A Lesson in Customer Service

Selling online, as I do occasionally, I always try to be polite and charming when dealing with customers even when they do not return the favour.

Since moving to France, I have found that the customer is not always right but assumed to be at fault or in error until evidence to the contrary is obtained  and,  even then, must be offered not an apology but a roll of the eyes and a gallic shrug.  However,  I stubbornly cling to this basic rule of commerce in my own dealings.

It seems as if not everybody is of the same mind though.  I was doing a little online shopping yesterday and, as usual, I checked out the feedback of the seller before committing myself to a purchase.  They had quite a few positive comments, a few neutrals and some negatives in a proportion that wouldn’t normally put me off buying but, it was their responses to the negative comments that I found to be an interesting way of dealing with customers.  I list a few of the exchanges below but have altered certain details in order to protect both the innocent and the guilty.

1.  Buyer Feedback:   It came 5 days late, was stained and was the wrong colour.

Seller Response:  John Smith is scum.  No communication.

2.  Buyer Feedback:  Shocking ebayer, terrible communications, can’t recommend.

Seller Response:  Anne is a scum.  She is a liar.

3.  Buyer Feedback:  Great item, shame about the customer service

Seller Response:  He was sent a replacement but still moaning – be careful of this one.

4.  Buyer Feedback:  Upsetting experience.  Four items sent were not those ordered and only received a partial refund.  The seller calls buyers ‘scum’.

Seller Response:  D. Cooper is a true scummer.

5.  Buyer Feedback:  Never received the item.  Seller very unhelpful. Can’t recommend.

Seller Response:  Jane Doe is scum.  Made a false claim and conned us for the postage.

and my favourite

6.  Buyer Feedback:  Disappointed with item, nothing like the photograph.

Seller’s Response:  Hayley has an eyesight as well as a mental problem.  

(well, at least she wasn’t ‘scum’ I suppose).

I didn’t buy anything.


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  1. #1 by http://vivinfrance.wordpress.com on March 21, 2015 - 16:00

    That is truly horrendous. I used to teach customer care to business studies students in the Seychelles Polytechnic, because I was so appalled at the lack of service or even basic good manners in the local shops (“n’a pas” was the usual response from the shopkeepers). But here in Manche we have found nothing but kindness and good service. I don’t use e-bay, but my online shopping experience has been pretty good, too.

    • #2 by tialys on March 21, 2015 - 18:15

      I don’t know what it is about where we live but good service is rare – especially in the supermarkets. It’s O.K. as long as you don’t question something or complain and then you become ‘the enemy’. A recent example is in the Post Office where I asked for a particular tariff to send a parcel and the staff member categorically told me such a tariff didn’t exist. I said it definitely did as I had only recently used it in another branch. He said, no, it didn’t exist. Another staff member overheard and had a whispered conversation with him and then issued me a stamp for the tariff in question while the original staff member turned on his heel and walked off without a glance at me. This is a very common response in these here parts. My online shopping experiences are generally good – but then I do generally check the feedback!

      • #3 by http://vivinfrance.wordpress.com on March 21, 2015 - 18:39

        We used to have a very grumpy lady in la Poste, but since she left, the atmosphere is friendly and helpful.

  2. #4 by Frivolous Monsters on March 21, 2015 - 16:31

    Brilliant. It reminds me an episode of Fawlty Towers when the elderly customer complained to Basil about the lack of the advertised sea view, because she couldn’t even see the sea, to which he replied: “It’s over there between the land and the sky.”

    • #5 by tialys on March 21, 2015 - 18:32

      Good old Basil Fawlty. He gives a masterclass in dodgy customer service in every episode.

  3. #6 by Jan Marriott on March 21, 2015 - 17:16

    love the Fawlty Towers line ( above)
    My daughter was looking at a ‘Hermes’ bag on line and asked me whether I thought it was real I read the feedback….t
    Buyer ….This is a fake

    Buyer …..It is not real
    Seller…You knew that when you bought it you MORON

    and so forth

    • #7 by tialys on March 21, 2015 - 18:33

      It makes you wonder how these people ever get any sales doesn’t it?

  4. #8 by katechiconi on March 21, 2015 - 22:33

    One more reason to rarely shop on eBay. There’s something to be said for the ‘honesty’ of the response, though, unlike big concerns who boast about their customer service and respond with an automated message thanking you for your feedback and not addressing the issue at all…

    • #9 by tialys on March 22, 2015 - 13:48

      Funnily enough, Mr. T said sort of the same thing. Fair enough but I’m never letting him loose on the admin page of my Etsy shop!

  5. #10 by lovelucie1 on March 22, 2015 - 11:09

    Hilarious! As i get older i put up with less. I recently emailed Morrison’s with an observation that the lady serving me at the newspaper kiosk returned my smile and sunny ‘Good Morning!’, with a sullen stare. I’m turning into my mother.

  6. #11 by tialys on March 22, 2015 - 13:49

    It happens to us all in the end Lucie!
    Did they reply, out of interest?

  7. #12 by PendleStitches on March 23, 2015 - 14:01

    It’s the same here in the UK. I’ve just had a major battle with a lingerie company who wouldn’t acknowledge that the goods were faulty…it took 3 months to resolve. I’m with you…vote with your purse!

  8. #13 by tialys on March 23, 2015 - 14:16

    I sort of thought that customer service – at least the face to face kind – had improved a lot in the U.K. Maybe it’s just by comparison with here. Mind you, some things have changed here too in the past ten years. When we first lived here there was no question of getting a refund for anything – certainly not just because you’d changed your mind. Even if something was faulty, you were given the third degree. That is a little better now and, as long as you have your receipt, they will usually change something if not always refund.

  9. #14 by dezertsuz on April 28, 2015 - 22:45

    Those made me laugh, but truly it isn’t funny that anyone would have that kind of attitude. I guess I’m spoiled by having good experiences.

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