The Customer Is NOT Always Right

There’s an incredible mob mentality these days when something “wrong” is brought to light. Worse yet, people seem to crave this stuff. Just turn on your TV or radio and see/hear this stuff being pushed all day long. It used to be that we celebrated when things were “good.” No more. And it’s for this reason you can’t blame business owners for being fearful of the speed and depth of visibility that customer complaints can be made and viewed. We’re not perfect but if you’re practicing your “not perfectness” while trying to make a living, well then that just means there are double points for mocking and ridiculing your effort.

But wait¬†… Perhaps not everyone is on board with this mob mentality.¬†

Recently a customer of Liberty Bottle of Yakima, Washington (yes, my home town!) posted on their Facebook page the following plea:

customer complaint

Of course this is a typical rant lacking in any specifics and begging for “the rest of the story.” But it is also the type of rant that is fodder for Internet “trolls” who simply look for something to jump in on, whether they have a dog in the fight or not. And with their participation and off-topic ramblings something that can be dealt with suddenly snowballs into a confusing tirade without direction or remembrance of its origin. And it leaves behind stinky little breadcrumbs, the kind no business person wants around their door.

But in this story, a manager at the business (COO actually) acted quickly. Not always the best move but sometimes it is. And he acknowledge her complaint but also told her that she was way off base by expecting someone to take her calls or answer her emails during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Wait, what? He said what?

Here, read it for yourself.

response to complaint

Yup. That’s what he said.

Someone saw this and reposted it to Trollville USA (aka And then it got Tweeted and then more Facebook posts and then the news media realized it was already a story and repeated it.

Did the trolls pounce and berate this imperialist pig for having sent his employees home when customers were trying to buy products or for wrapping himself in the flag as he tells off a customer? How dare he lead his company back into the dark days when we celebrated what was “good?” The mob will have no tolerance for that!

But wait (again) … This is something out of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. The Grinch just finished stripping all the Christmas trimming and presents from Whoville and is standing with his hand to his ear so he can hear the sobbing and gnashing of teeth. But much to his surprise, he hears singing! In our modern-day tale, instead of sales grinding to a halt as a result of this customer rant and it’s publication, quite the opposite occurred.

It’s been only a few days since this became a new Internet “thing” but they are now apologizing for delays in answering phones and processing orders because they’ve been inundated as a result of how well the COO’s response resonate with the public. Maybe the pendulum is swinging back toward celebrating what is “good.”

So next time you find yourself being called on the carpet and you’re trying to find the correct response framed with “the customer is always right,” be sure to check yourself to see if maybe this time they aren’t. You may find your customers and fans will have your back.

Oh and just how much attention did this get? Here’s a graph of the number of people talking about and liking them on Facebook.

Facebook graph

“Talking about” went from 162 to over 11,000 and “new likes” went from 12 to over 700 per week. W00T!