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Worst. Customer. Evar!

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Worst. Customer. Evar!

Old 12-16-20, 08:15 PM
  #1  
Bob Dopolina 
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Worst. Customer. Evar!

Well, I suspect this will get ugly at some point.

We deal with a wide variety of customers in terms of their technical knowledge. Since we sell a lot of small parts, this really does come into play. However, we've been selling these parts for over a decade and have put together lots of photos and diagrams to help people understand what we need to know to help them. We've also answered the same basic questions many, many times so a lot of our responses are rote by now.

Usually, that is.

Last week we sold a small part to a customer. Everything went fine and that should have been it. Then we received an email about a failed part from this customer. It's unfortunate, but it happens.

So we started the process of determining the cause and getting the right replacement part to them. To do this, we need to understand WHY the part failed so it doesn't happen again. So we start with basic questions:
1. How did you install the part (hammer?)
2. Where did you buy the original wheel?
3. Can we please get the serial number on the hub so we can confirm we are looking at the right model and therefore providing the correct parts.

This is where it goes south.

Question number 2 is particularly important. Right now, there are fake Novatec hubs from China floating around. They are close to the originals in spec (not materials) but not exact. We have seen this same failure before from installing actual Novatec parts in one of these fake hubs so we had to confirm this as the cause or rule it out.

The response?
"You sold me this thing. Give me a new one"
Our reply? " We will, but we need to make sure of a few things so this won't happen again." So we asked the same questions again.
And Again.
And again.
And again.

Then it was "I don't know what a hub is."

We sent photos and asked the same questions again.

That looped us back to the very beginning. Rinse and repeat.

Then, "You sold me this wheel. Give me the part".

We don't sell Novatec wheels.

We sent a photo of a wheel and said, "We didn't sell this to you. We sold you this part (another photo) but we need to know where the wheel came from"

And on and on.

Now we are being called names, accused of being scammers, etc, etc.

Some people just can't be helped.

Any other bad customer stories or I WAS A BAD CUSTOMER stories?
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Old 12-16-20, 08:25 PM
  #2  
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Have the customer send you copies of the invoices, cross reference them with your documentation and if they match, just refund him the money and tell him to toss the parts in the trash.

You'll never make him happy and never get a straight answer.

I have a home base business where I restore Bosch ignition distributors from the 50s and 60s. I sold one to a person and a month later I get a email from him stating it didn't work right, he sent to someone else to repair and said it was junk and sold him one of his. I asked the original customer why he didn't contact me and never got a straight answer. I told the original customer to send it back to me and I would refund every cent it cost him including shipping both ways. When I got it back the person he sent it to messed with it so I rebuilt it again. 3 days later I sold it to a local customer who drive to my house and I installed it. it ran perfectly and 5 years later I still know the local guy and it works flawlessly. I lost $80 between the shipping and tune up parts I couldn't sell as new, but I never heard from the original customer again so it was money well spent.

My point is you can't argue with stupid, so don't try.
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Old 12-16-20, 08:28 PM
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Any business dealing with the public, will have a small proportion of unreasonable people.
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Old 12-16-20, 09:55 PM
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In decades of servicing cars at gas stations and car dealers there have been many. One time I worked at a gas station. Lady needs a transmission rebuild, we tell her we will remove the transmission and send it out to be rebuilt, she agrees. Couple days later she comes back and it's not back from the rebuilder and she flips out, demands to see the boss, who is home recovering from having his wisdom teeth extracted. I tell her he is sick and will be back in a day or two. She calls the cops and tells them we stole her transmission. The cops show up and they take her side, so I call the boss at home and he comes in and his face is so swollen he's hard to recognize, so she insists he is not who he says he is. The cops can see he is suffering and he shows them his I.D. and they tell her to go home and they leave. Couple days later we finish her car and she picks it up as if nothing happened.
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Old 12-16-20, 10:17 PM
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Different gas station, lady comes in and says she thinks she has a slow leak in a tire. I tell her to leave it and I'll check. I put the tire in the water tank and I can not find a leak. She comes to pick it up and I tell her there is no charge because I can't find a leak. She flips out and starts screaming at me. "WHAT??? I'M NOT CRAZY! DO YOU THINK I'M CRAZY?" My friend tries to calm her down but she keeps screaming for some time before she finally leaves.

At the car dealer mechanics don't usually have to talk to customers unless the advisor asks you to and sometimes it helps us figure out what is going on with the car. Part of the problem is people think you just look at the car or hook it up to a computer and you know what's wrong with it.

I was asked to talk to a young guy about his diesel because he is having trouble with particulate regeneration which could be due to many things. I start running through the questions I want to ask and he says something like "I don't want to listen to this song and dance".I went back to work and he left it anyway and I fixed it

Last edited by big john; 12-16-20 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 12-16-20, 10:22 PM
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There used to be a local chain of home improvement stores that was pretty good- I would go there frequently for building supplies for my work.

The workers there deserved hazard pay.

While ordering cabinets, I observed a customer attempting to return a small 'personal sized' fan for over half an hour, wearing out a tag-team of sales people explaining that it wasn't bought there,

they didn't sell that brand, showing the similar one that they did sell, explaining the policy, etc. etc..

I think it is sport for some folks.
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Old 12-16-20, 10:47 PM
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Some people figure out the "lemon law" and abuse it. I worked on a guy's truck for an intermittent problem. He claimed we couldn't fix it and got a buy-back. I saw him later with his new truck and I had to ask about the other truck and why he didn't bring it back. He said I did fix it but he decided he wanted an extended cab instead of the regular cab he had bought, so he complained to G.M. and they bought it back so he got the one he wanted without losing any money.

A 19 year old guy gets his mother to buy him a zo6 Corvette. With special wheels and extras it's $105,000 out the door, She pays cash. Kid brings it in almost every day with some stupid complaint, usually saying it's not fast enough. Eventually he has someone put an aftermarket program in, a clear warranty violation, and now it's fast enough. He beats on it for a few months and gets tired of it. He drains the transmission, we think, and ruins it, hoping for a buy back. We fix the transmission, so he blows up the engine and gets his buy back. With lawyer fees he gets a check, made out to him, for $125,000.
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Old 12-16-20, 11:21 PM
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I'm one of those bad customers. Walked into a local shop, very popular in the area. I see a Continental tire on the rack for $69. I needed a tire and didn't plan ahead. The sticker said $69 (way overpriced) but I took it to the register anyway. The manager's wife said it was $75. What!? It says $69. She rambles a bit then says in the most sarcastic voice, "you're lucky somebody mislabeled it!".

I said, "you're lucky I came in, I can get it online for $36, BYE!". I wasn't in that much of a rush to buy a tire. I had to wait a week but I got 2 for the price of 1 online.

I really suck as a customer.
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Old 12-16-20, 11:27 PM
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Then there are lawsuits. At a car dealer there are always lawsuits, some with merit, some frivolous. In 1995 Suburbans were hard to get. They were selling fast and GM was trying to get another plant running to keep up with demand. A lady was looking for a new one and we didn't have any but we had a nice used one that the previous owner had done some modifications on, so she bought it.
Long story shortened she moved to another area and a guy she was dating told her it wasn't smog legal. She called the dealer and said she wanted $200,000 for her pain and suffering. Of course, we had to go to court and I had to testify, since I had performed the smog test. We had to drive 200 miles to her new town to inspect it at another dealer. While there I heard her tell someone it was the best car she ever had and she had put 60K miles on it.

She sued people for a living and when she bought the car she bragged about getting the money from another lawsuit. We weren't allowed to bring that up in court. She asked in court for $200,000 and ended up with a $32K award but she had to give the car back, pay her team of lawyers, and half of the court costs. Ridiculous.

I could do this all night.
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Old 12-17-20, 12:18 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
Different gas station, lady comes in and says she thinks she has a slow leak in a tire. I tell her to leave it and I'll check. I put the tire in the water tank and I can not find a leak. She comes to pick it up and I tell her there is no charge because I can't find a leak. She flips out and starts screaming at me. "WHAT??? I'M NOT CRAZY! DO YOU THINK I'M CRAZY?" My friend tries to calm her down but she keeps screaming for some time before she finally leaves.
I had a somewhat unpleasant flatmate who would check his tyre pressures weekly. We made sure one tyre regularly lost about 5psi a week. Yes there was some frustration at the tyre shop (puncture repairs were free).
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Old 12-17-20, 05:52 AM
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I must say , in 37 years of being self employed( cutting tools) that I have only lost it twice and both people deserved it. I have been very fortunate with my regular customers , some have been with me since the beginning . The only thing is they keep worrying about me retiring as I am the only one in my area . I learned the trade in the early seventies and after ten years bought my own machines and started taking on work while still working grave yard at the aerospace company that I served my apprenticeship at. After a couple of years I had enough to go full time. At times it can be challenging and the hours long , but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. The bonus is I have a shop to store a lot of bikes!!
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Old 12-17-20, 07:06 AM
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You guys are all pikers. 35 years teaching college students has given me a huge trove of sad stories: academic dishonesty, excuses for missing exams, etc. At almost every gathering of college professors, the stories start flying, with each person trying to “one up“ the others.
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Old 12-17-20, 07:25 AM
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Many stores have very generous return policies, but sadly some people abuse them horribly. On another forum, there were tales of people returning lawnmowers to Home Depot in November, caked with grass from a whole season of use. Then they turn right around and buy a snowblower, which of course they'll return in May when it comes time to mow the grass!

Or the guy who returned some tires to Macy's.... Macy's of course doesn't sell tires, but the customer was obnoxious enough that eventually they had to summon a manager who was able to look up the price (at another store apparently) and then gave the customer however much money that was.

Worst I've seen personally was the guy I used to know who was constantly buying expensive stuff, then returning it within the 30-day return window. Like fancy high-end DSLR cameras.... Every photographer knows of B&H Photo, right? This guy would buy a new camera and lens, take it on vacation with him, then promptly return it the day after he got home. Or sometimes he'd buy expensive items, like leather jackets for example, but he'd get buy two sizes. He'd wear both for awhile and then return whichever one didn't fit as well. Somehow I doubt any of this stuff can get put back into inventory as "New".

He's now a small-business owner himself. I wonder how he'd feel if his customers did the same?
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Old 12-17-20, 07:35 AM
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It's impossible to reason with people who are unreasonable. Fortunately for all our sakes, there are more folks who are reasonable than not.
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Old 12-17-20, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by UCantTouchThis View Post
I see a Continental tire on the rack for $69. I needed a tire and didn't plan ahead. The sticker said $69 (way overpriced) but I took it to the register anyway. The manager's wife said it was $75. What!? It says $69. She rambles a bit then says in the most sarcastic voice, "you're lucky somebody mislabeled it!".
I used to buy model trains at a hobby shop that was just like that. Everything was priced at full maximum retail, or maybe even higher. An item for $50 at this store would be $45 at any other store, and $35 online. Once or twice a year, they'd have a big sale but they'd take certain items and hide them in the back room so they wouldn't be included in the sale pricing.

One day, I found something I wanted - two of them actually - and I took them up to the register where the owner's wife was working that day. She looked at them, and asked, does Ron (the owner) know you have those? I said no, I got them right off the shelf. She had some reservation about selling them at the marked price and wouldn't ring me up until Ron got off the phone and came over to give it his blessing. I have no idea what her concern was because the items weren't miss-marked; they were full retail.

I found it so annoying I just left without buying anything.
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Old 12-17-20, 07:59 AM
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The customer didn't know what a hub was, but was attempting to install a part in it! No surprise the customer is having a problem. I would think most who work on their own bikes would know the name of the part they are working on. I may not know all the names of the bits and pieces inside a hub, but a hub is not exactly a part which most of us would have trouble identifying. And if I didn't know, the LBS would likely have an exploded view, or I could find it online.
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Old 12-17-20, 08:16 AM
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I worked in retail for various companies for about 40 years. At two of the companies that I worked at, they had a flagging system that would pop up if one of "those" customers tried to buy something. It took a lot to get to the point where you fired a customer.
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Old 12-17-20, 08:36 AM
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bike shops are often subject to minimum pricing, so they are contractually obligated not to sell some products below a certain price. for example, in the case of some tires, the prices online are less than what the shop has to pay for them. matching those types of prices is tantamount to the bike shop giving the customer money to take merchandise away. I'm not sure how online retailers do this, but it's more common with European stores who must not be subject to those policies. is an old story and most of us have heard it before. I no longer have any stake in this issue, fortunately. if you can buy it cheaper online, then do that. don't rub salt in the wound of a struggling small business. that makes you an *******.
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Old 12-17-20, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Reflector Guy View Post
Many stores have very generous return policies, but sadly some people abuse them horribly. On another forum, there were tales of people returning lawnmowers to Home Depot in November, caked with grass from a whole season of use. Then they turn right around and buy a snowblower, which of course they'll return in May when it comes time to mow the grass!

Or the guy who returned some tires to Macy's.... Macy's of course doesn't sell tires, but the customer was obnoxious enough that eventually they had to summon a manager who was able to look up the price (at another store apparently) and then gave the customer however much money that was.

Worst I've seen personally was the guy I used to know who was constantly buying expensive stuff, then returning it within the 30-day return window. Like fancy high-end DSLR cameras.... Every photographer knows of B&H Photo, right? This guy would buy a new camera and lens, take it on vacation with him, then promptly return it the day after he got home. Or sometimes he'd buy expensive items, like leather jackets for example, but he'd get buy two sizes. He'd wear both for awhile and then return whichever one didn't fit as well. Somehow I doubt any of this stuff can get put back into inventory as "New".

He's now a small-business owner himself. I wonder how he'd feel if his customers did the same?
I worked at Brookstone’s for a couple of years, when they still had their unconditional return policy. We had several customers who would buy the bug zapper light ( those blue bulbed insect fryers); use them continuously for a season and then place them, completely full of bug carcasses, back in the original box for a full refund. They essentially rented them for a season. I believe that Brookstone no longer has an unconditional return policy...
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Old 12-17-20, 09:14 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
bike shops are often subject to minimum pricing, so they are contractually obligated not to sell some products below a certain price.
IANAL, but I don't think that that's correct or legal. Shops are often subject to MAP - minimum advertised price - but can sell at whatever price the deem fit. In your tire example, it's not that the shop is obligated to sell above a certain price, it's simply that it's not sensible to sell below their cost unless they have stock that they need/want to liquidate.
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Old 12-17-20, 09:16 AM
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I spent many years in the ski industry. Sometimes lifts stop due to mis loading passengers, high winds, etc. normally depending on the length of stoppage the resort may have programs for irate guests. An example would be a lift that was stopped for up to a half hour people might get a free hot chocolate, longer durations could get a lift ticket, half day, whatever.

in the mid ‘90’s I was a manager staffing a mountain top hut devoted to fixing guest problems. The gondola stopped for about a half hour, a guest had had a heart attack while going up the hill. When the gondola got to the top and the doors opened the lift operator found guests giving CPR to the victim. He stopped the lift and called ski patrol and the on-site doctor. Patrol came to continue to do CPR and use the AED while waiting for the doctor, all of this happening inside the gondola. Fast forward about 30 minutes, sadly the gentleman is dead and never resuscitated. Situation is dealt with and gondola starts moving again.

everyone is obviously sad and upset a few people who hear about it and ask questions. Except one guy who comes stomping up to me saying that he wanted a free full day lift ticket, that it was absurd that we held the gondola stopped while working on the guest. I still remember his exact words “they should have pulled him out he was already dead, I should know I’m a cardiac surgeon”. Apparently he was in the gondola right below the one with the victim.

closest I ever came to losing it with a guest. I said “well thanks for your help” and walked away from him never looked back and never offered any assistance. I believe he went to higher mgmt through guest services at the time, I was a mid-senior mgr then. The team backed me up and he was told that perhaps that wasn’t the best resort for him.
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Old 12-17-20, 09:59 AM
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You can't argue with stupid and will most likely never be able to make this customer happy. Seems like he's acting in bad faith so I wouldn't bother reimbursing him if I were you, as long as it doesn't result in monetary loss for your business in the long run (IE, negative feedback left that would influence potential buyers, trash talking on forums, etc.). This is one of the few reasons why some Amazon/eBay sellers don't argue with picky customers and often fully reimburse them without even asking for the broken/defective product back.
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Old 12-17-20, 10:17 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
You guys are all pikers. 35 years teaching college students has given me a huge trove of sad stories: academic dishonesty, excuses for missing exams, etc. At almost every gathering of college professors, the stories start flying, with each person trying to “one up“ the others.
Sadly, most of my stories are from recent years. the frequency of lame excuses has increased greatly.
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Old 12-17-20, 10:19 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by robbyville View Post
I still remember his exact words “they should have pulled him out he was already dead, I should know I’m a cardiac surgeon”. Apparently he was in the gondola right below the one with the victim.

closest I ever came to losing it with a guest. I said “well thanks for your help” and walked away from him
What a scum-bag. Your restraint qualifies you for sainthood.

I seem to recall some sort of oath that says you won't just sit there watching someone die.
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Old 12-17-20, 10:33 AM
  #25  
Koyote
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
You guys are all pikers. 35 years teaching college students has given me a huge trove of sad stories: academic dishonesty, excuses for missing exams, etc. At almost every gathering of college professors, the stories start flying, with each person trying to “one up“ the others.
Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
Sadly, most of my stories are from recent years. the frequency of lame excuses has increased greatly.
The one that really stands out was about twenty years ago. It was one of those rare clear-cut cases, no question, documented with 100% certainty. We (my GTA and I) gave the young scholar every opportunity to admit his mistake, to take ownership of it, but he stuck to his story. So, I had to drop the hammer on him...Since he was going to flunk the course either way, I felt it had to be referred up the University's administrative hierarchy for institutional sanction.

The very next day I got a letter from his father, who was a local attorney, on his law firm stationary. (Still don't know how he got the letter to my office within 24 hours!) It was quasi-legalistic, quasi-threatening, very long, and copied to my department chair. "My son is honest, he would never lie," etc etc. From the letter, it was clear that the student had not been completely forthcoming with his father -- not surprising.

Of course, with one phone call to the father, I could've explained exactly what his son had done, and that the evidence was incontrovertible. But FERPA prevented that, of course.


The other one that really sticks out: very large lecture hall, couple hundred students in an intro to Econ course. No real chance of knowing each individual. A young woman takes test, turns it in with one of my students' names on it (let's call it "Susan Jones"), and I just KNOW that this woman is not in the class -- I recognized her from being around our building, and knew she wasn't one of my students. Obviously a ringer, taking the exam for a friend. Asked for her ID, and she hurriedly said, "I don't have it with me." I responded that she would need to stop by my office with an ID before I would grade the exam.

Week later, I return the exams - but not hers. Susan Jones emails me about it, and I remind her to stop by my office with her ID. Hesitated, then said she would do that. The next day, a completely different woman (not the one who turned in the exam) walks in my office, pulls an ID out of her pocket, and hands it to me -- it's Susan Jones, of course. "Don't bother," I said. "I'm not blind." Flunked her, and sent a letter to the campus office that handled academic dishonesty.

Spotted the other student - the ringer - a couple weeks later, walking into a colleague's classroom. THAT'S why I recognized her - she was majoring in Agricultural Econ, which was right next door to our dept. I went in the room, asked my colleague to tell me the name of the female student in the last row on the right -- I pointed her out. He told me her name. All this happens while she is watching, looking like she's s****ing her pants. I walked out and wrote another letter.

Last edited by Koyote; 12-17-20 at 08:16 PM.
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