Dear Customer! Sorry but it’s 1 star only!

When I have time to worry about being too busy, perhaps I am not as busy as I thought I would be? How can I possibly have time to write a blog post -yet here I am. The end of the year is the busiest time of the year for me. All my customers want their projects back in their homes before the holidays and nowadays -I am not sure how and when it happened- the holiday season starts already before Halloween.

Just like every year, I feel overwhelmed. What a remarkable, interesting feeling it is, what a terrible mix of emotions. The anxiety and the fear of not getting enough accomplished in time. A guilty feeling, thinking I might not get it all finished. To disappoint a customer can come with a hefty price these days.

Customers, oh how we love and need them. Oh, how we fear and dislike them -sometimes.

The silly rating system we all seem to rely on now can determine if a business does well or not. It’s hanging over our heads like a swinging saw, like a pendulum trap in old horror movies.

One wrong move, and no matter how much I work, or how good the project turned out in the end, a one or two-star rating from a former customer could have a serious impact on my business.

At the present time, people’s lives and careers can be blown up -with or without reason- on social media at any time.

I have already two 1-star ratings. One from a lady who complained I never returned her call. A woman whose name I can’t remember. Perhaps she isn’t even real and the review was left by a friend of a friend, who happens to be related to one of my competitors? In the end, it doesn’t matter. It’s there. I am allowed to reply, but can’t really say what I want to say.

I have one 3-star rating, left by a customer who wasn’t happy that I don’t offer the service he was looking for. It still puzzles me why he thought he should leave a business a rating for something they don’t do. “Hey, butcher, what do you mean you don’t cut hair?”

The second one-star rating was more serious. I gave a customer her project back. First I had unexpected health issues, Covid had slowed me down a bit, then, like so many, I had supply problems. I stayed in touch, communicated back and forth, and explained that the prices had gone through the roof. I couldn’t hold the quote, and I couldn’t get what I needed to finish the project to my standard. I tried to explain, but wasn’t heard. “I need you to do the couch,” she insisted. I couldn’t, and in the end, I didn’t want to.

The son, a guy I never talked to, left me a one-star rating. I suppose it’s deserved -or perhaps it isn’t?

Today’s customers feel entitled to EVERYTHING!

I am just the laborer, even though I provide a service that they need and guide them all the way. I help them find ideas that suit their lifestyle, and I gently push craziness out of their minds when needed.

As a customer, I am not a saint either, and I can lose my temper, or forget my upbringing and the way I was raised for a few seconds, but it doesn’t happen often. I don’t like to be transferred to a call center in a country far away and be helped by a person whose English accent is worse than mine. As a matter of fact, deep down inside me, I seem to insist that nobody can have a worse accent than mine. Somehow, I consider call centers something someone invented to test me. I have failed the test multiple times -still I am trying.

But no matter how much they trample on my nerves, or how often I have to verify the data I have verified already, or how often they transfer me to the next person with a terrible English accent, I never forget that the voice on the other end belongs to a human being who is just trying to make a living.

“Please, don’t take it personally, but I am not happy with the service the company you pretend to work for is offering.” Yes, I say things like that on a regular base, but I am never mean. A little bit of sarcasm is allowed, isn’t it?

I don’t know how customers in other countries behave, but here in the United States of America, the tone has changed. The way people interact with each other, or how customers talk to me nowadays is something I never imagined in my wildest dreams.

Sometimes I just want to scream HOW DARE YOU? But of course, I never do. The screaming happens inside, heard only by me.

Of course, the customer is king and needs to be treated like the golden cow they are. Without their money? Where would we be?

Without our service? Where would THEY be? But we are not allowed to think like that.

Sometimes, I wish there would be a rating system for customers, with the same silly star rating we, the business owners, the laborers, and the service provider have to deal with. Wouldn’t that be fair?

May I imagine and dream for a couple of minutes, please?

A three-star rating to all the people who insist on calling me “Honey” or “Sweetheart” even after I tell them my name: “My name is Bridget”

I get it, it’s s Southern thing and you grew up calling everybody around you ‘hon’ or ‘sweetheart’. But we are not in the south, and we don’t run barefoot through the cornfields anymore. My husband calls me Honey and I always love it. A form of endearment should be reserved for the ones we actually feel love or affection for. That’s at least my opinion.

Sometimes, on a good day, when I feel silly I start calling them ‘Sugarplum’ or ‘Munchkinhead’. I overdo it on purpose, start every sentence with it, and end it with a snarled ‘Darlin’ as well. Some get it!

Just yesterday, Ida, a potential new customer with exquisite old Italian furniture, called me ‘sister’ in a text she sent.
“Hello sister anything?” I texted back that I assume that text wasn’t meant for me, but for her sister. She explained she calls every woman sister. I thought about my friend Deb, who just lost her sister to cancer, and wondered how she would take it.

My quote on the Italian furniture set went up substantially. Just like the coffee 🙂 I am not your ‘sister’ or you ‘darlin’ I am a woman with a name.

A one-star rating to all the customers who can’t say “Hello”

You call my business. You want my service or you might just have a question, either way, you want something. Don’t you think you could at least say “Hello?” Remember the times when we asked “How are you doing?” even though we really didn’t want to know how you were doing?

Oh, how I miss it now! The superficial friendliness. The two or three seconds we wasted on strangers to show a form of appreciation, and an acknowledgment of their existence?

Who would have thought I would miss it so much?

A one-star rating to all the customers who hang up when they dial the wrong number

Seriously? What kind of bad behavior is that? How about. “I am so sorry, I dialed the wrong number, have a nice day?” It won’t kill you.

A one-star rating to all the new potential customers who text my business and expect a reply

Nope, not in this lifetime. This is the first time we will interact. Do you really think a short, unfriendly and very impersonal text should be the foundation of our relationship?

No name, no hello. Just a two-line request from an unknown number, asking me to drop everything I am doing to answer a text.

“I am sorry, I can’t talk I am at work.” The most used excuse when I ask.

“Well, I am sorry, I can’t stop what I am doing and be texting. I am working as well. I use Bluetooth hands-free so I can answer questions and continue working.”

A one-star rating to all the customers who hang up in the middle of a conversation

Just this week on Monday a lady sighed “Oh God” and hang up, because my explanation of what I needed to help her, was perhaps too long, or too complicated for her little brain to follow?

It’s downright rude.

A three-star rating to all the ones who are asking about THE GUYS

60% of my phone calls start the same way “Do you guys do….”

“There are no guys, it’s just me,” I often hear myself say. I don’t know why it bothers me so much, it just does. My webpage states clearly that I am one person.

A three-star rating to potential customers who insist on a ballpark number

“Can you give me a ballpark number?” No, sadly I cannot. I don’t ballpark (what a silly word). And if I do it’s somewhere between $25 to $2,500. Did that help?

The amount of callers who insist that I should be able to give them an idea of how much it would cost to restore, refinish or reupholster their furniture without actually seeing the piece is surprisingly very high. It puzzles me.

(Hey, doctor how much does the surgery cost? What surgery you ask? It doesn’t matter, just give me a ballpark.)

Sometimes I just want to


The customers who are nice and pleasant to deal with, the ones who treat me with the same respect I give them, the ones who show a sense of humor and who are honest and kind, they are still in the majority, sadly the percentage has shifted. While the unfriendly ones were rare and unpleasant experiences were seldom just a couple of years ago, now it happens more often.

The tone in our country has changed and the change has transformed us as a nation. Words work like magic. A smile in the voice goes a long way.

It seems people have learned that the way to get what they want is to make themselves unpleasant. While it isn’t the best way, it often works so people keep doing it. I myself can get very serious when I feel that a company is taking advantage of me or my wallet, but even then I never offend, I just sprinkle irony like glitter.

The tone we have toward each other, no matter if it’s online or offline shows in the end only our own flaws.

How can I possibly go out of my way and do my very best if the person behind the project is rude and crude? If you think you are entitled to get the best, think again!

You don’t have to be a wizard with words to be polite. You don’t have to be a genius, and you don’t have to be wealthy or healthy to be kind.

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35 thoughts on “Dear Customer! Sorry but it’s 1 star only!

  1. I just love the coffee sign! We are all so rushed and want things instantly that our common sense takes flight too. This was a great post Bridget! Gives us all a lot to think about… like a ball park figure for a surgery. I just went through estimates for some electrical service, but I never asked for general work, only a swap out of an old fuse box for a new circuit breaker box. A company needs to know what they are expected to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Dear Customer! Sorry but it’s 1 star only! – tw.maruti nandan

  3. It is happening here too, the inflated expectation that if you pay for something, it has to be perfect and offered in a reasonable time frame or else you can level an angry complaint. The star rating can fall down and skew people’s opinions. We used a solar company that prided itself on a five start rating, but the young blokes that did the job were a little less than perfect. That was okay they were young. They damaged the guttering on our house. When we approached the boss who had asked for feedback and confirmation of his 5 star rating we said we could only give him 4.5 due to the damaged gutter. He denied his boys would have damaged it. We had to send him photos before he would finally agree to fix it. A simple placement of the ladder in another spot and it wouldn’t have happened. We gave them the 5 star rating.
    I think cafes are as vulnerable as small businesses like yours. One bad meal or cold coffee and people are incendiary with their comments. It is damaging and anyone can have an off day. With meals and service industries, the public expects perfection every single time. I imagine they are less perfect at their own job…

    Liked by 3 people

    • OH no, so sorry about your bad experience. I try to give people only good experiences, but since my profession is considered an art, it’s sometimes hard to tell a customer that their visions and reality don’t mix. 🙂
      As for restaurants, I have to hit the break their myself. How quickly we get angered these days if something is less than perfect. It’s scary.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You mentioned your profession is an art, Bridget and it certainly sounds like it is that and more. Dealing with customers though, is also an art and often takes incredible skill. I find that in almost all areas in which I have worked, health, allied health, telemarketing, retail, disability crart and media…. customers reality can be vastly different and scaling that back to reality is tricky! There are many books dealing with people skills and one wonder why this isn’t something that could be useful to add to the curriculum in high schools.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I make a point of being nice to everyone I interact with, even if they are unpleasant or unhelpful. It is so much better for my personal wellbeing and health. I say good morning/afternoon/evening to all that I encounter when walking (unless I’m in a very busy street) even if I know, from previous encounters, that the person will ignore me. The old saying of “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is no longer valid (if it ever was). Words can be deadly, can ruin lives, and can affect particularly young people in horrible ways. Keep smiling Bridget. 🤗🤗

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I have found this very interesting and, like Read Between The Lyme, can relate much of your content to the way the teaching profession is treated in this country – particularly by wealthy parents. It is as if we are a service provider that is way beneath their notice. That said, of COURSE they are not all like that! I have a friend who owns a hardware business here who holds similar sentiments to you about the way customers treat the people who work there. Personally, I smile at the cashiers and share a few words with them … I love to get a smile in return.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You have made some really valuable points, Bridget. I love the way your mind works in thinking of how to “review” customers, and in advance of a job, a potential customer.

    I leave good reviews, and if I’m not particularly happy with someone or their work, I generally just don’t leave a review at all. It would bother me too much to think that my personal interaction could quite possibly really harm someone in business. I suppose if someone did just terrible work or completely misrepresented their talent and ability and service, then, and only then would I feel compelled to share my experience with potential customers.

    I have said for years that anyone doing business with the public has to be very careful with each and every interaction. It has to be a big concern when someone gives you clues that they carry themselves as entitled, and then making a choice about the headaches versus the work itself. I think there should be a tax you add for clients with boundary issues. 🙂

    Like

    • Everything we do these days outside our own walls is ‘fair game’ for the public at any given time. You can be recorded and people can take photos of you in any situation -without asking permission.
      The rating system once meant to help us find what we are looking for, is now so compromised that it doesn’t work at all.
      I have decided to not care about it anymore. I will be me and will be true to myself even if it means I might get another 1-star rating but IF I do, I will write a very honest reply.
      We all seem to be puppets on a string of the www one way or another.

      Like

  7. My wife is in corporate collections, and she understands the customer is king, even when they’re not paying their bills and still demanding to have their product shipped. I just retired back at the end of May, and one thing that would probably keep me from returning to full-time work would be how entitled customers have now gotten to be,

    Like

  8. Reviews can be helpful when considering doing business with a new company, but I make a point of reading the negative reviews before making assumptions. Some of the reasons for the one-star reviews are, as you say, pretty silly and unreasonable. And frequently the company responds with, “Contact our customer service department (etc.)” So, apparently there was a problem or a glitch and the customer didn’t tell the company but went straight to the internet to vent. In those cases, I disregard what they say.

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    • I don’t read one-star ratings and I don’t read or believe 5-star ratings. I got an email a while back, and was offered to buy some 5-star ratings, which pretty much verified what I feared all along. So many are not real. However, in my case, as a very small business owner, my 5-star ratings are the icing on the cake, the cherry on my icecream, the reward I will remember. I work hard for it and appreciate it -if and when it’s a real one.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I have no advice, not that you were asking. But I AM glad I’m retired and no longer having to deal with the public in my daily work. It’s hard enough being the customer at the post office where the clerk doesn’t care and clearly shows you are bothering her by buying a stamp, or the grocery store where the cashier doesn’t see you and spends the time you’re there loudly complaining about management and her shifts and lunch. That’s about the only places I go anymore..and neither is pleasant these days. I fell sorry for everyone stuck dealing with the public, but I wish they wouldn’t treat us all so poorly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yet we are part of the public, you and me. I see the unfriendly clerk as well, and we seem to have the same checkout lady, who is perhaps just overlooking us because she feels we all overlook her. Many of them are getting minimum wage and no benefits because the stores don’t hire them for the full 40 hours they should be allowed to work.
      It’s like a double-edged sword, it works both ways.
      Two or three unpleasant phone conversations a day and all my pleasantry flies out of the window and I sound like an emotionless, uninterested robot myself. It’s a kind of self-defense, a bit like self-preservation.

      Like

  10. Reblogged this on attis and commented:
    Only peace, courage and wisdom help. All you can do is lead by example. In the murky environment of the internet, people have become unabashed critics. They already understand “everything”. And on the contrary, they are easily offended and “block” anyone, but already in reality. The restraining and regulatory power of the communities has disappeared. Our communities are disappearing. Our identities: our religious, national, gender identity. These are political programs. Are we not living in reality, but in the matrix?

    Liked by 2 people

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