Customer is Always Wrong

In the forty years I have lived on the planet, I have learned one very important thing about business: the customer is always wrong.

Actually, this wasn’t always the case. There was a time many years ago when the customer was always right. For example, when I worked at Coles in the mid 80s, a customer came in with a bag of oranges in a Woolworths bag, requesting a refund. Against my better judgement, the store manager said we should just give her the refund just to shut her up and to get her out of the store. But now, the customer is always wrong. My latest example of this is my dealings with Yahoo.

On the weekend, I wrote to them about an ongoing matter and today finally received a reply. Frustrated at receiving daily reminders for an online calendar which no longer existed, I wrote to them saying…

I have written several times (probably eight to ten) now about a problem and no one from your company has responded, nor done anything about it. The problem is that a couple of years ago I de-activated the account goodbyeporpoisespit and yet I still receive daily calendar reminders to my email address. Please stop these from occuring in future. I consider that I have taken all reasonable steps in requesting this.

Today I received a response which reads like something out of “Yes Prime Minister…

The Yahoo! User ID – goodbyeporpoisespit does not exist. We can only remove a calender reminder on an active account, as there is no way to remove an option from an account that does not exist.

I have written back telling them…

Thank you very much for your reply to my account. Although I understand (and agree with the inherent logic of what you’re saying), however I wish to assure you a problem DOES exist, and I DO receive calendar reminders from this inactive account. Could you please have a look and resolve the issue of why I am receiving email reminders from Yahoo from an inactive account.

I then forwarded them an example of my email reminder to prove I wasn’t lying. I have yet to hear back from them, but I guess you can see how stupid their response was, supporting my central thesis that “the customer is always wrong”.

It reminds me of dealings I had on behalf of a listener a few weeks ago who was receiving multiple charges for SMS messages sent to a third-party carrier. The company involved told me, “I’m sorry, sir, that just doesn’t happen” and the person who took my call wouldn’t even consider the idea that it was. After several calls, the matter was resolved by dealing directly with their Asia-Pacific manager.

And it also reminds me of the twenty something emails and letters I wrote to Westpac over a five year period trying to get them to update my address. In frustration I finally wrote a blunt but simple request… “Look up the address for the property I’ve insured and send the bloody letters there”. After countless letters and phone calls, I finally received a letter telling me all would be fine in the future, blah blah blah.

Well of course, all was fine and all the paperwork was coming to the correct address until last week when I was informed of the latest in an online chat with a friend who receives them who told me…

friend: BTW, another letter arrived for you today from Westpac

me: bullshit!

friend: yup

me: how many fucking times do i have to tell them

friend: at least one more, it seems…

I have many other examples of where I have complained about things only to be told, “I’m sorry sir, that’s not possible”, thus leading to my conclusion that in 2006 the customer is always wrong.

3 comments

  1. Mark, the name derives from the film, \”Muriel\’s Wedding\” about the ABBA loving teenager who moves from Sydney from a NSW North Coast town in search of \”something\”. It made sense to me, although it took far too long to type. After a few more emails, I finally rang Australia\’s Yahoo office demanding to speak to someone, asking for names, quoting names, and generally being an activist consumer. The issue is now resolved.

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