Third year I’ve done these articles and I must confess that I’ve been really looking forward to writing it this year. I had all around pleasant experiences, if nothing particularly mind-blowing. Good customer service wound up being enjoyable, but it’s not until the bad customer service that things get really juicy. It’s s not objectively the worst customer service I’ve ever received, but read on and what one of the bad stories may be shocking.
This was another year where a lot of my great customer service was from companies that I rely on regularly for work. InMotion Hosting continues to be an absolutely fantastic hosting provider. G Suite has had some slip-ups but for the most part their service remains great. Even PayPal – of all companies – helped resolve an issue I had in a much smoother fashion than I’m used to, but in the interests of giving some new spotlight out, here’s who takes the best of accolades this year:
I’ve heard horror stories about Newegg but it was with some trepidation that I purchased most of the components that I needed for the new PC I built (with heavy assistance, mind) from Newegg. The 3TB hard drive, power supply, SSD boot drive, 32 gigs of DD4 ram, motherboard and the RTX 2080 graphics card all came from Newegg. If you’re familiar with these items – especially the RTX card, which is a monster – you’ll probably realize the price tag I was trusting Newegg with upfront.
I had some logistical and shipping questions, so after I placed the order I reached out. Things weren’t particularly promising when I opened up an online chat window and had a 150-person wait time, but when I called them someone answered the phone in less than thirty seconds. He spoke clearly, knew what he was talking about with regard to the products themselves and was able to reassure some mild concerns that I had. I ended the brief phone call feeling much more at ease given how much money was on the table but I needn’t have worried. More importantly my packages arrived sooner than expected from Newegg seamlessly and everything was packaged well.
So with the caveat that Newegg’s online chat support could use some work, they deserve it for helping facilitate my first new PC since early 2013 and a build that actually won’t fry my GPU this time.
I wasn’t sure about including this one since Blizzard as a company has really been screwing up lately, leading to a lot of concerns that the beloved and venerable game maker is being unduly influenced by financial departments. That being said my one customer service experience with them was prompt and painless.
I bought some game time from Blizzard’s online store and without realizing it until after I hit the submit order button I had purchased it for the wrong account altogether. After contacting Blizzard’s online chat support they fixed the issue in less than five minutes, and the rep even had a few jokes to make about the game itself and who I was playing as. Quick, easy and no questions asked.
This seems fairly unremarkable but customer service for online media providers has a messy reputation, Steam being the most notorious example of recent memory. For whatever other criticism you can lob at a company like Blizzard, I made a mistake and they were able to immediately fix it.
Here’s the main event, folks. I mentioned earlier that this wasn’t objectively the worst customer service I’ve ever had, partly because I was working on behalf of clients, but these stories are nonetheless shocking in the apathy displayed by the respective companies. Here you go, folks, take your dubious honors:
I should make my bias clear upfront in that I’ve always been leery of GrubHub. The percentage they take is huge, the restaurateurs I work with have various, unflattering stories about them and their model seems to be based on latching onto existing customers and taking shares rather than acquiring new business on behalf of the client. They’re also at the forefront of the online food delivery bubble that I really hope is going to burst sooner rather than later, but that’s a conversation for another time.
One of my newer restaurant clients called me to report me that an AllMenus link – a subsidiary explicitly owned by GrubHub as noted in AllMenus link footers – was appearing at the top of Google search results with out of date menu items and pricing. They also insisted to me that they had never worked with GrubHub or AllMenus, something I believe. I figured that this was a “claimable” online ordering system similar to what DoorDash does on Google search results and that I could it resolved with one phone call, and that GrubHub simply scraped a previous version of the since-updated menu.
Getting in touch with GrubHub in the first place was an ordeal. After a 15 minute wait I was told that they would have to connect me to their tech support team. Fine, I thought. Then after another half an hour I was abruptly disconnected and sent automatically to a customer satisfaction survey. This process repeated itself multiple times until I requested a callback from their tech support team. I missed that and was not provided a number to call back because I was on the line with another client. I finally asked for the direct phone number of their tech support team.
Even after I finally had a chance to talk to someone the GrubHub service rep was evasive and skittish. They put me on hold once more and told me that they had deleted the AllMenus listing from their “internal” software but after multiple checks the Google search listing displaying a working AllMenus link was still active. I finally pinned them down and asked them if they could remove that link itself, to which they said no. When pressed on whether they couldn’t or wouldn’t the rep kept insisting that this was some sort of “internal technology matter.”
Here’s the juiciest bit: When I asked what we were supposed to do the GrubHub rep suggested I contact Google to have the link removed from search engine results.
There’s just one slightly massive problem: You can’t do this. Google doesn’t selectively remove search engine results at the behest of any company. The only way to get links removed is to file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice which is only to have copyrighted content removed. Knowingly filing a false DMCA act is tantamount to perjury (though the bar for that is quite high).
In other words, GrubHub came very close to suggesting that I tell a client to commit a crime because they couldn’t do their job. When in astonishment I told the GrubHub rep this, he seemed unsure of what to say and we ended the conversation.
Don’t use ENom. I’ve been apologetic for companies I’ve gone after over bad customer service in the past like HostGator or HP but ENom is a complete mess. Their reviews are abysmal even by web hosting or domain registrar standards. This is another company that I can confidently state without caveats to avoid.
So it was when I signed on a makeup artist whose original domain was hosted with a defunct reseller using ENom. Their website was still online but she had no access to her backend and there was no ability on the reseller website for her to even log in. She had tried to call multiple times but had been met with radio silence.
The next step was contacting ENom itself. They announced what I expected was a typical verification process, saying that if they had not heard from the reseller after a week, they would transfer the domain to our own ENom account. After a week the transfer was made; so far, so good.
Though it should be noted that in addition to having 10-15 minute wait periods to speak to customer service reps ENom also seems to have the most grating hold music imaginable, but that’s a minor issue by comparison.
Around 2-3 days after ENom transferred the domain into our account, without any warning or any communication from either ENom or the Reseller ENom transferred the domain back to the Reseller’s control. We called them, confused, only to be told that ENom had made a mistake and that the reseller had actually responded to their service inquiries within the time limit.
We continued trying to reach the reseller and reported repeatedly to ENom that they were radio silent and ignored all of our requests for communication, a clear indicator that the reseller – which had barely any Internet presence and no social media channels – was trying to avoid us. ENom’s response was to basically shrug about it and insist there was nothing they could do. Unfortunately this kind of “hands off” approach permeates big tech companies, but this makes your company look bad. Don’t take my word for it, ENom; look at your reviews.
Needless to say, we just decided to cut our losses and register a new domain. Not with ENom.
All things considered I’d still say this was a good year. Despite the bizarre behavior of these two companies there were more positives than negatives in terms of the customer service that I dealt with, even when it was service for companies that I don’t rely on regularly. Keep up the positive trend, companies; just make sure your support reps don’t ask customers to commit perjury!