Ok. Maybe the title is a little bit harsh, but it got your attention, right? Why is it that more and more these days I feel that companies I purchase products and services from are telling me to “shut up and take it”. Let me give you just a few real examples of times I have felt disrespected as a customer in the last few months:

  1. I recently bought some plane tickets for my family to go to London over Thanksgiving. The tickets were not cheap, as traveling from Oregon to London these days is simply not affordable. I spent over $1,000 per ticket. Children under 12 years old are supposed to receive a 20% off discount on international tickets. My boys are ages 2 and 4. I purchased the tickets, and there was no discount. I called United Airlines. After the ridiculous amount I had just spent on tickets I was told that I bought tickets that were too “cheap” and for a class that does not allow the 20% discount. I could though, buy a different class and spend $450 more per ticket, and get the 20% discount on 2 tickets. I am no math genius, but seriously, how dumb do they really think I am? An almost 50% increase in price to get 2 tickets at a 20% decrease of the new higher priced ticket???? Shut up, you stupid customer!
  2. Our company uses a service provider to handle some of our marketing to customers. I won’t be specific here on purpose. Through an error that happened due to a bug in THEIR system, they discontinued our account. We are paying customers, paying them roughly $500 per month. They chose to drop our account rather than fix the bug. Shut up, you stupid customer.
  3. Our TiVo, which was less than one year old broke. It was still under warranty. First it stopped recording programs, then it refused to re-boot. We simply could not get it to turn on. My husband called as was told that they could replace it under warranty, for an up-front fee of $350. They would ship us a new unit, and then credit us $300. The remaining $50 would be a “repair” charge. Last I checked a one-year warranty should simply replace the unit. What’s this BS about a repair charge — when nothing was repaired. The unit simply stopped re-booting. We were sent a NEW unit as per the warranty. Shut up, you stupid customer

So I could go on. But you get the picture. More and more companies seem to be taking this approach. Charge the customer everywhere and anywhere. Promise them one thing, deliver another, and then be annoyed that they point it out. As you think about your customer interactions, I challenge you to create policies and customer experiences that put the customer first. That goes back to the old adage that “the customer is always right.” I can guarantee that you will see a positive change in your business if you re-think the customer experience. Don’t join the new line of thought that treats customers like they are idiots to be taken advantage of. Think about how you can make sure that your customer is truly always right. Listen to your customers. Give them what they want. Your business is sure to be better off because of it.

Sabrina Parsons aka MommyCEO


AvatarSabrina Parsons

Sabrina has served as CEO of Palo Alto Software since 2007.