Ghostbusters movie image Harold Ramis, Bill Murray and Dan AykroydIf I ever come across a ghost – whether in spirit or slime form – you can bet your lunch money I’m calling the Ghostbusters. They’ve marketed themselves as the go-to spirit hunting guys, and they’ve got a secretary who’s constantly on call. (Before she was off designing Southern homes, Annie Potts was losing sleep answering the business’s million-per-day calls.)

But in non-Screensville, when a very real problem arises, there’s not always a top-rating theme song to tell you who to call. In fact, when we do figure it out (after intense online searches and research), we’re often given the run-around. Companies are only open during certain hours, their phone lines are all busy, they aren’t the ones who can help; we need to call the service provider, not the manufacturer.

When so many companies have poor customer service, how can they continue to stay in business?

The Lesser of Evils

Remember the whole “the customer is always right” mantra? When, no matter how outrageous or ridiculous, companies worked with their patron to find middle ground? Nowadays, however, CS reps are regularly rude and unwilling to help;  more and more consumers hit a dead end when calling in for help. Are these companies strapped for workers? Do they know a few angry shoppers won’t affect their overall gross? Or are workers simply ill trained and don’t know the difference between “Let me see what I can do” and “There’s nothing I can do.”

My theory, however, is that CS reps are given no-win situations, which, in turn, frustrates all involved. To “save themselves,” large corporations put in so many loop holes, hidden text, and add-on fees, that the customer never comes out on top – or even just slightly behind. Phone-answering interns can help no one, and the cycle continues.between a rock and a hard place

When given the choice between overpaying for a device or paying a “shelving fee” when it doesn’t work, what customer wouldn’t be angry? Or when a picture doesn’t match the shipped product and the customer is told, “That’s not our department; our hands are tied,” who wouldn’t complain?

A quick Internet search will show negative CS reviews on virtually every large corporation –Wal-Mart, Bic, Yahoo, and even Apple, the company with one of the most loyal followings. Discount travel sites are among the worst offenders, but as new customers keep coming in, these moguls don’t seem to mind. Adding to the issue is that not every customer needs to call CS, leaving a whole slew of happy campers.

Whatever it was that set this lack of customer service into action, it’s time to stop. Consumers are the ones buying a product, using it, and telling others who good/awful it is every single day. Doesn’t it make sense to spend a little extra to make them happy? Until this mindset is returned to its former glory, where businesses go out of their way to satisfy those keeping them in business, it’s going to be a long, bumpy journey.

Hold on tight, and be careful of what you buy.


Telephone photo courtesy of splityarn.