Is the customer always right?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by samiwas, Nov 1, 2010.

  1. samiwas macrumors 68000

    Aug 26, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    A few things I've been reading recently got me to many people believe in that age-old mantra "The Customer is Always Right"? How many people believe that too many people have taken that statement too far and use it to their advantage, or as a defense for acting like a D-bag?

    Take these situations:
    - Someone gets in the "10 Items or Less" line at the supermarket with a cart piled high with items. Should the cashier be able to tell the person they need to go to another line, or should the policy be to take the customer anyway (even if it's busy) because you never want to offend the customer?

    - In a very busy fast food joint with a line of almost 30 people, someone gets up to the counter and THEN starts perusing the menu to see what they want. Trying to keep the line moving, the cashier decides to help the next person in line instead while the first figures out his order. The first person goes berzerk and wants his meal free.

    - Someone finds a jacket hanging on the wrong rack (lets say the half-off rack) after someone else (not a store employee) put it there randomly. That person then demands that the half-off price be honored.

    - A customer at a restaurant is just plain rude and condescending to his waiter. When the waiter brings the wrong drink, said customer demands to see the manager and orders that the waiter be fired. Even knowing that the employee did nothing so egregious, the manager gives the man several discount coupons "for his troubles".

    - (This happened to my sister-in-law where she was a manager). Customer asked for a certain type of steak sauce with her steak. The restaurant was out. She demanded that her steak be recooked, and that they send someone out to the store to get the sauce, which they DID. Upon finishing the second steak with the sauce she required and they went out of their way to accommodate, she demanded that her entire meal be comped.

    What do people think about these types of situations and how establishments should handle them? In my opinion, this type of entitlement continues because very few places ever deny even the most ridiculous demands of customers, for fear of losing a customer. Since people start to learn that very few businesses will ever tell them "no", they try more and more to get what they can for free or discounted by acting out.

    I think people should be called out on their BS so it will hopefully stop. I very much do NOT follow the "Customer is Always Right" mantra. In fact, they are probably usually wrong.
  2. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    No. They're not always right, they have a sense of entitlement that they're dead set on showcasing.
  3. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    That age-old saying is really more about how the seller should act and not about how the customer acts. Case in point: the supermarket. When the check-out lines grow long, do they call up more checkers? All the stores in my area do. If these stores cared less about the customer, then we'd all wait longer in line while the store pocketed more profit cutting back on its staff.

    "The Customer is Always Right" doesn't literally mean that the customer is always right. It means that the needs of the customer should be met, if not exceeded, or else the business depending on that customer will likely suffer.
  4. QuarterSwede macrumors G3


    Oct 1, 2005
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Good explanation.

    If it were to be taken literally then no, I'd say the customer is usually wrong. That's after 11 years of retail customer service experience.
  5. Apple OC macrumors 68040

    Apple OC

    Oct 14, 2010
    Good luck to your sister in law ... these type of clients need to stay home and not go out in public.
  6. Plymouthbreezer macrumors 601


    Feb 27, 2005
    Working a few nights a week at a liquor store, I can vouch that the customer is usually wrong. You can always try and defuse a situation, but some folks are just ignorant/misinformed/needy/defensive.

    Last month I carded a young looking 22 yearold, who upon me asking for ID, replied with, "Do YOU have an ID? You look like you're 14." I turned around and left my register for a minute; he got the idea.

    It depends on the place of employment, but if given a reason, I always choose to level the playing field with unruly customers... That said, I work in a family owned business where my manager will support his employees 95% of the time.
  7. slick316 macrumors 6502

    Sep 28, 2005
    I don't post here often, just lurk mostly, but this topic caught my eye.

    I have always hated the term "The customer is always right", especially when a customer that is absolutely wrong would say it to me.

    My parents own a small hotel that I have worked at for the last 12 years. I used to just pick up shifts and do little odd jobs when I was in high school and college. But after graduating, I took on all duties as the manager.

    My first order of business was to not to kiss customers asses. Thats not to say I wasn't a good host. I would always treat customers with respect, all of them. But god help them if they tried to pull crap on me. I would often encounter entitlement customers that were so annoying that I'd want to just punch them in the face. Instead of resorting to violence, I would just let them go as a customer. I told myself that its not worth it to keep crappy customers for the sake of money, I had plenty of good customers that I can continue to patronize with my hospitality.

    I was wrong. Even crappy customers are "good" for business. When the economy went down the toilet, the travel industry slowed. With that, hospitality industry lost lots of customers. We had to make adjustments in order to maintain occupancy. First, we lowered rates. But that wasn't enough. We no longer had the option to "turn away" guests. A guest that pays is a good guest. I just hated the idea that a person who is so condescending, rude and ignorant to the staff, is a good customer. But they are.

    We got a guy that stays at the hotel regular. 5 years ago, this guy wouldn't have been allowed to stay a second night at our place. He is older, 55 or so, and is always flirting with the girls, to a point that makes them uncomfortable. He even lets you know, in a very obvious way, if you are not attractive (He told one of my clerks that she'd be much cuter after a few drinks). I tell them that if he is harassing them, let me know, I'll kick is ass out. But they put up with him because they are smarter than me and see something I don't. I see an ****** that I don't want in my hotel. They see an annoying old man that brings 3-4 additional guests with him when he travels on business. My fantastic desk clerks are willing to put up with this POS in order to continue getting the extra business he brings in.

    Its sad that this is the state the "customer service" industry is in. If I don't patronize all guests, including the bad apples, I'll lose them to the place next door. I hate doing it, but I have to eat, and my wonderful staff also need to pay bills and what not. We all have to sacrifice morals and self respect for money. Great isn't it?
  8. 63dot macrumors 603


    Jun 12, 2006
    Is the customer right? Yes and No. You decide...

    weird case one:

    The most extreme case I remember when I was a kid working at a hardware store was somebody brought an old ace hardware "lifetime" hose back in and said it was "old" and didn't work. It could have been a couple of decades old or more. We replaced it with a current one which was closest to this old, discontinued product. The franchise owner knew what the ace promise meant and he didn't want to piss of the customer or the ace hardware corporation. He was thoroughly disgusted that a customer had that type of nerve.

    weird case two:

    A national bank, one which doesn't post a no shoes/no shirt, no service policy like some businesses, had a good customer (a very nice looking woman) come in naked. Though her body was very, very friendly on the eyes, they tossed her out. The lady appears to have been schizophrenic but this final antic of hers was too much for the staff to put up with. She had pretty much got away with everything else short of bank robbery and the staff had to put up with it.

    I was not around at the time when the old garden hose got returned but it would have made me laugh. Actually, the second incident would give me a chuckle, and maybe other involuntary responses.:eek:
  9. Rapmastac1 macrumors 65816


    Aug 5, 2006
    In the Depths of the SLC!
    I've been a manager at my job a little over two years now and I can tell you from experience the customer is not always right, hell they are 80% wrong.

    The worst case I had was a guy yelling about his order not being right. If he wasn't yelling I would gladly have gone above and beyond. I simply told him to leave the restaurant. I told him if I came back out in a few minutes and he was still there, I would escort him out myself.

    I came out a few minutes later and he was still there, probably didn't believe me. I got a few of the servers to follow me and I went to talk to him, just as I got close he got up and left. As I spoke to some of the other tables that night, they were happy I got that guy out without giving him comps or a refund. Not my proudest moment but I was very happy about it.

    This one actually happened this last weekend. I am a server a few nights as well and had my first table of the night. I have seen the couple come in before while I was managing. She wanted a pizza with her salad bar but she bought the meal and added the salad bar (you need to buy the salad bar by itself). I told her the details and said no. She asked to see the manager on duty and I sent her my GM. Before I sent him I told him to keep in mind that it was the last time they came in they asked for the same thing, I was the manager that talked to them and let them have a pizza on the house that one time.

    I overheard their conversation and the manager told her off in the nicest way. He asked why she was upset that she couldn't get a free pizza this time and why she wasn't grateful we gave her the pizza for free last time. She shut her mouth and they all left. Her husband came back in and gave me a much larger tip and thanked me.

    A few weeks ago I had a guest complain the salad bar made them sick and they wanted a refund. She was by herself and all she got was the salad bar. When I went to talk to her I noticed three large to-go boxes full of food ready to go. I asked her to come up to the front counter to sign the refund paper (meanwhile I had the busser go clean the table and throw the boxes away). I saw her walk back to her table and she noticed the boxes were gone. She looked around back at me for a second, then smiled and left.

    The customers are not always right, ever. But I need to keep good judgement because I don't want to lose the good ones, even if they are wrong.
  10. KandyKane macrumors 6502

    Mar 23, 2009
    I used to work in Telco retail, and the customer is wrong 90% of the time.
    There's usually a tactful way of telling them, otherwise some are just arseholes...

    There are waaay too many stories!
  11. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    While working at a high-end sports store, which was also voted as having the 2nd best service in the city (the best service was Holt Renfrew, a ridiculously expensive shop for rich people to buy fat pants), I once told a customer that she was wrong, and an idiot for thinking otherwise. :eek:
  12. KeriJane macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2009

    The Customer is not always right and is very often dead wrong.

    However, the customer is always THE CUSTOMER and the source of our Income!

    Keep that in mind when dealing with them.

    From an old training video from long ago.

    Have Fun,
  13. yg17 macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO
    When I worked at Target....

    Was the customer who compared us to Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi dictatorship because we were out of stock on an item right?

    Was the customer who got into a fist fight with another customer over a stupid toy on Black Friday right?

    Was the customer who brought a game called Destroy All Humans and rated T (or maybe it was M) for her 5 year old son and then later demanded a refund because the game was too violent right?

    Was the customer who threatened to call the attorney general and sue us because we were out of one brand of bottled water in the ad and subsituted it with another brand or offered a raincheck right?

    Was the customer who had 3 credit cards declined and then blamed our system even though no one else in the store was having problems using their credit cards right?

    No, the customer is not always right. In fact, more often than not, they're wrong. And I'm glad I don't work at that craphole anymore.
  14. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Omg the customer is never right lol. I've worked in retail many many years in my earlier days and can tell you that.

    I remember once a guy screaming in my face because he claimed Circuit City was an "HP Franchise" (he doesn't know what a franchise is obviously) and that we can order his ink for him and he won't leave until its ordered. He kept arguing telling me to shut up and that I was stupid when I told him there was no such thing as an "HP Franchise". He proceeded to tell me his fake credentials in business management that I was supposed to believe and then he was literally in tears after all of that when I told him he was lying since he didn't know what a franchise was.

    Eventually we had to pretend we called the cops to get him to leave the store.

    He had some random super old HP printer he wanted ink for and we didn't carry it (and neither did Staples so you KNOW it was old). Thats what he was upset about.
  15. steve2112 macrumors 68040


    Feb 20, 2009
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    I love that site! The stories are great, and I can relate to a lot of them.

    I personally feel that this "customer is always right" belief has ruined retail in this country. While I do believe positive reviews from customers is the best advertising, there is a limit. You just have to accept that you can't please everyone all the time.
  16. dXTC macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2006
    Up, up in my studio, studio
    There's a comedian named John Pinette (famous for the Chinese Buffet "You Go Now!") that likes to talk about how much he hates waiting in line, and the above reminded me of it. John went into a McDonalds and noticed people staring at the menu, like they didn't know what they wanted. "...C'mon, it's McDonald's! It's the same menu since you were 6! I knew what I wanted before I even parked the car! See, look above the counter-- they have pictures of the food. Just point at what you want, and Get Outta The Line!!!" :D
  17. The.316 macrumors 65816


    Jul 14, 2010
    25100 GR
    I agree. The customer is right because he/she is the source of income. But there has to come a time when the line is drawn.

    I worked for Verizon Wireless for eight years. I started out as a salesman at a kiosk, and ended up a store manager, before I moved to Europe. I have seen so many things go on during my time at Verizon:

    The funniest time was when a customer came to my kiosk, looking at the phones. The phones use to be on an individual display case, connected to a retractable cord. The cord was connected via a telephone plug-type connector, which if disconnected, the alarm would go off. This one customer comes and grabs one of the phones, and yanks it real hard, causing the cord to disconnect, and somehow snap back at his face, cutting his face. The cut was about 1/10th the length of a sewing needle, and about 1/10 the width of a sewing needle as well.

    Its funny cause I remember the first thing he said was, "Ouch." And with a smirk on my face, I told the customer that he shouldnt yank the phone, and was sorry for the inconvenience. The customer then says, "Sorry? That is all you have to say? I was cut from your product, and I need to speak to the manager." Normally, we didnt have the manager at the kiosk often, because it was a small kiosk, and we normally just worked in pairs, me and another salesman. I told him that the manager wasnt there, and he ended up calling mall security, which lead to him then calling the police, which lead to him then calling an ambulance. The guy was acting like he took a bullet to the face. The ambulance came and applied an ice pack to him, and while they were taking care of the victim, I was laughing it up with the police officer when he was taking my statement.

    Another time, I had a customer come into the store, screaming that he had to wait for the technician, even though there was 5 people ahead of him. He told me he had a $100 cell phone bill a month, and deserved first priority (I must have heard that a million times). I told him that he can leave his phone, and come back in an hour, which seemed to be a suitable time for my techs to check the phones ahead of his, and then work on his. He ended up cursing me out, cursing my staff out, and eventually, he left the phone with the technician. Now normally, I would help an irate customer, but when he abuses my employees at my store, then I have to draw the line. So what I did, which is inexcusable, but funny, was I took his phone to the stock room, opened up the back of it, licked my finger, and rubbed the white decal on the inside of the phone, so it would turn red. When that decal turns red, it means that the phone has water damage, which means the customer can pay $50 to get a replacement phone, or FRU as we called them.

    Ive had customers challenge me to fights, Ive had customers tell me that they didnt want certain people to help them because of their skin color, etc. The customer is the source of income, but like I said earlier, they need to sometimes be put in their place. Im sure if the roles were reversed, these customers wouldnt want to be treated the way they treat others.
  18. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    LOL I love this! I hate customers and end users. Yes I know customers are income yadda yadda but it doesn't mean I can't hate them :p
  19. Heilage macrumors 68030


    May 1, 2009
    I work as an Apple technician. They are not always right. They are hardly ever right. They are as useful as a dead badger on the side of the road in finding the source of a problem.

    I hate them. But luckily I am cut off from them and don't have to deal directly with them. :)
  20. Mousse macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2008
    Flea Bottom, King's Landing
    The customer is only as right as *I* allow them to be. For a merchant, a customer is a source of income. Being such, a merchant wants to keep the customer happy and returning to keep the flow of cash coming in.
    Usually a customer will be allowed to be right most of the time. When the amount of work required to keep the customer happy exceeds the cash flowing in, then the customer will receive the business end of a size 12 boot to the derriere. Big spenders usually get preferential treatment because of this concept. This is also why, when forced into a sales position, I will usually raise the price when someone haggles.
  21. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    The customer is definitely not always right. Evidenced by this.
  22. robanga macrumors 68000


    Aug 25, 2007
    "If I would have listened to my customers, I would have made a faster horse "

    ...attributed to Henry Ford

    The customer is not a good visionary, but you had better listen to them about service and other factors.
  23. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar

    I did enough years in retail in my life that I can easily say the customer is rarely right. Usually never right.

    Customers do always try and pull that crap too not realizing that it died with the 50's.

    EDIT: Oops this is a necro thread I replied to haha.
  24. Ish macrumors 68020


    Nov 30, 2004
    Yes, the customer is always right as in:

    "The customer is always right and we've got a right one here!" :D

Share This Page