My First Disgruntled Customer!

By almcneil ยท 38 replies
Jul 3, 2007
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  1. Well I knew this ould inevitably happen. I now have my first disgruntled customer. After spending 12 hours working on his comp, it still isn't working perfectly. In the 3 months since I started up my in-home servicing business, I have yet to reformat & re-install. I've managed to save everyone's installation, no matter how badly corrupted by spyware. Until now.

    Here's the situation. His son was using (and still is) Limewire and Ares, two peer-to-peer filesharing programs and the comp got chaulk full of spyware. Consquently, it caused all kinds of problems. Initially, I removed all the spyware and got it working. Then I got a call from him saying his printer isn't working just right. I returned and fixed that. Then I got another call a few days later. His son turned on the comp and went to use Limewire and it came up in arabic! We solved that problem over the phone. Then I got a call from him the other complaining he can't open a mail attachment. We tried to solve it over the phone but it turns out that Windows won't assign "pdf" files to Adobe. I suggested he save pdf docs to his Desktop and open them directly with Adobe Reader. He did't like that. So I returned again, fixed that problem with a repair install. I got a call from him today saying his printer has the old problem again and his Internet is acting funny. Now he's getting seriously pissed and wants to take his comp to Staples to get them to reformat & re-install. I explained to him that that solution is highly undesirable as the store only does the re-installation of Windows and device drivers but leaves it to you to re-install programs, Internet and restore files. Not to mention, all your settings and configurations are gone. He doesn't like that idea. Then he complains, "I don't mind paying the bill, I just want the damn thing to work!"

    He's the type of customer that is fickle. When I fix something, he loves me. He pays me, even feeds me beer and wine while I work. But when something doesn't work just right, he's on the phone complaining he paid for something but it's not working. When I get into explanations about the pros and cons of saving the installation versus reformatting/reinstalling, he tunes out. I want to make him understand that in the end, trying to save the installation is a lot less hassle and irritation than reformatting/reinstalling. I know from experience that most customers don't keep their program CDs or lose/misplace them. Worse, they even throw out the case or sleeve with the installation keys. Consequently, it costs then a lot of time, money and aggravation re-installing programs! Then there's the aggravation of setting up your comp exactly the way you had it. I get the impression I can't make him happy in the end.

    Trials and tribulations of dealing with general public customers!
  2. Ididmyc600

    Ididmyc600 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,415

    Then stop trying.

    This guy has taken the proverbial to long and its time to cut him loose, tell him straight that you have done all you can for the PC , but its like a sieve leaking water.

    If he wants to take it to staples then let him....

    Walk away, you have other customers...

    I know you have pride in your work and I respect you for that but is it really worth all the hassle. ?

  3. kitty500cat

    kitty500cat TS Evangelist Posts: 2,154   +6

    Like my dad (who owns a business) says, you need customers like that to appreciate the good ones.

    But I do agree with Ididmyc600. When people just won't agree with whatever you recommend, it's probably time to let them go.

    Regards :)
  4. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +422

    Keep the customer, its free booze.

    Fire up the XP File and Settings Transfer Wizard and have it save everything, reformat reinstall, fire up the wizard again and import the file you created the first time, and all is well again. Of course you should probably install all those programs he has now, which may be the problem.
  5. ITGuy702

    ITGuy702 TS Member Posts: 70

    You can't please them all. From time to time, you'll always run into people like that. I think it's awesome that you try to do everything you can to salvage their machines rather than jumping straight to the reformat option.
  6. Masque

    Masque TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,058

    I agree with this completely "if" you want to keep him as a customer. If in the end, this doesn't satisfy him, cut him loose.
  7. beef_jerky4104

    beef_jerky4104 Banned Posts: 822

    Yeah dude yeah.

    Just try really hard to explain to him what's right. If he doesn't listen then ditch him.

    (Joy 800 Posts.)
  8. ravisunny2

    ravisunny2 TS Ambassador Posts: 1,986   +12

    100% success isn't possible.

    Got to take the bad with the good.

    After a completely free job (reformatting a ten year old celeron full of crap), hunting for the drivers (was quite a job finding them) (he had no driver CDs), paying for the transportation expenses etc., all I got was a cold 'we didn't have that problem before'.

    What had happened was that shades of green had appeared on the monitor.

    It had been working fine at my place, with a truly beautful display.

    Told him to power on & off the monitor a few times. He was very skeptical.

    Anyway, he had done as told, and the display become fine, but he didn't even bother to give me that feed back.

    Well, the way I handled it was : Buddy, next time call a Support guy, and pay.

    Don't come back to me. I aint touching your lousy PC anymore.
  9. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 1,277

    Thank you to everyone who replied. I hear ya!

    First, I was able to make this disgruntled customer happy in the end. I found a workaround for the latest problem that he was satisfied with. Once I solved something, he's happy again and reasonable. While he was in this mood I then got him to agree that this now ends our current service charge and that if his son continues to use Limewire and Ares, it would be an altogether new charge. <PHEW!> Glad I finally got that resolved. Then the next day I got another call from him. My cellphone displayed his name and I groaned. But I answered it and he immediately said, "Hi Andy? It's your customer from HELL!!" Turns out his Internet wasn't working but after a discussion I advised him to contact the ISP. Turns out it was the ISP. <PHEW!>

    Although many of you recommended I cut this guy off, I decided not to. The difference is that he is not the 100% "head-case" type of difficult customer. He is difficult but only in one way. I'm 41 now and although I haven't worked my whole career in customer service positions, I have worked at a number. Unless the person is totally difficult or almost totally difficult, you are to try to find some resolution. If you give up on all difficult customers, it does hurt your bottom line. Anytime you lose a customer, you need to replace him/her. Unless you reach a point where it's hurting your business, i.e. losing potential business because you're spending too much time working on his problems, it's worth it to try to find a way to please him/her. Since I'm early in my new business, I have lots of time. Moreover, he's only difficult 10% of time, otherwise, he's terrific! He feed me beer and wine while I work!! WOO-HOO!!

    It's only the truly difficult customers you give up on. Once it becomes apparent they can't be satisfied or are taking complete advantage of you, you drop them. You're better off spending the time recruiting new customers.
  10. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,188   +470

    You have a reasonable approach to the problem. Coincidentally, did you read how Sprint handles some its troublesome customers? They dropped them.

    It is posted on various sites. Click here for one.
  11. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 1,277

    Thx for the article!

    Yeah, it's pretty much my approach. You drop a customer if they're costing you business. In business terms it's called "opportunity cost" You could be making more money by not having this difficult customer.

    The article reminds me of a friend of mine who once worked at a bank. This was 20 years ago when ATMs were new but not as popular as they are today. Most still went to a real teller at the bank. She complained that there was this couple who routinely came in every month with their bank statements. Each would tie up a teller for an hour arguing every service charge on the statement. Fianlly, the bank sent them a letter saying they were closing their accounts. Their behaviour was hurting their business, making other customers wait (not to mention driving the staff up the wall!)

    I once worked at a Dell call centre as a tech agent and was surprised at my experience! I expected to get 1 or 2 irate, nasty, abusive customers per shift. SHOCKER!! I got 1 or 2 per month!! Far, far, far lower than I expected. Don't get me wrong, I had many customers in a foul mood because their comp didn't work or were getting a run around by Dell. But they wouldn't take it out on you. Most people are reasonable, more or less. They know enough not to blame the person they're talking to because it's an organizational problem.
  12. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 1,277

    Getting back to my former disgruntled customer, I should point out a few reasons I wanted to stick with him.

    First, he's paid me TWICE from one initial call. Initially he had bad spyware as his son uses two p2p fileshare programs and downloads heavily. My approach is to make every atempt to save an installation rather than resort to reformatting/re-installating. He responded favourably everytime I fixed a problem. Since I put a lot of time into it over 3 visits, he paid me for a second call. This makes him a "repeat" customer which any business person will tell you is the best customer of all! The problem started when he would call back after finding some annoying little problem. But he insisted he wanted it fixed, "I don't mind paying the bill, I just want the damn thing to work!" But I would fix that, then he would discover another problem. Finally, I re-iterated what I told him on the first visit, that I may not be able to repair everything corrupted by the spyware, not without reformatting and re-installing everything which is less desirable for him. Then he would tune out and complain. Still, in most cases he was fair and reasonable. I felt it was worth it to keep him rather than lose him. Plus, I'm early in my new biz so I have time. It was just annoying when he wouldn't listen in that one case and complained. But I found a way in the end to satisfy him.
  13. TimeParadoX

    TimeParadoX TS Rookie Posts: 2,273

    You should tell your customer's son to delete the P2P programs and stop downloading alot because those are probably what caused all the problems in the 1st place.
  14. AtK SpAdE

    AtK SpAdE TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,495

    There is lots of good advice from these people, listen to them and do get your spirits down. Retail always has its bad apples.
  15. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 1,277

    That's what I did alright! I told him from here on if his con continues to use p2p then it's an altogether new charge.
  16. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 1,277

    I hope you meant "don't get your spirits down". I wasn't really feeling down, just dreading that "difficult" customer I knew I was inevitably going to encounter.

    BTW, I'm not in retail. I do in-home computer servicing.
  17. TimeParadoX

    TimeParadoX TS Rookie Posts: 2,273

    :haha: Yeah I think he meant that instead, typos suck :(
  18. w0lf

    w0lf TS Rookie

    If you are interested, here is what I often do to solve this type of problem:
    You need a spare hdd, and you need to buy Move Me from Clone the customers hdd to your spare hdd, this will become the 'old' drive. Format customers hdd and re-install Windows, this will become the 'new' drive.
    Then follow these instructions:
    I've done this many times and it's always been very successful. Just include the $40 into you charge. It's worth ever penny, as you don't need to try and find all his data and settings, plus you can move all the worthwhile programs across. Just my 2 cents worth, if you're interested. I'm sure other guys here have other great methods as well.
  19. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,244   +234

    I too run a small in-home based computer repair business. I have had about 200 customer repairs in the last 2 years. Several customers have refered me to others. 2 families call me their personal computer repairman, including aunts, uncles, and cousins. I have had a few disgruntled customers (you really can't please everyone) that I have done what I can, and dropped them. Some of my customers pay be in dollars and beer!

    I do make some house calls

    I have found that it takes much more time to try and save data than it does to do a clean install. Most of my customers back up their important data for me. Most are glad to get rid of all the "crud" and have a good working computer once again
  20. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 1,277

    Alleyullah! Someone I can get real feedback from! Finally!!

    Yeah, I was surprised how quickly I get the repeat and referrals! Once you show people what you can do for them, the cheque book flips open and the repeat & referrals start flowing! I've got some really happy customers so far! The hard part is convincing people to try you. A home computer is often just a toy or convenience for most and they are reluctant to put money into it. As homeowners they have many other higher priority repairs/improvements to put their money into. The comp is low on the list so they put it off or try to get someone they know who'll fix it for them for free. But once you get in the door and start fixing things and improving things, they just LOVE it!! I've had some customers pay for more work immediately!

    That's the tricky part. When it's the "Class A" difficult customer who can't be pleased, it's academic to drop them. It's the other type of difficult customers who are pleased at first then turn on you. You feel obliged to try to get them happy again.

    I've also gotten wine, pizza and watch the Ottawa Senators playoff hockey while working!! WOO-HOO!! This biz does have perks!!

    Right now, 95% of my biz is in-home. I expect my phone service to kick in by the fall. I've had a few so far.

    Again, I am reluctant to reformat & re-install for a number of reasons. What I do is explain to the customer upfront the pros and cons of each approach, save the installation vs reformat/re-isntall. Yes, some customers opt for the reformat & re-install if they don't have anything truly valuable on the comp. Then again, I've spent 10 hours rescuing some person's installation and they agree to pay be an extra service charge for being so dedicated!

    I think the real point is to make the customer decide which they want up front. I personally prefer saving the installation because it's far less hassle for the customer as most businesses only reformat & re-install Windows and device drivers then leave it to the customer to re-install programs and files. Plus, the customer is not setup for anti-spyware which usually was the problem in the first place. I noticed at the call centre, persons who had a reformat/re-install due to spyware were back a second, even third time because the previous tech agents didn't advise them anti-spyware to prevent the situation again.
  21. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 1,277

    Yes, that's one approach. Mine is to advise them to get an image backup utility with an external hard drive. It's more flexible.
  22. ITGuy702

    ITGuy702 TS Member Posts: 70

    Very well put!

    Very well put. You have a great business mentality and even though it's early in your new business it sounds like you are doing pretty well for yourself. Keep up the great work!
  23. ITGuy702

    ITGuy702 TS Member Posts: 70

    I have a question...

    This question is intended for almcneil and Tmagic650:

    How do you determine your rates for repairs?
  24. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Topic Starter Posts: 1,277

    This is a VERY good question! There are several interesting points I used to formulate mine.

    First, I based it on my experience when I worked at a Dell call centre in 2005. I used to be a high tech engineer but tech collapsed in 2001 and by mid-2003 I got laid off. They opened a Dell call centre at Ottawa, Canada in mid-2004 and I eventually took a job there. The call centre offered PC software/system support for home and home office users. Their pricing policy when I joined was as follows. They offerred a "per incident" fee to solve one problem, basically a flat rate. When I started it had just gone from US$29 to US$39. They also offerred 1 to 4 year support packages. Over the next 8 months, the "per incident" went all the way to US$99!! Meanwhile, the yearly support packages went from 1 to 4 years, to 1 or 2 year, to 1 year, then was cancelled outright. This meant that home users only wanted "pay as you go" pricing packages. It also showed that when homeowners wanted something fixed, they would pay whatever.

    The next point is my experience. I decided to mimick the call centre pricing policies but with a bit of a twist. I offer a "Door Crasher Special" at $99. It's in-home in which I charge $99 flat rate to fix a principle problem. It also comes with 4 guarantees. First, if I can't fix the problem or do the job (i.e. installation), they don't have to pay. I guarantee 60 minutes minimum service so if it's a quick fix, I continue working on other items up to at least 60 minutes. It's a guaranteed flat rate so if it takes me 10 hours, it's still $99! Fianlly, if they are not pleased with my work, they can opt not to pay. If they do pay, I give them a free telephone support call. Now, on subsequent in-home calls, it's $129 daytime and $169 evening (my prime time since it's home market.) For telephone support, it's $69 per incident after an initial paid visit. I'm hoping my repeat business will be more telephone with is economical for both the customer and myself.

    Here's the surprising part. No one's haggled with me over my prices (yet!) When customer book a call, they just pay the bill. Even on the repeat, they pay the $169!! Never haggle or complain about the price. I believe that because they decide to use the service, they accept whatever the price is. It's an all or nothing sort of thing. The price point is not an issue. I guess compared to other servicing like plumbing or air conditioning, I'm cheap!
  25. Tmagic650

    Tmagic650 TS Ambassador Posts: 17,244   +234

    $45 diagnostic charge repaired or not. PC's $125 plus parts... Laptops $150 plus parts... house call $25 extra, added to the above

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