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Customer service nightmare that will inspire you to serve your business well

(EDITORIAL) Don’t let your business treat their customers like this. Champion for your business, don’t make them fight for you.



Two people communicating across a table about comparison.

Customer Service nightmare

Everyone has a bad day now and again, it’s unavoidable if you interact with the outside world in any way, shape, or form. However, there are certain situations that seem to invite the possibility of a bad day with open arms. One such situation? Trying to ascertain why your home telephone bill (or any bill for that matter) has drastically increased when you have made no change to the frequency of calls made.

Thus, begins my journey into a customer service nightmare that I hope no one else experiences, but I also hope it offers a window into what can happen if businesses are not cautious about checking on the quality of customer service their employees offer. Also, let me preface this by saying that I am completely sympathetic to the fact that everyone has a bad day and one bad experience does not equal a bad company, but this was beyond bad.

Enter the bad experience:

Day One: my normally $50-ish phone bill arrives in my mailbox. I rip that envelope open and nearly faint – over $200. I do not make long distance calls from this line, I do not do much of anything with this line. I call the 1-800 number and prepare for the marathon that is waiting to speak to an actual human being. 15 minutes later (which isn’t too long, really) a customer service representative answers the phone and asks how they can help. I calmly explain the discrepancy in my bill and she proceeds to look it up on her computer. She says, “your plan no longer exists, so we transferred you to the next best plan we had available.”

My mouth drops open. Really? That’s the next “best” thing you have?

Okay. I breathe and assert that going from $50 to $200 is not only ridiculous, it’s absolutely not in my budget. She asks if I could bundle anything else…. yes, because I obviously need more services, that’s the answer. I politely decline. While she’s trying to hard sell me everything from fiber optic Internet to the NFL package, I’m using my cell phone to look up the pricing online. I find out that the plan has indeed changed.

My original plan has been re-named and has gone up a whopping….$5. Yes. $5. Not $150, but a mere $5.

Frankly, at this point, I’m starting to get frustrated. I inform my lovely representative that I can see the pricing online and I would like to be placed on this plan as it is the closest thing to what I current have/had. Silence. Then, “Umm. Ohh. Well. I’ll need to get a manager.” I say I’ll be happy to wait. 10 minutes later she’s back and asserts that she’ll have the manager call me. Wait? What. I finally agree because I’m annoyed at this point (big mistake) and hang up with the promise that the manager will call at 3pm the following day.

The experience continues…

Day Two: I await the phone call. 3 pm comes and goes, no manager. No phone call. I call around 4:15 and ask to speak to a manager as soon as the representative comes on the line. He asks what the issue is and I say I’d rather discuss it with a manager. He hangs up on me. I call back. (I don’t give up that easily). I get another representative and repeat the same mundane procedure. 30 minutes later I finally reach a manager.

They inform me that any representative could help me with this and I remind them that obviously, this hasn’t happened yet.

They ask why I need to be moved from the current plan and I remind them I never authorized it. This carries on for another 10 minutes before I state that they can either switch me back to the comparable plan or cancel all my services and I’ll go with another provider. (This seems to be the magic phrase and I hate resorting to ultimatums and threats). The manager finally says he’ll switch me (with a sigh and a terse little attitude) like he’s doing me a favor. I maintain and wait. He says the process is finalized and I’ll see a credit on my next bill for the over charge (that was a whole different argument).

I will spare you the next three arguments I had about the refund.

Day Eighteen: None of these things show on my bill; no refund, no plan change.
Day Nineteen: (I needed a day to prepare myself for another round of… ridiculousness) I call. I wait. I ask for a manager. I get a manager. I get everything fixed again. I ask for a confirmation number and a blood oath that this has been taken care of and I receive the first, but I guess they weren’t feeling Klingon enough to do the blood oath.
Day Twenty-One: Changes are still not on bill. I call again and the issue is resolved after going through two separate managers and resorting to the magic phrase, again.

What I’ve learned from this:

So far, it appears to be remedied. I did receive the credit but my next bill has yet to arrive. Here is the larger issue with this customer service nightmare (and not just that patience is a virtue): if I can see the pricing, why did I have to waste so much of my time and energy to stay with your company? It should’ve been an easy fix that came with an apology.

Should your customers have to fight to stay with your company, or should you be fighting (within reason) to keep your customers?Click To Tweet

Also, the attitude of not just the representative, but the manager as well, left something to be desired. I’m not a little ray of sunshine every day, but when you’re in the business of providing a service, you unfortunately often have to put that happy face on, or do you? I guess this begs the question, does customer service require a positive attitude (again, within reason)? Should one hand know what the other is doing? In my opinion, most of my issues could have been circumvented with a good trouble-ticketing system and a follow-up from a semi-friendly representative. What are your thoughts? How do you keep these things from happening in your business?


Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.


6 questions to determine if you are exhausted and feeling burnout

(EDITORIAL) Six questions can determine your feelings of workplace stress and burnout, and knowing is the first step to curing the problem.



man laying head on computer representing burnout at work

Everyone feels the stress of the job. Even if you are one of the lucky few who holds what they deem their “dream job,” there are days where not everything is picture-perfect. With the technologically based world we live in, it’s hard to deal with being constantly attainable. After we are through putting in our hours at the office, work continues to follow us home with every email that pops up in our inbox. The stress of not allowing yourself a significant work-life balance can lead to work burnout.

Burnout causes and effects

Studies in organizational communication have examined the causes and effects of workplace burnout. The causes are divided in dimensions of emotional exhaustion, lack of personal accomplishment, and depersonalization.

With emotional exhaustion, a worker may feel fatigued, frustrated, and fed up with their work. Lack of personal accomplishment leads to feelings of failure or incapability.

Finally, depersonalization causes a worker to feel like a cog in a machine, rather than a valued employee. As a result, they may begin to dislike coworkers.

The effects of workplace burnout come in the form of physiological, attitudinal, and organizational. Physiological effects may see spikes in blood pressure and heart disease.

Attitudinal effects see reduced job satisfaction and lower commitment to the organization. And, if burnout is continuously felt with a particular job, the organizational effect could be a high turnover rate.

Ask yourself these six questions

Dr. Steve Albrecht posed six questions one must ask themselves to examine their level of workplace burnout. He suggested that the questions will determine whether one’s workplace burnout is low, medium, or high.

1. What do I like about my job?
What aspects of the job help get you out of bed in the morning? Do you feel like you are doing something you’re good at? Do you feel valued? These feelings, along with tangible aspects, such as salary and benefits, are important for anyone in any job to consider.

2. What do I hate about my job?
Consider the hours, pay, people, responsibilities, etc. Are these items helping or harming you in the workplace?

3. What do my coworkers do that makes my job easier?
Colleagues can make or break a job. Many people often find themselves in workplace cohorts, as work is their main source of socialization. Are these people beneficial in that manner, in addition to being helpful with practical application?

4. What do my coworkers do that makes my job harder?
If you’re on the outskirts of the aforementioned cohorts, that can make the workplace less enjoyable. Are the people you’re working alongside unprofessional? Do they neglect to help with tasks?

5. What does my boss do that makes my job easier?
More so than coworkers, bosses have the ability to make or break the humanistic vibe of a job. If you have a firm, but caring boss, that can make all the difference. If your boss is someone you can go to with concerns, you may be less likely to feel stress in the workplace.

6. What does my boss do that makes my job harder?
Flip everything that was said in #5. If your boss is a nightmare, that is incredibly likely to lead to feeling unappreciated and ultimately stressed out with work.

Every job is situational, but it is important to be aware of the toll that workplace burnout can take on you. Life is too short to settle. I understand that it’s easier said than done, but if you are not happy with where you’re at in your career, never stop looking for other opportunities.

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5 must-do’s if you want to come across as a great communicator

(EDITORIAL) When you communicate in business, you have to change your talking style to give infor without losing engagement. Here’s how.



Being confident during a work presentation, using tips to communicate efficiently.

Mark Zuckerberg once said, “The thing that we are trying to do at Facebook (now known as Meta), is just helping people connect and communicate more efficiently.” One of my biggest pet peeves on social media is the post that goes on and on and on. I’d like to think that I communicate fairly well, but I do tend to verge into over-communication every so often. I’m not an expert, but I have learned – and continue to learn – a few things about talking and writing to other people.

1. Know Your Audience

At a board meeting of a local non-profit, I was explaining a repair project that we had to vote on. When I got finished talking about the quotes and the insurance claim and said that we will probably come out even, the acting president looked at me and said, “why didn’t you just tell us this to start out with?” I realized I had wasted about 10 minutes because I didn’t know the audience. Definitely a case of overcommunication. All he wanted was the bottom line, but I thought the board needed to know every detail. Chalk that one up to a lesson learned. When your listener’s eyes start to glaze over, you’re probably talking too much.

2. Be Intentional – AKA Don’t Go Down Rabbit Trails

When I’m with my friends, I love just letting the conversation take us down whatever path. In business, I want brevity. I’m kind of a TL;DR person. Even though I want to make sure that people have enough information, I just want the bottom line. When you’re communicating with a co-worker or boss, don’t let your message get hijacked by taking a fork in the road. You’ll lose your audience.

3. Avoid the Obvious

I hate it when people regurgitate information or tell me what I already know. Call it mansplaining or just being thorough, but it’s annoying on the listener’s side. Give information that serves your audience, not your ego.

4. Don’t Assume

I could write a dissertation on assumptions. We all know the saying, “when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me…” When you’re communicating, find a balance between stating the obvious and assuming your listener knows what you’re talking about. The simple question, “do you need more information” can be a place where you can find out what your listener needs. But I’ve also learned to avoid assuming someone’s emotions or attitude about what you’re saying. Read their face, but know that confusion and daydreaming can look similar.

5. Good Communication Improves Productivity

When you’re an effective communicator, it directly impacts your effectiveness in the workplace. You get more done because you’re not going back and forth answering and re-answering questions and providing information. There are times when you do need to provide lengthy emails or have detailed meetings. Knowing the difference keeps you from being boring and long-winded. Take a few seconds (or even minutes) before sending that message or talking to a colleague about a project. You’ll be a better communicator.

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What life-lessons college taught me both in and out of the classroom

(EDITORIAL) College teaches you some things that you will (and won’t) find in a textbook but it sure comes at a hefty price.



People meeting with laptops in a college classroom

I walk the fence when it comes to a college education. It works for some and maybe not so much for others. It’s the whole “well-rounded” education thing that bothers me: First there’s 12 years in elementary and high school learning things that, even if you never use the information, it’s important to know. I get that.

After a lifetime of education

But when you go into college why repeat the process all over again? Why not focus on a career track? Learn and do! Get into the trenches! Where the heck are/were the survival skills you need to make it in the real world? Instead you get two more years of general education requirements! Really? And that’s going to make me a better “xx?”

I chanced upon a great editorial that touches on these same questions. And it got me to thinking: A college degree makes for a perfect world and on paper it looks good. Everyone with a framed BA or two would rule the world and help consumer trust levels, but I don’t believe it would actually make for better X’s (fill in the space with the career of your choice).

The big picture

I had a moral sense of needing to graduate so my folks, bless ‘em, would have the satisfaction of seeing their kid accomplish something they never did, but in the bigger scheme of things what was the purpose of Astronomy 101? Geology? I wanted to learn how to make movies and write scripts and I couldn’t even take a class on Film Theory until my junior year? NASA we have a problem.

Lesson Number One: What I learned fast is that college is a business. If the business can make more money in four or five years instead of one or two, of course you want to drag it out and milk it for all it’s worth. What’s the rush on graduating? Relax! Kick your feet up! That was a problem back then and I still see it as a problem now.

Fear: An incredible motivator

Instead of feeling like I was in the comfort zone of the universit,y I felt like the clock was ticking. Those first two years taught me that I needed to get out of that environment. THAT much I learned! I didn’t know what was waiting for me on the outside but some internal clock kicked in and I went from 12 hours a semester to 20 or whatever the maximum was that you could take with the Dean’s permission.

Lesson Number Two: The unknown is scary. It keeps you up at night. Ties your stomach in a knot. It almost makes you do things you might not ordinarily do. I graduated in three and half years and not four or five like many of my friends because I was scared shitless. Without even realizing it, by wanting so badly to get out of school, I was learning things that would serve me well in life: Goal setting, time management and speaking before a group.

I made a short list: a) See the world. b) Get paid to write about what I saw. c) Don’t look back. I graduated on a Friday and walked into a recruiter’s office on a Monday. I should have done that a few years earlier, but it didn’t matter. Within six months I was in Europe.

The ensuing 20+ years serving all over the world is a story for another time. I wish I would have started that odyssey a few years earlier.

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