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Dealing with Crazy + Angry Customers

Discussion in 'Sales, Marketing, Pricing Etc.' started by Dice, May 4, 2010.

  1. Dice

    Dice Active Member

    Jun 23, 2008
    Ok this is a first for me. Really put me on the edge on my "Customer first, Customer service mentality"

    Threats to strangle one of my employees. Yelling, cursing, swearing to not 1 but 4 of us, including me. He got passed around demanding to talk to a "Supervisor" before my team finally gave up and asked me for help.

    He ordered 2 sets of magnets, 8 for one of his locations and 4 for another. He called in saying that we printed the wrong file for the set of 4 and demanded that we reprint and ship out immediately. After we determined that we indeed printed the correct file with pretty certain accuracy, we requested that he either ship them back or drop them off and if they are indeed bad we'll reprint them for free. This is apparently what set him off, yelling cursing. After repeated attempts at request to calm down thats when the threats of violence started. We don't really have supervisors, so he was switched to a different rep to try and help. Finally everyone gave up and requested my help.

    I get on the phone with the guy and he explains his story, calm at first. Soon as I say, "Let me first start off to apologize for anything that has upset you and we'll make it right for you, but i'm confused". The I'm Confused part apparently set this guy off. He starts yelling. "Do You not understand the words that i'm saying". I tried to interrupt his tirade, it was a blur of anger. "Please Calm down", "Don't tell me to calm down, I hate it when people tell me to calm down!"

    I say, "please Sir calm down and show a bit of respect to as you would show anyone face to face on the street, i'm the owner."

    The whole "I'm the owner thing" hit his switch and he calmed down. Kept calling me Sir after i reviewed with him the whole situation and came up with a resolution. He agreed to bring in the magnets and we'll reprint them for free ready for him the next day, Which is exactly what the previous 3 of us told him.

    Not really wanting to deal with any further craziness we went ahead and reprinted them just in case. My thought at the time was well this guy is yelling curing threating and he will bring them in, we must have made a mistake. Well the guy comes in when i'm out at lunch, didn't bring the old ones back telling one of us that "My boss said we didn't need to bring them in and we'll make it up with lots more business". I'm not sure if the guy that picked them up was the same guy.

    This really tested us on Policy and Procedure. We normally try and make the crazies happy then get the hell away as fast as we can. Yelling we can deal with, seems like everyone is angry these days, but the threats of violence was a first, wasn't exactly prepared for that to one. I had thought about calling the police, but foresaw more issues and complications so opted out of that.

    What do you guys do in this situation or what would you have done?
  2. Flame

    Flame Major Contributor

    Apr 26, 2006
    Tell him he has 10 seconds to leave the shop before I call the cops.

    I have zero patience for customers. If I screw up, I do my best to fix it as FAST as possible. That is customer service and you owe it to them because that is the deal, that is the transaction. They get product A, you get cash B.

    Now, if they are being stubborn, dumb, or angry for no reason... they are OUT OF HERE. I have one lady who was rude to me throughout the order process, and she came back in to re-order and I told her to find another shop.
  3. Jillbeans

    Jillbeans Major Contributor

    Dec 24, 2003
    Butler, PA
    So in other words this d!ckwad got three free sets of mags?
  4. iSign

    iSign Major Contributor

    Nov 29, 2003
    Kahului, Maui
    :goodpost: ..that is exactly how I feel about it... a for b... no drama.. if I dropped the ball on A, I'll fix it, but still... no drama allowed!
  5. Dice

    Dice Active Member

    Jun 23, 2008
    Sadly Yes. 2 Free Sets.
  6. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006
    There are so many ways to handle people like this, but first, if we're honest with ourselves.... we've probably been in his shoes once or twice, so I think we owe it to them to listen for a moment or two.

    I will try to show as much patience as you did, Dice in the beginning stages. Generally these things get to me immediately as when someone has any complaint.... I don't let others do battle with any customers. I don't even like when we're 100% wrong letting an employee straighten these things out.

    I try to take full responsibility for everything that goes wrong. I believe because its ultimately my business, I should be there for the harassment. Also, if I wanna get mean back.... I can do it.... where I'll get upset if an employee fires a customer.

    Like you, I would try to defuse the customer's temper. I will promise them the world... if they just shut up and listen to what we'll do for them. After the customer has said his/her piece, I will give them what they want, if I think they deserve it. However, should this person go ballistic and start making threats... my first reaction will be 'RED" and I will calmly say to them.... You don't wanna go there..... DO YOU ?? If they continue on, I will tell them in a firm voice, this is a two sided conversation. Should you wish to continue in this fashion, we can no longer do any business. I have no problem with that.... how 'bout you ??

    If they still continue to go off.... I just turn and tell them I'm finished and they can talk to a cop or lawyer at this point if they want to go down this road and wait for their response.

    Other than that, there's no sense playing the game by their rules.... that's insane, so get rid of them any way you can and never-ever do business with them again.

    Send off a certified [returned receipt] letter describing this person's behavior to this person's boss or owner explaining if their company would like to continue doing business, that they send a responsible representative next time. You can no longer deal with poor attitudes in your shop where people make a spectacle of themselves and threaten your people. The End.
  7. signgal

    signgal Very Active Member

    Dec 29, 2009
    we bend over backwards to make our customers happy (even when we are not at fault) because I don't want anyone unhappy bad-mouthing us (no one will hear that it wasn't our fault) But i draw the line at this kind of behavior, cuz guess what. You can't make that kind of person happy, as evidenced by the offer to do them over for free in the first place. I had one woman in 11 yrs of business react that way... my kids say if they meet someone who doesn't like me, they don't want to know them cuz they are the ones with a problem. that's how well and easily liked i am... but this woman was nuts. I told her she speak properly with me and act like a professional and get her gripe taken care of to her satisfaction or leave. period. done. i can see why you'd fear for yours and your employees' safety with the violence threat but it shouldn't have escalated to that point before they made the statement i described.
  8. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

    Mar 12, 2005
    New England
    I would call the owner of his company to discuss the situation.
  9. threeputt

    threeputt Very Active Member

    Mar 10, 2006
    washington state
    Physical threats are "off the charts, out of bounds" in my shop. I will not tolerate them for one minute. Don't care who's right or wrong at that point.

    I will tolerate a "raised voice" if I think that the guy is just running on emotion/adrenaline or whatever. Hear him out, usually that'll calm down some.

    Then ask them what would they like to see happen with respect to resolving the problem.

    If it's our fault, no question I'll jump on it and make it right. If I think the problem lies partly with us and partly with them, I'll express that and then most likely strike a compromise, or...eat it entirely.

    Lastly, if it's totally their fault, I'd like them to acknowlege that fact. If they will, likely I'll make some concessions. (do the order over at discount, whatever)

    If they won't and we've exhausted all the other means of resolution, likely as not there is no respect between they and you and I won't fight to hold on to them as clients.
  10. Pro Image

    Pro Image Major Contributor

    Nov 28, 2005
    If you come in my shop and threaten me......You got one of two options.......

    1. Get the hell out before I get my gun.......
    2. Get shot......

    I dont take anything from anyone when the talk gets violent.......

    As for fixing a mistake Yes if its my fault but not until I determine if its MY fault......Dont call me up and start yelling I did something wrong unless you have the proof to back it up.....

    I would have not redone the signs until the mistake was verified.......
  11. Just Another Sign Guy

    Just Another Sign Guy Very Active Member

    Jun 19, 2004
    if this guy is the owner of the company give his money back tell him you won't allow your staff to be treated this way ... good bye.

    if this guy is an employee i would be letting his employer know about his behavior to you and your staff and that he is not welcome in your shop and someone else needs to place their orders, etc etc...

    but be done with this clown .. simple as that. be firm
  12. Mosh

    Mosh Major Contributor

    Oct 19, 2009
    I have been arrested for assult three different times at my shop.....
  13. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

    Jun 7, 2006

    Now why doesn't this come as a surprise to me................... ?? :doh:
  14. TheSnowman

    TheSnowman Major Contributor

    Aug 28, 2007
    Or me.
  15. mark in tx

    mark in tx Very Active Member

    Oct 25, 2005
    Harker Heights, Texas
    You can't fix stupid, but you can sure hang up on crazy.
  16. GAC05

    GAC05 Major Contributor

    Dec 27, 2005
    Guam USA

    Mosh maybe you should let someone else handle the female customers when they come into your shop......

    wayne k
    guam usa

    from the urban dictionary:
    1.) A comment or action that is given or recieved as an insult and assault

    2.) An insult so brutal that it becomes an assault.
    Are you assulting my intelligence?

    That man was brutally assulted!
  17. daveb

    daveb General Know-it-all

    Feb 11, 2010
    Quincy, IL
    :thankyou:I love this forum:ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
  18. heyskull

    heyskull Very Active Member

    Sep 2, 2007
    I have had 3 similair incidents this year!
    2 out of the 3 times the customer was incorrect and had ordered the wrong item and was trying to blame us for printing the wrong one!
    I think you have been done out of your time and materials!
    I would ring him back and demand him to bring back the incorrect prints or you will bill him for them as you did state they had to be returned.

    I recently had a customer who was so angry as I had not started his job and all because he hadn't checked the proofs I sent!! He was literally bouncing of the walls...LOL
    In the end I told him never to return to my shop and if he didn't leave I was going to call the police round.
    Once he left I called round all the local Sign Shops to make sure they avoided him.

  19. FatCat

    FatCat Very Active Member

    Feb 12, 2007
    Columbus, Ohio
    Physical threats whether over the phone or internet are illegal. If you really want to push it, just call your local police dept. and file a report. They'll be happy to go arrest the nut-job and make his/her life miserable for a while.

    *My wife just did that earlier this week at her job (collections manager for a large bank) and they have a written policy to report any and all physical threats to the police. Some guy in Chicago made threats to one of her staff. Local police were called, took the report, calls made to Chicago PD. Bank has recorded conversation of what was said. Person likely hating life right now and REALLY regretting what they said.

    Always keep your cool and NEVER make a physical threat to anyone over phone or internet.
  20. UFB Fabrication

    UFB Fabrication Member

    Jan 26, 2010
    I was handling a big job when I worked for another shop I think it was over a 100k . This guy was a PITA from day one. He was very demanding and pushy. I heard him go off on a tantrum to one of his employees when I was sorting out some details. He called the shop and was being a pain and I guess they gave him my home phone #. He called and started cussing at my wife because I would not come to the phone because I was mowing the yard. The guy called back and went from zero to jackhole . I had enough and screamed "shut the F up and I will be at you office in 10 minutes and you better F-ing be their" I then told him he better have a change of attitude or I was on my way to give him one. When I arrived he apologized and was fine the rest of the job.

    I even had a guy threaten to kill me once and I asked him if he would repeat it when I had my recorder ready. He went on and did it again. I am sure he thought he was big and scary over the phone till the FBI showed up and arrested him. Its a federal crime to give out death threats over the phone across state lines.

    These folks are bullies and blow-hards do this to get their way. Just like the people that threaten to sue. Call their bluff and once they figure out they were wrong they will have a change of heart. BTW did you have a signed proof ? That settles things in a hurry as well. Document X infinty.

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