Customer Service Is The Worst, Right?

Okay, maybe not the worst. There is a list a million miles long of things worse than customer service.

My office mate uses the expression “timing is everything” a lot. I usually respond with a list of things that timing is not, such as Easter or potatoes or crunchy peanut butter. She rolls her eyes, but I still catch her laughing

Exaggerations aside, customer service is sometimes really bad.

I have had two customer service incidents recently, one was frustrating, surreal, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t talking to an actual human.

The second wasn’t bad, not really. Well, a little bad, but it wasn’t the fault of the customer service rep. Mostly. He had a little to do with it.

I ordered a bunch of shit from Overstock recently. Nearly always, Overstock is a good deal and it’s not super hard to return things. We are still painting and repairing and I needed to buy a few things to make our house look more grown up, like a headboard for our bed, and lamps that don’t look like they came from the Dollar Store.

One of my friends at work asked how that was going, that she heard that Overstock was sketchy on customer service. I told her I had no issues at all.

And that was true until the leggings incident.

I ordered a pair of leggings for my niece for her birthday. I didn’t get the leggings.

I got a volleyball net.

Instead of leggings.

A volleyball net.

Randy called me at work to let me know my volleyball net arrived.

Me: The fuck are you talking about?

Randy: You ordered a volleyball net from Overstock. It came today.

Me: Why the fuck would I order a volleyball net?

Randy: I don’t know why you do a lot of the things you do.

Me: I didn’t order a fucking volleyball net. Are you sure it’s a volleyball net?


Randy: Pretty sure because it says “Volleyball Net” on the packaging. Plus, I have eyes and know what a volleyball net looks like.

Me: I didn’t order a volleyball net. Also, I didn’t get those leggings I ordered for Gorgeous Niece. I guess they mixed them up.

Randy: Well, I can see that. Volleyball net, pants. About the same.

Me: I’ll call Overstock.

I contacted their customer service through chat and began chatting with Shepherd. I saved my conversation with Shepherd. Shepherd was a frustrating motherfucker. I will spare you the front of end conversation where I gave tracking numbers and order numbers and also let him know that I got a volleyball net instead of leggings.

 Shepherd: Upon, checking I see that under your account volleyball net on your account.

 Me: I’m sorry, I don’t understand that

 Me: Are you saying there is one or there isn’t?

 Shepherd: No, order was placed for the volleyball net.

 Me: I didn’t order a volleyball net and when I look under my orders, I do not see a volleyball net.

 Shepherd: Could you please be more specific on which item you have received?

 Me: It’s a volleyball net. I really have nothing to add to that.

 Me: You said No, order was placed for the volleyball net. I am confused…did you mean to put a comma there? Or are you saying that there is NO order for a volleyball net?

 Me: are you there?

 Shepherd: Sorry for the delay.

 Me: Okay! no problem, just checking

 Shepherd: The scheduled delivery date is 06/13/2017.

 Me: That’s when I’ll get the leggings? Should I return the volleyball net? Why did I even get a volleyball net?

 Shepherd: Yes. Have I resolved your issue? Are you satisfied with the outcome?

Me: Not even a little, Shepherd. I’m going to call in and talk to someone who understands our earth language.

I talked to a human who was not able to tell me why I got a volleyball net, but she did get the leggings sent to me and they gave me a 10 dollar coupon.

The second customer service happened when we got our water shut off. Randy sent me a text one morning not long after I got to work and told me that we didn’t have any water.

I called the water department to find out why.

Because I didn’t pay the bill.

What? Yes. Yes I did. I remember paying the bill the previous month. I remember the amount because it was double than usual which means I probably didn’t pay it the month before, but oh well, I remember paying it.

I argued with the lady at the water department while scanning for my last payment to the water department in my bank account.

I ended the call and told her I would call back when I found the payment

I couldn’t find it. It wasn’t there. Apparently, I started the process of paying the water bill the previous month, but didn’t successfully complete it.

I called back and got a different person. I was annoyed that my water was turned off, even though it was entirely my fault.

I explained the situation and asked how I could get my water turned back on.

Water department dude: I can take your payment over the phone, ma’am.

Me: Okay. You know, I’ve been paying this bill for 9 years now and there has never been a problem, it seems like you would have warned me first rather than just shutting off the water.

Water department dude: Ma’am, it says in notes that we sent reminders in the mail.

Which is probably true. I am terrible at being an adult and my way of dealing with unpleasant mail is to not open the ones that I might find upsetting or uncomfortable or that are obviously going to be requesting money that I don’t have. Unless it’s from the IRS. Always open mail from the IRS. And the sheriff’s department. Or anything having to do with jury duty. 

Water department dude: I can take your card number now.

I started rattling my card number off because I have it memorized. I don’t know why, but I feel compelled to memorize account numbers. As far as crazy goes, I don’t think this one is too bad.

Water department dude: Hold on, hold on.

And he sounded annoyed.

Me: Seriously. My water is shut off and you are going to sound annoyed with me?

Water department dude: I apologize, ma’am. I just wasn’t at the right screen.

Me: I also think it’s fair to point out that you made a request of me and when I complied, you got all pissy. I mean, that’s pretty much what just happened, right?

Water department dude: Again, I apologize ma’am. I am ready for that number now.

So we completed my payment and were so close to being finished.

Water department dude: I will call dispatch and send someone to your home to turn your water back on.

Me: Will you really?

Water department dude: Excuse me?

Me: Will you really send someone out or are you just telling me that? Because I was just horrible to you less than 30 seconds ago.

Then, I had to wait a few moments while the water department dude laughed.

Water department dude: That was hilarious. I promise you, ma’am, I will send someone to turn your water on. And thank you, people don’t usually apologize.

Me: Technically, I didn’t apologize, I just acknowledged my bad behavior. I’m not apologizing because I’m still annoyed by the whole thing.

Water department dude: Fair enough. This is the best call I’ve had in a long time.

Me: I really can’t say the same.

Me: Seriously though, thanks for helping me with this.

Water department dude: No problem. Have a good day.


I guess I shouldn’t complain, I don’t have to deal with customer service people that often. Just when I forget to pay my bills or one of those inevitable volleyball net issues we all experience from time to time.

And we won’t even talk about Stephanie. Stephanie calls me a lot because she’s super concerned that we don’t have a security system at our house. She’s very perky and annoying and won’t stop calling even though I’ve repeatedly asked her to stop badgering me about my safety. I guess it’s possible she really cares. Maybe, if she calls again, I will ask her over for dinner.



Add your comments below. Profanity is encouraged, but not required. ;)
  1. Off topic, but last week I was on hold with a newspaper while trying to cancel a subscription which can only be done over the phone. That’s a mood-buster right there, but then for twenty minutes I was on hold listening to the love theme for the Breakfast Club, or the love theme to LA Law or some love theme by Kenny G until I just wanted to cry.

    Why the customer service powers-that-be think it’s okay to take an already upset customer and put them through twenty minutes of 80’s music before unleashing them on the representative is beyond me.

    • Michelle says:

      Haha..I dunno, that seems pretty on topic to me. And yes, it seems like they sometimes want to throw fuel on that fire.

      One time, after being on hold forever, I told the person when they answered to put me back on hold because I LOVED that song. They were confused. Not the first time someone doesn’t get my sarcasm.

  2. Donna says:

    Customer Service is one of the absolute lowest paying jobs across the spectrum BUT it requires as much if not more skill and savvy than…dunno…rocket science-y type stuff. Very few, if any, companies do any training on the soft skill side. If your company sells widgets, you might learn all about widget mechanics but nada on how to problem solve in a calm, reasonable, smart, effective way when a customer calls in, having received a busted widget in the mail.
    It’s infuriating.
    What’s the manager/companies thinking? “Gee, Clyde was real nice in the interview so I’m sure he can handle all tricky customer issues, no prob.”

  3. Rena says:

    I swear we must be sisters from another mother! I have a pile of unopened mail. I never open the depressing ones and I may or may not be a smart ass!

    • Michelle says:

      Hahah..I think you “may”. And it’s good to not be alone on the mail thing..even though we should probably deal with the mail. I hate it. It’s anxiety central.

  4. Yvon says:

    I know,it’s a problem we all have to deal with, sooner or later. But, to reply on Donna
    “Very few, if any, companies do any training on the soft skill side”, I worked for H&M customers service and we had a loooot of training, but no matter how many hours of training, there will always be unsatisfied customers And unqualified desk agents. always. And yes, it’s paid badly but my colleagues and the backup of the company dealing with how to achieve satisfied customers was great. Although it was a very intensively job, I did like to make most people happy!

  5. Trish says:

    Sounds like your water company is a bit more forgiving than mine . . . I’d been dealing with health issues, and I let the water bill (and the little red “you’re late! reminder” postcard that screams to the mail carrier: “They’re deadbeats who do not pay their bills on time” slip through my fingers.

    Mind you, I’ve had the same water account for 36+ years. The same one. (I put down permanent roots, dudes.) I have NEVER EVER had my water shut off for non-payment. We don’t use much water anyway, and this is a rural service area (septic systems–water only, no sewer).

    It was not a month past due. It was not even two weeks. It was 10 days. TEN fucking days! They came and yanked our water meter out of the ground! So now, not only does my mail carrier think I’m a deadbeat, all the farmers and neighbors passing by our farm (with the meter right at roadside) also have confirmation that a bunch of deadbeats live on this farm. (I mean, the cheapest utility of them all, and it didn’t get paid? This does NOT look good.)

    My question to their customer service was identical to yours:
    Me: I’ve lived here nearly 37 years, and I’ve always paid my bill. WHY in hell didn’t someone call me? Why not just turn off the water and not yank the meter? I would’ve paid the $50 penalty with far, far less embarrassment.
    CS: Our policy is to take the meters from any non-paying customer.
    Me: 10 days means I’m going defunct in my credit or something?
    CS: You’d be surprise.
    Me: I am.

    Turns out, they wanted to replace all our meters with the new-fangled digital ones anyway. (Now, my monthly bill is, on average, $5 more per month.) So they got to do the job they were going to do anyway and got an extra $50 to do so.

  6. Lisa K says:

    “Mail is anxiety central”
    Boy-howdy… I have a burn pile, a regular trash pile and a ‘shit, better open this’ pile… all unopened. And the three piles only come after the big pile is too big and starts sliding off the counter.
    Nothing good comes in the mail anymore, unless I have been to Walmart… or Amazon or Ebay.
    I also have several of my account numbers memorized, as well as my library card and the library’s bank account.
    🙂 🙂 🙂
    I used to do it with phone numbers, but, that has been rendered obsolete, so now I have to content myself with other random strings of numbers….
    I have two rules when dealing with customer service:
    1. I am not going to work that hard to understand you. I’m happy you have a job, but if I am trying to resolve an issue, I don’t want one of the issues to be English.
    2. I will remain courteous and pleasant, as long as I can. As long as they can. I will not hesitate to request management if I feel you are not living up to your job description and/or are unable to resolve my issue.
    I refuse to do ‘chat’ customer service. I hate it. They always type faster than me 😉
    My medical supplies have been an issue, over the years, especially the billing and what the insurance actually covers. I have had some very interesting conversations and one company finally just gave me a ‘personal shopper’ because their stock boys were unable to read an order and put it into the box. Everytime that happened, I couldn’t reorder anything until 30 days after the date of the corrected order had gone by.
    I still think it’s an insurance scam, but I quit their company rather than fight a fight I could pull my dog out of and win somewhere else 🙁
    As soon as I’m rich, I will NEVER shop at Sears again. They have the WORST customer service on appliances, but that is the only ‘big’ credit card I have … so 😉
    I love BEING customer service, tho *touch of sarcasm*
    I LOVE/HATE bringing an angry book reader around. Reminding someone that something is free and patience sometimes makes it like a Christmas event, is my forté. People bitch about the most ridiculous things IN A LIBRARY….
    Sometimes I have to start my sentence with, “Is anybody bleeding or dying?” and then we go from there. I am VERY good at bringing the anger under control and restoring a little bit of humor, if I do say so myself 🙂 But, I don’t deal with anything life stopping or health adverse, so….
    Now, they are using ‘local’ prefixes for cold calls. I answered a ‘you have won’ call because the prefix was a local one. THAT pissed me off and I asked her politely to take me off the calling list while knowing I can NEVER answer the phone again.

  7. I used to work in customer service. It alternated between horrible and gratifying–horrible when I got yelled or cursed at, mostly by people for whom I felt real sympathy, and occasionally by stupid assholes–and gratifying when I could really help another person.
    It’s one of the reasons I try very hard to be polite to customer service people on the phone. Except when it’s a “Shepherd” who’s obviously a computer and I feel like I’m in the Dave Attell joke where he says, “I don’t have a girlfriend so sometimes I pretend I do. I stand in my kitchen and yell THAT’S NOT WHAT I SAID!”
    Seriously, letting computers do customer service is all kinds of fucked up.
    And I hope you at least get some use out of the volleyball net.

  8. Haralee says:

    It is certainly a crap shoot with customer service! The Post Office I hate to say really do suck at customer service. I think they win the contest as the worst example of good customer service. We aren’t Nordstrom/ Land’s End at my company but we sincerely try.

  9. Paula says:

    OMG, you hit a nerve once again. I work in accounts payable for a gas production company. You would be surprised how much customer service is involved. The accounts receivable reps call or my preference email me. We have three international companies that hire offshore contractors to handle there AR accounts-a nightmare. Most reps I speak with are shocked about how nice accommodating I am. What kind of assholes do they have to deal with?

    The only time recently I have had a problem with mail orders, UPS lost a camera outfit I ordered from QVC. QVC sent me a brand new one and the original never did show up.
    I also order something from Ebay. The vendor was delayed shipping my purchase and then did not include the accessories. I still gave them a good review because I truly believe it was a mistake. Well, I half believe it was a mistake.

    I cannot believe a robot was trying to handle your customer service problem, but it could be someone with limited English skills…see above. They might have moved the initial contact person over seas. If you are instant messaging them, how would you know? I hate to go shopping that is why I buy online but then you have to deal with goofy problems.

    The water bill, yea, I have done that more times than I want to admit. You want to just go in, pay the damn thing and slink out but the clerk says, “aren’t you Mrs. Roe’s daughter, I sure do miss the frame shop you had” Shit!

    • Michelle says:

      Yeah, the water bill thing was TOTALLY on me…but then he sounded annoyed and that was all I needed to vent a little frustration. I owned it, at least. But I never did apologize. I was too annoyed.

  10. Shani says:

    Thank you for turning yout annoyances into hilarity!
    We are likethis when it comes to mail.
    I channel my mother when dealing with customer service where it’s not my fault and their not helpful. Because then I’m annoyed. People don’t like it when I’m my mother. But it gets the job done. One thing I hate about Lyft is there is no customer service number to call. It is difficult for their customer service to get the full sense of my annoyance via their stupid ticket system.

  11. Deborah says:

    I’ve been known to change companies for better customer service. My husband sometimes has to make calls because I can lose my GD mind during a runaround. One place I’ve gotten GOOD customer service has been Apple, of all places. They like to handle most things by phone now, but I swear, they are super well trained, will take HOURS, if necessary and are very human. Same with their in-store reps. They go out of their way to make a connection.

    As for Stephanie – we have one who calls about carpet cleaning – a robo call, from which there is no escape. I also hate the scam artists from “Microsoft” in Pakistan, who are offering tech support on a machine I don’t have, (trying to hijack my computer). I actually have fun with them now. Them: “Hello ma’am, how are you today?” Me: “Better than you, apparently.” Them: “excuse me?” Me: “Well, things must be very bad for you financially, when the only job you can get is stealing from little old ladies. You do know that’s what you’re doing right? I mean the only people who fall for this are old, lonely women. Hey, here’s an idea, on your next break, why don’t you walk outside find the weakest looking old woman you can, beat the shit out of her and steal everything she has? Same thing right?” Him: “click.”

    I tend to think your first call was an computer too.

    • Michelle says:

      HAHAH..that is PERFECT. Stephanie is actually a person. But she won’t stop talking no matter what you say. I have tried..she gets ALL THE WORDS IN. Then I say, Stephanie..I have asked nicely..please take me off your list. I will not be nice the next time. I haven’t heard from her in a few days. I hope she’s okay.

  12. AmberLynn says:

    I get “Jessica” all of the time and there’s no way to shut her up. Try crying next time. I seem to get good results with crying to customer service people because I’m usually feeling so overwhelmed by having to deal with them while listening to my children and hoping they aren’t tearing up the house at the same time.

  13. Laura says:

    Ok, ask Randy to download the audio from that horror movie When A Stranger Calls where the police say “we’ve traced the call ,the call is coming from inside the house!!” And when Stephanie calls, play it for her and then hang up.

  14. Doug in Oakland says:

    Customer service can be a hard job. When the local department store I did home delivery for was starting to fall apart, I got together with my co-worker and we decided that we really liked our job, and we did our dead level best to keep it happening for as long as possible.
    The in-store personnel were freaking out because they knew the end was near, and they did a lot of, well, let’s call it lying to the customers in order to sell the stuff we were supposed to deliver. Some of the lying involved things they said that we, the delivery service, would do for the customers. After they found out that Vincent and I would actually do a lot of what they promised, it only got worse.
    Some of the things we had to say no to, because of insurance and other real-world circumstances (no ma’am, I can’t install a copper water line to your refrigerator’s ice maker, they sometimes leak and floor damage claims are almost always approved, and the store carries so much insurance that they would rather pay the damages than have their premiums go up, so they won’t let us do that. What? They promised you we would? Sorry. Can we get them on the phone right now? If they tell me to do it, I’ll do it in a heartbeat.)
    The trick was to not make the store look too bad for the dishonesty, and try to make the customers happy with your effort to make it right. It worked for a little more than a year. During that time, there were only three customers who were still mad at the store by the time we left their house, and frankly, if I had been them I would have been pissed also.
    I try not to get too upset with customer service people, or retail workers, or fast-food workers, who are mostly doing more work than they are paid for to serve me.
    It bothers me way more than it should when I see some poor schmuck getting loudly abused by some asshole who couldn’t possibly have been responsible for the trouble they’re having in any way, shape, or form.
    I guess for me it boils down to manners. Sometimes you have to tell people things they’re gonna hate hearing, but very seldom is being a prick about it warranted.

    • Michelle says:

      I agree,I am nearly always friendly to anyone in the service industry. Except for Stephanie and Shepherd. They suck. The water dept dude was really nice, other than that one little bit of huffiness.

  15. Spiked Lee says:

    Hahahaha! you have no idea how much I look forward to Monday second coffee, which is when I usually read you.
    I once called a medical office, trying to get Dr A to send records to Dr B. I had been trying for about 6 weeks, and certified letters, phone calls, office visits, nothing worked. One more call, and I was a complete. and total. B I T C H. to the poor woman on the phone, whose only job was to take the messages, not actually send the records out. When I hung up, my daughter looked at me and said, “mom, seriously. Call her back and apologize.” So I did, but not until the next day.
    Also, your first call? totally a robo. I would have asked about the comma, too.

  16. Susan says:

    A fun website updated daily with customer service stories.

  17. Kate says:

    You have a talent for exploring a universal misery from a hilarious perspective that somehow makes it all ok, and keeps me from wishing death upon the staggeringly incompetent people I have dealt with in the past two weeks. So thank you!

  18. This cracked me up because we all have had conversations with someone who we are sure isn’t human and doesn’t get what we are saying in any way and make us want to shake them saying how stupid are you, how hard is it to get what I am saying………….

  19. This cracked me up because we all have had conversations with someone who we are sure isn’t human and doesn’t get what we are saying in any way and make us want to shake them saying how stupid are you, how hard is it to get what I am saying………….

  20. Billie says:

    Rin ring, ring ring. That is your phone ringing. It’s Stephanie. Again
    You: “Come over for dinner, Stephanie, thththththth”.
    Just to clarify, “THTHTHTHTH” is the noise Hannibal Lechter makes when saying how delicious ladies’ liver is.
    I bet she never calls again after that……

  21. mydangblog says:

    In Canada, we have a federal “Do Not Call” list that companies are supposed to abide by, but they still manage to find a way around it, especially the phone scammers who leave recorded messages claiming that they’re “Lieutenant John Smith from the RCMP” and that you owe the government money in back taxes. The instructions are to send iTune gift cards to an online account. Because the government loves nothing better than free music in recompense for not paying your taxes. It’s amazing how many people fell for that one, some people to the “tune” (sorry, haha) of $9 000!

  22. I had a whole lotta other things I was going to say, but now I’m jealous that you get perky Stephanie. Because when we get calls about home security it’s always the scary robocall about how the FBI just reported that literally everyone in our neighborhood has been robbed or murdered. Or half. Some scary statistic. Which is weird, because I live in one of those adorable towns where people don’t bother to lock up their CARS, much less their homes (I know this because when my friend’s iPod got stolen out of his car I asked if they smashed the window and he was all confused and I said, “You know, when they broke in?” and he was like, “No, I’m pretty sure it was just unlocked. I mean, it was in my driveway.”) I feel like if crime was that rampant, people would start locking their shit, you know?

    Okay, back to the rest: I’m really glad to know I’m not the only one who gets mail anxiety. Seriously, I can’t be brought to walk out to the damned mailbox to collect the stuff. It’s full of bills and bad news, I’m sure of it. Yes, we pay our bills online, but they insist on sending things by mail too! Which stresses me out! And then there’s the “We’re gonna do weird things to the road so you need to tear down eight inches of fencing in this corner” notice from the city kind of mail—which I ignored for so long they finally sent it Certified and made me sign for it, ugh—bank statements I keep asking them not to send because clearly I can’t afford to plant trees to offset that footprint, catalogues I can’t stop because they’re addressed to “Resident,” which remind me that I should either be stocking up on adult diapers or planning my next baby because apparently there is no in-between.

    • Michelle says:

      OMG it is so good to NOT be alone on the mail anxiety. I get mail for burial plots. All the time. No one sends me baby stuff anymore. But that’s good, because my uterus is only for show these days.

  23. Liv says:

    So…did your water get turned back on? Inquiring minds want to know.

  24. Leslie says:

    As someone who worked in customer service in various operations I really appreciate this. Years ago I worked in reservations for American Airlines, in Cincinnati. I was called so many bad names and was yelled at so often that I am never rude to customer service. I might be testy at times but having been on the other end of the phone I practice what I used to preach. I was not cold calling, these people called me and when I couldn’t get them a seat on a sold out flight I was called a fucking whore. Oh and when weather cancelled flights? You don’t want to know! My working line was “listen, if I could control the weather I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you. I especially loved it when people would say “do you know who I am?” (don’t know don’t care) Oh and then there was the time I got a call from Mr Dong who needed a flight, it was company policy that we greet the caller by name several times during the call. When I said “okay Mr Dong” my friend next to me started laughing so hard we cried. Thank goodness for mute buttons. That said I also know what is expected customer service when I call them and I don’t allow anyone to get pissy with me. And if I call India and get someone who is reading from a script I take another route. That is the worst!

    • Michelle says:

      I try very hard to be polite, and when I’m not, I usually apologize. I didn’t so much this time, but I felt a little better that I made the dude laugh because he really didn’t deserve my ire.

  25. emelle says:

    I currently work part time in retail. I have a few regular customers, two of whom are former celebrities. I always go out of my way to call them by name (title and LAST name only, of course), so they know their stars haven’t completely faded. But ALL of my plastic-weilding customers get to “autograph” the card-swipe machine thingy, because who in this town is NOT special enough to sign an autograph? It’s the little things.

    As others have said, I try to be kind with customer service persons, but never with bots, and minimally with non-native English speakers. Communication is key. I love some of the suggestions you’ve gotten for Stephanie. I’m on the Do Not Call Registry, so I don’t have much interaction with her, myself.

    Also, I refuse to open non-certified “legal” mail. Yes, that does include jury summons. I never received that summons; are you sure you sent it to my correct address?