Tips for Dealing with Poor Customer Service


A comment on my blog has inspired me to quick post a few tips I’ve picked up for dealing with customer service at large companies. I’m in the middle of a battle with Comcast right now because the reliability of my Internet connection is abysmal.

  1. Chat Bubbles

    Keep it short. Customer service/support reps are more likely to be rewarded for keeping calls short than they are for resolving customer issues. So take a tip from Republicans: work up a few brief talking points and keep driving them home until they resolve your issue.

    • Go Top

      Try to figure out how to get your issue escalated. In my experience there are always multiple levels of support with the first level simply reading and responding to a small number of scripts.

      I’ve found that having a detailed piece of technical information can break the scripts and get me escalated to “Tier II” or “Network Specialists” or some other random title.

      • Warning Sign

        Learn what not to say. With ISPs don’t mention VPNs, hosting services via your connection, or using 3rd party SMTP servers. While completely legitimate uses of broadband, they often fall into a broad range of “unsupported” uses. Worst case scenario, the rep will blame that unsupported activity for all of your issues and refuse to help you further.

        • Devil Face

          Know when to lie. This is closely related to the previous point. I use Linux, but I always say I use Windows. ISPs often only support a single computer directly connected to your broadband modem. Just lie, but make sure you have access to any administrative interface your modem might have.*

          • Smiling Face

            Be friendly, chances are they hate their job. This can be tough to do especially when the poor rep just wants to get rid of you ASAP so he/she can go on break. I’ve found making little self-deprecating jokes about being a “pain in the ass customer” or asking permission to lie when asked those stupid questions like “have you tried rebooting?”. This tip may help you get escalated as well.

            • Sad Face

              Be careful when bluffing. I’ve threatened to quit a service before only to have the rep say “I’m sorry to here that sir, have a nice day.” I don’t even think she was cleverly calling my bluff; she just saw the opportunity to end the call! If you’re going to make a threat make it something that actually makes life difficult for them like talking to their manager or getting a full refund.

              Still, try the friendly approach first. Remember you’re talking to real people who probably hate the company your dealing with more than you!

              • Network Error

                Finally, don’t forget: it could be your fault. Reset your modem. Reset your router. Actually try Internet Explorer instead of Firefox when they ask you.

                My best example of this is when I pestered a poor customer rep for 15 minutes trying to figure out and then reset my password only to find out I needed to type a full e-mail address as the username instead of just the username part. I had the correct password all along. Luckily the rep was very nice about it.

  • My cable modem’s administrative interface is accessible at which seems standard for cable modems. My home network’s subnet is, so my router happily just treats my modem like any other Internet site. This is a great way to be able to “prove” to reps that you’re “directly connected” to your modem.