Around these parts, and to family and friends, I am known as “The Bounty Hunter of Bad Customer Service”. Just as a dog will not let go of his bone (come to think of it, I also have trouble releasing a half-eaten prime rib bone), I will chase you down with all that I’ve got.
It all started back when JC* was moving into a senior residence in Chicago. Many Excel spread sheets and visits later, we had chosen what we thought to be the best of the best, but things began to down spiral quickly. Unanticipated stress replaced excitement when I had to step in and take over for the moving coordinator, who seemed to lack any training in long distance moves. The lovely gesture of a sign on the apartment front door would have been much appreciated if it hadn’t read “Welcome Home, Gloria.” Worst of all, JC did not receive an invitation to the new resident birthday surf and turf luncheon. That snub was the final straw.
I did some research and found out that this senior residence was in negotiations to link their services with the hospital that I was working for. I called and made an appointment with both the director and customer service coordinator to discuss my mom’s disappointment. Dressed for success, I carried a brief case with the hospital name on it; a handy prop.
I was angry, but decided that the best approach would be to tug at their heart strings. I presented my case; I had faith in them, put my mom in their hands and their incompetence resulted in her feeling abandoned. I was prepared when they asked how they could repair the damage done. How about three limo rides at no charge (the residence had a limo available for hire) and dinner for four (mom and family) during lobster month at The Palm Restaurant? I produced a letter that I would email to them; all they had to do was copy and paste it onto their stationery.
At that point, I unleashed my secret weapon; I stopped talking, tilted my head slightly to one side and just looked at them; no amount of words can replace the discomfort of stone-cold silence. The letter was delivered to JC later that day. She did enjoy her new home for a while, until she called a family meeting, announced that the residents were too old and moved to a nearby condo.
Since then, with a combination of tenacity, a genteel manner, meticulous research and the silent treatment, I have been able to:
- Enlist the help of the Department of Consumer Services in Chicago to track down a dead- beat contractor and obtain $12,000 in restitution.
- Work with the University of Houston Law Center and receive free assistance in order to convince a corporation that payment in full for a storage locker was in their best interest due to an incorrect apartment floor plan.
- Travel free with my family on the AVE, the high-speed train, from Barcelona to Madrid, Spain when our credit card concierge forgot to email the tickets to our hotel.
- Convince the airlines why the receipts for the contents of my lost luggage were no longer available and shop for replacement belongings with the $500 they offered.
- Enjoy a complimentary breakfast, lunch, dinner or hotel stay when the initial experience was not up to par.
Sometimes it’s important to take a stand. With a little effort, the frustration and disappointment you experienced can be resolved to your benefit. I can still see the smile on JC’s face when they tied on her lobster bib and when she told me to look out my window, then stood up and waved out the top of the limo as it cruised down Lake Shore Drive.
*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.