Why is customer service so bad?

Here's your chance to sound off on issues you've had with customer service

Published: May 22, 2015 01:00 PM

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Talk about infuriating. More than half of Americans storm out of a store or without making a purchase or hang up the phone without resolving their problem because of poor customer service. Share your customer service experiences below.

There's no disputing that finding help can be a nightmare. We've all battled companies at one time or another over erroneous bills, mysterious fees, faulty products they refuse to fix, and lost hotel reservations. When Consumer Reports conducted its first major customer service project several years ago, respondents complained most about the difficulty of getting through to a live person, endless waits on hold, dealing with ill-mannered, uninformed, and unapologetic in-store salespeople, and a lack of help, period.  

How you can make a difference

We're kicking off an even bigger study on the customer-service conundrum, and want you to help empower other consumers. Please see the survey below.

For our upcoming report, we want to hear about your biggest customer service success stories—seemingly hopeless experiences and situations that had a positive outcome because you refused to take "no" for an answer. Please be as detailed as possible and share the tactics, techniques, and strategies that proved effective.

In the meantime, keep fighting the good fight. You're not powerless. Consumers have tools to express themselves. Internet forums can turn one person's headache into a corporate nightmare. Companies actively patrol social-networking sites to monitor what's being said about them—and often respond to a concern before it goes viral. Twitter has become the go-to brand for customer support. 

Learn why customer service increasingly means self-service. And check out our advice on how to rattle a company's cage when things go wrong.

Other tips:

  • Though few companies post their toll-free numbers on all of their web pages, more and more offer live chats with agents. It's faster and more efficient than e-mail because you can have a clear dialogue. Be sure to print out a transcript of the conversation before signing off.
  • User communities within a firm's site are a sure-fire way to catch a company's eye. You can post questions, comments, and air grievances about products and services. Often, a representative will join the discussion.
  • Bypass automated phone menus. Check out websites such as DialAHuman and GetHuman, which list hard-to-find customer service numbers and advise how to bypass automated prompts to get a live person. 
  • Give praise. Thank a company for a good outcome, especially if you've griped publicly. That way, you won't be branded a whiner.

—Tod Marks

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