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United Airlines customer service fail

Worst Customer Service Stories from 2017

In a previous post we took a look at the top ten outstanding customer service experiences of 2017. This post takes a look at the top six worst customer experiences of 2017. “Why not ten,” you might ask?  Good question.

2017: The Year Of Being Offended

The reality is that truly wonderful customer service is easy to recognize when you see it. WOW customer service happens when employees demonstrate that they care about their customers, and when they take ownership over customer experiences. Bad customer service is a little more relative, and last year it was harder than ever to identify where the problems really lay.

Being offended at things was all the rage in 2017, and it seemed as though a lot of “poor customer experience” stories might possibly also be categorized as “difficult customer stories.” Take, for example, the viral Facebook complaint about a store’s display.  A Texas Hobby Lobby store had created a small craft display using cotton plants. An incensed customer was offended because cotton was once “gained at the expense of African-American slaves,” and therefore should not be used as decoration. Was this insensitivity on the part of Hobby Lobby, or an unfair perspective on the part of a customer?  We decided to stay away from the (many) stories with that level of ambiguity.

Here Are The Top (Or Bottom?) Six Bad Customer Service Stories

So, as we sorted through all of the stories we collected over the last year, and the myriad of unfavorable Yelp comments, we settled on these six as truly great examples of horrible customer service in 2017 in order from least-worst to most-worst:

6.  Speed Limit Change On Apple’s Information Highway

The tech giant Apple displayed uncharacteristically poor judgment in late 2017 when they made the decision to slow down the phones of customers using older devices. While their rationale was perhaps sound, the absence of transparency sent shock waves through the Apple faithful. Apple has tried to control the damage with battery offers and discounts, but it’s not been enough to repair the damage to the brand.

5. No Vegan Soup For You

The chef and owner of Carlini restaurant in Shropshire became annoyed with a vegan woman for some reason, and responded by ‘spiking’ her food. Her action was discovered when people read her post on a Facebook group: “Pious, judgmental vegan (who I spent all day cooking for) has gone to bed, still believing she’s a vegan,” followed by “Spiked a vegan a few hours ago.” Shade’s of the McDonald’s incident a few years ago.

4. And The Real Idiot Is…

A Chicago resident was struggling to resolve a persistent billing issue with T-Mobile. After several failed attempts, he turned to T-Mobile support via Twitter. The next day, when checking his account, he noticed that his account name had been changed by an agent from “Luke” to “Idiot.” Some people really shouldn’t have jobs in customer service.

3. Air Transat Lets Customers In, But Doesn’t Let Them Out

An Air Transat flight from Brussels to Montreal was diverted to Ottawa because of weather. The passengers were forced to sit on the tarmac for 6 hours (this is after 8 hours of flying time). No food. No power. No air conditioning, and no functioning washrooms. Eventually one passenger had to call 911 in order to get some action. This is one of those situations where a number of people and companies had the opportunity to step up and take ownership – the pilots, the Ottawa airport, Air Transat, just to name a few. But nobody did. Afterward everyone was so busy pointing fingers at everyone else that they didn’t seem to realize how profoundly embarrassed they all should be.

2. Waffle House New Self-Serve Concept

After waiting ten minutes at a South Carolina Waffle House, Alex Bowen walked into the back and discovered a sleeping employee. He must have been quite a sound sleeper. Alex walked past him, went into the kitchen and proceeded to make himself a Texas Bacon Cheese Steak melt. Then he cleaned up after himself and left. This brings ‘self-serve’ to a whole new level!

1. United Breaks Passengers

No list of customer service horror stories would be complete without the story of Dr. David Dao being dragged off of United Airlines flight 3411 in Chicago. Ironically, it has easily surpassed the previous icon for bad customer service, which was also the product of United Airlines. Apparently United breaks both guitars and passengers.

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