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The Friday Five: ridiculous customer service stories

Here are some of the silliest things we've been told by customer service staff – can you top them?


by Victoria Bischoff on Aug 03, 2012 at 09:31

The Friday Five: ridiculous customer service stories

Consumer group Which? published some ‘impressively ridiculous’ customer service anecdotes earlier this week.

They were absolute gold – as gold as team GB’s five Olympic gold medals!

Anyway, jumping on the bandwagon, we've decided to publish a few outrageous customer service stories of our own.

1. Wonky eyebrows

My first example is actually one I’ve borrowed from the Which? story as it’s just too funny not to share.

‘I collected my new specs from a local opticians, but when I got them home they didn’t fit correctly. The arms were misaligned and so they sat at a lopsided angle on my face.

‘I took them back to the opticians, where his assistant put them on me, stood back and looked at me. He then announced: "There’s nothing wrong with your glasses, madam, you’ve got one eyebrow higher than the other."'

2. You’re too big for the shirt

In a similar vein, a Citywire colleague shared this experience:

‘I bought a shirt from Mango in the sale, and after wearing it once it split down the seam, suggesting it was faulty. When I took it back the sales assistant told me there was nothing wrong with the shirt, I was just too big for it.

‘When I assured her that it was my size and fitted just fine, she insisted that I was too big and proceeded to "prove" this to me by trying it on in front of a queue of other customers. "See", she told me. What exactly did she think that proved?’

3. What a background check really means

Rather than funny, this experience is actually really worrying.

‘I decided to explore the possibility of getting a two-year phone contract. I was chatting with a company employee in their high-street store and the guy said: "Well, before we go forward, can I do a background check?

‘So I gave him all my details and then he produced a contract to sign. I said "but I haven’t agreed to anything", and he said "Well, the background check means you want to sign the contract."

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20 comments so far. Why not have your say?


Aug 03, 2012 at 09:55

Went into M&S for a sandwich. There was only brown bread or granary. I asked the assistant if they had any white bread sandwiches. A lady overheard my request and said she wanted white bread too. Whilst we waited another customer asked what we were waiting for so we explained the situation. He also decided to wait. The assistant came back and said "sorry sir, we don't have white bread sandwiches as there is no demand for them"

Luckily, there was a demand for them in the sandwich shop up the road. Well for 3 of them anyway.

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Roger Bacon

Aug 03, 2012 at 11:41

Halifax has asked me to prove my identity by going to a branch with passport, nothwithstanding that I did so a few months ago. They photocopied my passport and then lost it.

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Rob Walker

Aug 03, 2012 at 11:53

When I finally paid off my Alliance and Leicester (Santander) mortgage, they continued to deduct the same monthly payment from my account. When I phoned them a couple of months later to explain that I had already paid off my mortgage I asked why they were still deducting payments. The customer service adviser told me 'You have to tell us when the balance on your mortgage is zero'. I wish they'd operate the same way when an overdraft reaches its limit !

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derek farman

Aug 03, 2012 at 13:54

My Brother in Law used to work in a TV sales and repair shop. One day a customer came in and wanted the controls of a TV explained to him. My brother in Law proceeded to demonstrate as asked . Then the customer stopped him and said ,"I'm not the idiot you think I am you know". To which my brother in law replied "Well which idiot are you then?"

My brother in law doesn't work in sales any more !

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Aug 03, 2012 at 15:36

I phoned EDF Energy this morning to complain about their proposal to increase my direct debit.

The operator said that he would send me a quote for a lower tariff which they introduced a few months ago. I asked why I was not already on it or, at least, had not been offered it. The guy said "Because you opted out of Marketing communications we could not send you a message about it".

I think I will ask them back date my change to the new tariff to the date it was introduced.

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Susan King

Aug 03, 2012 at 15:51

I had a brand new ECO kettle.The lid didn't close properly so boiling water came out of the top when it was poured.They said it wasn't a problem as the water came from the reservoir,and wouldn't replace it to date( 4 weeks).

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White Stick follower

Aug 03, 2012 at 15:57

My daughter works in M&S HQ Foods. She says that M&S do supply White Bread Sandwiches for retail purchase, and indeed she buys them for fer own consumption regularly.

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Andrew S

Aug 03, 2012 at 16:36

I used to work in Costa. One day a woman walked into the coffee shop, walked up to the counter, bent over and asked me "Can you tell me if a bird has shit in my hair"? Is that with whipped cream and marshmallows, madam?

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Aug 03, 2012 at 16:52

Well I am just back from the olympics seeing the fencing at the excel yesterday.

I went on to the olympic park to see if I could get any of the returned tickets (Wimbledon style)

The olympic box office that sells these tickets is inside the security area. I was told "you cannot get through security to the box office to buy a ticket of any sort unless you have a ticket that will allow you in".


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Aug 03, 2012 at 17:37

I contacted EDF Energy about their changing of all tariffs to include a standing charge (without informing customers - a legal situation in 2011). I said I use very little electricity as the account is for my garage and the supply is used to raise & lower the garage door and drive a few power tools. So my bill is, at most, £1.50 per month.

Their representative insisted "the standing charge will be much better for you as the price for the first 'n' units is reduced". "But I don't use anywhere near 'n' units" I said. "Your new tariff charges me £50 per annum for NOT using much electricity".

"But we are providing you with a cheaper rate" he said in an annoyed manner!

I gave up and moved my account elsewhere!

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Neil Liversidge

Aug 04, 2012 at 10:06

About five years ago I bought two flat screen monitors from Dixons in Leeds when it was still on the high street. One was fine but the other packed up after a week. I returned it and asked for a replacement. I was told none were available even though one was on display. I was also told that it wasn't Dixons' responsibility and i should get in touch with the manufacturer. I demurred as i needed a replacement pronto and didn't see why I should go to the trouble when I could have walked away with a replacement that day. The staff were rude and agressive so I ent home and commenced a two-week email correspondence with the 'Executive Secretarial Team' who shielded Sir Stanley Kalms and Sir John Collins. Only when I threated to sue them did they relent and agree I could pick up a replacement from the Leeds branch. When I did pick it up they refused to give me it in a proper box, instead 'wrapping' it in a piece of cardboard some 8 feet by 6 feet. Obviously they saw this as their revenge. Having had similar experiences at other DSG outlets - Currys and PC World - where the staff seem to be trained to be rude, my own 'revenge' now consists of never spending another penny in any of their stores. The sooner they hire Mary Portas the better.

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Neil Liversidge

Aug 04, 2012 at 10:14

On a bitterly cold winter's day I took my family to the East Yorkshire resort of Hornsea. On the sea front a van was selling all the usual fast food - burgers, fish & chips etc. Cold as it was, we were among the very few customers. I went in to buy four lots of F&C for our family with my oldest daughter then aged about ten. The customer in front bought a hot dog and covered it liberally in ketchup from a plastic bottle. On seeing this my daughter asked 'Can I have ketchup on my fish & chips daddy?' On hearing this the vendor took the bottle from the counter and replaced it with a box of sachets. Noting this I ordered our meals and when they were brought - but before paying - I asked "Can I have the sauce bottle please for my daughter?" I was told "The bottle is only for people who buy hot dogs. For fish & chips you have to buy sachets - they're 50p each." I pointed out that I was just about to spend six times as much as the previous customer with his hotdog but the vendor was having none of it. This was his big chance to make a couple of quid extra out of a guy who's young daughter liked ketchup. He picked the wrong guy. I explained in graphic terms where he could shove his fish and chips and we left to find a nice restaurant.

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Neil Liversidge

Aug 04, 2012 at 10:23

In my days working in the technical services department at DBS, one of our Merseyside members rang in to complain that five minutes earlier one of the girls in the office had faxed him an out of date factsheet. Whilst holding the phone on my shoulder I located the correct sheet and faxed it to him, sheet and machine both being within my reach. I also apologised politely and profusely for what really was a stupid and unnecessary mistake. He was having none of it. An apology wasn't good enough he said. "Sorry but I've remedied the error, the correct sheet should be on your machine right now, and I HAVE apologised, and I really am sorry it happened, but I don't see what more I can do?" said I. It still wasn't enough. I was treated to a further earbashing and he asked again what I was going to do about it? So I suggested that maybe I should go out onto the carpark and flog myself with barbed wire before pouring petrol over my own head and striking a match. Would that do?

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J Mc

Aug 04, 2012 at 13:07

When i used to work in a department store (unnamed) 1 of my colleagues was dealing a customer and had been refused a refund after all procedures had been followed, and because she couldnt have a refund she threatened to jump over the counter and kill my colleague, so at this point i intervened and said if she jumps over shell only get me in her face, her response was dont worry ill get my husband in to kill you as well. Such a nice lady she was. At that point 4 security guards escorted her to the security holding room and called the police to arrest her and search the vehicle where her husband was for weapons i guess, but they ended up finding thousands of £ of stolen goods from different shops in the centre. I just casually waved goodbye to her as she escorted away in handcuffs with her husband.

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Aug 04, 2012 at 14:01

EDF have now emailed me their proposals for my future supply. It only increases my monthly payment by a third, but they also sent me a payment agreement to recover the £400 they say I owe at £35 per month in addition. On their website there is an option to change my tar=riff which offers me a deal which works out about £10 less than they have asked for.

I can see them having another difficult customer next week and one customer less the week after.

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Debra Anderson

Aug 04, 2012 at 17:04

My Mother is having trouble with noise from her gas meter and the gas man from ATCO told her it was the shingles on her roof flapping. It would be hard to make this stuff up!

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Aug 04, 2012 at 20:03

Two years ago I visited the Tower of London. Eventually I ended up on the top floor. After completing a tour of the exhibits I wandered around a bit looking for the way out. A few minutes later I came to a staircase with a sign that read: "No Entry"

One of the Tower staff came forward and said: You can't use that staircase It's one way only. I replied: I know it is, but the sign says No Entry, I don't want to enter, I want to go out.

The staff member looked puzzled and said. You can't go down, because the people coming up want to come in! I said I know they do, but the sign is wrong, It should read: "No Exit" not "No Entry"

I left her still looking puzzled but followed her directions to a sign of a running man and a staircase marked "Exit"

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Swee-Im Ung

Aug 05, 2012 at 10:38

EDF accumulated nearly 400 pounds through over charging me monthly. After I had asked for a refund and reduced the direct debit to a much smaller amount, they increased it back to the original amount within one week. After much communication and my reiterating that I only have ONE gas ring and use an electricity hob most of the time, while the mansion block provides hot water and central heating, they now insist my meter must be wrong!!

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White Stick follower

Aug 05, 2012 at 11:08

Gas meter noise may well be the internal bellows, which can make a noise, especially if old. They can dry out and make a noise rather like clicking as the bellows pump gas.

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Neil Liversidge

Aug 05, 2012 at 11:52

I moved my office's electricity account to Haven after the salesman's projections showed a substantial saving. I then found my bills went up by 400%. On advising Haven that we run a 650 sq foot office of an IFA firm, not a blast furnace, it turned out that my original projected usage had been quadrupled. The salesman had made himself bankrupt in between times. I guess he got paid commission for signing up a contract four times as big as it actually was in the knowledge that he was going bust anyway, so he trousered the loot and Haven took the hit. Subsequently when I left Haven they still owed us several hundred pounds and it was only after six months' worth of excuses, culminating in a threat by me to sue them, that they finally refunded the over-debited amount.

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