Worst Customer Service Awards – 2016

Those of you who know me and read my blog, know that my take on customer service is sometimes different from many of the old school people out there. To me customer service is not only an important part of your business, it is actually what your business truly is as a company. How you treat your customer is what will define how successful you are and that is where the rubber meets the road. I’m not talking about the saying or motto you have printed on the wall, I’m talking about how you and your customer service team really truly interacts with your customers.

With that being said, I also know how difficult customer service can be as I have run customer service departments and have even spent the past 5 months being “the” customer service department for a growing company. Some people make it more challenging than others. Therefore I always do my best to give other customer service people the benefit of the doubt first and foremost. I’m also a huge proponent of customer service via social media so my go to channel is the social media channel, but I always start with a direct message so as to not make my issue public.

Unfortunately for these 3 companies, my experience this year with them was bad enough that they are being awards my 2016 worst customer service awards. Where it was not caring, being rude or just a lack of personality these 3 win the prize, UPS, YMCA and TnsDeals – on Amazon Marketplace.

1) TnsDeals – Amazon Marketplace
I have to get this one out of the way first, as it was just plain laughable. It appears from the communication that I was dealing with a one man operation and how this guy is still in business and how Amazon allows him to still sell on their marketplace is beyond me.

I use a program called Camel Camel Camel that monitors things on my Amazon Wishlist and I can set prices for things to notify me when the get below a certain price. I had had a toy on there for a while that my son was interested in and one day I got a notification. The price was lower than it had ever been in its history so I jumped on it. This was my mistake as I should have first done a little research and I would have found that Mr. TNS had a history of bad customer service. His Facebook page was riddled with 1-star reviews, many others had had issues. Anyway, my money was taken, and then I got a cancellation notice saying:

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While that is certainly entertaining from a grammar perspective, that is not enough to get you this award. The next day I get an email asking for a review of my purchasing experience with TnsDeals I was happy to oblige. I just made my review saying I was curious why someone would sell on a system where they could not figure out how to price an item correctly as I had not heard of others having problems with Amazon. Fron what I have heard they are a fairly well-run company. Plus they still had my money so I was not the happiest about the whole situation.

Here is where they won the award. The title of the email was “We wil pray for you”. Yes that is how it was spelled:

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I did not justify this email with a response. I did forward a copy to Amazon but never heard back. Maybe they are just embarrassed for this person?

2) YMCA
Let me start by saying myself and my family love a lot of things about the YMCA. We are still members (I hope they don’t kick me out after this) and plan to continue. To me, this story is more of a lack empowerment for their front line people and an overall horrible website experience for their paying customers.

One day I went to the YMCA and scanned my barcode, and was told by the nice lady up front that I had a $25 returned check fee on my account. I said that is a strange fee to have since I have never written a check to the YMCA. They had my credit card on file (two in fact, but we will get to that later). She said she didn’t know and tried to contact their accounting person one site who also does several other things and seemed to be a bit overworked. She could not reach her and I had to go, so I just paid the outstanding amount (apparently a card I had on file had declined) and told her I would reach out to figure out the $25 fee which seemed out of line.

I came to discover that the YMCA had switched to a new billing system and at one point we had used a random Discover Card we had because we had left our other cards at home. That Discover Card had somehow become the card that was being used now for certain payment. This is regardless of the fact that we had our check card on file and that was what we wanted to use for everything else, they just decided in their new system to start using the Discover Card. We then went back and forth a bit about how a $25 was appropriate for a declined credit card, not a bounced check as was indicated. She just said that was their system and she could override it this one time for me.

About a month later, I get a notice in the mail that our account was past due and there was a $25 fee on it as well, saying second returned payment fee this time. when I opened this letter is was about 8 PM, so there was no one for me to call. I went to their website and logged in to my account. Low and behold, there was that darn Discover Card that we didn’t even have anymore showing as the payment method for some things, but not others. The site did not help in changing it, I added another card online so now they had a backup method, on top of my check card, but no way to remove the Discover Card. So then I tried to send them a message through their site and got this:

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Frustrating… So I reached out via their Facebook page. Again a direct message asking if they could check if my message was received or not. The positive thing for them was that my Facebook interaction was pleasant and immediately said they would check with our branch and get back to us the next day. They did get back and said, in fact, the message was not received. We called the next day and the Discover card was finally removed, but the $25 fee was never waived.

They win this award because a) who charges a $25 for a declined credit card. The expiration date had expired and we ended up just canceling the card. It not like I’m writing them hot checks hoping to by a few extra days to pay. B) We were never once notified about an issue with our payment, we had to find out at the desk or via a letter and then just charge $25. WHAT?

3) UPS
The shipping industry as a whole is something I can not wrap my head around as to how we can basically let 2, sometimes 3 companies have a monopoly over and yet continue to let them provide horrible customer service. UPS is bad, but so is FedEx and everyone knows about the Post Office. Why has there not been an Uber for shipping? Roadie is the closest thing I have found, and it is just not reliable enough for a company to use to move products to customers. If you are sending a gift to Grandma, though, please skip the Post Office and give it a try.

Regardless, the story with UPS is a more overarching issue of just plain lack of empathy by anyone involved with customers. That could be our sales rep, which changes from month to month, the customer service people. Honestly, the only people at UPS I have ever really enjoyed are the drivers, but their comment when we discuss some of the issues is to call the 800 number as they have the same feeling about the rest of their company.

The biggest reason that they have won this award though is their SurePort Service. If you have not heard of this I would suggest staying away from it if your company can afford to do so. It has become a necessary evil for many small businesses. Don’t let FedEx fool you, their SmartPost is even worse, but it all hinges on the fact that UPS and FedEx take your package to a certain point and then hands it off to the Post Office. NIGHTMARE! Because now you have given 2 or 3 notoriously bad customer service companies the ability to point their finger at each other and never really offer a solution. I just want my package to get to my customer. All they want to pass the blame off on each other. I actually heard a rumor that the government is actually subsidizing the Smart And Sure services with our tax dollars just to keep the Post Office in business. UGH Stop! Yes, there are plenty of nice people at the Post Office, but those nice people can find other jobs. Heck, I’d hire my local Post Man!

Anyway to sum it up – UPS you are the worst, followed closely by FedEx and USPS doesn’t even make the list because they never cared, to begin with.

December 30, 2016

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