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Bad Customer Service Speaks Louder than a Great Product

Bad customer service. I bet when you read those words, you instantly think of at least one time that you have encountered such. Bad customer service can stick with a person a lot longer than a positive experience with the brand or product. And it’s very difficult to change a customer’s mind once they have experienced bad customer service from your company or brand.

Here’s a true story that makes a fine example:

My family plays Magic the Gathering Card Game. Even our seven year old plays and the two little ones will probably play as soon as they are old enough to understand as well. For quite some time, we bought our cards at Walmart, online or Target- whatever store we happened to be in at the time to buy new booster packs or whatever. But then we discovered a comic book shop in a nearby town as we were passing through for something else.

We went inside and we’re thrilled!

I got a new Star Wars comic I had been waiting on and he got some cards and we knew this was a place we would frequent. So over the course of the past 18 months or so, we have spent thousands in that store. We’ve bought comics, D&D books, Magic cards, playmats, dice and other accessories.

And every time we make a purchase, he invites us to his Friday night Magic tournaments. Every time my husband says “We should go” but he just never did it. For one reason, we have to drive all the way across the county to another city. For another, we wanted to be able to take our two oldest children if we went because they would love it the most.

We never take our teens into an environment we are not first familiar with ourselves so Dad went out on a Friday night to check it out.

Things went well, the players were friendly and respectful and all in all, it was a decent time- except for one problem: the owner.

This man who had always invited us out before for weeks on end, the man we had paid thousands of dollars to while supporting local small business owners in our community, the man we thought wanted us there, had an altercation with my husband.

“Don’t be rude, dude!”

In between rounds, while players were checking scores and seeing where they would sit for new matches, my husband was standing in the tiny, packed comic shop waiting for his chance to see the score list when the owner calls from across the room, ‘You! Hey, were you just behind my counter?” while pointing at my husband.

Confused, my husband answers “No. I’m just standing here.”

To which the owner continues on to verbally scold him and tell him that no one goes behind his counter and he better not go behind his counter again. My husband is thinking “Dude, I didn’t go behind your counter” but just lets it go, figuring it’s a sore spot for the guy.

That night we decided we would take our kids out the next week, despite the fact that the owner acted pretty rude and weird over the whole counter thing. And logically, if you’re so concerned about people going behind your counter, put up a chain or a swinging door or something.

History Repeats Itself

So anyway, the next week we decided to go one more time without the kids and yet again, the owner of the store ruined the experience. The seating arrangements were confusing in the small, packed store and my husband accidentally sat at the wrong seat. When it was mentioned to him, he apologized and got up to move to his seat number only to have the owner yell at him in front of everyone and then make rude, snide comments. He then told him to go back to where he was since he “chose to sit in the wrong seat, he lost his assigned seat”.

At this point, my husband is literally shocked that such a big deal is being made over a seat but again apologizes, saying it’s only the second time he’s been here and he doesn’t have all the seats memorized. As if this isn’t bad enough, the owner yet again makes a comment and says “Just like how you were behind my counter last week.”

At that point, I probably would have punched Mr. Grumpy Comic Book Guy in the face but my hubby is a more patient person than me.

We are fully-grown, adult 30-year olds with our own businesses and five children whom we support. We have no reason to be behind this man’s counter nor any reason to be treated like criminals in a place we are financially supporting. The accusation in itself was insulting but to bring in up loudly in front of the entire place and in a manner mean to embarrass and scold a patron who is paying YOU money to attend your event with absolutely no proof that any misdeed has been done is ludicrous.

Now I fully understand that the stereotypical type of person who would grow up and own and operate a comic book store might be lacking a little on the social skills. I get it, really. But nerdy doesn’t equal rude. And if you’re not capable of interacting with the public in a professional manner, you need to hire someone who can.

The problem is that many business owners today don’t fully grasp this. Have you seen the show “Kitchen Nightmares” and how some of those restaurant owners talk to their customers? You think it’s played up for reality TV but based on some of my recent experiences like this one with Mr. Grumpy Comic Book Guy, I’m willing to believe these things really happen, and probably more so when cameras are NOT rolling.

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