Spanking the Demanding Customer

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photo: Google

Tantrums, Threats, and Violence:  For a free drink

A Career of Bad Behavior

There are some people who believe they’ll get better service, upgrades, if they are demanding.      Many of these people believe loud and obnoxious, is an effective tool in getting what you want!

The prize is can range  from a free drink or a free vacation.   A lot of these people have made a career of bad behavior. It doesn’t matter if they create an environment that makes others uncomfortable, it doesn’t matter if they’ve embarrassed friends and family, its all about the prize.

One well heeled couple are known in the Sacramento Area restaurants for demanding free meals. Their goal is to never pay for a meal.  If their demands aren’t met ,they will call or write the corporate headquarters demanding full reimbursement AND a coupon or credit towards  future meals.    Big chain or small restaurants, they will threaten the owner  with poor reviews on yelp and other areas of social media.  One restaurant chain has banned them from all their restaurants in the region.

One couple harassed customers outside the restaurant, telling potential diners they were refused a refund after one of them found a roach in her pasta.  The story: After nearly finishing his meal, the diner complained to the server his food had a funny taste and he didn’t want to pay for his meal and his companions meal.  The police were called and the diner reluctantly paid.   After the police left, they started talking to customers as they entered the restaurant.    Again, the owners called the police. The coupled returned the next day .

And its not limited to restaurants, hotels, they attack or abuse other businesses.

Some people have brought their own insects to hotel demanding a full refund and  then demanding the hotel return the insect to them so they could show the offending insect to their attorney.

Seasoned professionals can often recognize the abusers its tone, a directness.   These individuals are often successful because its easier to right giving them something to leave.  For some major chains.  There are financial penalties to management if the case isn’t closed in quickly .

Some business are striking back.  Some restaurants are invoking “Their right to refuse service”  Hotels, Rental Car Companies and Airlines are telling some of their reward customers being told no thank you.

One customer refused to accept No and his case  went all the way to the Supreme Court.

In 2008,  Rabbi Binyomin Ginsberg, a Platinum elite member of Northwest (merged with Delta Airlines) Airlines frequent fryer account was canceled because they believed  Rabbi Ginsberg complained too much.  They said he abused the system by complained too much (more than 24 times in a six month period)  He complained about delayed baggage and intentionally booking himself on full flights in the hopes of getting lucrative bump opportunities.   (To retain reward/frequent travelers-customers are often compensated in the form of points/miles )

Rabbi Ginsberg believed the move was an effort by Northwest to purge its expensive frequent flyer program before proceeding with its merger with Delta. The case was fought at the state level, in federal circuit court, at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and finally wound its way to the Supreme Court who ruled that  an airline had the right to dump a frequent flier who complained too much.

One tool many companies used is a profile that follows the member from store to store city to city.  In the travel industry, locations are alerted if there is a pattern of behavior and they are advised not to compensate the abuser.

Spanking an Abusive Customer

Many customers abuse for sport. Yelling screaming tantrums that may include throwing items off desks.   Its not a single event because they have been rewarded after these events.  For a lot of them tears, screaming, threats, represents  bonus points, empathy doesn’t exist. One angry customer berated a server for 10 minutes leaving her in tears. He later blamed the manager for hiring such an incompetent employee.

At one rental car agency at an airport location a customer insulted the rental representative bring her to tears.  A manager was called and refused to rent him a car.  The angry customer went to the rental car company next door and they said they were out of cars.  As the frustrated customer was at the counter, one of the representative was calling the other agencies with a full description of the gentleman.   The gentleman took alternative transportation to the city.

Two thousand years ago ,I bused tables in a restaurant at a large hotel in San Francisco.  There was a regular guest of the hotel who was notoriously abusive to the staff, if the supervisor wasn’t around we personally handled her food.

The Ultimate Revenge

From 1994 to 1999 Ford imported a car from Korea called the Aspire.  It was a horrible vehicle. Those of us who work at a major rental car company often chose to upgrade a customer then to give them this unreliable car.    However they would save the Aspire for one special customer, not because he requested the car, it was simply because he was an ass.

Every Friday, it was the same, he would book an subcompact car at the downtown location  arriving just before closing.   Hoping to get a upgrade , when he didn’t get the upgrade, he would remind the agent how long he has been a customer, and owed him for his loyalty. What he didn’t know, if he were nicer and simply asked for an upgrade he would likely get one.

The gentlemen was well known in the office. In a fit of anger he narrowly hit one of the service agents who delivered his car.  He threaten two of the managers, and even yelled at the custodian.   Every one knew that Ford Aspire belonged to Mr. W****. They also knew his routine. He would drive to the San Francisco airport and tell them the car was defective and demanded to be upgraded for his inconvenience.  He seem to have a negative fan base there as well and the staff at airport made sure have an Aspire ready for him between 10 and midnight.  After returning a with Chevy Corsica a call as made to the Oakland and San Jose Airport locations.  By winter the customer stopped patronizing our office.

Rarely does a company go to such  lengths to rid themselves of a customer. Within reason, its easier to give an inch, allow the customer a win, instead of fighting. However, many of us felt, vindicated.  This was the one! We spanked him good!

When the service is Bad!

There are many instances when the service is truly horrible.  Before having an aneurysm take a breath.  Screaming may get their attention but you may not get what you want, after all they are human.     Before calling a manager or supervisor. Again take a breath. Speak to the employee he or she may have the ability to resolve some customer service issues.  This may also reduce your wait time as there are only a limited number of supervisors or managers on .   If she is unable to resolve the issue, she can help facilitate for you or refer you the proper department within the company. the calmer you are, the more she is able or willing to fully help you.

What if they are unwilling to help you or their solutions are unsatisfactory? 

Take a breath!  Its now about perspective.   While you would like a immediate resolution, the reality is , it simply may not happen today.   I’ve witnessed individuals miss flights, concerts, and seen individuals arrested due to principal!

Take a BREATH!

Remember, like you they’re human.  If voices are raised for an extended time or there are threats the police will be called.

The Pen is much more effective than the tongue”

Take a breath!   Take out a pen and write down date and time you were in the business  dates and time and the names (last names are not necessary) of the employee you came in contact with.      Make copies of all pertinent documents(receipts, coupons etc)  Ask for a telephone number or the address of the company headquarters. Write a concise letter. (not war and peace) to the company.   Include a daytime number as they may need additional information.

If the issue is under $100, send the letter by regular mail.   If it is considerably more , send it via express mail or a registered letter requiring a receipt.

Most businesses take customer service issue seriously, a letter, especially one sent via express mail will get their attention.

Many decades ago, I visited an Sacramento area Wal Mart, the children clothes was reduced to $3.  Thinking it was mispriced I asked someone to verify the price.  The department manager confirmed.  The cashier refused to honor the price.  Even in the presence of the department manager.  I lost it, after waiting 30 minutes for a manager who never came, the cashier agreed to honor the charges.     Arriving home, I wrote Wal Mart. Three weeks later Wal Mart refunded all the charges.  They cared.

Many large companies have a file on the abusers.









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