The Worst Customer Service Ever. In the History of Ever.

The following story is a satirical dramatization of my worst customer service experiences ever. In the history of ever. Pretend for a moment, my year-old toaster just ain’t what it used to be. The low-medium setting produces golden brown side, while the other comes out charred black, featuring sketchy silhouettes of B-movie actors and the members of the local city council.

Having registered my product with the manufacturer on the date of purchase, I should receive full coverage under the manufacturer’s limited warranty, which most certainly covers hardware failure resulting in an asymmetrical breakfast.

The Worst Ever


ACME: Thanks for calling ACME Toasters, this is Connie. How may I provide you with the utmost in satisfaction today?


ACME: Why, yes sir, the limited manufacturer’s warranty will most certainly cover asymmetry such as you’ve described. Let me go ahead and look up your account information. Your name, sir?


ACME: Ok, and here we go. It appears your warranty expired two days ago, but we can still help you out with that. Just one moment, sir.

ME: Sure, no problem

ACME: Ok, sir. We’ll need you to ship the toaster to our RMA center in Dubuque, Iowa; where it will inspected and diagnosed. Unfortunately, this particular problem comes up more than we’d like to admit; it’s probably the heating element.

ACME: To repair this, we need to remove three perishable screws (part #1Z774X), one occlusal eclipsing crescent spring (part #2P367A), and one iron-clad colosso heating element (part #7R220M).

ME: Um, excuse me?

ACME: Yes, sir?

ME: What exactly is a perishable screw?

ACME: Oh, it’s a machine-molded, non-renewable, comfort-fit fastener specially made to create efficiencies and economies of scale in small-to-medium, countertop appliance manufacturing.

ME: Come, again?

ACME: It’s a machine-molded…

ME: No, I got that. Basically, it’s a disposable screw. Anyway, you were saying: disposable screws, hammer-and-sickle spring, and a colosso heater. What else?

ACME: Sir, I’m sensing a little frustration and would to apologize for any shortcomings on my part. I assure, you, I’m here to help. And, as I said, we can still help you with those out-of-warranty repairs.

ME: I’m sorry. You’re absolutely right. I’m frustrated with the process, not with you. Please continue.

ACME: Ok. Thank you for your patience, sir. Now, the work order will include delivery of a postage paid return label and RMA claim to your home address, or any other convenient location.

You’ll need to provide a shipping container, though. The original box is ideal, but people rarely hang on to those.

ME: Actually, I’m a bit of a neatnik. I break down those boxes and store them in the garage. I still move around a bit for work, and I’ve found it much easier to just keep those boxes around.

ACME: Oh my gosh! Me and my boyfriend do the same thing. Besides the convenience, moving boxes are just so expensive!

ME: Don’t I know it?!?

ACME: Ok, so we have the return label; intake and processing in Dubuque; diagnosis and repair. Oh, and return shipping of course.

Just a couple things and we’re set to go. I’ll need you to confirm your mailing address and daytime phone number.


ACME: Ok, got. it. And just one last thing before we get you back on the road to golden brown. We just need a credit card number as we don’t currently have one on file.

ME: A credit card?

ACME: Yes, sir. Visa, MasterCard, or American Express. You can even use PayPal. That’s a new customer benefit we added this year. To cover the charges for parts, intake and processing, diagnosis, repair, and return shipping.

ME: You’re joking, right?

ACME: No, sir.

ME: So, I’m expected to pay for all of this, then. Correct?

ACME: Yes, sir. These are the standard charges for Premier-Elite Out-of-Warranty Support.

ME: Wow! When you said you could still help, you gave the distinct impression it would be treated as though it were still under warranty.

ACME: Oh, no sir. I apologize if you misunderstood. But, sentence four, deeds and disclaimers of the manufacturer’s limited warranty states: Upon lapse of the herein implied, non-binding, limited warranty; customers with registered products will be automatically extended lifelong membership into Premier-Elite Out-of-Warranty Support with all privileges stated or implied.

ME: Of course. And just what are the privileges – stated or implied?

ACME: The terms of membership, benefits, and privileges are all detailed in the transition brochure you should be receiving by postal mail in 3-8 weeks.

ME: Naturally, I’ll make the assumption these terms are not favorable to me.

ACME: Sir? I’m sorry, sir.

ME: No, no. Not your fault.

ACME: Sir?

ME: Yes?

ACME: Your credit card, sir? If I can get that number, we’ll get you right back on the path to golden brown!

ME: Absolutely not. I’m beyond frustrated now. It feels like I’ve been lied to. No way am I paying for this. Out of curiousity, though, what’s the tally?

ACME: That would be $41.27.

ME: Well, what do you know? That seems almost reasonable.

ACME: May I remind you, sir, that your Premier-Elite membership entitles you to the Premier-Elite Return Shipping Advantage.

ME: Return shipping is already part of the bill, right? What’s the “advantage”?

ACME: With no fees in addition to the actual shipping cost, you may select your preferred shipping method as well as the shipping priority.

ME: You don’t say? What if I want USPS Three-Day Select?

ACME: Not a problem.

ME: Fed 1st Overnight?

ACME: Indeed.

ME: Fantastic. What if I can’t make up my mind, what with all these fantastic choices?

ACME: Well, sir. Standard shipping is UPS Ground, which should arrive in 11-14 business days.

ME: Lovely. Now, let me see I have this all in order: assuming ground shipping, I can pay you $41.27 to repair my $85 toaster. Let’s assume the return label arrives in four business days with initial shipping to Dubuque…oh, via UPS Ground, yeah?

ACME: Yes, sir.

ACME: Ok, 15 days from now, my toaster arrives in Dubuque. 3-5 days for repair?

ACME: Yes, sir.

ME: Another 11-14 business days for return shipping. All told, I’m looking at 30 business days, or six weeks, without a toaster. Let’s consider the economic impact.

30 days of retail toast @ $3.25 plus $2.25 for the bottomless coffee plus tax and tip. That’s approximately $7.00 per day in replacement cost, totaling out at $210, which does not account for weekends. With $200, I could upgrade the toaster I already have. Today.

ACME: Sir, I think I understand your frustration, but I am bound by the terms of the warranty.

ME: Of course. Your hands are tied! There’s nothing you can do! Whatever!!

ACME: Actually, sir. There is one other possibility. Would you give one last chance to offer you the utmost in customer satisfaction?

ME: Let’s see. I’m already late, pissed off, and curious for all the wrong reasons. What the heck!?!

ACME: Excellent! Thank you, sir. I’m going to transfer you over to our new Warranty Recovery Team.


ACME: Warranty Recovery, this is Tristan. How may I provide the utmost in satisfaction today?

ME: Seriously? The utmost in satisfaction? Not likely.

ACME: I’m here to help, sir. Connie alerted me to your case and I’m reviewing your customer record now. Ok, I see. Another faulty heating element, eh? And, yup, Connie was right. You are, indeed, out of warranty. Not a problem, though, sir; we can still help you with that.

ME: Oh, really? Do tell.

ACME: Sure thing. As a Premier-Elite Out-of-Warranty Support member you’re eligible for 10% off the annual subscription to the Platinum-Onyx InPerpity Support program with a five-year legacy auto-renewal clause included. This will extend the terms of the original warranty for 12 consecutive months from the data of manufacture.

ME: Date of manufacture, you said? Not registration date, or date purchase?

ACME: Absolutely correct, sir. Or, you’re also eligible for a 25% discount on a subscription to Lifetime Diamond Mark VII support, which extends your original warranty with a variable 90/10 coverage umbrella.

ME: 90/10, eh?

ACME: Yes, you’re 90% covered on weekdays with a standard-practice 10% coverage rate on weekends, holidays, and the first day of every month.

ME: Wow. Just wow.

ACME: Indeed. So, let me help you understand the rates for these great discounted warranty programs

ME: Yes. Help…I want help.

ACME: Then I’m your man, sir! As I said, the Premier-Elite rate for…


ACME: Sir? The rates, sir.


ACME: Sir? Have I provided you with the utmost in satisfaction today?


ACME: Sir????


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