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Is Customer Service Dead?

Posted by Kevin on October 29 at 04:41 pm

The Lima team has been experiencing a string of terrible customer service lately. From restaurants to coffee shops to lumber yards, we’ve seen some shockingly bad service over the past few weeks. It’s strange – we’ve all experienced bad service here and there, but lately it has been much more frequent and much, much worse!

Here are some examples:

Rachel and Riki went to a bar and grill (national chain) for dinner. At the end of their meal, they politely asked if the server could just split the check in two, so they could pay separately. He acted annoyed and told them that he couldn’t split their onion rings onto two checks. He said he would put the onion rings on their own check, which of course didn’t really help Rachel and Riki, but not wanting to cause trouble, they agreed. Now, the funny part – when the server returned to the table, he presented the checks and said “Here’s the $9.00 one for the onion rings, that’s $4.50 each in case you didn’t take high school math.” Wow.

Ali and I recently did some home remodeling. The project was significant because we completely tore out our bathroom and kitchen and rebuilt them from scratch. We spent a ton of money at a local lumberyard on supplies. One night Ali stopped there after work and only needed 1 piece of wood molding. We had been in there at least 20 times over the course of the previous few months. She asked one of the guys for the trim and he told her: “Yeah, we have it, but it’s too late for me to go find this, we’re about to close.” She was of course infuriated and walked out. We never went back and for what it’s worth, it was announced in the paper a couple of weeks ago that this place is going out of business.

My mom (Janet) was here at Lima Beads helping us out last week as she often is. She went over to the coffee shop across the street (large national chain) to grab a vanilla latte (her favorite). They gave her the drink, but hadn’t put the lid on tight, so she picked it up and it spilled all over her pants. My mom is not one to get angry, so she calmly told them that half of her drink had spilled out because the lid wasn’t on and asked them to make her another. They agreed, but offered no apology for causing the spill. They made her new drink, handed it to her and said: “Venti decaf vanilla latte,” to which she replied:  “I didn’t order decaf” – then the woman behind the counter said: “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me!” They finally made her the correct drink and gave it to her along with a healthy dose of bad attitude.

Now, I know that no one is perfect. We really try to make Lima Beads’ customer service the best it can be. Lima is a small company and occasionally we’re a tad slow responding to an email or unable to handle a rush of calls as quickly as we’d like – but, the examples above are way over the top. If I ever heard of anything like that happening here, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. I don’t understand how people can treat their customers this way and expect them to come back! It’s really frustrating when it happens and then we just laugh it off. We have a great punishment for these businesses. We don’t yell, we don’t cause a scene – we just never go back!

If you have any funny (sad?) customer service experiences, share them below!

Read the comments (or add your own)

  1. Melissa H
    Melissa H says:

    I recently had an issue with a new in-store Starbucks (and I wasn’t the only one that day!) on a busy Sunday afternoon.

    I had ordered a venti caramel macchiato and patiently waited behind the lady who had ordered right before me. While we were waiting, two more people ordered after us and received their drinks before us (prob. #1).

    Then, a lady who had ordered a shaken tea got the wrong tea and had to wait for them to make her order again (prob. #2–she waited for over 20 minutes for her tea while the barista melted a cup and had to start her order again).

    They get “my” order out–it’s iced. I really dislike iced coffee (turns out there was a lady behind me who had ordered it but didn’t come forward for it…) and let them know I was still waiting for my drink. My husband and four kids were waiting for me (and Starbucks) so we could leave.

    When they got the hot drink made I had ordered, it was the wrong size (prob. #3). I sent it back and then politely requested a refund. They punched in what I had originally ordered, but the totals didn’t add up–the cashier had put in the wrong order in the first place! I will not go back to that in-store Starbucks…

    (I ended up refunded for two of the drinks I originally ordered plus a free drink coupon. I took my coupon to a different store and got my venti caramel macchiato!)

  2. No Photo
    Karey says:

    Hey Folks,
    These are troubled times. Let’s give the benefit of the doubt to those who do not give customer service as we desire. Maybe the kid at the lumberyard just found out he would soon be losing his job and needed to get home to his pregnant wife and make plans. Maybe the new Starbucks employees are just that “new” and need some slack to learn their trade.
    BUT it is the “attitude” that I don’t get. If we do not frequent these establishments; if they do not have customers; there is no reason to stay open. Of course, if they go out of business, we may be spiting ourselves and now have to travel further to obtain the items we need.
    The political candidates are right; it is a time for change. We can all start by being grateful for what we have and forgiving those who may be having a bad day, week or life. Smile and don’t forget to vote.

  3. Alice P
    Alice P says:

    There is no excuse for rude service. I think it’s our duty to let management know, without being rude ourselves, that there is a problem with either an employee or their services. How can the problem be fixed if it is not brought to someone’s attention? That being said, I know everyone has a bad day now and then, like maybe the guy at the closing lumberyard or a new employee is still trying to learn the ropes, and I try to put myself in their shoes. Not always easy though…..Alice

  4. Bonnie R
    Bonnie R says:

    Ditto Alice. I am always telling others – if you don’t tell management about the poor service/complaint they can’t correct the problem. Everyone has a bad day – but if you are in customer service, it your job to be nice to the customers. The “customer is allways right” bit. At least let us think we are right. My biggest beef is telephone salesmen. Especially the ones who can’t understand a polite “we are not interested”. I had one that argued with me that I was wrong and kept calling back. I even told him that we couldn’t pay for his service and he argued that.

  5. CAS
    CAS says:

    There are those, like yourselves, that give excellent customer service, and there are those who, unfortunately, do not. It’s easy to say, “oh, they’re having a bad day”, but as Bonnie said it’s their job to be nice to customers. I blame the “it’s all about me”ness of our society for the lack of good manners.

  6. Ali
    Ali says:

    I definitely think that people are having a bad day sometimes and it affects their customer service. I can understand that — everyone has things going on outside of work that can be really stressful at times. Maybe they’re not as helpful as they normally would be or their answers are a bit shorter than they probably should be. It’s when I experience an instance of blatant rudeness that I’m really taken aback. I still don’t really get angry or try and get anyone in trouble, but it genuinely makes me not want to visit that business again.

  7. beadaholchick
    beadaholchick says:

    Karey-I agree w/ you that sometimes all of us have bad days. These are difficult times, you never know what could be behind the behavior-finances? campaign? job loss? (although that seems ironic if rudeness is an issue.) Generally-if I ask someone how their day is going (sincerely) they soften. Sometimes if it is really an issue I talk to the management, trying not to get upset myself,(not always easy). If that fails,I don’t go back.
    By the way, there is an internet site here called Angie’s list, a place that people post excellent customer serice w/ all kinds of business. Great Idea!!

  8. C McKinney
    C McKinney says:

    I am just glad I have always gotten such great service here. Customer service isn’t dead, it is just more rare and valuable than it has ever been before.

  9. No Photo
    Joyce F says:

    Hi to everyone who has posted. I work in customer service and have for 25+ years, so perhaps that makes me a bit “old school” where the customer, client, or visitor is always right. If I have personal problems, they get left outside the office as soon as I step in. If I’m having real bad problems I call off because I know that my attitude affects my employer’s business. The company is not about “me” unless I own it. As for the coffee shop employees, how hard is it to say, “I’m sorry, I made a mistake, let me try to rectify that for you”. For the lumberyard employee, “I’m sorry we are closing and that’s located in the very back of the yard. I can get it for you and have it waiting first thing in the morning if you could please return when we open”. There are many alternatives to diffuse an angry customer and still keep them as a customer. Instead, people chose the easy way out and become rude and/or ignorant and end up costing their employer’s money. There are no excuses. If worse comes to worse, explain to the customer that you’re having a bad day and tell them you’re sorry if it appears you’re taking it out them. Now, more than ever, employers need to know that they are losing business due to rude employees. It can make the difference between going out of business today because customers refuse to come back or staying afloat through these rough times because your employees know how to treat customers right and keep them coming back.

  10. Jeanine C
    Jeanine C says:

    Another suggestion: let management know when you’ve received outstanding service. We recently needed to have some work done on our plumbing. The plumber who came was a gem: he knew his stuff, he clearly explained to us every step he was taking, and he even put little booties over his shoes every time he came into the house.

    Even though the plumber was unable to fix our problem, he told us why and also what we should do next. I was so impressed with his knowledge, helpfulness, and courtesy that I called his company the next day to let them know how pleased my husband and I were with the service he gave us. I think we made his day. And it was so easy to do.

  11. Chris T
    Chris T says:

    I know that Customer Service is not dead….when I need to order or contact you at Lima Beads. Every single person has been nothing kind, helpful, & pleasant… and you can hear the smile in your staff’s voices when you need to talk to them. Please keep up the great service you provide to all of us bead nuts. You really do make it a pleasure to do business with you!

  12. No Photo
    Anne P says:

    I practice both. I decided that I am too old to put up with bad service — but I always try and find a manager to complain as well as calling the employee on the carpet when I encounter down right rudeness. It is amazing what a simple stare and an incredulous “WHAT did you say?” can do.

    At the same time, I make a determined effort to compliment people on good service (much harder for me than complaining is!). I have hunted down the manager at a Best Buy to tell him about a very pleasant experience I had there. He was a bit surprised, to say the least!

    I’ve worked food service and retail and while the customer is not always right, you should always handled the situation politely if for no other reason that to prove that you have better manners than the other SOB!

  13. No Photo
    POF Chick Nina says:

    I am retired now, but when I was working my motto was to treat each person the way I would want to be treated. Every once in a while I experience a rude clerk, waitress,etc. but always treat them with respect. Like Ali said, I will not patronize that establishment again. The store where I worked had comment cards for the customer to fill out and mail into the head office. We received some very nice compliments on customer service. There were also some very unpleasant comment cards too. It seemed to follow a pattern related to cost. When prices went up the unpleasant comments increased. I worked in a grocery store as a clerk for 15 yrs. and as the Vendor Receiver for 15 yrs. I loved my job but retirement and creating jewelry is mighty good! Don’t care to serve the public any more.

  14. No Photo
    J Gockel says:

    I agree that not going back to the place after receiving bad service is a good thing. Trouble is, sometimes the people who could make a difference if they knew about it, don’t find out. They probably wouldn’t condone the bad attitudes their employees sometimes exhibit. I have actually complained a time or two and whether or not it made any difference, I felt better venting then holding it inside, stress being such a part of our busy lives and all.

    I treat my customers like gold, the way I want to be treated, the way you-all treat your customers. Keep up the good work (smile).

  15. harleynshait
    harleynshait says:

    Our human bought even MORE beads, especially blue and red tigers eye, tiger iron and we think tiger jasper. We see how much she just loves it! Unfortunately shewas too tired to really work with it yetl eee, lerel So far the blue ha the best chara. Upon the gems’ arrival she called across the big pond an. The customer srvices was awesome, spending a lot of time on the phone wih Kevin.

  16. harleynshait
    harleynshait says:

    oh yeah, our human has not yet been ro SLEEP and ir’s 4;3 JJWSJ So she needs a wee bit of sleep. Oh yes, did you see the Dune stamps of the great lakes? They have Petotsky Stones in the corner. Well, now that others are starting to get up, se’s thinking maybe it’s time to get to sleep.

  17. No Photo
    Inez B says:

    When telemarketing first started, the phone rang at 6:45 PM on a Friday. (My phone is listed with my initials, so I knew that the caller didn’t know me.) “May I speak with Mr or Mrs …?” I paused for a second, and said, “I am so tired of having my life interrupted with these unwanted, un-asked for telemarketing phone calls.” There was a pause, and she said (disgusted) “Well, let’s kill this one, right now!!” and she hung up on ME!

  18. No Photo
    K Peterson says:

    I worked in retail for 9 years and customer service was a primary goal. Yes, we’ve all got problems and issues – but that is no excuse not to do your job correctly. The mantra was: “Leave your personal problems at the door; you can pick them up when you leave.” Politeness has to come from both sides of the counter – a little eye-contact and a smile go a long way. To Kevin and the crew at Lima Beads – well done!

  19. Teri P
    Teri P says:

    I can understand everyone’s frustration with poor customer service. I’ve been in the customer service field for 30 years in various types of businesses. The only thing I can tell you is that it seems people are not trained to give good customer service anymore. They aren’t inspired to do their best so they just “do the job”.

    It’s a sad comment on the state of affairs when that’s the only “excuse” I can think of.

  20. No Photo
    Rachel says:

    Unfortunately, I have had the WORST luck lately in any venture involving food! I have been extremely disappointed with most of the restaurants I have been to recently. I totally agree with the “uninspired” thought; most people think waiting tables is just going to get them quick cash-well, if you hate your job, it’s not!

  21. No Photo
    K Johnson says:

    I’ve always been very happy with Lima Beads service (and really, I DO appreciate the e-mail updates! :) ) so you don’t have to worry on that score…

    A few years ago I went solo to a Mexican-style restaurant (national chain, as you might guess). The host sat me, and then disappeared. The waitress brought out a table setting and a glass of ice water, as well as the menu, then disappeared. After 10 minutes, she took my simple lunch order, then disappeared.

    I sat there for 45 minutes with that gradually emptying glass of ice water and waited for SOMEONE, ANYONE to re-appear either coming from the kitchen, or even from the foyer of the restaurant, so that I could ask at least “where is the food I ordered?”

    I finally just got up and walked out. Believe it or not, I STILL didn’t see anyone in attendance, even on my way out.

    I still don’t know if they ever prepared my lunch order. I’ve not only never been back to that chain of restaurants, I’ve told this story to everyone who mentions they go there.

  22. No Photo
    K Johnson says:

    Speaking of service from/at Starbuck’s, my sister and I stopped at the drive-up window of our local Starbucks on Tuesday and picked up the free tall brewed coffee SB was offering to everyone who voted.

    We were sure to put a tip in the jar at the window for their sharing; and I asked the attendant to pass the word how much we appreciated the thought from the company.

    Good coffee, good vibes all around.

  23. No Photo
    lholly says:

    went to a local bead store yesterday(i won’t give the name, but it’s the only bead store on route 66 in bethany oklahoma).

    i needed assistance in finding some items, three workers were in the shop, one (the mother) was working her tail off helping someone else. the other two, were busy beading, visiting, and eating. i finally asked one of the two workers for assistance, i told her three things with which i needed assistance. the woman helped me with one item, then immediately went back to her beading project.

    i stood there about 10 seconds, dumb-founded. i then simply put the other items I had in my hand back where i had found them, and walked out – vowing to never return.

    this was not my first time in the store, and is not the first time i had experienced such bad service. however, it’s the last! we are limited in bead stores in the oklahoma city area, but with dallas just a short day-trip away, and the different websites available, you’d think customer service would be a priority to a small local shop.

    it’s because of the BAD customer service i experienced yesterday that i found your website, which goes to show, this story does have a happy ending, for me anyway. :) Thanks, Lima Beads, you’ve already made shopping a pleasure – and i’ve yet to place a first order, but will get that done today!!! look forward to doing business with you. ~~lholly

  24. Connie B
    Connie B says:

    I think its important to remember that times are tough for everyone including the customer that is being treated rudely…you know the one paying the money so that we can have a job…my son works in retail & he’s awesome. To be so young & already know how important it is to say the right words to a person that has decided to have an angry attitude. Or to point out to an employee at another store who is being exceptionally rude a better way of handling themselves or the situation. The point is that these people do cost sales. Because I will remember the customer service long after I have forgotten what I bought that day! The first and last impression makes a company a success or have a going out of business sale. I don’t complain often but I must say when I have some owners were more than grateful to find out about the employee who was running off their customers. I don’t want to see anyone lose their job but a good dose in customer care “training” lessons would be in order.

  25. Kathryn
    Kathryn says:

    I’m not trying to formulate excuses for anyone but I know myself working in retail is horrible. On a daily basis half of the customers I deal with are so mean it’s not even funny. I try my very very hardest not to let one customer affect the way I deal with the next customer. Having said that it’s really easy to get in a bad mood when that’s how customers are treating you. If everyone never took their problems out on an undeserving person again the world would be a much happier place.

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