Research into UK customer service has revealed the Top 20 customer complaints received by retailers and service providers in 2011.
As part of a research project into customer service levels in the UK and the public’s perception of customer complaints management, over 200 customer service professionals were asked to detail the funniest, most unusual, or seemingly outrageous customer complaints they have received in recent years.
Carried out by Henley Business School and CDC Software, the Top 20 results have been broken into to the following categories - retail, holidays, pets and utilities.
1) A customer phoned to complain following the delivery of a curtain pole. On finding no one home, the driver decided it would be possible to still deliver the pole - through the letterbox. When the customer returned they found their dog pinned to the wall.
2) Following the purchase of a dishwasher, a customer returned to the store and announced: “The dishwasher is quite obviously faulty – when set to wash, water sprays, but the plates don’t spin.”
3) A student contacted a food producer to complain that he’d almost choked on a fish hook. A full investigation followed involving full traceability reports. It was established that the dish used net caught fish and no hooks had been used in the production process. The student apologised for trying to falsely obtain compensation.
4) A customer complained that the ham he’d purchased was unreasonably salty. The retailer said he would receive a full refund on the return of the remaining ham. The customer said this “would be impossible”. He’d managed to eat the remaining 480grams of offending ham.
5) A supermarket customer complained that his bill was wrong. The assistant explained that a number of in-store discounts had been applied, hence the lower than expected bill. The customer would not accept this and insisted on speaking to the manager. Despite further explanation, the customer could not be appeased until it was accepted that he was right and “allowed” to pay the higher total.
6) On receiving a call advising that her contact lens order was early and could be collected, the customer complained to the head office, suggestion that the ‘overzealous’ ordering system was akin to high pressure selling.
7) A customer threatened to escalate his complaint, adamant that his phone should have withstood a full wash cycle. The label sewn to his jacket pocket clearly stated that the pocket was “fully waterproof”.
8) A television was returned because the picture was not clear. On being told he was required to protective film from the screen, the customer insisted that at no point during the sales process had he been told he’d be required to do this and insisted on a full refund, plus compensation for his wasted time.
9) An insurance company received a call following an incident in a hired campervan. It claimed that a crash and the resulting damage to the interior and exterior of the van was the result of a faulty auto-drive system. In his claim, the customer stated: “I put the vehicle into auto-drive and walked to the rear of the vehicle, only to be thrown against the basinet, flinging fresh coffee flung against the wall and cabinets as the auto-drive failed and took us, at some speed, into the hedgerow.”
10) On return from a camping holiday on an approved “farm stay” site, a holiday maker requested a full refund stating their holiday had been ruined by the “intrusive noise of cows mooing.”
11) A pet owner contacted a high-profile department store to complain that the dog coat purchased was not “fit for purpose”. When dressed in the dog coat she revealed her rabbit had “gnawed through the straps.”
12) A pet shop refunded a customer after they complained the hamster recently purchased was “neither friendly nor cuddly.”
13) A customer contacted a leading watch brand to complain about the quality of its goods. Despite the company’s “promise of quality”, the strap had failed to stand-up to being chewed by a dog.
14) A blouse was returned to a high street retailer with a demand, not only for a refund, but compensation for the vets fees incurred due to the pattern causing the customer’s dog to bite itself.
15) A high street bank received a complaint from a customer claiming its TV advertisement encouraged animal cruelty – the ad featured a pet snake being released into the garden.
16) A utilities company received a call from a customer complaining about the exceptionally high quality of customer service. It was suggested that less money was spent on staff training and the savings put to reducing customer bills.
17) A customer contacted their electricity provider complaining a power failure resulting from high winds caused them to miss a “vital episode” of Coronation Street.
18) An internal helpdesk received a call from a user complaining that she could only view her monitor correctly if she lay her head on her desk. Once the monitor was rotated by the support team, the problem was solved.
19) A diner complained to the waiter that the Champagne recommended was not as “excellent” as suggested. Despite consuming all but a glass of the bottle, he insisted on a full refund.
20) Having filled his car with petrol at an independent petrol station, a customer presented his fuel card to pay. On being told this card was not accepted he explained that he had no other means of payment and suggested that he call his bank to arrange a transfer. The cashier was not happy, accused the driver of trying to steal fuel and drew a shotgun on him. This complaint is still being investigated.
The supporting roundtable discussion, research highlights, customer service opinion Vox Pop and a video summary of the funny complaints can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOEAhVakGL8.
About Neil Davey
Neil Davey is the managing editor of MyCustomer. An experienced business journalist and editor, Neil has worked on a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites over the past 15 years, including Internet Works, CXO magazine and Business Management. He joined Sift Media in 2007.