How to lose a customer 101


I’m pretty even-tempered. You might even call me a pushover.

But some things are not meant to be tolerated.

In order to register online for THE October teacher’s conference, I had to use a credit card. Which I don’t have.

See, I have no credit card per se. By per se, I mean that it blew up in an unfortunate shopping incident, and hasn’t been seen since. I think it’s partying somewhere with MasterCard.

I have resisted getting another, mostly because they won’t give me another it kept me away from the internet and sites like eBay, AbeBooks, etc.

However, going to these teacher’s conferences is both awesome and necessary to the resume when you’re looking to get hired. I missed going to one last year because I didn’t have the moolah and they run from $35 to $70. And they’re usually one to two hours’ drive away, so gas is also a bit of a cost.

This year, though, I had enough money to register.

Just no credit card.

So I went to my bank. I ordered one which debits your account (wee!) and involves no credit. Yes please.

The only problem with this arrangement? It requires at least 10 business days before you get your number and PIN.


My only other option to register on time: the VISA gift card.

I went to a Bridgewater gas station and bought one for $100 because my conference cost $70 and you can’t buy $70 cards. Aside from paying $144 at the gas station and feeling like I was gassing up a truck, I thought I was very clever.

I went home, logged onto the web and tried to register my gift card.

A line popped up on the screen.

This card has been identified as possibly fraudulent.

After trying it a few more times, it was clear this was not going to work. I called VISA to see if it was something I was doing (I am not the most technologically advanced human on the face of this smartphone-covered earth where iPads twinkle like stars at night.)

As per usual, when I got someone on the phone, the accent was barely decipherable, but I focused as hard as I could. I’m a visual person, and trying to understand people without body language is difficult for me at the best of times. Add a Southern Asian accent into the mix, and I felt like I had an IQ of 87 and grew up under a rock.

(BTW, I’m sure my Lunenburg County accent was not at all helpful to him and I tried not to use the word dasn’t.)

Long story short, the VISA dude told me the card had never been activated, and to go back to the store.

Now. I understand people make mistakes. But—

a) Please don’t make mistakes that cost me an hour’s drive back to your store.

b) If you don’t know how to do something, don’t wing it.

Since the deadline for conference registration was approaching, I made a trip to Bridgewater to get the card activated.

The same person was working.

Words of advice for her if she ever reads this blog—

a) If you don’t know how to do something, don’t wing it.

b) If you do a), please don’t stare blankly at the customer when he or she returns, wondering why that something failed.

Even though I am mostly a pushover in my personal life, I was not leaving that gas station until I had $100 either in money or VISA. I would’ve stood there until they called in the army.

Needless to say, the cashier didn’t know how to activate it.

She called someone (after waiting on another customer!) and that someone didn’t counsel her properly because it still wasn’t happening.

Then she figured she’d call in the manager.

Then the manager tried to do it. Thankfully said manager KNEW how to do it, but he didn’t want to waste the half-wrecked VISA card and replace it with a new one.

Which he had to do anyway. After 5 minutes of trying.

Now, I’m a patient person, but after standing there for half an hour, my patience was wearing thin as JLo’s wardrobe.

And by the time I left, I had not received a word of apology for my inconvenience.

This is what bugged me the most.

I understand people make mistakes. In fact, I make OODLES of them. Oodles. Sometimes, I think my IQ really is 87 even though I have a Master’s degree which should afford me some bragging rights other than I have a big arse student loan.

But not to apologize for me driving an extra hour because of a mistake?


I worked in customer service years ago. I know it sometimes stinks. However, when you’re working at a store, it’s generally a good idea to learn how to learn some basics.


* If you mess up, a chocolate bar and/or an apology will go a long ways in keeping your clients happy.

This goes for teachers too.

In the end, I did get registered for my course. I now know to get an activation receipt for any gift card I buy.

And I now know it’s not a good idea to bank at a gas station.


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