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Rage against customer service reps is on the rise

Also on the increase is the amount of yelling and swearing customers are willing to unleash on company employees.

By MSN Money Partner Dec 26, 2013 5:53PM

This post comes from Allison Martin at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyIf you've ever yelled at a customer service representative when reporting a problem with a product or service, you're not the only one.

Angry businessman © Imagesource/CorbisA customer "rage" survey designed by Customer Care Measurement and Consulting and the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University showed that 68 percent of U.S. households experienced "customer rage" this year. That is up 8 percentage points since 2011.

"We're yelling and cursing at customer service representatives more when dealing with the worst problems, with yelling up from 25 percent in previous rage studies to 36 percent now," according to a press release about the survey.


"Also, cursing is up from 7 percent to 13 percent," the release says.

So, what is it that makes consumers so angry? Here are a few notable statistics from the survey:

  • The product most often responsible for enraging people is cable or satellite TV.
  • 50% of consumers reported problems this year, up from 45 percent in 2011.
  • 56 percent of complainants received no remedy for their troubles, up 9 percentage points from 2011.
  • Customer satisfaction doubled from 37 percent to 74 percent when customers were given free remedies, such as an apology, along with a financial remedy.

It also said:

Despite the rise of the Internet, people are still 11 times more likely to complain via phone than Web.
However, customer-complaint posting on social-networking sites, such as Facebook, has nearly doubled from 19 percent to 35 percent since 2011.

Companies are spending a lot of money on customer care, but they're obviously doing something wrong. And that's costing them customer loyalty and money.

"If the customer was satisfied or at least pacified, he or she only told an average of 10 to 16 people about the problem, but if customers were left dissatisfied, they told an average of about 28 people," the press release said.

But is this totally the fault of companies? You also have to wonder if customers themselves are more likely to become rude.

Have you had an unpleasant experience with customer service this year? Were you polite or did you start yelling?

More on Money Talks News:

Dec 26, 2013 6:50PM

Light years ago and far away.....I once worked retail. At Christmastime, the workload increased to where I worked as much as 12-hour days, and 6-days per week. I was management. No overtime.

Once, while packing a customers order of small poinsettia plants, I dropped one of them, spilling the dirt on myself and the floor inside the cash-wrap area. I apologized to the customer, telling her that I'll go select another, "Just as pretty." Well....

That woman laid into me like I was at the center of all that was wrong in her life. Cursing and screaming that I was clumsy, stupid, and wasting her time.

I wasn't any of those things. I was just so tired that I could hardly stand up. And I'll never forget that terrible lesson in life, and people, too.

Dec 26, 2013 7:22PM
I am a customer service rep who actually takes escalated calls.  I am willing to go the extra mile for the customer, however I do have to stay within the parameters set by the company.  This means I cannot offer discounts, additional monies or upgrades.   However, what good does it do to call me every name in the book, and drop the f-bomb every other word get you?  Remember, we are human, bound by the constraints set by our employers, and that we have feelings.  Telling me that you wish I will die, harm will come to family or you are going to hunt me down and hurt me is not only hurtful but also rather stupid and childish.  Just because you don't get what you want, does not mean that you have to throw a tantrum, and be cruel, unreasonable and totally off the wall.  Walk a mile in our shoes.  I tell you if you had to listen to what you said to customer service rep in a fit of rage, some of you would be appalled at your behavior. 
Dec 26, 2013 6:37PM
I hate Comcast you have to yell and scream or they don't do anything. They should be investigated for fraud and false advertising. as my bill goes up every three months.
Dec 26, 2013 7:43PM
I absolutely HATE talking to someone about a problem who CANT SPEAK INTELIGIBLE ENGLISH!! I will NEVER buy another dell computer because of that, plus the fact that the last two computers I received from them were had a really bad windows 8 os, and the other had windows 7, but has software glitches, and has had a clean install twice in two months of ownership...its a piece of trash, more!
Dec 26, 2013 6:57PM

The reason rage against customer service reps is rising is because most companies either don't provide adequate training or they just don't care. Customer service is extremely lacking at most companies and the reps don't even know what customer service actually means. Example: I USED to have Dish satellite. I once clicked on "order" for a movie and because I didn't have a home phone line connected to the satellite box, there was a box that popped up saying to call the 800 customer service number to complete ordering the movie. I decided not to call the number and just pass on this movie. Here's the problem though; when I received my bill, the movie was included on the bill, even though I never actually received the movie. I called Dish customer service and was told that I ordered the movie from my remote, therefore it is their policy that the charge can not be removed. I asked to speak to a supervisor. I spoke to 5 different people and was on the phone for 2 1/2 hours before the last person came on the line and immediately said, the charge has been removed from your bill. But, how many people would go to these lengths (2 1/2 hours on phone) to get a bill corrected that every single rep said they could not remove; until the last person I spoke to removed the charge. I even told a couple of these reps that they are stealing by charging for services that weren't actually received. And I would bet anything that they are making millions from customers who just pay it and don't fight for what is right. I actually told one of the Dish reps that I would rather pay an attorney to fight that charge then give Dish the money for a service not received. At that point, it was the principal of the matter.


The point is; when companies continue to treat loyal customers like this with little regard for what's right and what's wrong; customers are going to continue to show more rage. Treat customers right and train your staff to understand what quality customer service is all about.

Dec 26, 2013 7:54PM

One thing to remember when talking to a customer service representative...they are not the problem.  The company they work for is the problem.  It's very hard to keep than in mind when you are calling to resolve an issue, but it pays off in the end.


I think the most frustrating part is what they put you through just to talk to a real live person, and when you finally do, you can't understand them because they don't speak fluid English! 


Dec 26, 2013 6:57PM

Just cancelled my Verizon wireless because of bad customer service. They tried for 20 minutes to talk me out of cancelling. They told me my complaints would be going to their executive resolution department and they take every complaint seriously. I said that is BS. The only time I have had Verizon take anything seriously is when I sent my complaints to the FCC, State Consumer Agency, the BBB or a combination of the 3 agencies.


Then they had the nerve to tell me they could not send me an email of the cancellation. Are you kidding me? A company that is an alleged leader in technology can't send an email confirming  an action taken by one of their customer service agencies.

Dec 26, 2013 7:06PM

Being in customer service, I hate reading articles like this.


More often then not, when I have a raging customer on the phone or in my store, it's not my company's fault.  It's more often than not an over-expectation, or simply a spoiled adult who wants something for nothing.


Here's an insider secret.  If you want special treatment, yelling and screaming is not the way.  Be polite and work with the representative you have.  Don't go straight for the manager, because the rep has the time to let the manager know, and if you are losing your cool already, the management will often offer less then the front line will.


Simply speaking, just be polite.  No one you will ever get a chance to talk to is out to intentionally screw you over, UNLESS you try to make their day crap.  Then expect to get the bare minimum and only what the rules prescribe.

Dec 26, 2013 10:13PM
Corporations and their outsourcing obsession, is biting them in the butt, as it should be.  When a CSR talks in a foreign accent and has to reference notes to fix a problem, u know u are in trouble. 
Dec 26, 2013 7:08PM
Recently switched my TV service from Dish to U-Verse. Had the new service installed and working before I called Dish to cancel. After at least 5 minutes to get to the right person, clearly explained that I had installed a new service and wanted to cancel dish. First questions was why I wanted to cancel, which I have no problem with. Any good company should want to know why someone wants to replace their service with a competitor. Gave my reasons, and the next question was what do we need to keep you. Again stated, I have the new service installed and working, I will not entertain any offers, and want to cancel my Dish service. Then began a series of questions, which were obviously being asked from a script tree. I slightly lost my temper but did not curse. Interrupted in a very stern voice that you are not listening to me, I told you 5 minutes ago that I want to cancel service, please do it now and not ask me another question. That worked. Just saying don't beat up the person on the phone. They are doing what they are instructed to, and will lose their job if they don't. Direct your complaints to their managers.
Dec 26, 2013 8:16PM
What is the most, most, most annoying is when you go through those horrible phone trees or you have waited on hold forever and then you get disconnected or you get funneled to a line that no one answers and you have to call back.  By the time you get another person on the line, you are furious.  You do not want to go through that all over again and then start from scratch explaining your problem to a new person who doesn't care and wants to transfer you.  Or how about when the hold music is all wobbly and you can't put the phone down because you don't know when someone might answer.  I, personally, would rather have dead air than obnoxious music or ads.
Dec 26, 2013 6:37PM

I stay polite as long as it seems the person on the other end is truely trying to help me. Though I do tend to let a lot of emotion slip through especially if they are telling me to try solutions I already told them I tried or if they seem to not be understanding what my problem is no matter how many different ways I describe it.


I have found that mentioning that I might switch to a competitor gets my problem resolved quicker along with some sort of discount.

Dec 26, 2013 8:28PM

The problem really isn't them, but their employers. They tell their representatives that they have 5 minutes or whatever to finish the call. If they don't comply, they'll loose their jobs. Its that simple. If you are talking about a online computer problem and your not good at computers, 5 minutes won't get it. So 5 minutes comes and goes and they say: "Try that & if it don't work, call us back". Instead of working through the problem and making the person happy. But it's about Money, not wanting to hire enough people to handle the calls and the employer setting unrealistic requirements on the representative. The customers needs are not important. Once they've got your money, they don't care if you're needing help now. Click, next customer please!

Dec 26, 2013 6:48PM
I certainly try not to take it out on the person answering the phone.  They are usually not the person who originally caused the problem, but sometimes it can get frustrating.  I pay close to $850 a year for a newspaper subscription to The Boston Globe.   There was a while a couple of  years ago when at least once a week there was a problem (no delivery, delivered hours after I left for work in the morning, etc.).  When I would call customer service they would always promise that I would receive a credit on my bill.  It NEVER happened.  When I would mention that on the next call with a problem, I would again be promised a credit and you guessed it, NEVER would it happen.  I have subscribed for over forty years and all I want is to be given what I have paid for on a regular basis.  Is that too much to ask?
I stay polite. If they don't make a legitimate effort I take my business elsewhere.
Dec 26, 2013 6:54PM
Customer service used to be handled in person, and if people did not get an immediate resolution.... the business would suffer.  Used to also have a rep sent out to your house as soon as possible for most things.  Or... an immediate refund or replacement.  Now, just some strange voice from India on the phone reading a script off a computer program.  And when people cant get satisfaction from Bob in India.... they just get mad.... but keep paying for the product or service.  Its the new world.... let the buyer beware because you aren't getting any satisfaction from the seller as long as they know all you will do is get mad... and keep paying.
Dec 26, 2013 7:09PM
No surprise here. Companies no longer care about customers and customer service... or employees. Once the company has your money, they take on a "kiss our a**es" philosophy. Although their company "creeds" may state that customer service is their number one goal, it's all b.s. They teach their employees to give everything (the run-around, mostly) except customer service.
Dec 26, 2013 7:09PM
when you yell and scream at those customer service representatives (CSR)  you are accomplishing nothing.
The person on the phone just turns down the volume and lets you vent your spleen and then they just write you off as just another unreasonable a-hole.
Try instead to think about your service issue, make notes if you have to- then when you contact customer service try to keep in mind that they want to help. Now if you are rude to that CSR they probably aren't going to be helpful, but I know from experience that you are polite the CSR will be. If the CSR isn't polite- don't get angry- Just hang up on that CSR and call back- chances are that you'll get a different person.
Being angry is OK- Acting angry only upsets people and limits your success
Dec 26, 2013 6:41PM
I will admit I have 'yelled and cursed" at the poor customer service rep. The person is just doing their job. However sometimes the frustration level just keeps building and building when the person on the other end has been poorly trained and does not know how to deal with the problem.
Dec 26, 2013 6:39PM

I find the best way to handle issues is to bypass the telephone and contact the company by email or via the web form on their website.


This way the issue gets to the attention of someone who can resolve it and I don’t get the runaround and don’t have to tell the story repeatedly to people who don’t have the authority to get the matter straightened out.


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