'Debtors' Revolt,' a YouTube video where she called the bank 'evil, thieving bastards.'

Two weeks later, after the video was picked up by multiple venues and Minch made a television appearance at Fox and Friends, Bank of America contacted her and agreed to lower her rate.

'Just because my personal account situation has apparently been resolved, which is a small victory for this debtors' revolt movement, we still have a war to fight,' Minch said in her last video.

Walgreens stopped answering this woman calls after incorrectly filling her prescription

After Larina Helsom started feeling chest pains so intense that it caused her to receive surgery to prevent muscle spams, she realised the Walgreens pharmacy had been filling her prescription incorrectly for almost a year.

Instead of the recommended 5 mcg, the Walgreens' pharmacy had given her a bottle for 50 mcg pills, 10 times the prescribed dose. Nobody in the pharmacy noticed the mistake for months.

Helsom missed work and wanted to be compensated for her medical issues, but said that Walgreens referred her to a third party company and then stopped responding to her phone calls. Walgreens said they believed the dosage she was receiving was within the normal range for the medication.

Walgreens told ABC News they were sorry, and were going to work to prevent the incident from happening in the future.

After a series of tornadoes hit Alabama last April, cable company Charter Communications told victims to 'look around the neighbourhood' to find their cable boxes and return them, or pay a $212 fine. When customers complained about it on stopthecap, the company released a statement:

'Charter will not charge customers for missing, destroyed, or damaged equipment as a result of the recent tornadoes.'

On the other hand, some companies have perfected the art of customer service

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