Ask the Readers: What Was Your Best Customer Service Experience?

By Ashley Jacobs on 28 January 2014 48 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Lisa, Karen, and Alona for winning this week's contest!

Most people dread the need to call customer service. We hear countless horror stories about telephone runarounds or, on the other side of things, customers with unreasonable demands. But of course, there are customer service stories that do end well. (Right?)

What was your best customer service experience? What do you think is key to getting what you want — or resolving an issue to the customer's satisfaction? Have you had any truly terrible experiences?

Tell us about your best customer service experience and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry:

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, February 3rd at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after February 3rd on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
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Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Mary Happymommy

I had a good customer experience buying from CarMax ...pretty painless.

Christa Avampato's picture

My best customer experience was with American Express. I was moving from DC to Charlottesville for grad school. The movers I hired threatened to leave my belongings in the middle of the street if I didn't pay them $300 immediately. I said I didn't have cash and they said they'd take a card. (How kind of them!) I called Amex, told them the situation, and they said to give them my Amex, keep the receipt, and then I could contest it when it posted. I followed their directions and never paid a dime of that extra fee. I'm a customer for life as a result of that action, and after business school, I worked for Amex for 4 years.

Guest's picture
Jennifer Marie

A hotel gave us a free night since we had less than optimal service.

Guest's picture

My mother needed to liquidate her assets. She had inherited some Vanguard Wellington Fund shares. Since these had been purchased just after the Depression they were issued on physical (long gone) paper documents. I called customer service and no one had any idea how to cash them in without physical proof. After getting bounced around from person to person over several weeks, I ended up speaking with an older secretary who vaguely remembered some kind of work around. However, the last transaction like that in her memory had been done over 30 years before, and she had no way of helping me. The inappropriate (modern) paperwork had been sent several times to that point. Out of desperation, as Mom' s deadline got closer, I wrote Vanguard's CEO. A very kind older gentleman called my home shortly after that. He was a gem. Grandfather-like, he walked me through the process over several weeks, and asked if there was more he could do. It was only at the end I found out he was personal assistant to the CEO.

Guest's picture

Purely by coincidence, my best customer service experience is always with Amazon. My Kindle stopped charging. I had a very brief online chat with a CSR, and a brand new Kindle was at my door the very next day. I have had other similar experiences with Amazon as well. They are awesome.

Guest's picture

Usually my best customer service experiences have been with Amazon and worst have been with AT&T. My best CS experience was when I received my grandparents' Christmas present from Amazon a couple months ago, but it arrived completely damaged. I started a chat with a CS representative, who informed me that there would not be any more in stock to replace it in time for Christmas. He stayed on the chat with me to search for alternatives available on Amazon (none), then also searched local businesses to see if any of them might have it (none). In the end, my only option was to find someone to weld the item back together, and he even offered to search for someone in the area who could do that. He refunded the entire price of the item plus added more for the cost of welding. Just the fact that he was willing to do so much to find a solution, and stayed on the chat for so long with me instead of rushing me through, meant a lot.

Guest's picture

Amazon is consistently my experience with customer service. I've never had any issue getting a product replaced or getting a refund. They know how to treat their customers right.

Guest's picture

I recently had a great customer service at Marriott hotel.

Guest's picture

My best service is from my DSL carrier, Sonic. They always have a human answer the phone instead of a phone tree. I get a service rep that's based in the US not India so they understand me. And they resolve problems quickly and politely.

Guest's picture

Every time I've been into the Apple store, I've gotten amazing customer service. Last year, my mom bought my 2 college-bound sons each a MacBook. A new version was released shortly after, and according to Apple's policy, if that happens within 30 days of purchase, you can upgrade for free. We did, and they each also scored a $100 iTunes gift card - just because it was a promotion going on at the time! We didn't know about it, and didn't ask for it - they just GAVE it to us. The Genius Bar people are always helpful, cheerful, and actually seem to care about their customers.

Guest's picture

Zappos! I was looking for a specific pair of shoes in my size, and emailed asking them about the likelihood of them being back in stock. I got a response within hours. And they pointed me to other websites where I could find those shoes. Wow! So personalized, and all about taking care of their customers, even if it doesn't result in a sale that time.

Guest's picture

I was scheduled to fly to China for a study abroad summer class and my laptop screen broke the day before my flight. We rushed to Staples and found a great, recently released laptop, but only the floor model was left. The official policy is to not sell the floor model for new laptops because you might lose a couple of sales before new stock comes in. But the manager was a really nice guy, and just took it right off the sales floor and gave it to us as the store was closing.

Guest's picture

Saddleback Leather has pretty darn good service.

Guest's picture

My dentist's office is always so wonderful. They have a Keurig machine for you to use when you come in the door, and Netflix goggles for you to watch when you're getting a dental procedure done. It's never fun getting your teeth examined, but they make it as relaxing as possible!

Guest's picture

A major department store's customer service representative took my word for a sales price available in the store, but not online and honored that price for a handbag.

Guest's picture

It's terrible to say but the bad experiences are more prominent in my memory. I have had some good experiences, like with AAA calling me (with a real person) to renew my service and Blendtec was great when I needed to replace a part under warranty. Anytime a real human (that speaks english very well) answers the phone is a great start!

Guest's picture

I ordered contacts from 1-800 contacts and their first question was asking if I had a price they 'needed to beat'. I didn't have one but quickly did a search and found a cheaper deal on Walgreens that they matched. I got a 6 month supply of daily wears and after a month I started to have problems (it was my eyes, not the contacts). They sent me a free shipping label to return the unopened boxes and sent my new prescription (FREE RUSH delivery). I tweeted about their great service and a week later I got a free T-shirt in the mail because I had tweeted about them. I'm a customer for life.

Guest's picture

My best experience was with a hotel just after college. I was coming back from a business trip and I was up for over 2 days straight. My friend was suppose to pick me up and drive me home but couldn't make it so it was up to me. I realized at 4am I wasn't going to make it, but the only hotel with a room available was a 5-star at well over $300 a night; way more than my budget could handle and sleeping in a car was illegal. The agent at the counter went out of his way trying to find a cheaper room available. I bit the bullet, got the room and some sleep. Shortly before 7am, I was ready to drive again. Passing the same agent still at the counter, he gave me a free breakfast (very nice) and I continued on my way home. For a full year, I dreaded seeing my credit card bill, but I was never charged. To this day I wish I could properly thank the agent, and dread what would have happened if I tried to keep driving.

Guest's picture

I was born in the dial age. So when my email would not pull up, I called wildblue to ask for help. A very pleasant woman walked me through the process slowly, and I was able to learn a new trick!

Guest's picture

i have always had a horrible experience trying to fix the system errors and dropped calls with my virgin phone. i expected the worse when i called this week about a mistake on their part. the guy was so knowledgeable and nice. he also had a british accent although he mentioned he's in columbia. i thought how horrible it is that virgin mobile has a call center in columbia. what do they pay employees with, coffee and cocaine? but seriously, i had a problem. he fixed it. was just so pleasant. about 15 minutes after call ended, i got a text from virgin asking if i would please rate my experience with the recent call between 1-5, 5 being the best, 1 as the worst. instead of rating them a lousy 2, i gave this great guy a 5. sure felt nice to be nice. :o)

Guest's picture
Melissa H

I'm in customer service so this topic is dear to my heart. The best advice for dealing with issues is to demand to speak to a manager if you are not getting the service you need. The first person who answers the phone is NOT a person with the authority to subvert the company's policies. So if you're asking for something outside of those policies, don't argue with the lowest person on the totem pole. I don't want to argue with you, but I can't volunteer my manager to speak to you. You have to ask for them. You wouldn't believe how many people go round and round with me, asking for an exception or service I can't provide or authorize, just frustrating us both.

My next advice is PLEASE read store policies before you make purchases online. They are right there for you and frequently you have to agree with them to place your order. When you call and tell a customer service person that you do not like and never read the return policy, etc., you do not make a sympathetic friend.

My last advice is BE NICE, be calm, remember you are talking to another human being. Most people aren't nice on the phone and so a gracious customer is always going to stand out and get the best possible service from a grateful customer service rep.

My best customer service moment (on the other side of the phone) was with Delta. A CSR helped me purchase tickets for an international flight that was offered on their site, but couldn't be finalized online due to issues with the international partner. She had to jump through quite a few hoops with their international partner airline and it took almost 2 hours, but I will always remember the lengths that a Delta rep went to in helping me with a very important trip.

Guest's picture

Very surprising, but my health insurance company gave me the best service once. I had an error in billing that spanned a few months. Luckily for me, the right person answered the phone. She took the time to research back far enough, and the errors were corrected.

Guest's picture
Michelle C

PetPlan companion animal insurance. There was a snafu with my card; their system said it had expired a month before it actually did and the charge for both of my dogs didn't go through. I hadn't noticed until 3 weeks later. They were very relaxed about it, said they NEVER charge a late fee (I had offered to pay one, my bad for not checking), and problem solved. Plus, their turnaround time for processing claims is pretty speedy.

Guest's picture

We have sub zero temps and I don't have a car. I love being able to order dog food from and have it arrive the next day. It's a life saver.

Guest's picture
L Wooten

I've had consistently excellent customer service with TiVo. I've called in to set up service on new/used units instead of setting up service online and gotten discounts on service plans. Their CSRs are so friendly and helpful, and respect and take into account how long I've been a customer (10 years), in no small part due to their excellent service.

I also recently had a wonderful experience with Seventh Generation. I had a large and expensive container of laundry detergent warp and crack and leak detergent all down the back of my washing machine. I contacted the company to basically just let them know of the design flaw of the container; they responded by sending me replacement detergent in a quantity of more than I had. Simply amazing.

I've had a recent great experience with Hanes as well.

Guest's picture

My best customer service experience was with Dish Network. I had been offered a free trial of some premium channels, and I took it, knowing that I probably wouldn't want to purchase them after the free trial. I wrote down the trial expiration date so I could cancel before I was automatically charged, but to my surprise, Dish Network called me the day before and told me the free trial was expiring, and did I want to continue!

That was so unusual, it totally won me over to them. I have NEVER had a problem with them, and questions are answered promptly and politely, a real plus in today's market.

Guest's picture

I called my local Kia dealership to schedule an oil change (got some freebies when I bought my Soul) and their computers were down. They said they'd call me back to schedule it when the computers were back up, but 3 days later, they still hadn't called. I called them again and gave them the what for, they apologized. A day or two after the oil change, I got a survey to complete about my service experience. I said I was peeved that they never returned my call once their computers were up. A couple of days later, I received an e-mail apologizing profusely for their error and a promise of a $100 gas gift card. Sure enough, a few days later, I received the gift card in the mail. It wasn't even that big of a deal, so a $100 gift card was way above and beyond!

Guest's picture

I received great customer service recently via an AT&T chat session and got a gift card out of it!

Guest's picture
Ernest S.

I have a Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa, and I have to say that I am extremely impressed with their customer service. The fact that you get an agent (rather than a menu option) the moment you call is really refreshing! The agents all seem to be domestic and willing to help you, even if it means following up with you a couple of days later.

Guest's picture

My best customer service experience was with Verizon. I know, I know, but stay with me. I was trying to cancel my AT&T long distance plan. They (the various customer service reps in far away Mumbai) simply refused to do it. They said I had to get my local carrier (Verizon) to agree to turn it off, contact them, and then they would stop billing me. After multiple extremely frustrating calls to Verizon and AT&T I got someone who said she would stay on the line and call AT&T with me. I didn't even know such a thing was possible. And she said that AT&T customer service was lying (big surprise) about the process. She stayed on the line and call AT&T for me. When I made my request and Sanjay said that I needed to contact Verizon first, she jumped in and let him know she was from Verizon. Shocked Sanjay had to cancel my long distance. I think it took a year to get rid of them, and in the years since I have never signed up for another ISP/communications plan. They all stink.

Guest's picture

I've had a number of good customer service experiences with several places~ with Amazon and Target almost always. One that stands out is with TurboTax. I had a problem and called customer service and they fixed the problem and refunded my filing fee~ can't beat that!

Guest's picture

I always had wonderful customer service at a bookstore called Joseph Beth Booksellers, which is sadly no longer in business here in Pittsburgh. I went in to buy a particular book and picked up the paperback version. Upon getting to the counter, the woman there exclaimed "I love this book! You will too!" and then, under her breath, informed me that there were hardback copies on the sale table for a lower price than the paperback. I hadn't even noticed! I picked up the hardback and it looks great on my shelf. The next time I went in, the same employee was working, and she remembered me and asked if I'd liked the book. I told her I did, and she proceeded to show me another author whose works she thought I'd like. Every time I went in, we would have this kind of conversation, sharing authors and titles we both enjoyed. I was always happy to go to this store, and our area is a little worse for it not being here anymore.

Guest's picture

I've always had good customer service experiences with Nordstrom. They are so easy to work with and are so painless about accepting returns. They are also great at suggesting alternate items and giving unbiased opinions - even online! My worst experience by far has been with Time Warner Cable. I won't go into the painful detail, but I did have to cancel my cable subscription - never again will I use them!

Guest's picture

Amazon and Zazzle. Both have replace merchandise when there was an error with product or shipping.

Guest's picture

I recently had such dedicated customer service from two people at Lowe's that I wrote the corporate office to say they deserved kudos. The store manager got back to me, so I hope both people got some kind of recognition.

Guest's picture
Roxanne Mitchell

My best customer service believe it or not came from paypal, who assisted me after two or 3 months of my trying unsuccessfully to close out a prepaid netspend account. The card people kept adding fees and I had to have an exact zero balance to close the account, They made it ridiculously hard to add money to the card without paying high fees, their customer service was practically nonexistent, finally a nice customer service rep at paypal assisted me at no charge to myself, to transfer money onto the card and I was able to close the account less than 24 hours after paypal helped me, when I had wasted 2 or 3 months trying unsuccessfully through the issuing Netspend company. I have had only great service through paypal and contrary to what a lot of others have said about them I highly recommend them. Nobody moves money like paypal moves money!

Guest's picture

Hands down, Costco. I don't return a lot, but when I do there's no hassle.

Guest's picture

My doctor! She calls and checks on me when I am sick. How's that for service!

Guest's picture

Target has always been great... fast, easy, very helpful.

Guest's picture
Margaret Davis

My best customer service was from a cast member at Disney World. My husband and I took my father and mother to Disney for their first trip. My mother was 71 and having difficulty with the amount of standing still in lines (moving she was fine). A concerned cast member overheard us discussing the issue and recommended that we get both my parents a disability pass so that the lines would be shorter and frequently would have seating available. It was something I would never have considered since my parents weren't "disabled" but he explained that the passes were also issued for those with physical restrictions such as my mother's diabetic edema for standing. It made the rest of our stay much easier and my mother and father were able to enjoy themselves without pain.

Guest's picture

good customer experience from fidelity investments. lady was helpful in giving me retirement advice.

Guest's picture

My best experience was with a mail order company regarding a pair of boots. The wrong boots were sent but they straightened it out. They were polite and very helpful.

Guest's picture
Happy Love

T Rowe Price has always provided great customer service, as has ING (now Capital One 360).

Guest's picture

I bought a Dritz dress form on ebay and the person that shipped it to me didn't tape the corners of the box and one of the poles that you use for the stand had fallen out. I contacted Dritz to find out how I could buy another one and they sent me a new one for free!

Guest's picture

I have lots of great customer service stories, but the one I think was the best was with an airline. Husband and I arrived 3 minutes late at the airport to swipe our boarding pass due to lanes being closed on the highway and it locked us out. When we approached the customer service desk I think the rep took one look at my face and knew I was ready to burst into tears and ask what was wrong and called someone to personally escort us through security so we could make our flight. I was very greatful for the wondersful customer service.

Guest's picture

Our local phone/internet provider has always been a pleasant experience.

Guest's picture
Kristine R.

I didn't see a post to like on FB for this question.... Anyway, I have always had great customer service from US Bank.. I have been going there since I was 12 years old and they really go out of their way to make sure I am happy.

Guest's picture

My best customer service came from rep at Sony. After repeated attempts to get the issue with a credit resolved for trading-in e-readers, he took the time to review the website information that I was reading and get his manager to enable him to fix the problem. He was fantastic!