How many times have you tried to call some company for tech support or warranty help, and all you can reach is a voicemail tree?
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Or you finally reach someone, but they are in a third world country and can't help?
Poor Customer Service Everywhere
You know the routine: You need help in a store, from a phone agent, or in a restaurant -- and you're told "sorry, we can't help you."
Jack Nicholson made poor customer service memorable in the movie "Five Easy Pieces, " smashing the water glasses on a table in a diner, after a surly waitress told him he couldn't get toast.
And from the movies to real life: Last year, Glen Davis of the Orlando Magic threw a tantrum, smashing a computer, when a hotel clerk refused him a room.
And then there was the famous YouTube customer service meltdown that went viral earlier this year, with an angry man screaming "I've been on the phone thee hours trying to reach her and every time I call that &%#$# number, I get your department!"
Everyone Has a Story
We spoke with shoppers who told us they can understand how people blow their lids.
"You go in a store and there are like 20 lines and only 2 are open," Rita Keats said. "And you've only got one item, and someone's doing their weekly groceries. It can make you want to scream."
Others told us about recent phone center frustrations.
"Someone is on the phone and you really can't understand them, their English is real sloppy," one shopper said.
So what can you do, to avoid waiting and waiting and waiting -- then ending up right back where you started?
Call Center Operators Give Advice
Carol and Clark Sarver own Maximum Communications, a Cincinnati-based call center that works with dozens of national companies. They shared with us '3 tips to get better service' and it starts with your demeanor.
Tip Number 1:
Stay calm: You'll get much further if you are not emotional.
"Our agents are human beings, they don't like to be yelled at," Clark Sarver said. "The first thing is just to be calm." Tip Number 2:
Ask for a "supervisor" as soon as you feel you're getting nowhere.
Supervisors really exist at every call center, the Sarvers say.
But what if you can't even reach a live person to begin with?
Tip Number 3:
Look for other ways to get through.
Search for inside numbers if the company makes it impossible to get to a person.
Check the website "Get Human.com, " which provides phone numbers for hundreds of companies.
Get on Facebook and Twitter. These days, companies will see your complaint, especially if it is one that catches other people's attention. It could get re-tweeted or shared.
The Sarvers have one last tip: Avoid peak times when agents are swamped, especially at noon and the day after Christmas.
"After a holiday is not the best time to call," Carol Sarver said. "And at lunch time and after the workday is off, those are high call volume times. I would avoid that."
Some good tips to remember so you don't end up like the guy in that viral meltdown, screaming "And none of you know what I'm talking about, what kind of &^%&^$ situation is this?"
The Bottom Line
Bottom line: Be persistent and keep your cool. If you can't speak with anyone who can help -- then take to social media.
That way you may get through and you don't waste your money.
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