The Top Ten Things Not to Do When Talking to a Customer Service Representative


Customer Care


The inspiration for this list came to me as I was engaged in discussions with a customer care representative. The positive side is the creation of this list.

10 If you are talking with customer care, do not forget that “Customer Care.” is an oxymoron. If you do, at best you’ll retain hope of getting your problem resolved. At worst, you will continue to pull on your hair until a large area of exposed scalp occurs. (Now, don’t you look good, Derwin. Folks are going to be asking about that bald spot on the side of your head. I would make up some kind of medical treatment story.)

9 If you are talking with customer care, do not forget they have your address. If you do, at best you won’t insult tiny the WWF champ. At worst, you will challenge Tiny to meet you outside. Tiny just graduated from his tenth stint of anger management, and he is more than glad to take you up on your offer since he still doesn’t get the management part. (Who’d a thought Tiny was in the next town, Deveon. I don’t think I would go out to meet him no matter how many rocks he throws at your house.)

8 If you are talking with customer care, do not become impatient if the rep can’t understand or hear you. If you do, at best they will hang up. At worst, you will be put into the penalty box for an hour cooling off period. (One nice thing about being on hold, Deverel is you get to listen to music that sounds like it is piped through sandpaper. Don’t get upset by that announcement every minute that tries to convince you of your importance to the company as a customer. They don’t give a rip.)

7 If you are talking with customer care, do not give any helpful information before the rep asks for it. If you do, at best you’ll be repeating yourself often. At worst, the rep will become confused, and your problem will only be made worse by a duplicate shipment.(Yeah that second shipment was as wrong as the first huh, Deylin. This time though it cost twenty dollars more. Good luck on returning two.)

6 If you are talking with customer care, do not ask to speak to a supervisor. If you do, at best you’ll get another rep worse than the first. At worst, you’ll get a supervisor who was told by the boss to reduce call times and refunds. (That was a delightful two-second conversation, Diarmid. I’ll bet you are trying to translate the phrase, “Get off the phone,” as it related to your problem, right?)

5 If you are talking with customer care, do not try to be friendly by asking where the rep is located. If you do, at best you’ll get, “Somewhere in the World,” as an answer. At worst, the rep will interpret your friendliness as a hostile threat much like the previous one hundred hostile threats before you. (That tone you hear means you have been disconnected, Dilan. Don’t call back for a while. Maybe that rep will need to take a break.)

4 If you are talking with customer care, do not try to impress the rep with your long-standing good customer profile. If you do, at best the rep will not laugh openly in your ear. At worst, the rep will put you on speaker phone so that the rest of the reps in the calling center can have a good laugh at your expense. (Now that you think of it, Dimas there are other outlets which might welcome your business.)

3 If you are talking with customer care, do not think the rep is qualified to solve your problem. If you do, at best you will be confused as to why the solution is so difficult. At worst, you will end the call and give a ten out of ten rating only to find the problem is still there. (Not only is the problem still there, Dino but now is complicated by a bill collector pounding on your door.)

2 If you are talking with customer care, do not have mistakenly called another company. If you do, at best the rep will spot the problem right away. At worst, the rep will provide excellent service to no avail when it is discovered you are not returning a John Deere tractor. (How could the customer service numbers for the two companies be so close, Dmitri? You sure you dialed correctly? Now give that nice person a ten-star rating. After all, you were only on the phone for an hour.)

1 If you are talking with customer care, do not call if you have anything else in the world to do. If you do, at best you’ll finally give up for the lack of time. At worst, you will continue to hang on while that doctor appointment scheduled for three hours after you started the call will go unattended. (You know in your heart that the doctor was more important than getting the right lamp, Dolphus. You just felt you were close enough to victory to hang on just a little longer. Well, the doc is going to bill you. Better you should have tossed the lamp and ordered another one.)


  1. Gwen Plano · ·

    LOL, too funny, John. We’ve all “been there, done that” unfortunately. If it’s egregious, I write to management (local and at the headquarters). I console myself with the thought that maybe they will be haunted by the story I tell. 😀 (I know, I’m a hopeless dreamer.)

    1. Gwen Plano · ·

      P.S. I love the image at the top. Hilarious.

      1. I liked that image. I think All the options would be perfect.

    2. I wrote to the Spectrum CEO and he had some twit call me and read the policy back to me. I warned the CEO that if that happened I would be gone. Gone we are. (BTW he could care less)

  2. Hilarious John! Dealing with the cable company is the worst. Happy Twiggy Day! 🐶

    1. Thank you, Jill. I threw out Spectrum and have never been happier. 😀

      1. That’s who we have! Do you have satellite now?

      2. Yes, Direct TV. I sorta hate them too. Ha haha.

      3. LOL! They’re all scammers! We had Time Warner Cable and then Spectrum took over. The good thing is, we don’t get sent overseas for customer service anymore. That’s a plus. Has Twiggy arrived??????? I’m so excited!

      4. She has. She is just adorable. She runs around a mile a minute then takes a rest. She has a great growl when hauling a pizza toy.

  3. Good advice. I try my darnedest to solve my own problem before going to Customer Service, the aggravation isn’t worth it!! My better-half can stay on the phone for hours with them – I find that incredible – I don’t have that kind of patience.

    1. Me either. I’m not good at dealing with people who dictate policy back to me when obviously the policy doesn’t cover the issue.

  4. The joys of customer service. Some days I wonder if everyone should pull a stint in this job to know what the other side is like.

    1. I had to work in a call center when the workers went on strike. I can tell you most customer service issues were a result of inept management.

      1. I have a friend in that business. He complains about faulty machines a lot. Always thought that was an excuse or lie.

      2. The reason the machines are needed is mgt. won’t pay the money for intelligent folks to handle the calls so everything is automated and yes, they do break down.

      3. I meant the computers people use to look up information. The robotic operator is a whole other issue. That thing never seems to break down.

      4. I used your words but meant the computers as well.

  5. Can you believe that there was a time that companies really did want to please their customers? I worked for a small bank that trained their employees in customer care. That small bank has been bought out so many times that it is now a mega corporation. NO more talk of customer care. now the attitude is, “If you don’t like it, go somewhere else.”

    1. I think those who get good customer care are the ones who have a ton of money in the bank. When the thought of a big depositor taking a hike hits everyone turns to. Thanks, Ronnie.

  6. This would be so much more fun to read if I hadn’t violated so many of these rules, John. I’m beginning to wonder where Tiny lives.

    I swear, the best customer service ever was one I called last year that gave me an option to “Press 3 to wait without music.”

    1. Ha ha ha. Sounds like they care. Thanks, Dan

  7. And here’s one thing to do when talking to a customer service rep. If you happen to get one who speaks your language fluently, is patient, knowledgeable, helpful, and polite while actually solving your problem — don’t let them get away. See if they just might be able to solve all your other problems while they’re at it. It’s worth a shot, particularly if they seem to like a good challenge.

    1. Yes and also ask them for medical advice.
      :-D. Thanks, Linda. Good one.

  8. Hilarious John. All the more so because your observations are amazingly accurate. 😂

  9. All of these are so true – I try to take care of anything I can by googling to see if others had the same problem or even by trial and error before I call anyone. Soooo frustrating.

    1. I know right? BTW Google itself has customer care problems.

  10. John, I feel your pain. Some companies (few and far between) do a fairly good job with customer service; most don’t bother. I guess farming that branch of a business out overseas makes sense, but the communication gap is real.

    1. For sure. I had some guy tell me he could not understand me. I said,”It’s mutual. Let’s hang up.”

  11. Mary Adler · ·

    Once my payment to a department store was credited to someone else’s account. The check had cleared but I received an overdue notice. The customer care person told me to pay it again and they would try to sort it out. I cut up my credit card and sent it with an explanation to the president of the company. This was the old days when you could still reach such people. He called me himself. It really was the old days! Love the image of the sign, also. Thanks for the Monday morning smiles.

    1. You are welcome, Mary. Thanks for sharing your story. The old days indeed.

  12. D.L Finn, Author · ·

    Great list John and unfortunately I am about to embark on this journey. Third call is the one, right? At least I am equipped with a smile now!

    1. There you go. Yes, the third is a charm

  13. Yup. Right on. Unfortunately I have experienced one through 10. Reading this list almost gets me mad all over again, except I’m laughing too much. 😂

    1. I know how you feel.

  14. A strong dose of reality here … well, along with Tiny’s presence. Dealing with Customer Care is quite the challenge. After all, they have to follow their script – and in many cases, go into extra listening mode because of accents. Then again, sometimes good experiences happen. Love the sign!

    1. Thank you, Frank. 😀

    1. Ha haha. Me too.

  15. Such sage advice for dealing with an all-too-familiar issue in life!

    1. Thank you. Jan.

  16. *shakes head* I just don’t call. Leads to all of these happening. Every. Time.

  17. Great list, John. I have to say that Amazon and LL Bean have fabulous Customer Service departments!

    1. I know Amazon does but have never used LL Bean.

      1. Since they deliver to Canada, we buy a lot of stuff from LL Bean – very fast delivery too!

  18. I recently ordered a book through Amazon. The first delivery man from the company they contracted out to here reported there was no one home, the second never showed, and the third finally made it. They say they only try twice but here they seem to have made an exception. They also sent an online form thankfully where I could tell them what happened. I praised the third delivery person as he saved the day. I love these customer service people from companies here who just hang up when they hear me speak English. I must scare them. Good list, John. I love the sign at the top. 😀 — Suzanne

    1. My goodness, Suzanne. That sounds like a mess for sure.

      1. It can be a mess. Thankfully I now have a caregiver who speaks both Hindi and Marathi and can translate for me. She doesn’t let them get away with a thing. She’s a descendant of a tribe of Marathi warriors. Those guys rode and fought with a famous Marathi king here named Shivaji Maharaj (Shivaji the King). My husband used to say if Shivaji would have had to deal with some of these politicians who now praise him so highly, he would have had them hanging from trees. He was a king about the 17th Century when they didn’t delay justice. 🙂 — Suzanne

  19. […] the previous week. These posts are hysterical and will always brighten up any dull Monday. Click here to read John’s latest ‘Top Ten Things Not To Do‘ […]

  20. Excellent, John. A brilliant round-up of the joys of customer service.

    1. Thank you, Robbie. 😀

  21. I recently had to convince a customer service rep that it wasn’t me that ordered the pizza because I don’t like pizza, John. I’d never used the service, ever, and I had to spend at least 20 minutes on the phone trying to convince them that I don’t eat pizza. They finally believed me and apologised and offered me some vouchers to spend with them. At least I got my money refunded, but I had to have a new card as security.

    1. just got charged twice for a room at a hotel so I feel your pain. Took too long to get resolved.

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