This website requires JavaScript.

When Things Go Wrong: 7 Bad Customer Service Stories

Customer service12 MIN READNov 17, 2023

Bad customer service stories — cover image.

Your heart beats faster, you’re sweating excessively, your anxiety level is rising… If only it were a dream, but no. It is real. You must have seen a customer service nightmare in reality at least once and wished you were dreaming, whether you were a customer or served one.

This article is packed with bad customer service stories told from two points of view: that of customers and that of businesses providing their services.

Speaking about the former, 96% of people would leave a brand if it delivers a bad customer experience. That’s nearly everyone!

In between, we’ll share the routes and tools to fix customer service horror stories and prevent nightmarish consequences. Let’s dive in.

Bad customer service stories — according to customers

Customer service feedback example from Klaus.

Disregarding customer feedback

What could be the most horrible customer service example? For Jesse Hanson, Content Manager at Online Solitaire & World of Card Games, it’s total disregard and carelessness toward customer feedback. It can sometimes lead to gruesome repercussions and endanger the lives of customers.

Reviewing games, I often provide feedback to the gaming companies owning those. Once, I was utterly ignored after submitting my comment. The customer service rep ended the chat with me, and my account in the game was banned. My message was about the game posing a risk to people with photosensitivity because of reactions to flashing lights.

In the video game industry, there are many games causing seizures. Some companies give epilepsy warnings before the game starts. For example, the following message pops up in SnowRunner:

A small percentage of people may experience seizures when exposed to certain lights, patterns, or images, even with no history of epilepsy or seizures.

Others go beyond that and turn off certain features after customers’ complaints. For example, after receiving feedback about possible player seizures, Fortnite deleted the Deku Smash move from the game.

How to fix this poor customer service example

“Deafness” to customers’ voices is widespread among companies. They hear less than 1% of customers. At the same time, 98% of people would gladly give their opinions, and 51% expect brands to ask for feedback.

Listening to customers isn’t an option you can consider; it’s a necessity. Tracking and analyzing the customer sentiment and the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is vital for improving your products and services and fueling your customer experiences with positive vibes, showing that you care.

Some techniques for capturing customers’ feedback are:

  • Interviews
  • Emails
  • Focus groups
  • A/B tests
  • Feedback widgets
  • Sidebar forms
  • Customer surveys

KlausGPT for CSAT.

Transferred calls

Footballing calls from one agent to another without finding a solution is disastrous and impacts the call center’s quality in the first place.

This situation was the worst customer service (the worst and the last) in the finance industry for Shawn Plummer, CEO of The Annuity Expert.

When you’re having trouble with your bank account, you expect the banking institution to help you tackle it as soon as possible. In my case, it was an emergency. Instead, the call center kept transferring me from department to department without explanations. The problem was dealt with only the next day.

Although my finances were safe and sound, I lost something more precious – my time. This made me change the bank.

How to fix this bad customer service example

If you do have to transfer calls, replacing cold call transfers with warm ones would be more effective. Cold transferring is bumping a call from one agent to another immediately without naming the caller or giving the context. With a warm (or attended) transfer, on the contrary, you notify the agent with relevant information and introduce the caller.

Besides, try advanced call routing with Aircall to enable better voice support. It lets you direct customers to the right teammates by customizing your call distribution based on multi-level IVRs and time-based routing. This way, you will reduce average handling time and deal with problems faster, helping you deliver excellent service.

Rude customer service rap rep

Have you seen my phone etiquette?

Man, I’ve lost it. I’m no more delicate!

If you have ever listened to the most disrespectful rap, it was nothing compared to this insulting phone support incident. It left the Founder of Supple, Hardy Desai, speechless.

Here it goes.

I called the airline’s call center to request a refund as I canceled my flight. The first phrase from the support representative was: So, you want a refund? Tut-tut-tut… And then, the f-word was perhaps the least offensive one from the upcoming speech. It was rather a storm of disdain and contempt for everything and everyone.

Whether the person was having a bad day or something else, I didn’t care anymore because my day was also ruined from that moment on. I couldn’t pronounce a word.

Since then, I prefer using other airlines.

How to fix this customer service horror story

You can turn to call center speech analytics to monitor conversations between agents and consumers, asses your support staff’s performance, and improve it in the long run. That’s call center quality assurance at its finest.

Try one of the following tools for quality monitoring:

Klaus VoiceQA technology.

Customer service horror stories — according to brands

Serving customers in bulk

71% of consumers expect personalized interactions with companies. While poor personalization drives churn. 33% of people would abandon the brand due to inadequate personalization.

So, if you still apply a one-size-fits-all approach to customer service, these stats are a warning sign to drop it.

One of the bad customer service stories from Jerry Han, CMO at PrizeRebel, also proves it.

At the start of PrizeRebel, a get-paid-to survey website, the survey participation rate was close to zero. Can you guess why? Because we sent the same messages to all customers in bulk without personalizing them or clarifying what our customers wanted or struggled with.

How to fix this customer service horror story

Remember, there’s no universal method of helping all customers at once. But there is a way out.

You can revolutionize and personalize customer support with automation and AI by collecting customer feedback through surveys and getting a holistic view of what your customers truly need right now.

For example, the PrizeRebel customer service team regularly asks users to fill out survey profile questionnaires and segments audiences by their needs and interests. Every user can be sure they will get the best-match surveys.

Klaus' VoiceQA illustration.

When the thunder strikes (or when an angry customer does)

Not always it’s your teammate who is to blame for poor customer experience. Sometimes, the customer can be the source of monstrous rage poured onto your team.

According to customer service statistics, the most reported challenge by customer service staff is handling angry or upset customers. In fact, every second agent struggles to manage such tough conversations.

And that’s what happened with one of the customer support representatives on the team of DTF Transfers, according to the CMO of the company, Michael Power.

One bright and shiny Sunday morning was a catastrophe for the entire company. 

The customer called several times and yelled that the DTF transfer was not sticking. They wanted to talk to the business owner and threatened to pay us back by breaking into the office and turning it into ashes.

The funniest thing about it was that the customer had misspelled the company’s name when googling, and, as a result, contacted the wrong support team to complain about the quality.

How to fix this bad customer experience story

The agents on calls should approach customers with calmness and empathy. To handle angry customers without hissing back, your call center agents should:

  • Keep calm
  • Start with empathy statements (I’m sorry you’re having an issue with it; I would be frustrated, too)
  • Listen more actively, talk less
  • Be honest and acknowledge your fault (if any), and apologize
  • Suggest workable way-outs
  • Set a time frame to fix it and follow up

Klaus dealing with difficult conversations.

Too many emails from customers

Email remains one of the immortal customer service channels worth using. It is the most preferable means of communication with brands for 61% of consumers.

Ok, but what if there are too many incoming emails, and your customer support rep can’t physically manage them all?

Eric Mills, Owner of Lightning Card Collection, shares his team’s experience.

There was a period when our team was buried under the piles of emails from customers inquiring about the Pokémon card packs ordered from us or the availability of rare Pokémon cards, for example.

We couldn’t ignore any of those. And we couldn’t send pre-written replies because every email had to be individual. The team was burning out due to work overload…

How to fix this poor customer experience example

It’s pretty simple: Lightning Card Collection launched a simple chatbot to help customers track their order status and deliver faster responses.

Chatbots are ideal self-service tools, especially if you monitor the quality of chatbot responses just like you would with any other customer service interaction. They can help you take the burden off the shoulders of your support team, which is overloaded by chats, emails, and calls.

You can also take advantage of talking AI bots to spur the evolution of your customer service and diversify your communication channels dramatically.

Klaus' CSAT enters the chat

Incompetence of a customer service agent

What could be worse than the lack of knowledge on behalf of a support representative?

Such an awful customer service failure can literally cost you a customer.

Or even two. Or three…

This list can go on if you don’t act on your customer service quality assurance, specifically during the agent onboarding phase.

Alex Milligan, Co-founder & CMO of NuggMD, learned this lesson very well.

Poorly prepared customer support representative (one of our new hires) was in Nugg live chat that day, and we lost several customers. In some cases, the newbie couldn’t tell exactly the qualifying conditions for a medical cannabis card in certain states. In others, the agent kept customers waiting too long while seeking answers. Eventually, customers left the chat and never returned.

How to fix this bad customer service story

It’s no use locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.


Mistakes happen but you can learn from them (and avoid making them again in the future).

For that, monitor the team’s performance continuously, spot knowledge gaps, and undertake customer service coaching practices with different interactive training activities as follows:

  • Simulations and role-play scenarios
  • Mock calls
  • Social media training
  • Online courses
  • Improvisations
  • One-on-one feedback sessions, etc.

Psst… Download the free template for your next 1-on-1 meeting.

Fixing customer service issues to avoid such horror stories

The above narrations serve as cautionary tales. They demonstrate the critical significance of outstanding customer service.

From neglecting customers’ opinions to providing incompetent assistance, the stories highlight the profound impact of a negative customer service experience on a company’s reputation and customer loyalty, well-being, and satisfaction.

The solutions are clear, now it’s time to use them to your advantage.

Written by

Erika Rykun bio.
Erika Rykun
An independent copywriter and content manager. She is an avid reader who appreciates unread books more than read ones.

Never miss an update

By subscribing you agree to Klaus' Privacy Policy and would like to get educational content to your email.