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May 09, 2021

Sometimes the customer is actually wrong

Successful businesses understand that the word ‘right’ in “The customer is always right” doesn’t mean that the person with the beef would win in court, or even come out on top of a debate. It means: “If you want that guy to come back, you need to let him believe he’s right.”

Cus Unhappy customers are bad news for any company, and it only takes one of them to shatter a perfectly good day at work for everyone, says consumer advocate Christopher Elliott whose “Travel Troubleshooter” column appears in several U.S. newspapers.

In recent years, Elliott has expanded beyond mediating grievances of airline passengers, hotel guests and car renters to helping settle a host of general customer-service disputes. As a result, he's heard it all.

His major gripe: The customers themselves.

“I field complaints from angry customers every day. And while many of these grievances are completely legitimate, some aren’t. And the ones that don’t pass muster are usually maddening not for what they say, but what they don’t say,” Elliott maintains.

His six worst omissions when it comes to customers who are either disingenuous or jump plain rude ...

1. I didn’t do my research.
2. I made assumptions I shouldn’t have.
3. I didn’t read the fine print.
4. I knew I was going to return this, anyway.
5. The company tried to fix this, but I didn’t let it.
6. I’m not telling you the whole story.

So what’s the takeaway here? When you have a grievance, put down all of your cards and let the system work, he advises. You’re far likelier to be rewarded for your honesty with a fair resolution than for your dishonesty.

Are you up front when you lodge a complaint? Or is the whole idea to get a leg up on the retailer no matter what?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money

* Follow Gordon on Twitter here.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...