3 Inane Customer Service Mistakes That Make You Look Like the Villain

bad service on a hot day{NOTE: I’ve been writing so many “tips” emails to my subscribers over at Business Content PLR that I realized would be useful for anyone. And yet, they’ve been confined to that email list. So I’ve decided to start putting some of them into posts here, so that everyone can benefit – starting with today.}

It’s a broiling hot Saturday afternoon here in NJ, and I’ve got a very important lesson today in customer service. It’s a little long, so you might want to skim.


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Ok, it’s lesson time.

Here I am, sitting in a baking hot house with no air conditioning, swearing that the A/C company will never see another cent of my money.

NOTE: I’ve been one of their customers for over 15 years.

How did they lose my business?

It simple, really.

Step 1. Do shoddy work and charge for it

Step 2. Don’t provide any extra help to resolve the situation

Step 3. Tell me I’m wrong and I have to pay more to finish the job

Want the dirty details?

1. Problem NOT fixed, at big expense to me.

When they sent someone to fix the A/C, they spent two hours proving to themselves that there wasn’t the right power current, including the voltage to the house itself. Then they put in parts that they weren’t even sure were the cause of the problem. Of course, they charged me for all of that.

2. No empathy and no ownership of the problem

They then sat in their truck for nearly 30 minutes writing up a nice fat bill for not fixing the A/C. By the time they told me that they couldn’t figure it out and I needed an electrician, it was too late for me to find one. They never offered to give me a recommendation or call someone for me. They just presented a bill to be paid immediately. $350 and a very hot night with little sleep…..

Next day, I found an electrician who within 5 minutes told me that the problem had nothing to do with the A/C but that there wasn’t the right power coming from the street. He then spoke to the electric company and explained the issue so that they would know what to look for when they came (still waiting for THEM as I write this).

NOTE: The electrician will DEFINITELY be getting business from me in the future.

3. Threat of another big fee for no good reason

I called the original A/C people to ask about a little note I noticed on their receipt that says they disconnected a switch to the unit. Apparently, they have to come back to reconnect it once I have the power. The guys who wrote that never told me they’d have to come back. Here’s the kicker:

They said they’ll be happy to send someone the next day (Sunday) to reconnect the units, but that it will cost a lot more since it’s a weekend and a Sunday!

I don’t know about your view on this, but I don’t think I should be getting charged at all!!! When I explained that all the work I’d already paid for had been unnecessary, according to the electrician, they just claimed that their people always have my best interests at heart and would never install something that wasn’t necessary.

Ok, enough ranting. This is supposed to be a lesson in customer service.

Here’s what should have happened, in a world where you want to attract and keep loyal customers:

1. Use a standardized system of problem-solving.

In other words, diagnose and deal with the biggest problem first , before wasting your customers’ time and money on ‘theories’.

The most important problem in my case was that there wasn’t enough power coming into the house in the first place. Well, nothing was going to work then, no matter what they did. And yet, they managed to do $350 worth of work anyhow.

2. Admit your mistakes and DO SOMETHING to make it right.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with telling a customer you made a mistake. We ALL make them.

It’s the way you deal with your mistakes that sets you apart from all your competitors.

My A/C guys could have made a big impact on me if they’d said, “Sorry, we did what we could, but we really need to get an electrician in to figure it out.” And then, “We have someone we use a lot who’s really good. Let me give him a call and see how fast he can get here.” Instead, I was scrambling to get recommendations for electricians from my friends and then trying to get in touch with them.

3. Don’t push your luck and get greedy

Sometimes, you have to swallow a cost in the interests of customer service.

Don’t be so strict about your ‘policies’ that you don’t allow for special situations.

In my case, I was already complaining about a bill that I felt I shouldn’t have had to pay. And yet, the customer service rep told me I’d have to pay even more than normal just to finish the job.

What should he have said? He could have easily said that he couldn’t be sure whether the work that was done was necessary, but he’d make sure that someone came to hook everything back up as soon as my power is corrected….at no extra charge. Simple.

None of this is rocket science.

Customer service is partly about quality control, so there aren’t too many problems in the first place.

But then, it’s about putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and thinking about what they need in order to solve their problems and feel better.

If you focus on just quality and service, you will have dedicated, loyal customers for life. GUARANTEED 🙂


Have a horror story of your own about customer service? I’ll bet you do! Please share below.

To your long-lasting success,



P.S. Want to learn about getting loyal customers from the experts?

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  1. They should have been begging for your forgiveness. Especially when no one told you that someone would have to come back to flip the switch or whatever was needed.

    • No kidding. And this morning, when I had a different person come reconnect it, I found out that they’d left live wires exposed in the switch. I could have easily electrocuted myself!
      What’s that saying? “I cry because people are stupid and it makes me sad.” I completely understand people doing stupid things. We all do. But at least admit it and do something about it!!

  2. Home repair is always a trying experience. Sometimes you don’t even know who to call – A/C repair guy, electrician, or electric company. And most repair companies will charge a “trip charge” plus one hour minimum. I just figure it’s going to cost me $150 for the guy to walk through the door.

    I had a low voltage problem in my house a year ago. I did a lot of investigation, research, and fighting before the problem was resolved. So, here’s a few things I learned…

    Low voltage coming into a house is really not a good thing for most electronic devices and appliances. But I think those hit the worst are things with electric motors – such as your refrigerator, washer and dryer, and yep the A/C unit. Evidently, if the voltage is low the motor over heats which burns up the motor and/or causes damage to other components because of the excessive heat or strain.

    So don’t be too upset about those A/C parts because maybe they were bad because of the low voltage. Also, the repair guys may have left your A/C disabled so that the compressor and components wouldn’t get ruined should someone in the household attempt to use the A/C. Or, maybe they didn’t want the unit being used until they could property test it with the new parts. At any rate, all that should have been explained to you.

    I think the problem here was simple lack of communication. We as home owners don’t understand these things. I know I had no idea that low voltage could damage appliances.

    So look at it this way. The A/C guy showed up, debugged the problem properly, and replaced parts which most likely went bad due to the low voltage situation. They then disabled the unit to prevent further damage. That’s really all they could do at that point. I’m sure they planned on a second trip to hook up and test the unit after the electric company fixed the low voltage problem.

    I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear. But actually, assuming you don’t have damage to other appliances, you got off lucky. Be happy you’re not spending thousands of dollars on new appliances…



    • Hi Bruce. You’re absolutely right. There was definitely lack of communication. But even more importantly, there was total lack of empathy.

      I know all about service call charges, and that’s a given no matter what (though $150 is pretty steep!) But these guys knew I needed an electrician at least an hour before they actually told me. By the time they did tell me, it was too late for me to find someone and get them there that day. And when they did tell me, all they said was “We couldn’t fix it, you need an electrician, and here’s our bill.” That’s it. Nothing to help move the situation along, and no extra information volunteered. I was on my own.

      But the final straw was when I called about reconnecting the unit as soon as possible (they only disconnected one) and they said that they could do it but it would cost not only extra, but a premium on top of that since it was the weekend. Obviously, I got someone else to do that part, at which point I found out that they’d left live wires out. I thought the first guys had been joking when they told me they’d electrocuted themselves a few times, like they were trying to get some sympathy from ME. Now I know they weren’t joking.

      I’m always ready to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially when I’ve been a customer for so many years and trust them. But this was ridiculously callous. Did I mention that I also had just brought my son home from having surgery and it was a steamy 95 degrees outside? There are so many things these guys could have done to make this situation better and they didn’t do any of them.

  3. You should do a report at the Better Business Bureau. I have known people who have done the report and they ended up recouping some of the bill.

    Just a thought.

    • Hi Rhonda. I figure that’s a last resort. And when it comes to something like this, I’m not an electrician so I can’t really say whether the work they did was wrong or right. I’m more annoyed at the fact that they didn’t tell me right away what I needed so that I could get right on it. And then the fact that they wanted to charge me a premium to come back and reconnect everything – that was the last straw. I’ll probably end up having to pay the bill, but they’ve lost me as a regular customer, which is a heck of a lot more money each year. I just want other business people to learn from those mistakes.

  4. That sounds like a terrible experience with that A/C company. I think you’ve absolutely done the right thing about it, making it known that they made mistakes. Consumers really do have the power, and can decide whether a business fails or succeeds. Getting your reviews and experiences with certain companies out there for people to see will ensure that good companies continue being good, and bad ones can be changed or shut down.

  5. Running a successful company is a two part formula. The sales that bring in the people, and the customer service that make sure they come back. Even more so today than ever, we are switching to an economy of strictly service — and if you don’t have any it’s pointless to even have a business. Especially when the business has to earn your trust for you to open your doors for them.

  6. I can relate to the A/C one, but something more common for me that has actually changed my lifestyle is with mechanics. I was tired of being charged high hourly prices and having crappy parts installed in my car. Now I just buy good parts myself and spend a Saturday fixing the car.

  7. I always end up giving special circumstances, even though I really shouldn’t, especially when I’m fixing people’s coolers and air conditioners. People are always asking for discounts, so I’m not surprised that business owners are trying to take charge and not give leeway with the pricing they first asked for!

  8. I wanted to reach through my computer, and through your phone and wring those guys’ necks. Sometime, I don’t think people listen, and when you say it again, sometimes it still doesn’t register. Especially if your a woman speaking to these nimrods. I’m glad it all worked out in the end, and it’s a lesson for the next time.

  9. Great example of poor customer service. Can’t believe they charged you for parts “that might not fix it” that’s absurd! If you had been doing business with them for 15 years, they should have known you were loyal and did what needed to be done and send a tech out Sunday for free.

    Glad you finally it got it resolved. It sounds like you found a good and honest electrician out of the lesson?


  10. Hello,
    To err is human ,but your content opened my eyes to control mistake .

    Many many thanks,

  11. Excellent example of lousy customer care. Thanks for your sharing.

  12. Awful service. you know what they say about what comes around goes around. Word of mouth is everything. As an electrician myself these type of people should be removed from the profession entirely. Despicable!

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