Posted in Customer Service

Counting down the TOP 5 poor service experiences

I (we?) love to pick on banks for our horror service stories. But they are such easy pickings, that I thought we should cast the net a bit wider. (I have a ripper of a story for you on St.George here in Sydney – byut more about another day…)

#5. Department Stores

  • You can never find someone when you want.
  • They are generally over-priced and they don’t have enough trust for me to believe them when they say they have a bargain.
  • If you ask someone for assistance they invariably pass you on to some one else or point you to where you should go.
  • The Kath & Kim characters are actually quite typical of the service environment: I feel judged before I am served.
  • The worst thing about department stores is that they actually think they provide good service when the opposite is true.

# 4. Doctors

  • Even if they still take appointments, they never keep them anyway. The bigger ones are just arrogant enough to say ‘come and wait your turn’.
  • While you wait, they ‘entertain’ you with magazines that are 2 years old – and probably infested with germs.
  • The place smells like …
  • They ask for your Medicare card before they’ll greet you.
  • The doctor asks you ‘how are you today’ – what a stupid question for a smart person to ask.
  • Then, when you respond, they interrupt you in 17 seconds (according to research I read once, somewhere – and I believe it.)
  • It feels like they are doing it for the money – and they probably are.

(Pharmacies are a close tie because not only do you have to do what is invariably quite personal shopping purchases in a supermarket-like environment; to top it all if you are sick and have to wait for your script, you don’t have anywhere to sit.)

# 3. Getting a Tradie (tradesman – or woman for the non-Aussies)

  • It is impractical to get multiple quotes because it would take you a week. And they know it and quote accordingly.
  • Your schedule does not count, all that matters is there availability and their schedule.
  • What they say there availability is and what it actually is – are two different things.
  • What they say before the job and what they say after you have committed is very different.
  • Have you ever tried to get them to make good on a warranty?

# 2. Mature-age fashion purchases

(When considering this list of issues, bear in mind that the customer is over 45, going though certain lifestyle and physical changes.)

  • The stores are badly lit
  • The cubicles (dressing rooms) are too small.
  • People can see your legs – and the fact that you just pulled your pants/dress down to your ankles.
  • You are served by a Gen Y, that has no idea of what really suits you or what is appropriate
  • The sizes are almost invariably too ‘young’
  • They ask if they ‘can help you’ but it doesn’t look like they want to.
  • When you buy something a little younger, the sales assistant is not averse to suggesting that you are too old.
  • Or if they are right (and you shouldn’t be buying it) – they lack the skill to do so tactfully.

And now, drum roll please…

# 1. Service Stations (petrol).

  • Poor access.
  • Dirty environment.
  • I have to do all the work – and pay them for the privilege
  • The pumps are invariably set so slow that it takes 5 minutes to fill the tank.
  • I know I am being ripped off on the price.
  • I have to queue to pay – at a security grill.
  • They always try and upsell you junk and it always feels as if they are trying to extract money rather than serve you with an interesting offer.
  • They say ‘thanks come again’ when they don’t mean it and they know you have to come back anyway.

Do you agree/disagree? What are your candidates?


2 thoughts on “Counting down the TOP 5 poor service experiences

  1. First off let me say how much I appreciate your blog, lot of useful information.

    As for the list above, I agree to a point – but I think you’re being overly critical on some points.

    Take your number 1 poor service experience – service stations:

    “Poor access” – I assume you mean into the property? Well they’re generally at intersections (for ease of most traffic flow as opposed to having to search for them in side streets), and the petrol station can’t exactly control the govt’s roads and traffic islands. If they could I’m sure they’d have several exclusive turning lanes just for service station entry.

    “Dirty environment” – Not exactly easy premises to keep clean, especially with the amount of foot and car traffic. We struggle to keep our walkway and aisles swept and clean with a fraction of the foot traffic a servo would get each day, not to mention outside elements, leaking cars, split petrol outside which is then trapsed inside etc.

    “I have to do all the work, and pay them for the privilege” – yes, unless you’re prepared to pay say a permenant 10c per litre more forever indexed to inflation from now (regardless of price) for someone to fill the tank for you and take your money while you stay in the car? Either way wouldn’t bother me, but I can tell you a few million aussies that wouldn’t be willing to pay that judging by the lines at the servo on the fuel docket days.

    “The pumps are invariably set so slow that it takes 5 minutes to fill the tank” – agree with you here. Assuming it’s not for safety or other valid reasons, they should speed them up.

    “I know I am being ripped off on the price” – Yes and no. I don’t know the intricate details of servo financials, but as I understand it, they only make a few cents on each litre. As for the products inside the convenience store – well, that’s the whole point, if you don’t plan ahead and need to rush to the servo for milk and bread – expect to pay for the privelege. They don’t have the economy of scale of larger supermarkets etc, in addition to the logistics of getting smaller amounts to so many locations. Yes let’s be honest, they will charge a bit extra because they know you’re desperate/lazy, but I know that’s the price I’ll have to pay if I choose to shop there.

    “I have to queue to pay, at a security grill” – where do you not have to queue pay at any decently busy retail premises? Take a walk through your local Westfield and I can pretty much guarantee you if the place is relatively busy, you’ll have to wait to pay, from the supermarket to the shoe store. As far as the secutiry grill, I’ve seen so many videos of hold ups – I wouldn’t be willing to work in a servo full stop, so let them have their secutiry grill at night etc.

    “They always try and upsell you junk and it always feels as if they are trying to extract money rather than serve you with an interesting offer” – agreed, but to be fair they’re probably just following corporate policy. Whilst I have impulse items next to my register, I don’t make my staff mention it to all clients. That would be a negative association with my store which I do not want the customer to leave with – especially for the sake of an extra $7 sale from say 1 in 10 people that actually buy the product.

    “They say ‘thanks come again’ when they don’t mean it and they know you have to come back anyway” – I guess you can only get your staff to be so sincere if they’re just going through the motions at a job that isn’t their dream. In theory it’s a nice thing for management to want the staff to say to customers, however they can’t control the delivery of the words by every employee or the mood the employee is in that morning. If the employee is disinterested, pretty much anything they say will sound insincere.

    Anyway, just thought I’d illustrate that things aren’t always that bad.



  2. Thanks for the great comment (& compliment).

    But I suppose it is the way that I (the customer) FEEL(S) that matters, whatever the reason or justification of operational challenges they face…It is not always rational – in fact it is probably always irrational 🙂


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