The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – Customer Service

I recently celebrated my first ever 3 years at one company. I really enjoy my work and I really like my company. I will always try wherever I can to assist. Even working overtime for a whole week at free will (Yeah-a tiny bit of stupidity I sometimes think).

I have moved around a lot in the first 3 years. I started as a Customer Service Agent, moved on to an After Hour Customer Service Agent, then back to day shift on the Amendments team and then to an Admin Agent for Amendments.

I started off by taking between 80-100 calls a day. No jokes. This is real statistics. I used to get home and throw my own phone down and ignore it. A the end I started despising a ringing phone. It is so bad, I still do not answer a phone unless I know who is calling. My family and friends know by now to send me an instant message. Do not phone me. The only person that still phones is my husband. I Should talk to him about it. Haha

In the past 3 years I have dealt with very obnoxious, rude, a special kind of stupid, funny, sad and sometimes normal people.

I thought it good to share some of the funny and sometimes really stupid examples of questions we get from our customers. We can call it the good, the bad and the ugly. You decide.

When I answer the phone..”Thank you for phoning (company name) this is Elré speaking” and I get “Oh Hi Elmarie//Audi/Alrie/Alri//” So, I started articulating my name El(pause)ré. Even though I sound like a Grade 1 teacher doing syllables, it still does not help.

Answering the phone and the customer is going ballistic on the other side about how long they had to hold on and how dire their situation is and when you ask for the reference number you get the reply “Oh wait let me go back into my email and find the reference number quickly” So, what have you been doing the few minutes you had to wait to speak to someone?

Or you tell me you are having issues checking in and when I ask you “Do you see this and this” tell me “Oh let me log into the website first”.

Calls like these make other customers wait longer because you need to look for something. I always think to myself, be ready because you have a reference or a specific question and the agent is going to relate the questions to that. Don’t be a dummy.

I had an Afrikaans man ask me to please quote him on a flight between Lanseria and OR Tambo. First I was dumbstruck and then I had to inform the poor man that the airlines do not operate that route as the airports are more or less an hours drive from each other. Shame. Maybe he was just not feeling the drive from Johannesburg to Krugersdorp.

This passenger wanted a bus ticket from Cape Town to Potchefstroom on the My City. Now, the My City only operates in and around Cape Town. She just could not understand why they would not take her to Potchefstroom. It took a lot of explaining and patience.

A client phoned one of my colleagues in the middle of the night to book a Vegan meal for the next day flight. I also had a call just before midnight for a seat request on a flight that was almost ready for checking in at the airport.

When a customer call and say: “Oh Hi, where am I flying from? Which airport?” Really? Were you present when you made the booking?

Sometimes I just sit in wonder.

Let’s move on to Emails.

We receive funny emails, blood boiling emails, emails all in capital letters, one word emails, you name it. I don’t think I have seen it all, but here are a few.

I WANT TO BOOK – in the subject line with no further details –so would you like me to send you to hell? Timbaktu? Iraq? China? Put-sonder-water? Where would you like to go and when?

When you reply on the ticket email asking “Where is my ticket?” Halloooo, did you read the email and check the email before you responded? I think not.

Where do you want to go? Anywhere in South East Asia. This is an email I received when Bali had the Volcano erupt a bit. Lady, South East Asia is a big place. Some places you can not fly to, you must drive or sometimes even walk.

What date do you want to go? 29 Nov or any time before the end of February where I don’t have to pay in. Now let me explain something. We get so many emails like this and doing these quotes take times. We need to check every single day to find the lowest available. You can do a once of week/month view. Try and explain this to someone.

On our quotes we send out it says the following after the break down:

Total: R0.00 per person per change (additional)

Question from the passenger: So, is it (amount) per person? My answer: Well, I don’t know, maybe?

How much is a flight? That’s it nothing else….no other info. So, can I send you to Timbuki land?

Now, this next one had me cracking up. Gosh, I laughed out so loud!

A PASSENGER WRITES: and the reason why we can not travel is because I realised I’m pregnant its a natural cause , something beyond our control, I personally don’t think this is fair – really? Were you not present when that happened? We should watch out people. Natural causes are dangerous.

Another idea people have (and we get this a lot) is that you can swap and change between airlines like you do when you buy clothes on Zando or Superbalist. I had a lady so upset at me because she could not understand that we as the agency sell all the different airlines and we can not swap and change between them. Let me explain this in a simple way. Even though we are 1 agency and we sell different airlines every single airline is managed separately. It is like buying from PnP and wanting to swap it at Checkers. Same principle. The only way to do that (if its an airline) is to cancel (with penalties) and book a whole new ticket.

Let’s get personal. Here are a few things that was said to me personally.

I was called a gas lamp. “Ek het alweer met ‘n gas lamp gepraat” – Could not believe my ears. This was said as I was about to transfer the call because the passenger chose the incorrect option…I wonder who is the Gas lamp now?

I had a call one evening from a guy who was freaking out because his ticket was not issued yet. Never mind that his card did not want to go through for the whole amount. He was hysterical. He phoned the person who was responsible for the flight and while he was talking to her he told her no he is on the other line with this chick and this company is f-ing up his flights. I snapped. I got his attention and I told him that I am no-one’s “chick” and that is he bad mouths my company again I will hang up. All I was trying on my side was to assist him. WOW! He changed instantly. So sweet and “my friend I am so stressed and I am sorry”. All I could do was roll my eyes. Some people. At the end the person who was responsible for the payment begged me to just issue the one ticket and get him off her back and then we laughed together at his unnecessary freak out.

We had this complaint once. You guys are so stupid. How can a flight from Johannesburg to New York only take 4 hours. You people don’t know what you talking about. How is it even possible for one to fly to America in 4 hours. Idiots you are.

Guys forgetting its called Time Zone’s.

All is not just bad or filled with stupid emails like the above. I have had some wonderful compliments send my way and I even got my own cartoon! I kid you not.

Dear Elre

You are so wonderful! Thank you and your team so very, very much for your kindness and I’m sorry I didn’t hear your call and again, apologies for my error. I sincerely hope that when a time like this comes in each of your lives you will find people as kind and caring as you have been to us to ease you through it.

Thank you is not a big enough word.

The next one made me cry a bit.

Hello Elrie (hope spelling is correct)

Once again thank you for your help with my disaster on (Date) that you SOLVED IN SUCH AN AMAZINGLY PROFESSIONAL MANNER

I would like to compliment you, Travelstart, for helping me get to Ireland for my Mum’s funeral. All my travel plans went wrong at the last minutes due to a transit visa glitch. I was at the airport ready to fly and they told me I couldn’t. Stuff of nightmares. I contacted you and spoke to a lovely lady name Elrie (not sure of the spelling). She calmed me down and made a plan for me in time for me to get on a flight about an hour later. Service of this level, in the circumstances I was in, really made me want to write your name in lights across the sky. A HUGE thank you. Thanks to you, I was able to say goodbye to my Mum.

Just look at this cute cartoon!


I even got a gorgeous ponytail. This has to be one of the coolest things ever.

Look, working with people is tiring and you deal with so many personalities in a day. I still enjoy and love my job. I like solving problems, I like helping people. It takes a lot from me to not swear at some people for being rude. In some situations it is difficult not to let it get to you personally, but as the years gone by I have became a hard ass and I am going to have many more of the above. But let me tell you world, a pinch of salt. Take it with a pinch of salt.

Come on people send me more jokes to laugh it! I love it.

Tell me in the comments if you ever had funny or terrible things happen to you while working with customers.

Till the next time.



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