Would You Take Your Business Elsewhere After Bad Customer Service?

bad customer service experience, service industry, customer experience

Customer service is a huge deal to me, and I put my money where the service is. I spend my money, even sometimes going out of my way, at places that treat their customers right. I also have a very long memory when it comes to businesses that have given me sub par service. Given this shopping methodology I’m having a really hard time with two businesses that were on my good guy list due to recent experiences.

Broken Dipstick

The quick lube place I’ve used for the last year got my seal of approval when I brought my van there for an oil change because my previous first choice was too busy. After sitting in their waiting room for a few minutes an employee came in and told me that my van really didn’t need an oil change. It had been 6,000 miles since my last oil change, but he suspected that I had full synthetic oil put in during my last service, which was good for 10,000 miles. They reset the counter, filled my fluids for free, and sent me on my way saving me about $75.

My experience a few weeks ago was vastly different. This time when the employee came into the waiting room to talk to me he explained they had broken my dipstick, would order me a new one, and they’d call early next week when it came in. Two weeks later, and several phone calls to them (they never called me), the dipstick finally arrived. Quite frankly I think they forgot to order it the first time, and then when it finally did arrive they didn’t bother to call me.

Where Are My Keys?

My mechanic has received all my care maintenance work for years for their honesty. I brought in my van thinking the squealing I was hearing meant I needed new brakes. They put the van up on the lift and called me into the work bay. He showed that my pads were less than 1/3rd worn and explained that some ceramic brakes squealed a bit. He said he couldn’t in good conscious put new brakes on my van. He could have easily just replaced the pads, charged me a few hundred dollars and sent me on my way.

But later this morning, I’ll be driving back there to pick up my keys. Two weeks ago I had my car there to have a sensor replaced. I had my son and his friend pick up the car since he was the one that normally drives it. Yesterday I was looking for the extra set of keys, which I had used to drive the car to the mechanic, and that my son should have received when he picked up the car. Turns out they didn’t give him the keys. I called this morning, and they had the keys sitting there ready for me. I know they have a plastic pouch for every work order, which contains information about the job being done and the keys to the vehicle. Why didn’t they give my son the keys? Why didn’t they call to tell me they still had them?

I’ve got a bit of a dilemma on my hands. Both businesses have done something that really struck a positive chord with me, but now both have done me wrong, causing me inconvenience. What do you think, Clever Friends, do I give them another chance, or do I take my money elsewhere?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

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About the author

Brock Kernin


  • A great question. I also tend to have a long memory and usually give businesses the ‘flick’ if I feel like I am being treated badly or being taken for granted. But in saying that if you have had a good relationship with the companies for a while (which you have) it is probably smart to give them the benefit of the doubt and stay with them. The next time though they create a service issue, then it’s time to walk. I think service covers a whole range of things and what may appear trivial to one client may not be to another, so there is lot’s of personal interpretation when measuring quality service.

    Thanks for the post, I enjoyed reading it. Regards Adrian

  • The key issue: I do believe it is important for the person picking up the car to make sure they leave with all the appropriate documentation and keys. I often take my husband’s car in for oil change pick it up on my way home from work, call during day to make sure it is done, price, make sure I can get there before they close. Since it is not my car and I would not miss the keys, I did leave them there but they called and let me know I did not get them, they had put them on the counter and I just did not see them. I believe it is both the repair shop and owner’s responsibility to make sure they get all the information, especially since mine is done after work and I rush to get there before they close, and I am in a hurry to get home, several others car owners doing the same thing. Just a busy time–I always remind myself “pay attention” they are busy.

    As for the broken dipstick, I have changed my oil myself for years, and now get it done. Anyone that breaks a dipstick is careless, which means other damages could occur. I don’t like it, indicative of other issues, if you save a lot of $ and feel their service is good then you can give them another chance. As for me, I would run. Pure carelessness, how do you break a dipstick? Really, how. Change in management, careless staff no one monitoring.

  • I’m someone who’s bad at forgiveness, but I also judge things based on previous history and the egregiousness of the error. In both of these cases I’d probably forgive them because of the previous good service they’ve given you. Since neither place was rude to you, that would be another thing I’d use in forgiving them… this once! lol

  • If either time this was the first time you used these businesses, then I would say go elsewhere. But they’ve treated you well in the past so I would be likely to forgive. If in the next year or so something else comes up, then I would start to look elsewhere.

    A new microbrewery opened up in our town a couple years ago. We went opening week and weren’t impressed, but understood that it was a new business and needed time to work out the kinks. We went back a year later and the beer they gave us was moldy. I am willing to forgive the moldy beer, but I wasn’t able to forgive the way we were treated when we asked for new beer (that we were willing to pay for!) We were told we didn’t know anything about beer, that the waitress knows for A FACT the beer lines were just cleaned (which sounds like they do have problem with moldy beers) and that she had to ask the manager if it was okay to get us new beers. We haven’t been back since.

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