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June 3, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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"Slip," sliding, away
Fran from Taylors writes:
1/18/2004 11:22:18 AM
Jonathan, I can appreciate your frustration in dealing with a bank. I can definitely relate. Years ago, I became frustrated with banks, and could share some similiar experiences, but just wanted to say that switching to a credit union was a good way to solve that. Although our credit union has gotten much larger, and being busier, doesn't have quite the personal connection that it used to, it is a far-cry better than having to put up with a bank and the sense of anonymity that one feels there.
[ reply ]
Andrew from Greer writes:
1/17/2004 11:15:56 AM
This rant will be a good preface to my next article on "Expressing Discontent"
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Andrew from Greer writes:
1/17/2004 11:12:55 AM
Greenville's Worst Buy the day after Thanksgiving

Jonathan, your article is an excellent opportunity to write something I've had on my chest for a while. I'm writing this to sort of fulfill a promise. My experience was remarkably similar to Jonathan's, even though it was a totally different business.

Some people value a personal touch versus bargain basement service and may pay the premium for it, others prefere the cheapest, fastest experience they can find. Businesses are free to play to either clientele and anyone in between. When things change unexpectedly, that is when loyal customers get ticked. Customers and businesses should treat eachother with consideration and respect and when they don't, they "deserve" a severed relationship.

Yes, I was one of those idiots who got up at 5 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving to do some deal hunting. Yes I was suckered into the stores by all the rebate ads and "one day sales." So, you may believe that I deserve whatever I get, but I try never to use the word "deserve" when the concept of "deserve" is irrelevant in most instances.

So, I'm at a big electronics store in Greenville that will remain nameless, because my point is not to hurt their business any more than the business they lost when I vowed not to shop their anymore. My desire is for them to do a better job.

The sale fliers advertised many great sales and rebates on many electronics. We waited in line for the store to open, at 5 or 6 a.m. I can't remember. Whatever it was, it was early. Employees gave out sheets of paper that "guarantee" us the product listed on the sheet, since there were limited numbers of the sale items in the store that day. I heard that one store selling Sony Clie's had only 10 in the store. They were sold out before I even made it out of the first store. Truth in advertising? Yet another article for another day.

Crowd control was much improved over the fiasco that happened the previous year. Whle waiting in line, my wife and I debated whether the stores should have to pay for police service or whether since the public showed up in droves it was a legitimate public interest, but that too is another article. When the store opened, people filed in in a fairly orderly manner.

We were told that if we had a sheet and waited in the lines inside the store that we were guaranteed one of the products. Once in the store, however, it was chaos. I waited through no fewer than 3 lines for about 30 minutes each before the lines evaporated because either (1) the product ran out, or (2) we were told that this was the line to pick up a product when we later found out that it was the line to sign up for satellite TV (who on earth is going to get up at 5 a.m. to sign up for satellite TV?). Poof, line disappears and there goes your shot at the item and 30 minutes of your life gone. There was a lot of frustration amongst the customers and, having noone else to blame, they were getting snooty with eachother.

After the third time of this, giving up on most of the items we wanted, then waiting for about 20 minute in the monstrous checkout line, I gave up. I put down the items I did manage to find and on my way out I saw a news 4 guy talking with the manager giving a fluff piece.

Ok, I was ticked but that was the last straw for me. Total chaos and anger amongst all the customers and this guy is giving a fluff story of what a great time is being had by all and the so-called news guy was eating it up.

So, I decide to confront the manager. I told him that this had been a terrible experience. Like the teller that Jonathan ran across, either the guy was totally unaware of the right thing to say to an irate customer or he was intentionally baiting me. I should have assumed the former, but alas, I went with the latter assumption. Mea culpa, I could have been more diplomatic when he said "thank you for shopping at XYZ, have a nice day." I told him that "thanks to XYZ my day has sucked."

He repeated his flippant farewell. Now I was more than ticked. I went over to the now packing up newsguy and asked him what he thought about a story of how the store was total chaos and none of the employees knew what was going on. His almost exact words were "Did you talk to the manager?...I've spoken with him, he's a nice guy, for him it's all about the customer...but if you can prove you have a point I might talk to you."

My next mistake, believing a news guy on deadline. So, I told him to wait a minute while I went to the first line I could find, in the CD and computer games section. Big line with lots of customers waiting, irritated, and lots of employees hanging around, some talking to customers. I asked a group of employees "What is this the line for?" Their almost exact words were, "we're not sure, we are trying to find out."

I head back to the front of the store. News crew is gonzo. So, I go talk to the manager again. After a few exchanges, most of his responses, like a computer just repeating the same flippant farewell. I told him that I was planning to write a letter to the editor about the experience. He said "great, you do that...repeat flippant farewell."

Eventually, it occurs to me what is irking me about this guy. I ask "you aren't sorry that this was a terrible experience." His response "I'm very sorry, now I'm asking you to leave and don't come back into the store or I will call the police." Wow, what an apology. I had not been threatening or belligerent, just persistent. I had not even made a scene except for the employees milling at the entrance. I decided I could get arrested for much more important things.

As I was walking out I responded "don't worry." I will never go back into that store. If this is the benefits of face-to-face customer service, I'll do the rest of my shopping on-line. Other stores are welcome to do better and retain my business, and I'd even give the benefit of the doubt to other locations of this particular chain. But this location has lost my business forever. I won't be fooled again by the deals and the hype. I'm voting with my dollars and my feet for better service at everyday low prices.

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Olivia from Greer writes:
1/17/2004 9:32:35 AM
Just a quick rant.

Just before xmas. We ran out of checkbook deposit slips. So I HAD to drive-thru to the drive-thru window and to get some more.

She handed me five(5)deposit slips. I looked at them and said, I wantat least 10 more. She gave me a dirty look, slowly counted out (probably only 9) more, and put them in the bin---without a friendly smile or a thank you for your service.

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Jonathan from Greenville writes:
1/17/2004 8:56:32 AM
Actually, Bea, I do take time to talk with the folks at the bank. My problem is not so much with the teller as the bank. The fact that they must be consistent from branch to branch shows that they are not willing to bend in individual cases. Fact is, I only go to the branch in question (both at the teller window and at the counter).

One important rule of customer service is that you need to empower the front line to make reasonable exceptions in order to make a customer happy. In this case, I don't think that is the culture.

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Bea from Hardeeville writes:
1/17/2004 8:01:35 AM
Gee, everyone at my bank knows my name! But then I guess I take the time to go in and ask about their families and their lives when it isn't crowded. I make my transactions in person whenever possible. I only use the ATM when I have busy days and the bank is already closed.

Folks wanted automation in everything. They laud the speed and efficiency of computers. They liked not having to 'deal with' people. We even have "self-checkout" at the grocery stores!

Then Homeland Security butted in and decided that rules must be enforced to further encapsulate people in their own tight little worlds. We are restricted in what we can and cannot do. My own bank's counter deposit and debit slips are stamped "ID Required". When I asked them wny they needed an ID for a DEPOSIT (anyone who wants to dump money into my account is free to do so!) they said that if their tellers got used to someone putting money INTO an account, than that person could REMOVE money from that account - even if it wasn't his. They too must be careful not to be too friendly or too trusting. Of course, it didn't count with me; because after 3 years they had gotten used to me so I don't need an ID. However, if their bosses saw that, they would be fired.

And yes, I bank at a massive bank, not a little hometown one. I just have the tendency in every situation to reach out and be friendly, cut up, or make jokes. We have lost the ability to sit and talk. We are too busy and have too many things to do. Or we are nervous about exposing ourselves to others.

Or sometimes we run into an arrogant 'service person' and take offense. "Service people" are usually not trained in service, they are too busy trying to get all of the rules and regulations straight. Since the educational level has dropped, and since so many people who felt that the world owes them a living are now being forced to work, they have an attitude. You can either ignore them, try to help them overcome it (I am on the board of a community-development microbusiness that trains people in customer service) - or report them to their superiors (I have done that too - as a last resort). However, bear in mind that complaining to them or their immediate superiors does no good - you have to go higher. Their immediate supervisors will just make excuses because they are too busy, too rattled, too stressed out to care. But in this case, it sounds like you, Jonathan, were not made aware of the rules even though the bank tellers were. That wasn't fair to you... but banks and most corporations have a tendency to do that. The only cure is constant personal contact - when you have the time.

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Randy from Laurens writes:
1/17/2004 4:27:32 AM
Sorry Jonathan, the bank where everyone knows your name isn't there anymore. Those little banks were bought out or merged with or just plain put out of business by the megabanks offerring the "free lifetime" checking years ago.

Automoton customer service isn't good, friendly, or particularly helpful to customers's cheap.

[ reply ]
Jonathan from Greenville writes:
1/16/2004 5:33:45 PM
Selective reading there Haywood. But, actually, yeah, attitude does play a big part in many things - especially relationships.
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Haywood from Greenville writes:
1/16/2004 5:26:58 PM
So it all comes down to attitude huh? Interesting.
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Jonathan from Greenville writes:
1/16/2004 2:11:29 PM
Yes, (about BJU policies) when they need to be. I can remember one instance in my time as a student (an instance into which I will not go into detail :-) ) where BJU was VERY flexible with me. Sure, there are "policies" at BJU and some are not flexible. Then again, I wouldn't expect the bank to let me into the vault unattended. At BJU policy does not supercede relationships and "deposit slip" policies are certainly flexible.

Of course, relationships go two ways. So if you are always going to assume that BJU is going to be inflexible, most likely nothing we ever do will please you. Some students who may have gotten in trouble in the past would have found a much different outcome had they approached their situation with the right attitude.

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Haywood from Greenville writes:
1/16/2004 12:30:10 PM
I can understand your frustration. It always seemed stupid to me not to be able to get a deposit slip through the window. It would help if they'd figure out that they really need to put more in the back of the check book to begin with.

Just out of curiousity, are the policies at Bob Jones flexible?

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Jimmy from Spartanburg writes:
1/16/2004 11:22:44 AM
Hey Jonathan,

Your story reminds me of the article I wrote a while back on Common Voice called Customer Service Is Extinct.

It's a shame that banks, who use the funds of their customers to make gobs of money for themselves cannot perform even the most basic relational services that good customers deserve. Good luck finding ANY bank that hasn't been bought out by the BIG BOYS!

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