Customer Service

There’s Probably No Hope for Consumers Who Aren’t Filthy Rich

My recent interactions with my former bank have prompted me to think about the feedback loop between consumers and the companies that squeeze profit from serve them. We like to think that when companies do something stupid or abusive, market competition will allow us to express our ire by taking our hard-earned dollars somewhere else. But what happens when that just doesn’t work? (Spoiler: it mostly never works. We just get screwed and keep coming back for more.)

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Flight Delayed? Get That Money (Or 75% of It)

Henrik Zillmer has started a company to get you some money back from all those damn delayed flights. Or wait. Henrik Zillmer has started a company to get itself 25% of the money it gets you back. Capitalizing on our airline rage! Possibly brilliant. How it works: if your flight has been delayed for reasons other than weather or security, Airhelp will file a claim on your behalf and then take the airline to court if they reject the complaint. And they usually win. With 20,000 customers already, they’ve won millions of dollars in airline compensation.

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Dear Bank: I’m Breaking Up With You

Dear Marie:

It was with mixed emotions that I read your letter, in which you wrote that Liberty Bank values its relationship with me. I must confess to some serious misgivings concerning that relationship and the bank’s true feelings.

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The Problem With Being a ‘Regular’

The City Room’s Metropolitan Diary is one of my favorite things because it’s filled with very short posts of very normal occurrences (calling a restaurant to make a reservation for Feb. 14, for example).

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In-N-Out Burger Has Remained Popular and Profitable While Treating Employees Well

Orange Coast Magazine has a profile about Lynsi Snyder, the 31-year-old president of the much beloved In-N-Out Burger chain, and it’s filled with a bunch of interesting tidbits about the family that founded the company in the 1940s and how it has remained profitable and popular even as competitors like McDonald’s saw a sudden rise, and other beloved chains like Five Guys entered the market.

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Credit Reporting Agency Says Woman Is Deceased, Woman Says Hey I’m Alive

Kimberly Haman was applying for a new mortgage when her application was put on hold. The reason? Equifax, one of the U.S. consumer credit reporting agencies, thought she was dead.

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Man Tweets at Brand, Sees Results

Adrian Chen lost his laptop at the airport. Jetblue helped him find it.

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More Retailers Were Victims of a Data Breach. Have You Looked at Your Accounts Lately?

On Dec. 19, Target was a victim of a data breach that initially affected a reported 40 million payment card numbers, but was later said to have affected 70 million customers. Neiman Marcus was also a victim of a cyber attack. And a new report by Reuters says that there are other retailers that were affected by smaller breaches, but those stores have remained unnamed.

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Which Business Gets You to Swear on the Phone the Most?

An analysis of 1.2 million U.S. consumer calls from March 2012 to November 2013 by Marchex, a mobile advertising company, found that we are most likely to swear while on the phone with satellite TV providers, housing contractors, and cable providers. Here’s their full list:

1. Satellite TV providers – 1 in every 82 conversations 2. Housing contractors – 90 3. Cable providers – 123 4. Auto Repair – 144 5. Tow Truck – 159 6. Locksmith – 192 7. Storage – 214 8. Pest Control – 215 9. Heating & Cooling – 215 10. House Cleaning – 218 11. Lawn Care – 271 12. Carpet Cleaning – 275 13. Plumbing – 334 14. Home Buying – 411 15. Auto Dealers – 870 16. Flowers – 1,110 17. Property Management – 1,390 18. Hotels – 1,486 19. Senior Living – 1,742 20. Veterinary – 2,634

Our favorite swear word to say on the phone? The F-bomb, though sometimes we’re polite enough to wait until we’re on hold to let it out.

Photo: Frederic Bisson

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French Café Enacts Rudeness Tax

Owners of the Petite Syrah café in the south of France were fed up with rushed customers coming in to order coffee and forgetting their manners, so they decided to take action.

In a feat of brilliance, they edited menu prices to hit customers where it hurts: their fancy French wallets.

The new menu prices (translated for your convenience) include:

“A coffee” €7 “A coffee, please” €4.25 “Hello, a coffee, please” €1.40

Although Pepino admits he’s never actually had to enforce the price scheme, he says he has noticed a difference in his customers’ behaviour.

“Most of my customers are regulars and they just see the funny side and exaggerate their politeness,” he said, adding “They started calling me ‘your greatness’ when they saw the sign.”

“But people are more relaxed now, and they’re smiling more. That’s the most important thing.”

Photo: phvolmer

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