The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Customer Service

Great customer service is always expected, whether the business selling an experience, a product, or food the customer deserves the best service. Great customer service is what truly distinguishes a good business from a great one but even the greatest of businesses will fail in some aspect. How do these businesses bounce back from these service failures though? Do they pick up from where they lacked? Do they try and cover it up? Or do they just slide it under the rug and pretend it never happened.

Photo by Yan Krukov from

I won’t complain. I just won’t come back.

Brown & Williamson Tobacco Ad

The Good

An act of kindness from a business owner in the UK, James Anderson, a plumber, would give an elderly woman whom terminally ill a bill of outstanding charge of $0. He would then later leave a note stating ‘No charge for this lady under any circumstances. We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible.’

Photo from Christine Anne Rowlands

This was not the first time James has made an act of kindness either, since March of 2017 James was inspired to create a company called Depher which helps those in need of assistance for gas and electricity. The inspiration behind this company came about when James had witnessed an elderly man being taken advantage of from another engineer working around the area.

Often putting his community over himself James runs his business at a deficit even racking up a debt against his company. Being reliant on crowd funding and community donations he says its all under control with payments being made to the bank. His acts of kindness stand as a testament of truly going above and beyond to achieve the greatest service possible for his customers.

As long as I have enough money to fill up the tank in my car, I will be there to try and help the people who need it.

James Anderson

The Bad

James had set a shining example of what a businesses service standards should be, but not all businesses can run at a profit loss. One business that I know we are all familiar with is McDonalds. Everyone has eaten there at least once or at the very least has seen its large shining arches. As great as those shining arches are though, McDonalds has not always handled its customers with the service they promise. Through use of social media and media outlets in general they had twisted a story so far from the truth.

Photo by Robi Pastores from

Coffee, a highly bought product from McDonalds sold everyday became a part of a lawsuit that of which McDonalds would have to deal with. In the case of Liebeck v. McDonald’s, an elderly woman while sitting passenger in a vehicle had accidently split coffee on herself which would cause third degree burns. When this was brought about to McDonalds, instead of offering to pay for the full damages and medical expenses they would instead offer a measly $800 instead of the settlement of $20,000 which Liebeck had asked for.

The new documentary Hot Coffee presents filmmaker Susan Saladoff’s impassioned arguments on four aspects of the civil justice system.

Photo by HBO

When this scandal of hot coffee had come about it was then learned that the coffee sold was not being brewed at safe levels of temperatures. While the coffee was hot, it was temped to about 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit, that being able to cause third degree burns in a matter of seconds. This was not the first time there had been complaints about how hot the coffee at McDonalds was either, there had been about 700 other instances in which people had also suffered damages from McDonalds coffee.

McDonalds would eventually settle for an agreement that of which was never disclosed but speculated to be around $50,000. The way they handled the situation though, instead of offering assistance or help of any kind had decided to fight this case. This was a case in which did not provide the company any good nor bad press though, much of the information at the time was misinterpreted. Many channels of media had covered this case but many times the public had thought that this was a case in which Liebeck was at fault. Whether at fault or an accident, the way McDonalds handled the situation with a customer showed off how not to deal with customers in an effective way.

At the very least McDonalds had handled the situation poorly, had they paid the original ask of $20,000 with a very sincere apology they could have gained much better press overall.

The Ugly

Businesses of all sorts will eventually have to deal with a bad situation such as McDonalds, sometimes there is no ending in which either party win. In one such case with the popular trading platform Robinhood the most ugly of endings was the case.

In the instance of Alexander E. Kearns the worst of fate would befall on him. Like many young adults, even I included, Alexander would pick up trading stocks. While for a short period he was doing great and learning quite a lot about the market Alexander would get himself into a situation in which left him with a net worth of $-730,000. This surprise would eventually lead to him taking his own life.

This situation could have possibly been avoided had Robinhood’s customer service and help team been better trained or at the very least had responded to Alexander’s help tickets faster. Alexander did not owe Robinhood $730,000, because of that mistake on Robinhood’s end though it would lead to the death of an individual. The backlash received from this did not seem to improve the customer service within Robinhood either. Many people still complain about how their system is still quite lacking in the service department. Since this incident many others including myself have switched to different trading platforms.

Should Robinhood dedicate more time into their customer support they could retain much more users on their platform. Since the incident with Alexander though this does not seem to be the case. With thousands of people still bringing about Robinhood’s terrible support.


Customer service is a vital part of any company, businesses, or organization. Having terrible or the best of service can make or break them, especially when the media begins to cover them. In such cases as with James, Liebeck, or Alexander they bring in more than just good press but bring about uproar from social media as well. How well these businesses handle the situation though can lead to change for better or for worse. In the end, businesses should strive to please their customers, not just please but to exceed customer expectations. To do so would be hard and you may never be able to please everyone, but the benefits would outweigh the hardships. One such way of starting with this is just to be more responsive to customers who bring about issues to your businesses first instead of having it escalate to social media coverage instead.

Author’s thoughts

I would think that it would be easy to implement a team whose sole job would be dedicated to just social media coverage but I’m not a business owner myself so I would not understand just how hard or easy it would be. However, customer support should still be looking over their reviews and complaints that do not just lie within their own system. Even when I worked at my previous jobs my managers would look outside of their own websites for any complaints made about the business and would improve on the model from there.



3 thoughts on “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Customer Service

  1. amazing beginning Particularly, “or do they just sweep it under the rug and pretend it never occurred,” made me want to read more. because, regrettably, a lot of businesses engage in such fraud.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great info on those stories. I like how you referenced “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” in your blog post and even managed to find 3 stories that fit them all perfectly. I am left wondering the story of what led to Alexander being 730,000 in debt? While I have no interest in stocks myself, I want to know how this could’ve been the company’s fault and Alexander’s fault?


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