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Incredibly frustrating customers
jake66




msg:3825948
 9:44 am on Jan 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Any of you have that sort of customer that is a pain in the rear months after the fact?

How do you get RID of them?
This lady has been slandering my website on EVERY website that she could post on for weeks on end. She's harassing myself and people that work for me over email, insisting she was ripped off (she wasn't!) -- she simply didn't realize that when she placed her purchase, it was well after the recommended date for *guaranteed* Christmas deliveries (which was more or less IN YOUR FACE on my website! Not hard to see/find at all)... she proceeded anyway. Now it's OUR fault. Even into mid-January, she claims non-receipt.

Prior to today, she said "So-and-so at this address was checking for me" .. as it is an established business with credibility, I request contact info for "so-and-so" to confirm her claim (if I could validate, I'd give her money back and she's been told this) -- yet she completely ignores me and yet proceeds to slander me around the web!

The total value of this transaction isn't worth any court fees, I just want to her to bug off. Any neat ideas to get rid of her, aside from giving into her demands for me to basically clean her rear?
I simply cannot let this crazy woman rip me off after the crap she's lied about on the web. (If she kept it to facts about the transaction & that she was unhappy.. whatever. But she's making up STORIES about these crazy things we said to her, and how RUDE my staff is, so on and so on..)

To-date, her petty item (with no real resale value) was shipped over 40 days ago. Even in the worst postal systems, I'd have to assume without a recognition of a doubt, she has it by now. [To make matters worse; she opted for no tracking #, even though it WAS an option at checkout]

 

Jack_Hughes




msg:3825965
 10:13 am on Jan 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Refund, make a grovelling apology for your "incompetence" and move on...

Yoshimi




msg:3826042
 11:31 am on Jan 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Lets assume for a moment, that this is this woman's first online purchase, she genuinely did miss your guaranteed shipping dates, and as you say it was posted out 40 days ago, she must have ordered before 5th December, so it wouldn't be unreasonable for her to have expected it before Christmas. Now on 14th Jan, after she is out of pocket having had to buy another gift, you are still refusing to refund her for non receipt of a small item (which I assume from your post is low cost) and you wonder why she is resorting to writing bad reviews about you on the internet. What information can you possibly need from her other then the fact that she hasn't received the goods. 28 days is a more then reasonable expectation for delivery of goods, an your goods haven't been delivered in that time, you shouldn't be blaming the customer you should be sending her a refund or replacement product, and providing some customer service in this instance.

I'm sorry but it sounds to me from your description like you are providing her with poor service because you think she is behaving badly, and she doesn't know any other way to get you to co-operate.You, as the business should chalk it up as a learning experience, take a look at your customer service policies and give the women her money back and apologise. After 40 days non receipt of item, and no money back, you can be sure I would be slating you ion every review site I could find too.

Essex_boy




msg:3826083
 12:50 pm on Jan 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Just refund it, simple

Glitzer




msg:3826178
 3:42 pm on Jan 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Your options:

1. Refund with grace and forget it.

2. Send a legal cease-n-desist order if she is really posting slander about your company.
Contact those websites that post her info that she's lying.
I had a bad customer who started to spam me from his Yahoo! email account. I wrote to Yahoo! and they took care of it.

3. Get a front office to diplomatically handle these customers. I have a virtual office that is my best investment in customer service that takes a big burden off me. Find one that does follow-up calls. If you need a recommendation, contact me.

4. Join your local Better Business Bureau.
Ours includes 2 or 3 arbitrations per year (we haven't used).
The customer can complain to the BBB who, unlike other sites, researches the issue and helps to resolve it. Having a reputable 3rd party involved helps the customer to understand the idiocracy of their complaint (if they have a brain larger than a pea).

Use this as a therapy session. It'll happen again. After a while, you'll better manage these types, both in customer service and mentally.

jake66




msg:3826483
 10:01 pm on Jan 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hey now, you guys are seeming like you feel as though I'm the bad guy here? I sent this lady's stuff out almost immediately after payment & she was simply too impatient for it (and/or had buyer's remorse). I don't see how I'm held responsible when things go south?

This is the issue:
you say it was posted out 40 days ago, she must have ordered before 5th December, so it wouldn't be unreasonable for her to have expected it before Christmas

There isn't any sort of chance she doesn't have it yet.
She started her slander long before the parcel even had a chance to make it's way through the postal system. (literally, DAYS after it was shipped)

Since she seems to be on a crusade, I get the feeling that even if she'd gotten it a week after she went berserk, she wouldn't admit it.

From the start, I had told her if the parcel exceeds the delivery estimate I'd replace it. But considering the fact she didn't even allow it time to reach her before she started slandering my company, I got the feeling she was trying to take me for a ride.

From the start, she seemed like one of those people it wasn't worth dealing with.. but she didn't contact me until long after I posted the parcel (else I would have refunded her immediately).

HRoth




msg:3826554
 11:20 pm on Jan 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Some people are just impatient. But in this case, you have no proof that she actually got it, so you don't have a leg to stand on. If she is making a lot of trouble, as far as I am concerned, you can either refund her and forget about it (you don't have to talk to her--just credit back her card) or you can just ignore her and hope she doesn't do a chargeback. As for the bad reviews all over the web, I have learned that even though companies have massive negative reviews all over the web such that any one of us would be lying awake nights wondering when we are going to be going out of business, companies stay in business. The reason is that most people don't read those reviews. Or they don't care. This is how real skeevs and ripoffs stay in business year after year. I see it over and over in my niche. It made me quit clenching so much about the bad-review issue.

I would just take this experience as a heads-up to make sure you have proof of delivery on every single thing you ship.

jake66




msg:3826608
 12:29 am on Jan 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

This woman has forced me to use alternate shipping methods for these types of items, so I definitely will be affixing delivery confirmation to all of these from now on. It was definitely a poor experience, but like a lot of you suggest, I did learn from it.

I've had some crazies in the past (been online for nearly a decade), but she is by FAR the biggest nut of them all.

I came across one of her profiles on these review sites and she was badmouthing a PC-parts supplier, came back a year later and wrote a positive review!

If she's so scathing mad to begin with, I can't fathom why she'd give them another chance. (Did they bow into her demands? Did that make her want to return?)

It makes me nervous thinking I'll unintentionally sell to her again. I have implemented checks in place for her address - hopefully she doesn't move.

Good point about big businesses & bad reviews. Makes the wound heal a bit better.

MrHard




msg:3826827
 7:23 am on Jan 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have one who is over a year old now. They did a chargeback and ultimately lost after they countered the max times allowed, I think three if I recall correctly.

They still keep repeatedly disputing the charge but it does not register with us or get deducted from our account. Someone from the bank just calls on the phone with the customers gripe and I tell them we already responded and it was taken care of. I guess they have to call in the interests of customer service but the system keeps them from doing another formal chargeback.

The issue was an item the customer thought was defective. After getting it back it turns out they did not know how to assemble it correctly, or more probably it was a Christmas return.

Several months ago they called (the first time ever I know of) and I even agreed to pay half of the restocking and shipping fees we usually charge for returned items of this amount which I never do because I am hard. They refused the refund! So I tried to credit them the money anyway because the chargeback issue was getting bothersome after a year but something had happened to the credit card account and it would not take a credit.

The thing that really worries me is that we are no longer in possession of the item. If they were to sue in court there would be no way to prove it was not defective, or maybe they would have to prove it was, not sure.

Kind of feel bad about this person fighting this of and on for a year of their life, the costs were just to much to refund and easily justify the loss about $600.

HRoth




msg:3826969
 12:08 pm on Jan 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

Some people are just nuts. I had a guy who ordered some widgets I was out of. I refunded him for them. Two months later he contacts me demanding a refund and says if I do not give him either another refund or the widgets in question as a "good will gesture," he will bad-mouth me all over the net. I refused to give him the free widgets or ANOTHER refund and told him to stop it. Since he had already been given a refund, he couldn't do a chargeback and then went on to the BBB. I laid out the whole thing to them and they told him as far as they were concerned, it was settled. So then he thought that I had co-opted the BBB and he kept contacting me and demanding free widgets and the second refund. Finally I told him if he did not stop contacting me, I would have him arrested, which of course I can't, but I thought he was crazy enough to believe it. I guess so, because I haven't heard from him since. Nutjob.

thorsten iceland




msg:3827096
 2:53 pm on Jan 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

HRoth wrote:
Some people are just nuts.

If you ever doubted it, you won't after reading the stories about customers - Google Search: Rude Customers aka The Paris Hilton Syndrome. We Won't Tolerate it for a New York Second [google.com].

Don't forget the old saw that the most dangerous type of people are the stupid (see for example, The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity).

[edited by: lorax at 1:58 pm (utc) on Jan. 17, 2009]
[edit reason] no urls please [/edit]

simonuk




msg:3827168
 4:06 pm on Jan 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

They used to be so rare but are becomming quite common.

Why do people wait weeks or months before reporting something missing?

Why do people make a chargeback months after ordering wihtout ever contacting you?

Why is it always worse Christmas and full moons?

We now send EVERYTHING next day and signed for. Costs more and we still get two dozen a year trying it on but it is worth it for the much less hassle.

Wlauzon




msg:3827191
 4:37 pm on Jan 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

A few years back we got accused of being part of some conspiracy because we "refused" to sell the person the parts he needed for a "free energy" machine he saw on some nutty website.

He even went so far as to make up some horribly ugly (free) website listing our name among all the people that were trying to suppress the spread of over-unity generators.

We thanked him for the incoming link to our site.

So my suggestion is to ask that customer to please post a link to your site...

dpd1




msg:3827551
 1:23 am on Jan 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think everybody has been down this road. To this day I have a guy that still has a huge slanderous thing on the front page of his site about our biz, because something I did ticked him off. Funny thing is, in the years since, he has gone to jail twice for defrauding people through the mail, for selling merchandise he probably never had to begin with. Yet, even though he's in jail, his site with him bad-rapping us is still up. I also can't remember how many times people took a tiny problem that I would have been more than happy to fix, and instead of even contacting us once, they went straight to the most busy forum they could find to talk trash about us. I can relate to laying there at night having it eat a hole in your stomach, but I guess it's just part of the biz. I recently had a guy who wanted to get his stuff before he left the country. I told him when we would send it and it should get there in plenty of time. I went way out of my way to make it happen, with no extra fees. This was right before Christmas. Well of course, out of all the stuff that went out, that was the one that took a few extra days. With still 4 more days left for it to show up, he sends me an email going off like a crazy person. The thing showed up the very next day with 3 days to spare. No apology from him of course.

MWpro




msg:3827587
 4:10 am on Jan 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Send a legal cease-n-desist order if she is really posting slander about your company.
Contact those websites that post her info that she's lying.
I had a bad customer who started to spam me from his Yahoo! email account. I wrote to Yahoo! and they took care of it.

I think this is your best bet. I would not hesitate one second to file suit against her for defamation. You may think that her comments are not worth the cost of litigation... but if they are appearing all over google when someone searches for a review of your products, then this could cost you some serious business.

However, assuming you live in the United States... jurisdictionally, you will most likely have to sue her in her own state's state court.

[edited by: MWpro at 4:12 am (utc) on Jan. 16, 2009]

chloe123




msg:3827622
 5:40 am on Jan 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

At first I thought you should give her back her money and move on. I have learned in business you can't take things personally. It's better to cut your losses and get it out of your life. It's not worth the stress. But then I got to thinking, if you reward her, she will get stronger and maybe she does this to everyone! Some people are thieves without a gun!

piatkow




msg:3827787
 1:27 pm on Jan 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

I long ago formed the opinion that there are people out there who get off on complaining and deliberately conduct their lives in such a way as to ensure that they are inconvenienced at every opportunity.

Jack_Hughes




msg:3827921
 4:43 pm on Jan 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

@Wlauzon - I wonder if offering bad customer service would garner more links than offering excellent service? I suspect it probably would, so does that mean that the worst sellers end up dominating google?

Shaddows




msg:3827936
 4:56 pm on Jan 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

ye, but they'll be on nofollowed pages.

Wlauzon




msg:3828080
 8:50 pm on Jan 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

..I wonder if offering bad customer service would garner more links than offering excellent service? I suspect it probably would, so does that mean that the worst sellers end up dominating google?

That is actually an interesting question.

There are hundreds of review sites around (many of them just Adwords farms, but still..).

Since bad places will tend to get reviewed and commented on a lot more often than good places, that could quite possibly influence search engines.

MWpro




msg:3828112
 9:41 pm on Jan 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yeah but the negative publicity in the surrounding search results will hurt you tremendously, offsetting any benefit you receive from a bump in the google rankings.

HugeNerd




msg:3828131
 10:27 pm on Jan 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

I wasn't going to respond, but now I feel somewhat compelled to. I've got a few ideas about handling customers that I know I lose sight of myself, but to which I invariably return.

1) The customer is always right...
You may not think so, but your opinion doesn't matter; especially not to the customer because you were wrong before they even contacted you. If you want their money, they're right. Period. Period. Period. Will this cost you money? Sometimes. Will it solve problems? Most of the time. Are some people simply crazy and unable to be satisfied? Of course. I'm not advocating always doing what the customer asks/wants; just saying that inaction (99.99% of the time) is absolutely the wrong solution. Tell them why you can't do what they want and offer to work with them come up with an amicable solution. Even the worst customers are still customers; they want something from you and, at some basal level, they understand that this requires your cooperation. So, work with them to find a solution.

2) Happy customers are all happy in the same way. Upset/angry/dissatisfied/unhappy customers are misreable in their own unique way. This means complaints are an opportunity to differentiate yourself and your establishment and to shine. If you can create a good experience out of a bad one, that's akin to alchemy; lead becomes gold instantly.
===> We've all had a customer call/write expecting to have some huge hassle and an argument about a return or a refund or ship times, etc. only to find out that you're easy to work with and that their concerns were unfounded. Remember how grateful that person was? I bet they even sent an email or asked to speak to your supervisor about how great you were...

3) Has anyone here ever been on the other side of the equation? Seriously, we must all buy something at some point! Just keep that in mind and consider how you would react if someone told you what you are about to tell your customer. Policies work and are there for mutual protection of merchant and customer. However, they're not the laws of physics and you can break or bend them as you please.

4) You're on the internet. This comes with certain expectations from customers: instant gratification; constant communication and feedback; solutions to every problem; answers to every question; knowledge that, of all the websites on the internet, they have deigned to do business with you -- meet their expectations or be traded off for the next in line; any and every idiot with a computer can easily locate you (this is what you've put in countless of hours of hard work to achieve) -- expect plenty of them to do so.

Sorry about this manifesto. Just had to add my, well, 4 cents seeing as how we all run to WWW here and slander our customers in regards to how they run to forums to slander us.

I'm still guilty of hating my customers upon occasion -- they can be annoying.

MWpro




msg:3828184
 11:50 pm on Jan 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

A happy customer tells a friend, but an unhappy customer can now tell thousands of people over the internet.

thorsten iceland




msg:3828417
 1:54 pm on Jan 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

chloe123 wrote:
At first I thought you should give her back her money and move on. I have learned in business you can't take things personally. It's better to cut your losses and get it out of your life. It's not worth the stress. But then I got to thinking, if you reward her, she will get stronger and maybe she does this to everyone! Some people are thieves without a gun!

From the above site I mentioned:
We have a financial interest in a national restaurant chain. That chain employs the most strict and customer-biased customer service policy of any business we know of in the United States today. Still, that chain experiences some type of problem with roughly 4% of its customers. No company could try harder to please -- yet they are still victim to outrageous behavior and rudeness from thousands of customers, nationally, every day.

Their anecdote about the diving instructor and his 'peas for free' crusade (if true) indicates that you might be right chloe123 and piatkow. A small minority of people do seem to grow stronger and more unreasonable when they are not stood up to.

If you give good service, or things out of your control occur with delivery, etc, but you are still libelled on the web, you should reply (see below).

However, if there is no public libelling, and the costs of doing so are not high, of course then terminate the bad customer relationship with a refund, etc., and do it in a way that if later they do libel you online, you have facts to demonstrate that you acted fairly and reasonably (if it comes to it).

Wlauzon wrote:
Since bad places will tend to get reviewed and commented on a lot more often than good places, that could quite possibly influence search engines.

It's a very interesting question that perhaps an SEO expert could comment on.

As much as one would not like to in some cases, it is necessary to reply to posts on such boards (and sites). Unfortunately silence is generally taken as agreement with the allegations, by the casual reader.

The main thing is to remain polite, but assertive in your replies. Then readers will see the contrast between the (usually) shrill and unreasonable sounding bad customer and the reasonable sounding merchant who counters with facts, apologies, and solutions to make sure that both sides to the story are straight for the record.

Occasionally you might even get a supportive post from one of your satisfied customers. But such posts are rare for most businesses.

(trendwatching's report this month has an interesting briefing on this, under the title FEEDBACK 3.0.)

eBay for example got it completely wrong when they made it so that sellers were no longer be able to leave negative or neutral Feedback for buyers. Now they are reaping the consequences. Amazon Marketplace in contrast seem to have got the balance right.

T_Miller




msg:3828528
 7:08 pm on Jan 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

FTC rules require you get the item ordered to the customer in the condition advertised. Liability doesn't stop when you drop it into the mail. That's a common belief of eBay sellers, but "I mailed it" won't hold up against a chargeback. You need proof of delivery.

Based on what I read in the OP, you used the post office as your delivery agent and didn't opt for any delivery confirmation (which protects the seller not the buyer).

Our delivery is done 99% by UPS which can be tracked and is insured up to $100. The few orders that go postal always go Priority Mail with online delivery confirmation. Since I'm responsible for getting the order to them, I use services that I can trust and to cover my risk.

That said, either send a replacement via trackable means or refund and be done with it. Don't make it personal. You don't have to sell to them again, but make them whole on this transaction.

JMHO

tigertom




msg:3830903
 1:35 am on Jan 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

If this person is giving bad reviews, follow them around and give your side of the story in the same place. They're giving you free publicity! It's marketing, baby!

A small pecentage of people are jerks. Yes, they do like complaining. And supine staff, political correctness and a litigious culture only encourage them.

'Old school' merchants would just tell them, calmly and cooly, to get out and never come back; "we don't want your business". Might even wake them up out of their fantasy-world.

thorsten iceland




msg:3898224
 1:21 am on Apr 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

Wlauzon wrote:
Since bad places will tend to get reviewed and commented on a lot more often than good places, that could quite possibly influence search engines.

I replied: It's a very interesting question that perhaps an SEO expert could comment on.

And now there just so happens to be a new thread on this very topic...

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