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To wonder why customer service is so awful?

114 replies

PlomBear · 18/12/2019 17:36

Is it just me or is customer service in the UK crap?

In a department store - huge queue, two cashiers. I appreciate that it’s management who roster staff. Waited ages to pay. I said a cheery “hello” and the woman just pursed her lips at me. She only spoke to say the transaction amount. I said “thanks” and she just looked at me. 🤷🏻‍♀️

On a train, the conductor checking tickets. Showed him my ticket “need your railcard too, you need to have that ready for me you know.” I smiled and said sorry, he proceeded to ask me why I was entitled to that railcard! And yes, it was my railcard and in date with my photo. Then just kind of grunted at me and walked off.

Post office - posting a dozen cards, some overseas. The clerk actually shouted at me that it wasn’t her job to stick the stamps on, I didn’t even ask her to! Considering there was nobody behind me in the empty store I thought it was a bit weird. She wouldn’t let me stand there to put the stamps on. I had to take them home, figure out which one was which (different countries needing a different number of stamps) and then go out again in the rain to post them.

I have worked retail many moons ago. I get that it’s minimum wage and that customers can be rude. But I really am always smiley and polite. Yet I am often met with downright hostility from staff. Everybody (staff and customers) seem so miserable.

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Am I being unreasonable?


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bruffin · 18/12/2019 17:43

You posted this before, why again!


PlomBear · 18/12/2019 17:45

bruffin - nope not me!

And if you don’t like the post why read it and comment?

Why is everyone so miserable. Christ. 🙄

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Ariadnepersephonecloud · 18/12/2019 17:45

Honestly I have had some truly lovely customer experiences and some dreadful ones! All in various stores, bank etc but primarily where I live it seems the very best and very worst all work in Tesco. Honestly it's so bizarre! Still I've learnt who to avoid!

I work in customer service too BTW and no matter how shit my day is I never take it out on customers... Although if they're rude to me they get the worst service I can possibly give without my manager picking up on it Grin


PlomBear · 18/12/2019 17:48

Oh and the receptionist at the hospital, chatting away to a colleague. I am ignored. Finally she deigns to look at me.

Me: Hello, I have an appointment with....

Her: Letter?

I hand over my letter. She types in the computer, hands it back to me. “sit down over there.” I say “thank you.”

Then resumes her conversation.

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FourEyesGood · 18/12/2019 17:49

You’re only noticing the poor service. There are loads of people in customer-facing jobs who are polite, friendly and positive. Also, it’s worth adding that loads of customers are vile. I’m not in customer services, but every time I go into a shop or café I see customers treating other humans like utter shit just because they think they’re entitled to. That’d be enough to grind any positivity out of me.


FudgeBrownie2019 · 18/12/2019 17:50

I've spent the whole day shopping and have had nothing but lovely customer service everywhere. Took DS2 out for a snack after school at our local garden centre and the lady on the till in the restaurant snuck him a gingerbread man and whispered "santa asked me to give you that". Can't rave highly enough about everyone I've met today!

You need to move to the Midlands, everyone's chipper!


PlomBear · 18/12/2019 17:52

I agree that many customers are vile. But is it too much effort to be nice when a customer is actually trying to be nice?

If I came on here and said “I hate working retail and so I don’t bother to be nice to customers I just grunt at them” I would have the rage of MN on me!

If I grunted at people in my job or ignored them or had attitude I would expect to be pulled up on it.

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SlayBellsRing · 18/12/2019 17:53

What garden centre was that @FudgeBrownie2019 ?


ScreamingValalalalahLalalalah · 18/12/2019 17:53

I've had instances of poor customer service of the type you describe - hasn't everyone - but I just assume the assistant is having a bad day - as we all do.

Customer service staff aren't robots, and don't have the option of hiding away behind a desk if they're at work and feeling under the weather, or struggling with problems at home.

Also, if they get a customer who is abusive and unreasonable, they just have to carry on serving the next customer as if nothing has happened.

Also, they're probably having to work over most of Christmas, with holidays embargoed from November - January.

So generally I think we should cut them some slack if their service is less than enthusiastic and beaming for whatever reason.


Peakypolly · 18/12/2019 17:55

I have received some excellent customer service in the U.K.
I am currently in Scandinavia and have found the service in retail stores agonisingly slow, don’t get me wrong, the staff are pleasant, but would no way be able to work in this manor in a city store in the UK or USA in the build up to the festive season.


PlomBear · 18/12/2019 17:55

FudgeBrownie2019 - the Midlands is where it’s at.

I did have some good experiences in the past year. Singapore Airlines - wow. The Mandarin Oriental hotel chain. But then they aren’t British. I’m not saying that I expect high levels of service when buying a banana but a cheery smile and some pleasant conversation isn’t amiss? The lady on the Liz Earle counter today was very chirpy and helpful to be fair.

I used to like chatting to customers, made the day less boring.

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FourEyesGood · 18/12/2019 17:56

Or perhaps it’s the busiest time of year in retail, the workers are absolutely frazzled (and probably trying to battle the colds that seem to be keeping everyone’s children off school) and it’s all they do to drag themselves into work so that we can all get our shopping done?


HanginWithMyGnomies · 18/12/2019 17:56

@PlomBear I’m so sorry. I had to laugh that the first response you got was a bloody miserable one 😂😂😂


PosiePie · 18/12/2019 17:56

You’re only noticing the poor service.

^^ This, I've come to the conclusion that some people want shit service so they can complain. Of course people do get bad service but I don't think customer service in the UK is awful, I think the expectations of the customers are often too much and actually can't be met. Many have the attitude that they've come to catch you out in something. I'm looking to get out of my customer service job in the new year, I can't take any more of being treated like a second class citizen and spoken to like crap for at least 75% of my work time.
Companies are to blame too, giving people free stuff for complaining and treating their staff like shit. Says a lot really.


PlomBear · 18/12/2019 17:57

I don’t think it’s acceptable to shout at a customer who has done nothing wrong even if you are having a bad day.

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TheCountessofFitzdotterel · 18/12/2019 17:57

If you think bad customer service is a particularly British thing you have probably never been to France!

It sounds like you have had a few bad experiences in a short time. Probably everyone is tired and stressed about the election and then Christmas.

Ime most people are usually nice, except in the NHS where most reception people are horrible (but in some situations like A&E they're under so much pressure you have to have some sympathy.)


KaleidoscopeEyes · 18/12/2019 17:58

We're just sick of your shit Grin


JuniperBeer · 18/12/2019 17:58

To be fair to the train conductor, you SHOULD have had it out already. If he has to stop with everyone. his job takes twice as long, he's already under a lot of pressure on the train network.

The post office is a weird one. Why didn't you just move to one side and do them and then go back to window? Who would actually leave the shop?


dayswithaY · 18/12/2019 17:58

I always go out of my way to flag up good customer service. I was in a pound shop and they had a really great lad working there, friendly, helpful. I found the manager and she braced herself for a complaint and I praised him to her instead. If people were as quick to comment on good service as they are to complain that could help to change things. Retail staff are very often on the end of negative comments.


PremierNaps · 18/12/2019 17:59

It's the time of year. After 5 rude customers your positive mood does seem to waver! Even if you do have one that rocks up being nice to you. Worked in hospitality before and can honestly say this time of year brings out massive dingbats of customers who seem to think they are entitled to the world and entitled to treat you like utter shit just because they can.


Hoppinggreen · 18/12/2019 18:01

No, can’t say I’ve had the same experience.
Retail staff are generally very nice and patient,even when dealing with arseholes. The ones in my local Sainsburys are saints


dayswithaY · 18/12/2019 18:01

The Countess you are so right about customer service in France - non existent!


PlomBear · 18/12/2019 18:05

JuniperBeer - but why did he have to have a go at me? You note that I actually said sorry to him. I didn’t do it on purpose. In the past if I haven’t had it to hand immediately I’ve just been asked if I had my railcard .

The post office lady obviously was in a terrible mood and didn’t want me standing there to do it. So rather than enrage her further I went home.

It’s funny that in the past I’ve posted a couple of posts about work issues and basically been told to suck it up. I was once told that I should be cleaning the office if I had no work to do to earn my salary. Yet it’s okay for people in customer service to be rude and you can’t say anything bad about them.

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Ohyesiam · 18/12/2019 18:06

I suppose they are overworked and under resources. And anything else could be going on in their lives.

I noticed today in the returns bit of M&S that they all seemed really pressured.The most chirpy were either very young ( no responsibilities and not yet disillusioned), our well past menopause ( life has knocked their corners off, they’ve seen it all before and know that everything passes eventually) . The ones between 25 and 55 had pursed lips, an attitude and little eye contact.
I mentally sprinkled some Christmas cheer on them as I went on my wayXmas Grin


PlomBear · 18/12/2019 18:07

And I have already emailed Liz Earle to praise the helpful assistant today.

And no, I haven’t complained about the rude staff as I don’t want to get staff in trouble. I can imagine the angry comments if I did!

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