There’s no denying that everyone has had at least a few bad customer service experiences. But if you find yourself always on the receiving end of bad customer service, if you can’t get good service anywhere, if you’re convinced that there’s no such thing as “good help” anymore, chances are, you’re a bad customer.
This is not to say that there aren’t situations in which the service you’re receiving is bad. There are bad employees in service industries, just as there are bad employees in every industry. But if you seem to have a terrible experience everywhere you shop or eat, well, I hate to break it to you, but it’s not them, it’s you. Here’s how I can tell. You say things like this:
“I don’t tip.”
I have no interest in reigniting the same back-and-forth that happens every time tipping is mentioned anywhere. The point is, in the U.S., waitstaff makes $2.13 an hour, and the rest of their wage is paid in tips. Whether or not you think this is a terrible employment model and should be abolished, the point is, if you are a known non-tipper, you’re not going to get great service. “People should do a good job because it’s their job!” People will do what they’re being paid for. I know that most non-tippers aren’t working for free at their jobs; they expect compensation proportional to the quality of their work. If you don’t want to be part of tipping culture, that’s totally your choice and totally fine. But stay home.
“I’m never coming here again.”
This is not a threat. This is an empty promise. That employee behind the counter you just spent 15 minutes screaming at until you’re blue in the face would LOVE it if you never came back. But you will. You always do. Usually within a month or two.
“The customer is always right.”
I want to find the first person who said this and spread it around like gospel truth and make them work the returns desk at a big-box retailer for a month. The customer who thinks they’re always right also thinks that no policies apply to them, that they can be openly abusive to store employees, and that price tags are just suggestions. The customer is not always right. The customer is often a rude, lying jerk.
“That’s false advertising!”
You’re not using that phrase right. However you’re using it, it’s wrong. “Misleading”? Sure. “Mislabeled”? I’ll accept it. But “false advertising” is a very specific set of circumstances, and no customer ever has been correct about what it is.
“It was like that when I bought it.”
Just because someone works in retail doesn’t mean they’re an idiot. We can tell when you’ve worn something, used something, dropped it on the floor, tried to open it wrong, crammed something into it that doesn’t belong there, let your dog chew on it, let your kid throw it, or otherwise abused or misused an item. Retail workers are not as stupid as you think they are or as you’d like them to be. Either be honest or accept the fact that whatever’s wrong with it is something you did.
“It must be free!”
Shut up. It wasn’t funny the first 700 times I heard it, it’s not funny now. If it doesn’t scan, the employee needs to go track down a UPC and a price. No one thinks “It must be free!” is funny but you.
“Do you know who I am?”
Currently, I think you’re someone who is behaving like a jackass or trying to get something they aren’t supposed to, almost always accompanied by being a condescending jerk to the employee in front of them. If you’re someone who’s actually important, either the employees will already know that, or you would be dealing directly with whatever bigwig it is whose name you’re about to drop. Don’t know, don’t care. Right now, you’re just some entitled asshole holding up the line.
“But it’s my husband’s card!”
YOU CANNOT USE SOMEONE ELSE’S CREDIT CARD. THAT IS FRAUD. If you’re an authorized user on someone else’s account, the credit card company will send out a card with your name on it linked to that account. A store has every right to deny a sale if the person presenting a card is not the cardholder. Even if it’s your mom’s. Even if it’s your husband’s. Even if you have a note. None of those things will protect the merchant when the cardholder turns around and disputes the charge and it turns out the names or signatures don’t match. Can you get away with using someone else’s card at some retailers, especially those with PIN pads? Absolutely, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK everywhere. Use a little common sense. If you left your husband and he swiped one of your cards, wouldn’t you be a little ticked if stores let him charge up a storm, even though he is clearly not Jane Doe? You might get reimbursed, but the store won’t. Use your own cards or pay cash.