Customer Service - how would you react?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by rabid_granny, Nov 11, 2004.

  1. I'm joining a small motorcycle parts company in the new year as a management accountant. In addition to accounting and labour, I'll be doing sales service via the phone. Here is an interesting real scenario and I need your input:

    A customer purchases some expensive bodywork. He's fussy and demanding as whines for discounts and freebies. So, the owner gives the discount, throws in a T-shirt and patch and all is good. The customer goes off and starts saying how much he loves the bodywork.

    Later, the customer calls and says that a friend has died in a motorcycle accident and he doesn't want the bodywork anymore. (As far as I know, it's still in the original packaging and in salable condition). The owner is not happy with the trouble he went through during the sale so he says no but he can offer him a credit. The customer goes off and bad mouths the company on a bunch of forums, like Talkbass-for-motorcycles - the exact opposite of what he was saying before.

    Okay, so I'm inclined to refund the sale and hope the customer stops slagging the company. Is there any other way of dealing with the situation? The owner doesn't really want to but I think his emotions are clouding the overall picture. I think the cost of the refund is far above the cost of continued bad publicity.

    Any suggestions? I've done customer service before but never received any formal training.
  2. this happened to us.

    A customer went off and bad mouthed our brand all over internet forums.

    We completly and utterly kissed his ass in order to make him happy, it cost us more to refund his purchase than the original price... if that makes sense?

    It does suck.. but pucker up and hope thats the end of it..
  3. kserg


    Feb 20, 2004
    London, UK
    I am in russia mafia... $5,000 should cover it :)
  4. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    There was a very similar situation here on TB a month of so ago. I'd suggest that if the company's reputation is generally good, an errant customer slagging them off on the boards only makes themself look like a tool and probably doesn't really hurt the company. Particuarly if the company has abided by normal business practices.

    That said, if the cost of a refund is negligible, it may be worth entering into some sort of settlement with the customer to stop the publicity (if it really doesnt have the potential to damage the business). The problem with this is it starts a nasty precendent which other people could often exploit. A settlement could be eacted confidnetially with an clause that says the customer will retract and apologise publically for the comments, but the chances of that working out in this situation is low.

    Personally I have more respect for a company that sticts by its principles and doesn't bend over when some stupid customer is making an a$$ of themselves. (I used to negotiate settlemtns for a large financial services company).

    BTW if he is saying something thats not true on the forums, I would collect evidence of it and send him a nice letter from your lawyer saying that if he does not retract the statements you will commence proceedings against him in defamation. :D
  5. I used to work for a classic car repair company and dealership. We were small town, but the business was very rich. The same thing happened to us, a customer making our name look bad, he even went as far as to harrass our other customers. So we took care of it using a little illegal activity. Lets just say i was 22 and had nothing to lose, we beat the **** outta him and forced him to take the car he had bought and took double the money. It was a crime i now regret, but i cant go back and change time. It turned out that the guy was a crook anyway, he later got arrested for raping his own daughter and commited suicide in prison.
  6. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB

    Jan 28, 2001
    New York
    How long ago did the customer buy the bodywork?

    Is it a one-off custom, or would it fit an ordinary (read: common) bike?

    Could the company re-sell said bodywork if it was to be returned, or would it wind up being an office ornament?

    What's the company's return policy? Imo, "doesn't want the bodywork anymore" doesn't cut it in my book. If it was defective or wasn't made to the customers specs (didn't fit, etc....) I could see taking it back and refunding money (minus shipping if applicable, and a possible restocking fee) or offering store credit, but if he "just doesn't want it" then imo it's his problem. Sounds to me like the guy is a real pain in the ***, and losing him as a customer is probably a good thing.
  7. uglycicles

    uglycicles Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    Southwest Chicago
    Man, charles, that is hard. core. :eek:
  8. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Lacey, WA
    charles...lame story bro.

    first off, you are dealing with a specialized market, and by the sounds of it, high end equipment. your standard return policies and customer service dont apply as they do at Sears or Walmart.

    regardless of how angry the owner is, if this guy is not violating any company policy, then he should have refunded the money. the owner went through the trouble in the beginning for a gain a happy customer. he can't just bail out of that philosophy now. the customer realized what whining and fussing would get him, so he is just acting like he did before to get his way. looks like your owner created this problem customer.

    i would never go over my employers head, but i would give the guy his money back as long as the product is still in condition to be sold as new. it may be a good idea for the owner to draft a policy on returns that will save this headache in the future.

  9. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Generally if it's a well-known company that normally gives good service then other people will pipe in with their positive experiences. I've seen people try to start a thread that was supposed to be a real slag-fest but ended up fizzling out and making the company look pretty good because they had lots of happy customers. If other people on the board previously have no experience with the company though I think it's in the company's best interest to offer some kind of in-the-middle negotiation thing. They should also post their side of the story and make their resolution offer known on the main boards that they got slammed on.

    brad cook
  10. The whole situation has popped up recently, in the last few weeks/months. Not sure as I haven't officially joined the company yet. From what I know, the bodywork is in good condition but I've seen some returns that were not salable. (For example, one guy drilled the holes to mount bodywork and cut up the rest with box cutters or something - is that how you return a product???).

    The bodywork is generic but made out of carbon fiber - a step up from fiberglass.

    Personally, I'd like to tell the customer to shove it if he was as difficult as the owner says. However, it's the old problem - one good customer might tell another person while one bad customer will tell the world.

    The company has a good reputation and doesn't advertise - it's all word of mouth. We have lots of happy customers. However, everything is sold via the internet so getting slagged in popular bike forums is a serious issue.
  11. A return policy sheet will be included with all shipments in the future. I'm also inclined to refund the money IF the goods are resalable.

    It's an interesting opinion that you think that the owner created the problem. I never thought of it that way. Drawing the line is a good way to avoid situations like this. However, the aftermarket bike parts market is really impulse - if they got the cash, they want it NOW. To be a hard sell can lose the entire sale. Do you have any other insight that you can share Mike? I'd like to hear.
  12. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Lacey, WA

    PM sent.

    maybe not....your PM box is full. let me know when you have room.


  13. Damn no one guessed the movie, that there is the plot of an old Van Damne(sp?) movie. I was feeling 80s this week so i thought id throw in some cheese to this thread. :D