The Lost Art of Customer Service

12 Oct

What has happened to the customer is always right? Of course, in reality, the customer is not always right but the business that he or she is patronizing “should” treat that person with respect, dignity and appreciation. If it was not for the person buying the product or service, that person would not have a job.

I recently experienced the ultimate betrayal in customer service when the worker in my case, threw out the “customer is always right” manual and opted for “treat the customer like shit so they never come back again” handbook. My very unpleasant experience occurred a couple weeks back at a Firestone shop in Denton, TX. My 2001 GMC Jimmy had been making some quirky noises for a few days and I needed to check it out. I had to travel over an hour to the closest Firestone shop so I could use my Firestone charge card since I didn’t have the cash.

The noise turned out to be the fact that the back brakes were totally shot, including the rotors. Yes, those brakes had served me well, over 145,000 miles. The assistant manager was very professional as he laid out how much the “job” would run me. He even “educated” me on how the brakes, pads, caliper and rotors work together. I have never been much of a “car” guy so his explanation, using large visual aides was appreciated.

Fast Forward three hours and the assistant manager is already 20 minutes into OT so he quickly checks my ID so he can get approval from Firestone (charge card)  to pay for the job. Then, he disappears and I am left with the customer service manager. I will call him Mr. W.  Well, Mr. W. quickly informs me that I owe over $650 for the job. I counter with, excuse me…but I was quoted $350 for the job by the “other guy”, three hours earlier. Mr. W. questions me: he didn’t tell how much he would cost? He had said about $350. I asked to  see the breakdown of the costs. Mr. W. showed me the computer screen vs. giving me a print out. The computer “bill” is confusing so I ask for a print out “bill”.

This request aggravates Mr. W. as he points to the computer screen, see, the print out would be the same as the screen. I tell him once again that I don’t understand the “screen bill” and to please give me a print out. Finally, after some huffing and puffing, he give s me a print  out but it doesn’t show all of the costs. I point this out to him and he becomes more aggravated. I then look at the “screen bill” and ask him how much is the total for taxes. He fires back, what is the tax rate in Texas? Excuse me, I live in Oklahoma, I am not familiar with the TX tax rate. He refuses to give me the tax total.

I finally step back from the counter and tell Mr. W. that he is a “complete a-hole”. Believe me when I write this, I have never, ever called someone an a-hole to their face. That is how upset I had become. He took my remark in stride and asked to see my ID so he could get approval from Firestone (charge card) to pay for the job that I have still did not understand. I replied, I already presented my ID to the “other guy” before he left magically. I added, that he had already got pre-approval for the  job. Mr. W. then demanded my ID. I again told him that I had given my ID to the other guy. He then quickly closed out my transaction and moved his attention to the next customer, leaving me speechless.

I proceeded to walk out to my Jimmy (they had parked it out in front of the shop with the key in it) and sat there to ponder what had just happened. Shocked! Disappointed! I called the customer service # on the back of the print out and told the lady my situation. At about the same time, Mr. W. came out to my vehicle and then turned back around without saying a word. The lady on the phone informed me that Mr. W. was going to summon the police if I didn’t show my ID. Can u believe this? I couldn’t. I asked my lady friend to take my ID into Mr. W. and she did.

The lady on the phone told me that a district manager for Firestone would be contacting me in the next 48 hours to take my complaint.  The next day, the store manager of that Firestone shop I had visited the day before called me. He wanted to know what had happened between me and Mr. W. I informed him that I had given a complete statement to the customer service lady already. He said that he didn’t get that report and that he needed to hear it from me on what happened. I asked him if had at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to take my story. He said no, but would call back in about an hour to take it then. He never called.

Of course, I will never, ever return to that Denton, TX Firestone shop and I will never, ever trust Firestone again.

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