What happened to great or even good customer service?

Well I guess today’s post is a bit of a rant, but I really have to get this off my chest.  I just don’t understand where we went wrong in regards to customer service.  It used to be in past generations that the customer was always right, even when they were wrong and we empowered our people to make decisions and resolve issues.

Today it seems that excellent customer service is a thing of the past.  You may have heard this story before about Nordstrom’s and quite frankly it may be a complete myth but it’s a cool story and serves to bring the point home of great customer service.

If you know a little about Nordstrom’s you know that they pride themselves on excellent customer service and in fact are known for it.  They also were, I don’t if they still are as I have not been in one in years, known for having an extremely liberal return policy.

So, the story goes that many years ago someone went in to a store and wanted to return some snow tires, now obviously Nordstrom’s is a clothing store and does not or has not ever sold tires.  Or have they?  Well I looked up the story and it’s interesting and you can look it up for yourself as there is a little more to the story, but they did indeed take back the tires.

Now why would they do this?  Simple, you know the answer because it exemplifies excellent customer service that goes above and beyond the call of duty.  Sadly this exemplary customer service is mostly gone.

Now to my service nightmare.  My daughter is flying tomorrow to see me from Pennsylvania and she is flying on the train wreck pre-merged United and Continental airlines.  So here is the deal, these days again poor customer service in my opinion, you have to pay them for the privilege of them hauling your bags across country.  It is $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second bag.

I wanted to make this long flight as smooth and trouble free for her as possible so I wanted to pay for the bags ahead of time so she could simply hand them off and get on the plane.

My saga with their “Customer Service” which in my opinion is really customer no service began on Tuesday.  I called and asked them if I could take care of this, now understand that their systems are a mess and still are not merged, so you get different answers depending on which wonderful off-shore call center you reach.

After close to an hour I get told that I will have no problem going online to the United website and paying for her bags, but I can’t do so until 24 hours prior to the flight.  Okay so I am patient, not really, but whatever, I wait until this morning.  I have no interest in talking to them since I know that firstly I will be put on hold for a long time.  Have you seen that funny ad for All State where the guy says “your hold time will be 97 minutes”, that’s how it feels trying to deal with these guys.

So like a good little boy I go to their website and follow the instructions and get my daughter checked in, but there is no option to pay for said bags. So I crawl in to the fetal position and start weeping uncontrollably since I now realize that I am going to have to talk them again!!  More than likely the only thing I will accomplish is to burn many, many precious mobile minutes of which I can ill afford.

Okay deep breath here we go, it can’t be that bad right?  After all, as soon as I wait the 10, 20, or 30 minutes and go through the voice mail hell, once I reach a human being, it should be just a couple of clicks on their end and I should be good to go right?  Right?


Essentially the written boarding information I have shows the fee, but online they show the bag is free.  So I ask why the discrepancy between what is written and the website?  After 2 and a half hours this morning, yes that long I am not kidding the supervisor Rahul from United says let me call the supervisor at Continental to ask him.  About 8 minutes later he comes back and says “The Continental guy has no clue why it’s not charging you because it should” 

Exactly you guys have no clue!  So I say fine, great, excellent she gets to check two bags for free, thanks.  But…… what if she gets there tomorrow and gets told hey girlfriend cough up the dough?

Then what?  Of course at this there is complete and utter silence on the other end of the line.  Why?  Cause he has no idea what then, that’s why!  So I trying to resolve this situation as simply and for the love of all that is holy, quickly I say no problem “Just send me an email assuring me that the bags are checked for free that my daughter can show in case she has a problem tomorrow”.

No sorry we cannot do that.  Really?  You can’t do that?

Sigh I give up!  So I now am crossing my fingers and toes and saying a prayer to the good lord above that things run smoothly.

I sold on eBay for years and I have a 100% perfect positive feedback rating.  Is that because I am special or cool?  Yes I am special, no just kidding.  It’s because I took great pride in working my butt off to ensure that I did it right the first time, but if someone was still unhappy I made them happy.

I am really saddened that customer service has gone away for most companies.  Hopefully it will return someday.

Oh and by the way I AM going to do a YouTube re-enacting this cause it really is funny, and I love what Dave Carroll did with United Breaks Guitars.  You probably have seen it but just in case you have not here it is:


Thanks to @united for giving me my blog topic for today.




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