Five Types of Customers I Think We’re All Trying To Avoid

18 Dec

There’s an outlandish volume of effort put in to creating incredible customer service nowadays through online resources, books, and presentations (in addition to countless other avenues) and I totally agree with it. I love the state of customer service and the energy companies put in to create an awesome experience for their clients. You can return anything anywhere for any reason.

You still can't however, return a punch by Chuck Norris.

The flip-side of the improved emphasis on service is that there’s a growing number of customers who are turning into, or have always been, absolute tools. They believe being a customer excludes them from being respectful or having empathy for what it means to work in the service or retail industry.

Here are five ways you can be just like them:

1. I’d like to murder your business through the power of the internet.

There’s something special about the anonymity of the net that puts us all in a position where we feel we can say things we’d normally be too embarrassed or tactful to say in public (see: my blog). Take this stooge:

Let's tar and feather this guy.

So… Let me break this down. In the 5 years you’ve been going to the restaurant you’ve never bothered to take the time to write a positive review. Now that you’ve had a negative experience you wanted to show the world what a #%*$ing turncoat you are by creating a writeup representing exactly 1% of your experiences with said restaurant? How could you possibly come to the conclusion that the restaurant has “lost its sense of professionalism” and let its success get to its head based on tasting some warm soup? That’s like me making the assumption that you’re a pretentious twit based on this one lonely post. Except that I’d be right.

And your dog looks ridiculous.

Review sites are a great place to let others know about your experiences. Just remember that businesses (especially new ones) depend on your reviews to bring in new customers. So be fair. Don’t be like Chihuahua guy and reserve your posts exclusively for bad experiences.

2. I don’t think servers should be allowed to vote.

For some reason, certain people hear the word “server” and think “servant”. Just because someone is getting paid minimum wage to bring you a plate of ham doesn’t mean you’ve been given the green light to treat them like sub-citizen trash.

And I want you to cover my character flaws with extra cheese!!!

These customers get heated so quickly that it’s hard to understand how the Judicial System still lets them out of their homes. I’ve had plenty of experiences with customers who feel that it’s perfectly acceptable to begin yelling and swearing at an employee because of some unforeseen circumstance like a long line. Most people handle small inconveniences with a shrug and a sigh, but because they’ve been raised by wolves the only thing this customer knows how to do is bark and foam at the mouth.

Hey man, don't put that on us. We raised her right.

It’s not that you can’t get frustrated or complain, just do it in a constructive way that keeps the intention of the conversation in mind: To solve the problem, not to make the guy that has to deal with you for $7.00 an hour feel like crying.

And on a side note, learn how to tip. I know it’s not a mandatory charge, but it’s the voluntary tax we all pay for being waited on and served outside of our homes.

3. I’m not sure what was wrong but I’d like my money back. No, I don’t have any left.

There are customers out there who want to avoid any aspect of responsibility created by a purchase. Just three days ago, I was at a hole in the wall restaurant at a small airport in Oregon. I wasn’t too hungry, so I figured I’d order something small from the menu to share with my wife. Most everything on the menu was standard fare, burgers and fries, but I ordered the calamari.

I know, it looks delicious.

It was pretty bad, but what would possibly compel me to order calamari at a burger joint in the first place? It was a bad call on my part. You know what I didn’t do? Send it back. Why? Because I took responsibility for my ridiculous decision. I had a few more bites and let it go. We ended up ordering a slice of apple pie with ice cream, which by the way, was scrumptious.

So scrumptious.

Some customers lack the responsibility trait. I used to work at a cake shop and have had customers return their birthday cake with one slice left (and often no cake left) with an ambiguous statement like, “Too much flavor.” or “It was difficult to cut.” Because the company I worked for was awesome, we took care of them. There were definitely customers with valid issues, but occasionally it was just some clown trying to save 50% on the purchase price. “So, no one liked the cake, but you didn’t realize it until you were 24 slices in?”

Actually, it was Murphy who first pointed it out.

C’mon guys. Valid complaints help businesses improve and it’s always appreciated when customers have that intention. But some of you are thieves.

4. I know you’re required to be cordial and respectful since I’m the customer. Can I ask you a subtly inappropriate question about your life?

My wife worked as a server for a while at a restaurant in Vegas when she first moved to the United States. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management and has studied in England for about a year where she perfected her English (She’s originally from Ecuador). Despite being very well-spoken, she still has an adorable accent.

Most common question asked by customers?

“So how did you get into the states?”

And they asked it in a semi-whisper. You know. In case immigration was listening in.

Which they were.

I appreciate that people were truly interested in my wife’s history and were trying to engage her in some pleasant conversation. I just wish they had some tact. It’s uncomfortable enough responding that she’s happily married to a US citizen, could you imagine if she were actually here illegally? How could she possibly respond to that question?

I arrived via a plethora of piñatas.

Customers know servers are required to be cordial, so for some reason some believe that this is a good opportunity to ask questions that would be otherwise considered completely inappropriate. “Oh, you graduated with a degree in accounting? What are you doing serving then?”

Calculating how to ruin your day I guess.

Remember that just because someone is being paid to listen to your order, doesn’t mean that you should fill their ear with questions that are best suited to a counselor’s office. They have to act professional despite inquiries that make them uncomfortable, so don’t misinterpret polite laughter as an invitation to keep digging.

5. Wait wait… But it says one per customer. My 2-year-old daughter is making a separate purchase.

One of my least favorite class of dangerous customers are those that study the restrictions on a coupon with the intensity of Surya Rakta Chaitra.

Yeah, this guy.

You know those coupons you get sent via email that are something simple like “25% Off Your Purchase” and then have restrictions that are two pages long? You have this customer to thank.

I used to do marketing for a small local business. When I started, the stipulations were two sentences long, mostly “Some restrictions may apply.” and “Limit one per customer.” I quickly learned how to adjust to a class of person that is constantly trying to validate their attempts at cunning piracy. This is the same customer who walks out the door and back in to take advantage of the “one per purchase” statement. I know, you’ve found a loophole. It’s still cheating.

Nope, still you.

There are some pretty silly restrictions out there, and some are meant to misrepresent the value of the offer. Most however, are just trying to avoid getting taken advantage of by these guys. It might be true that you can interpret it to support your argument, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re trying to defraud an honest business.

I absolutely love customers, they’re the only reason businesses exist and the vast majority are absolutely awesome to deal with. As a fellow consumer, I try to be the kind of customer I would want to deal with, and it embarrasses me when I’m around patrons that have yet to learn how to deal with other humans in the client-server capacity. Those of us around them should really take a moment to remind them of the golden rule.

And here's a picture of Denzel Washington.


8 Responses to “Five Types of Customers I Think We’re All Trying To Avoid”

  1. Life in the Boomer Lane December 18, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    These stories make me sick. I think there’s a sense of entitlement that goes across the board, here, not just in restaurants. It shows up in people leisurely driving through red lights, blaming teacher’s for their kids’ low grades, and a lot of other actions that show a complete lack of personal responsibility. Ugh.

    • macsJF December 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

      It seems that when people aren’t willing to accept responsibility, it’s generally because they feel as though they’re the victim. And playing the victim doesn’t offer a whole lot other than being angry or sad.

    • dreamsamelia December 20, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

      No one in my town drives even 10 miles above the speed limit. No, they routinely drive 20-40 miles above speed limit. Given budget cuts, there aren’t enough police to deter this behavior, so it gets worse and worse every year.

      So please consider that those of us who drive at a leisurely pace through red lights do it not from a privileged sense of entitlement, but as a sort of citizen vigilantism of civic duty to impose the speed limit–despite it being an utterly futile, losing battle.
      I think I am the last living person on the planet who follows the speed limit, because I was ticketed in my formative years for driving 3 mph above 55. It took a lot of babysitting, at 75 cents an hour, to pay that ticket off. No help from my parents.
      I view the people who speed with impunity through red lights as the entitled, because they never faced the consequences of breaking the law…

  2. Sandra Parsons December 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    I have to agree, some people’s manners leave a lot to be desired. That’s true for pretty much all aspects of life but, unfortunately, being a customer seems to enhance the level of inconsiderateness. I suppose it’s to do with the notion that businesses are dependent on customers and will therefore take anything flung at them.
    Love this post, very insightful and constructive. Plus fun to read (and look at), what more could I ask for?

    • macsJF December 18, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

      Thanks Sandra! Glad you enjoyed the fifth post! It seems as though it’s almost an abuse of power… There’s leverage in being a customer, and some people get a distorted view of what acceptable behavior is in that situation.

  3. benn December 19, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    I read every word of this article and LOLed several times, but I want my money back.

    • macsJF December 19, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

      I’ve already spent it all on cocaine.

  4. Audra December 24, 2011 at 8:39 am #

    Thanks for the laugh:) Some people are not just rude but gross. It might be nice to trade places with some of the worst customers just to give them a feel for their cruelty. But then again, would they even care?

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