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What to do about bad customer service

Updated on May 26, 2012

"-Two wrongs don’t make it right makes it even!!-" -- Alex Biggs

A few weeks ago my daughter had the need to rent a moving truck along with a car trailer. Arrangements had been made weeks in advance to hold the smallest Penske truck at a nearby location along with the trailer which would be towing her car.

We arrived the day of the move at the Penske dealership only to be informed that the smallest truck, which my daughter had placed on hold, could not pull a car trailer. She did not need a larger truck but in desperation we agreed to take the next size up in order to pull her car. The representative then informed us that all trucks had been rented out and they had none available! Why was this error not caught earlier? Why was the size of the truck and the car trailer not taken into consideration when reservations where made? This to me is not good customer service!

We instantly drove over to U-Haul at the last minute, with the idea that a bigger company would have more trucks. We were right in our assumption. A truck was available along with a car trailer. The truck which we rented had to have been one of the oldest trucks in the U-Haul fleet. The truck was obnoxiously loud, pulled horribly to the right and still had usable ashtrays in the cab!

It was now late in the evening and we decided that it would be best to take in a little dinner before attacking the chore of loading the truck, since it would just be the two of us. When we arrived at the destination to load the truck it had already begun to get dark. Since everything had already been packed, it only took us an hour to load the truck. We were quickly approaching the 9pm hour and had no choice but to turn on the cabin light for the last twenty minutes of our load. When we finally finished loading, we hopped into the truck, went to fire it up and it was completely dead! We tried turning the engine over a few more times but to no avail. At this point I was tired, cold and all I could think about was my nice warm bed.

We called customer service only to be told that there was nothing that the U-Haul company could do about our predicament. We were rudely told that if the problem was the battery and they sent out road side assistance, we would be liable for the bill. Was this man for real? Not one to lose my cool under pressure, we dialed for a friend to come out and give us a jump. The problem had been the battery, which was almost impossible to jump because of the corrosion! I’m now left wondering what would have happened if we were stranded somewhere, were we had no one to call for help. Leaving two women and a four year old child stranded late at night because you don't want to service your own truck is horrible customer service!

So what does one do when confronted with bad customer service from a large company? Well, if you’re the YouTube video user that goes by the name" Doorframe" you simply upload a video of the bad customer service while it's still in the process.

It seems that a Comcast technician was sent out to replace a faulty modem which Doorframe had been complaining about for three weeks. After spending an hour on hold with Comcast's central office, the technician fell asleep on the customers couch! This upset customer then videotaped the whole nightmare and uploaded it to YouTube as his tribute to Comcast, their low quality technology and their poor customer service. Soon after the video aired a team of Comcast members spent five hours making sure that everything was up and running. This customer’s service has now been fully restored!

The numbers of YouTube views are simply staggering! Large companies need to start pulling their heads out of the deep reaches of their corporate offices and realize that these days anyone with a video camera and a YouTube account can do some serious damage to large corporations and their pocket books.

In September of 2009, if you had done a Google search for "United Breaks Guitars," you would have pulled up over 20 million references! This story has got to be one of the best examples of what one voice and a video camera can do to a big company. Today, more than 150 million people are familiar with this story. Dave Carroll's 'United Breaks Guitars' is a brilliant use of how to use a social media.

In case you are unfamiliar with this story, in the spring of 2008, Dave Carroll and his band “Sons of Maxwell" were traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour. While on board the aircraft his $3500 Taylor guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. Dave later discovered that his guitar had been severely damaged. United did not deny the experience occurring. For nine consecutive months Dave communicated with various people, which kept passing the responsibility of dealing with the damage onto everyone else. The final customer service representative to talk to Dave was Ms. Irlweg, which said that they would do nothing to compensate him for his loss. Dave promised Ms. Irlweg that he would write and produce three songs about his experience with United Airlines and make videos for each one.

The Sons of Maxwell first song "United Breaks Guitars" cannot be described as anything less than brilliant! The video became the most-watched YouTube music video in the world and the number six most-watched YouTube video of any kind that month. The free exposure given to Taylor guitars had a very positive effect on business and produced a type of advertising that is almost impossible to buy. A $150 music-video project had literally become a one-in-a-billion experience and a true life Dave' vs. Goliath story!

United Airlines finally gave in but not before shedding $180 million in stock value! Throughout the business world, people began to realize how much damage a frustrated, creative, and socially connected customer can do. It may be true that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, but like in Dave’s case, if you own a video camera it just makes more sense to simply decapitate your enemy.


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    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 5 years ago from Aurora

      If a person leaves a voice mail on someone's phone, that is OK to use in court. (At least on People's Court, etc).

    • Maddambutterfly profile image

      Marie V Stephens 5 years ago from New Mexico

      Yes Laura, JUST like the song "United Broke My Guitars! He never once set foot on United property nor filmed his phone call with Ms. Irlweg, BUT he sure got his point across didn't he?

    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 5 years ago from Aurora

      You mean like the song "United Broke My Guitar"?

      This could be considered "art", so I guess that is


    • Maddambutterfly profile image

      Marie V Stephens 5 years ago from New Mexico

      It is illegal to video tape on private property. If I would have video taped the U-haul truck not starting, the condition of the truck battery and my conversation with customer service turning me harm, no foul! Once it's been posted on U-tube the damage is done. I think the trick is to get creative.

    • profile image

      Steve 5 years ago

      Is it legal to secretly video tape retail interactions?

    • CriticalMessage profile image

      Murphy 5 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Supervisor Please !

    • Maddambutterfly profile image

      Marie V Stephens 5 years ago from New Mexico

      Thanks Billy...maybe next time I will try Ryder, armed with my video camera :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      The corporate sites for UHaul are some of the worst in the country for customer service. I managed an independent UHaul office and we were constantly getting business from people who had been treated poorly by the corporate sites. Your story is very accurate and I hope others read it.

    • Maddambutterfly profile image

      Marie V Stephens 5 years ago from New Mexico

      Thank you for taking the time to stop in to read and comment. I feel that it's important to feel empowered. It's important to start using the media to our advantage! Thanks to Dave and the U-haul episode I have purchased a video camera :)

    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 5 years ago from Aurora

      Great examples and fantastic hub. That guitar video is fantistic! What if this had been his only one or of the qualtiy of a Strativarius?

      I have more experience with software failure. A ticket gets created and customer can follow up and "escalate" (make more important) the ticket.

      All actions are recorded and presumably, the problem gets routed to the group or person who can handle it.

      Don't think there are some dumber than dumb tickets, though! "You mean the computer failed because it wasn't plugged in?"

    • wordmasher profile image

      wordmasher 5 years ago from USA

      This is has to be one of the most useful hubs I have ever read. Bad customer service continues to raise it's ugly head everywhere but that trend could change if enough of us form the habit of publicizing our experiences such as you are doing here. And your point about the power of the video camera is spot on.