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The Customer Bites Back

TMCnet Feature

July 26, 2013

The Customer Bites Back

By Nicole Spector
Contributing Writer

Ever gone into an Apple (News - Alert) store with several issues but not a single appointment to consult one of the elite Apple geniuses?

If you have, you know what usually happens: you get flat out rejected, middle school style. You feel about as worthy as a subway rat amongst all that austere Mac goodness. You're such a loser, you ought to go back to Radio Shack.

And probably you suck it up, schedule an ungodly hour to return, and walk away unsatisfied. Not a big deal. But a certain someone begged to differ. You've probably seen the footage by now, given that it went viral on Vine, after the actress Porscha Coleman recorded and posted it: A customer in an Apple retail store in L.A. is told that she would have to wait for help, and upon hearing the news, promptly throws a tantrum that would make Veruca Salt back down in awe.

It's not surprising that, in a smartphone age, this moment of lunacy was stealthily caught on video, or that, in a social media age, it went viral online. But what is surprising, and part of why the video is so popular, is that we're watching a person have a virtual nervous breakdown over…customer service. The protagonist, if you will, of this little drama, is hardly getting sympathy. Rather, she's being projected and perceived as a terrifying laughingstock — the epitome of a hyperbolic American consumer. But, if you happen to be a provider of customer service, there is something to be said for her problem, however ridiculously over the top it is. Apple makes a promise, but oh, there's that loophole: you've got to make an appointment.

We're all so used to these loopholes in customer care that we don't even bother to question them half the time. That's why we leave the Apple store, lowly subway rats without appointments, to hope we have better luck if we jump through more hoops. Yes, this person's reaction on Vine was disproportionate, you could say, and she was rude and inconsiderate, but she does have a point. It's one that all purveyors of customer service should consider: if you make a promise, keep it, and if you didn't mean it, be sure to take it back with tact and humility, or at least, let the convolutions be known somewhere bigger than in the fine print.  

Edited by Alisen Downey

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