The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Customer Service

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a few memorable interactions with companies regarding customer service. I’ve known that customer service is imperative to customer satisfaction, but these experiences really shined a light on how much it impacts my associations of a company. Here’s the good, bad and ugly of customer service.

The Good – Shake Shack

I went to a Nats game last weekend and of course, my wife Vicky and I made a beeline to Shake Shack. The line was really long but that’s to be expected. Anyway, we ordered our usual Double ShackBurgers and fries and headed to our seats.

When we got to our seats, I realized that Shake Shack gave us single ShackBurgers, not doubles – unacceptable! I went back to the stand and caught a worker who actually looked like she was about to go on break. I told her about the error and showed her my receipt. She apologized sincerely, immediately let me cut the line, grabbed the next two Double ShackBurgers that were ready, and even let me keep the two single ShackBurgers they erroneously gave me. I walked back to my seat a happy man, and the pig in me was even happier now that I had more Shake Shack to enjoy!

Not that I needed any more reasons to love Shake Shack, but this just bumped them up a notch in my book.

Will ferrell old school

The Bad – Comcast / Xfinity

Oh, beloved Comcast. Not only do you absolutely kill us with your cable and internet costs, your customer service is absolutely terrible. I understand the complexities of running a massive customer service operation, but you just don’t do it well.

My internet speeds have been terribly slow lately so I called Comcast to see what I should do. I wound up chatting and talking to five, count ’em, FIVE, customer service representatives throughout the experience.

The first was via online chat. Rep #1 tried a couple of tests and her analysis was that the splitter I was using was causing the slow internet, even though the Comcast technician installed the splitter for me. Regardless, our chat session got disconnected when I had to unplug the modem to reset it.

So, I logged on to another chat session. Before even starting to tell rep #2 about the problem, I asked what would happen if we got disconnected; he said to call them, which did not sound like a very promising solution. Anyway, nothing got done on this chat, and of course we got disconnected again.

Then I called and got a very nice, helpful lady. Rep #3 ran some tests and determined that it wasn’t the modem that was the issue, but the wireless router. She offered to have a new modem+router shipped to me for free in 3-5 business days. Great! Problem solved!

A few minutes after hanging up the phone, rep #3 called me back to tell me that because I was a loyal customer, she could send a technician to my place the next business day to install the new modem+router at no cost. I love rep #3! I has just started another task at that time and told her that I would call back after checking my calendar. Big mistake.

After a half hour or so, I called Comcast back to schedule the technician visit, but rep #4 had no evidence that offer was made; instead, she was trying to charge me for the equipment delivery! I got the delivery fee waived but was pretty furious that they reneged the offer and I now had to wait a couple of extra days for faster internet.

It doesn’t end there. A few days later, I received not one, but two modem+routers! WTF?!?! Comcast, are you trying to make up for your terrible customer service by sending me extra, unnecessary equipment? So now I had to drive over to the Comcast customer service site to return the extra equipment! Rep #5 was very nice and helpful, and the transaction went smoothly, but the fact that I even had to meet her was asinine.

Comcast, please get your shit together; in this era of online video streaming, cords will eventually get cut if you don’t.

cosby shaking head

The Ugly – Creative Hands Massage

You thought my Comcast situation was bad? Check this one out.

My wife purchased a massage for me in April and in June, I made an appointment for August 8.

On August 7th, I received a voicemail from the owner of Creative Hands, informing me that the “new tile hasn’t set” (they were undergoing renovations) and my appointment needs to be rescheduled.  I also received an email stating the same thing.

On August 9, I called the owner but she didn’t answer, and I couldn’t leave a voicemail because her inbox was full. I then called the spa location and was told by the receptionist that the owner would be paged. I didn’t hear from anyone for a while and kinda forgot about it.

On August 23, I called the spa again and they told me to text the owner, which I did right away. The owner responded and I requested for the next available appointment.  No response.

On August 26, I texted the owner again to see if there were any upcoming appointments available.  No response.

On August 29, I again texted the owner to ask to speak to someone on the telephone about setting up an appointment or getting a refund.  The owner called me sounding agitated and made a lot of excuses (her receptionist was sick, she isn’t in DC, there are 50 people ahead of Mike that she has to respond to, etc.). She told me to contact Groupon for a refund, but my wife didn’t purchase the deal from Groupon. The owner said she will get back to me at some point and to text her my name and email address, which I did. I then texted her again saying that I’d like a refund, and she responded with the same excuses.

On September 2, the owner texted me asking to schedule an appointment. I responded saying that I wanted a refund. She called me back, apologized, repeated the same excuses, told me that she isn’t offering refunds, and suggested that my wife file a complaint with the credit card company.

Update: I went for my massage on Friday, September 13 and apparently that time slot got double booked. I had to wait for an hour for a masseuse to come from another location. The massage was great but the whole experience was tainted. I was told that I would receive a complimentary massage for dealing with the issue, but I’m not banking on that.

On September 15, I received a blatant promotional text message from CH Massage. And apparently the message was sent from an iPhone’s iMessage app, as I continued to receive messages from others on the thread. Really, really annoying.

Creative Hands is a small business, and I empathize with the difficulties of running such a business, especially if one of your workers falls ill. But as a small business owner, you need to have contingency plans and more importantly, treat your customers with respect and not make excuses repeatedly.

flipping table

My point isn’t to put these companies on blast (well, it kinda is), but just to highlight how important customer service is to the experience. Because it’s basically a monopoly, I have to buy from Comcast, but hopefully the plethora of TV-viewing alternatives will soon change that. But best believe that I’ll never buy from Creative Hands Massage again.

Have you had any really good, bad, or ugly customer services experiences lately? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

If you found this interesting, please follow me on Twitter – @mikewchan – for future updates.

Images courtesy of

2 thoughts on “The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Customer Service

  1. I have very little patience for poor service. I was cringing when I read your Creative Hands Massage story – there is just no excuse for that. Here is a quick list of my good – bad – ugly. GOOD: American Express (they are always on point and so accommodating)
    BAD: ATT (very similar to your Comcast experience. Rep didn’t update notes and I had dealt with a total of 5 reps (on phone and in store))
    UGLY: Direct TV (cable kept going out and I probably spoke to them once a week to complain. One rep even told me to go up to my roof and turn the antenna northeast to fix the reception.

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