Why Companies LIE to Their Customers to Avoid Good Service

I was waiting in line to order my food, when I overheard the cashier tell the woman in front of me that she “couldn’t” refund her money, but that she could get her another espresso or something else.

The cashier just lied to this woman. Because she can give her a refund, she (or company policy) is choosing not to. This is why most customer service is bullshit and when companies try to defend it, it’s even more silly.

When a company says to their customer(s):

  • I’m sorry we can’t upgrade you to first class
  • Unfortunately, we can’t give you a refund
  • We aren’t able to ship that for free
  • We can’t split that meal between two
  • We’re unable to add delivery
  • We can’t hold that for you
  • I know we are out, but we can’t give you this as alternative
  • etc.

They’re not telling you they can’t, what they are telling you is they won’t and that’s an entirely different story.

Ya see, there are only a few things we “can’t” do. We can’t break the law. We can’t violate government mandates. We can’t do things that are physically or mechanically impossible. We can’t do things that would put customers in harms way. Outside of these things, there isn’t very much we/companies can’t do, we just choose not to and hide behind the suggestion that it “can’t” be done.

When we say to a customer we can’t do something, what in essence we’re saying is this, we’ve gone as far as we’re willing to go to accommodate you and the business you’re giving us.

What the company is saying when they say they can’t is, you and your business are no longer worth going any further. It’s not worth giving the refund. It’s not worth upgrading you to first class. It’s not worth giving you a free meal. It’s not worth changing our processes or forgoing our policies. When companies say they can’t, they’re saying they won’t and you’re not worth it to them.

Every company has a right to draw a line between customer service and good business sense. Nordstrom’s line is pretty far back. We all know the story of them taking a tire back, when they don’t even sell tires. But, here’s the deal. If you’re line isn’t very accommodating, don’t punt by saying you can’t. You can and you’re just choosing not to. I know that you can refund my money, you just don’t want to. I know you can upgrade me to first class (assuming their is a seat available), you just don’t want to. I know you can split that big salad so my friend and I can split it, you just won’t.  Do us all a favor and stop bullshitting us. Don’t act like you “can’t” when you can, and just won’t. Stop lying to your customers and to yourself. Know where you draw the line between customer service and good business practices and stand tall. Just tell us you’re unwilling to do that and then tell us what you are willing to do.

Take the lying out of customer service or the lack their of it. No one likes a liar.