8 Ways You're Being a Terrible Customer

We all know the old saying — the customer is always right. Except, that's totally wrong. The customer is not always right. And if you firmly believe that you, as the customer, are always right — no matter the circumstances — then you're probably a terrible customer. Here are nine scenarios in which you're a customer service rep's worst nightmare, and how to be better. (See also: 10 Ways to Be the Perfect Customer)

1. You Think the Customer Is Always Right

Let's begin where all customer relations issues are born: with the customer thinking they're always right. We've all heard someone in a retail shop drop this line during a heated discussion with an associate, and we might have even said it ourselves at some point. While I contend that the customer is sometimes right, "always" is a misnomer, and we rely on it too heavily — even when we know we're wrong.

The problem with that mentality is that it inherently implies you're owed something, and in most cases you're not. Especially if you're ranting and raving like a lunatic. Instead, consider the circumstance thoughtfully and think about how it can be resolved without pointing fingers or making demands. I think you'll find that most of the time "blame" doesn't have to be assigned, so long as the situation can find a peaceful and amicable resolution.

2. You're Making Frequent Returns

Not only is making frequent returns ethically, morally, and sometimes legally wrong, it's also incredibly annoying. Sure, every once in awhile you might need to return an item because it's ill-fitting or maybe damaged, but if you're in the same store over and over again to get your money back for purchases that you decide you don't want anymore — for whatever reason, like you already wore it and you don't have any use for it again, or you couldn't afford it in the first place — you deserve to get the side-eye. It also affects the retailer's bottom line, which can hit smaller businesses particularly hard.

AJ Saleem, a business owner for five years, says frequent returns are one of his biggest peeves.

"While I may not say anything, when I receive several notifications of returns from the same person, I often get frustrated," he says. "Each return costs me a large portion of my profit margin, and when I do not receive any money in return, I have no choice but to write it as a loss. This forces me to raise prices."

3. You Try to Blame Everything on the Retailer

If a retailer sells you a faulty product and refuses to replace it or refund your money, you have grounds to pursue the issue until you're satisfied with your purchase, or you get your money back. On the other hand, however, there are dozens of other variables that go into your purchase that you need to consider before you start jumping down people's throats, some of which may be your own fault.

Devorah Neiger is an owner of an online medical supply retailer, and she has some experience with customers who point fingers without considering their own part in the transaction.

"We have countless customers who order the wrong item, don't contact us for a return for months or who don't need the item anymore, and concoct a story about how it's our error to get out of paying for it," she explains. "This even happens with customers who order directly from our site and never spoke to a rep. Customers should take ownership of their mistakes."

You can't expect the retailer to eat the cost of your laziness, or error in ordering, or lack of need for the item. You also have to recognize that there are return policies in place, and if you file a complaint or try to return an item outside of that window, you might be SOL.

4. You're Flat-Out Lying to Get What You Want — Like a Refund

I can almost guarantee you that the highest instances of customers lying to get what they want — especially a refund — derive from issues with tech products, like mobile phones and the like. You dropped the phone in the toilet when you were two bottles of wine to the wind, you put it in a jar of rice for three days because the Internet told you to, and now you want a new device because your futile attempts to save it failed. Except when the associate asks you what happened, you tell them that it just spontaneously stopped working — they must have sold you a dud, right? And you deserve a new phone.

Mmhmm, I've got your number, but hold it right there. Own whatever mistake you made that damaged or destroyed your product and purchase a new one if that's what it comes down to.

5. Your Standards Are Too High

For some customers, the retailer can't do enough to please them. That's a really poor outlook to have, and if this is how you roll, you're going to be disappointed, like, 90% of the time. You also want to consider that the people behind the counter are people too. Sure, they're working, but keep in mind that they're not specifically working for you. Nobody's a slave to anyone else, so don't treat anybody like they are.

6. You're Downright Rude

"You get more bees with honey," is what they say, so why is your face screaming vinegar? Here's another one for you: Do unto others as you want them to do unto you, unless you want to be escorted out by security.

"We have customers who will call and be extremely rude and condescending to our reps, and we have told our employees that they do not need to put up with that behavior," Neiger says. "In the same way we demand of ourselves and our team to treat everyone with utmost respect and understanding, no one deserves to be treated that way. Just because we service our customers, does not mean we will allow employees to take abuse. They matter, too, and we will not allow them to be a punching bag for someone's bad day."

Also, you should probably get off your cell phone when you're interacting or speaking with an associate. Your mother taught you better than that.

7. You Look for Faults Instead of Promoting the Positive

I'm convinced that Yelp and other review sites were created specifically for the type of people who never have anything nice to say. While I believe that companies should be taken to task for doing a customer wrong, it's not the end of the world if they make a mistake that they fix. On the flip side, when an employee or the company itself goes out of their way to satisfy you as a customer, it's important to let people know that their customer service game is strong. I see this all the time with restaurants in particular. People want to complain when the food or ambiance missed the mark (in their opinion), but they don't have time to talk about how great something is.

A fair and balanced approach to reviewing is necessary, with a focus on the positive.

8. You're Data Mining Associates — Then Spending Your Money Elsewhere

It's not fair to a retailer — no matter how "giant" you think they are — to data mine the associate for product intel or advice and then buy the item elsewhere. This sort of thing is happening more and more. You go into Best Buy and chat up the associate for 30 minutes about TVs, then go home to buy the one you want on Amazon. There's nothing wrong with doing your research, of course, just don't be lazy. Do it yourself instead of taking up the retailer's time by having them do it for you, without any kind of payoff.

"When customers go back and forth with us for hours and days to try and find the right product, and once we advise on the correct product, they promptly buy it elsewhere," Neiger reveals. "Obviously, customers don't owe us to purchase from our store. However, many customers take up a lot of our time without ever having any intention to buy or who take the information to buy elsewhere. We are very competitively priced and have a price match guarantee, so it's not about price. We aim to help customers with our vast knowledge and personal customer service, but many customers take advantage of this."

What are some other ways people are terrible customers? I'd love to hear what you have to say about this in the comments below.

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