You've likely had at least one memorable customer service experience. That moment when you either wanted to shriek in anger or shout for joy over the type of service you received. Well, we asked our readers to share their stories -- the good and the bad -- about the best and worst retail experiences they have encountered.
Click through our gallery to see which stores got it right, and which got it very, very wrong. (Please keep in mind these are accounts of individual experiences and may or may not be reflective of any retailer's overall customer service or policies.)
Reader prprincessO8 says:
"A few years ago, a friend [and I] were shopping at the mall. We decided to go into Victoria's Secret [to] browse. I was overweight at the time. I had seen a really nice bra and panty set, and I said to my friend, 'They shouldn't be so discriminatory. They should make this in our size.' I then heard the manager tell us, 'Maybe if you lose some weight we would have things that fit you.' That was the last time I was in a Victoria's Secret, and I have no intention of going back in one."
Reader DDMoffitt says:
"My son had requested a book for Christmas ... The young lady looked in the computer inventory to see if they had the requested book. It showed there were some in stock, still packed. She went to look through the packed books and could find none. The next shipment was arriving in the next few days, however, arrival time uncertain. This young lady then called the competition, Borders, and requested they check their inventory. She gave me the contact name at Borders and told me to just go up to the counter and my book would be waiting."
Reader JSM1295 says:
"Last year I went to Books-A-Million to buy a children's book for a grandchild. I went to the customer service podium in the center of the store and gave the title to a clerk and asked where to find it. She waved her arm in the direction of the children's book section and said, 'Over there.' As I walked away, I heard her turn to her co-worker and say in an [aggravated] tone, 'She didn't even TRY to find it on her own.'"
Reader Red5781 says:
"My mother was creating a book for all four of her children that was a combination autobiography and memory book. It was just a jumble of typed pages and loose photos. She took this material in a plastic bag to an Office Depot in Sanford, Florida, and in about a week had a beautiful gift for all of us. We were so impressed with the book's quality and creativity."
Reader KRSRSS3 says:
"When I was 18 years old, my mother died of lung cancer. She had clothes that she had purchased during her illness that she had never even taken the tags off to wear. My father asked me to return the clothes to Dillard's ... I did not have the receipts ... [The cashier] was very rude in the way that she was asking me, 'Why can't you just get the receipts from your mom to get the credit?' I then told her that she had just died and she proceeded to look into my face and say, 'Well, you don't look too sad about it.'"
Reader Two3leggedcats says:
"They're so generous about coupons. They'll take expired ones or even multiples of those for $5 or $10 ... I really like shopping there ... and I've found lots of gadgets that are hard to find elsewhere. Some items are overpriced ... but the coupons take care of that and make it a cheaper alternative to other stores. They're also very liberal about returns. My mother has bad luck with Brita faucet filters -- one stopped working ... and they let her exchange it for a new one many months after the sale."
Reader moliveras9 says:
"I've been at Friendly's in my neighborhood and I can say that they should be called 'Unfriendly's.' The customer service is one of the worst that I have ever seen. They have a door that lets them know when a customer has come in, and nine-out-of-ten times no one shows up to greet you for about five minutes. If you go there, you will see the manager outside smoking or on the phone. If they are on the phone when you come in, you have to wait until they are finished with their call before they take care of you."
Reader Tufudo says:
"I was looking for a certain apron and there were not any on the sales floor. A salesperson in the housewares department said for me to leave my cell phone number, and she would personally go into the backroom to look through the boxes and call me when she had finished. About four hours later my cell phone rang, and sure enough it was the salesperson from Macy's telling me she had found a box of the aprons and would be happy to ring it up over the phone and send it to package pickup for me. Wow, what a great employee."
Reader KeviJones17 says:
"I paid about $20 extra to have a package delivered [to] arrive by Christmas. It went out on Dec. 22nd and arrived on the 27th. I spoke with three different customer service representatives who said I couldn't get any money back because there was unexpected bad weather. One actually told me they weren't responsible for 'acts of God.' If they had said pay $20, and we'll be sure to get it there unless the weather's bad, living in New England I wouldn't have paid. The rep told me it was listed in the terms posted on the Internet, which I was responsible to read."
Reader Janieml702 says:
"The hardward store in my downtown area, Ackroyd's, is a wonderful place to shop ... I might have to pay a bit more for an item, however, the service is incomparable ... I went in last week for several types of bulbs. The man who approached to assist pointed out several different 3-way bulbs and even though the bulb I first picked up was a bit more money, he told me he generally advised against that particular bulb, because it had a tendency to get very hot ... He also aided me in finding the correct bulbs for several other lamps."
Reader Misterb154 says:
"I set my stuff on the counter to pay. The cashier had to go check a price. She returned with a manager, who was obviously having a bad day, and I was told that I could not buy five of the things. I wanted to know why not. She said, 'I can't sell you these.' She said that until corporate faxed the prices none of them could be sold. I asked why were they out, and she responded, 'Our shipment came in yesterday.' I said, 'I know they will be gone the next time I come in,' and she said, 'I don't know what to tell you. I cannot sell them to you.'
Reader ATWATERLOUISE says:
"I had bought an electric baseboard heater from Home Depot in January 2008 for the amount of $37.00. When I tried to use it in October 2008 it would not work. I called the store and there was only a 90-day warranty on the heater. I called the distribution center to see if there was a recall on the heater. I gave them all the information needed and was called within three days and was told I would receive a $50.00 gift card in place of the heater. The card was sent by UPS."
Reader MaggieF317 says:
"On my last purchase, the monitor was DOA (Dead on Arrival). I called the Dell customer support number and got a guy with a very heavy Indian accent who directed me to the monitor manual on CD, provided with the computer. I asked him if he understood the irony of putting the monitor troubleshooting guide on a CD since if the monitor didn't work you'd have no way of reading the guide. After 40 minutes of being on hold and talking to a supervisor, they said they'd have to send a new one -- the very suggestion I'd made at the beginning of the call."
Reader PWilson962 says:
"A teenager lost her Blackberry at a Hot Topic in Georgia. The sales representative there found it a day later with the battery dead. She took it home to recharge it so she could call someone on the phone list to inquire about the owner. She found 'Mom' on the list and called to report the lost phone. Mom was so happy to get her daughter's expensive phone back. Now, that's great customer service."
Reader TailsEndFarm says:
"I [went] into the pharmacy to get prescriptions that I have been filling there for a few years. I had put in the refill request two weeks prior. The woman 'helping' me disappeared, then returned saying that I could not get the refill of one of them for two more weeks, that the insurance would not pay for it. I told her that I was out of it two weeks ago when I called it in. She disappeared and returned with my meds and no explanation, even when I asked what was happening. She was silent with a grumbly look on her face."
Reader ND84TC2 says:
"My brother and sister-in-law's house burned to the ground, and they lost literally everything. I went shopping at Nordstrom to get them some essentials ... just to get them by. The Nordstrom salesperson was so helpful, taking me from department to department. Then she went in the back for a few moments and returned telling me that Nordstrom was going to wrap and ship ALL $500 plus worth for FREE ... That's what I call SERVICE!"
Reader Two3leggedcats says:
"I was at Atlanta International when this happened. I placed my carry-on on the belt. A female agent came over and slammed the bag on its side. Fine, except when I was waiting on the other side for it, the scanner suddenly yells, 'Whose bag is this?' I raised my hand, and he picked it up and slammed it back on the other side of the scanner in the same position I'd originally put it ... I wouldn't even mind if they would actually catch a 'live one' once in a while, but no. Undercover agents carry everything from box cutters to acid through without getting so much as a dirty look."
Reader Hokulaniha says:
"After ten years of excellent, soulful hospice caregiving, I was worn out, [and] unemployed. I needed a hair trim. Money was tight. A new citizen, still working very hard on her English, washed my hair with such care that I was certain I was being attended by the fingers of God. Someone who knew nothing about me was giving me service with the same comforting energy and spirit as I gave to the dying and their families for a decade. I will never forget that."
Reader Denniserbsr1951 says:
"Several years ago while traveling, I stopped at a McDonald's. I was the second person in line, and it still took them 15 minutes to get to me. Then I ordered my coffee ... The cashier then took two other orders, and I was left standing there. Finally, after speaking up, I received my cup. I went to the coffee urn, and, guess what? It was empty. So I stood at the counter again for another five minutes or more before someone asked me my problem. When I told them the coffee urn was empty, they filled my cup from behind the counter ... After a few sips, I realized ... it tasted like a mixture of coffee and TEA!"
Reader PTMILNES says:
"With my family of geeks, Think Geek has become a fixture of our holidays over the last couple years. I count on them for amusing items for my favorite techies. With the economy in miserable shape, imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail this week telling me that an item I purchased was printed on the right size but wrong style shirt. They are sending me a replacement and asked me to keep the original as a gift ... The message on the shirts are the same, but it is one that certainly bears repeating."
Reader Alishia314 says:
"I recently drove into the auto wing of Sears ... and stood at the counter to check in. The lady behind the counter was dealing with another customer ... Ten to fifteen minutes later she was still dealing with the customer ... and in all of this stated to another colleague that she was finished working in 20 minutes. She was walking in the back then to the front, typing on her little computer and NOT ONCE did she even look at me ... I asked two other people working there if there was someone who could help me, and they just pointed to her. Needless to say I just got in my car and drove out."
Reader Jgreenengland says:
"I purchased a laptop that included a rebate for the laptop, security software and a printer. Although the paperwork is a little confusing I submitted the receipts and bar codes to the address listed and dutifully waited 6 weeks. They were great at providing updates on the status of my rebate and when one rebate was rejected due to the wrong rebate code listed on the receipt, they rectified the situation at my word and sent me the rebate check. It's a shame this company is having financial difficulties -- I will miss them."
Reader tinman375jdj says:
"I chose [a] laptop because the salesman gave it high marks, and there was $150 in rebates, which brought the cost in line with an HP I was looking at ... I did [a] presentation that afternoon, but the computer kept freezing up, and I was having to reboot during the presentation. I went back to Circuit City and asked to replace it with another computer. They wanted $200 to restock the item even though it had only been 3 days ... They pointed out that that I had only 15 days to return it, and I showed them the receipt only being 3 days old. They would not do anything about it."
Reader Threadsbigtall says:
"It was nice shopping for my two sons at Threads Menswear. Their sales people are great. They helped me find the gifts I needed for my sons. It was nice shopping with sales people that were pleasant and knew what they were talking about. The other stores I was at earlier, the sales staff would not bother to help me find the merchandise. The gentlemen at Threads Big and Tall helped me find everything I needed and helped me carry the bags to my car."
Reader Chriscbatson says:
"One time I went to FYE just outside of Baltimore, Md. When I walked in there was a 16- year-old kid behind the counter wearing a hat that said, 'F--- You.' I asked him if they had any of the older 'Hootie and Blowfish' CDs still in stock. He asked me if I was, 'Some sort of fag or something.' 100 percent true story. Needless to say, I was a bit shocked."
Reader Paulbyork says:
"I was going to Peru and four days before I went to my local Sears ... to see if they would have the stowaway raincoat in stock ... When I got to the store they said they don't stock them but I could order on the computer ... When I told them that wouldn't work because I was leaving soon, the salesman called the order in for me and explained that I was leaving and they put a rush on it and I had it two days later."
Reader Jursonna says:
"Overstock.com advertises $500 in free credit with them if you find the same item for less somewhere else. They say all you have to do is fill out their price check form and they will get back to you in one to four days. That was about four weeks ago and nothing! I have sent several e-mails and they refuse to address the fact I found the TV at Sears for less. I have copied my conversation with their representative who says it is the same TV and saved it. They are worthless in my book and I will never buy anything from them."
Reader PAKnudson says:
"[At the] day after Christmas sales, a sign said 'standard Posturpedic pillows $3.99. I had four, [and] when I got to the register she said the amount total and I said, 'Your sign says different.' She went and looked and said, 'Oh no, you're right,' called her manager [and] let me have them at the price. She said the stocker had put the wrong pillows in the bin."
Reader Houseofgauss says:
"I've been with Qwest for 15 years now and I can't believe they are still in business. They were the rudest phone company when they were the only one out there. When competition started popping up, they bent over backwards to keep my business. Then a few years ago they began to raise their rates and began to be [rude] again! Early this year, they started adding things to my account without my permission ... If things don't improve by January 2009, I've told Qwest that the two-year Internet agreement I made with them and my 15 years of being a customer are over."
Reader Robarge3 says:
"I searched for [a] game and located an empty place where the game had been. An employee, walking past me, asked if he could help. I explained that I was looking for the game ... He volunteered to go in the back and look for me. I thanked him and waited ... and waited ... and waited. After 10 minutes, he had still not returned and I stopped another employee. He replied that the first employee had GONE HOME. He never returned to let me know, or told me his shift was almost over."
Reader NeoFallenAngel19 says:
"I thought it would be nice to go to Subway to get everybody some food. I went in, made my order and left. I forget to get my boss his food, so I went back in and told her I needed to order another sub. She replied, 'Well did you have to go out and then come back in? Did it just pop in your head that you had to get another sub? GEEZ.' [Another time] I went to go to get some donuts and then some soup. She said, 'You'll get fat; you need to eat a sub.' End of story: she still works there and I get free subs from the owner."
Reader ESeller37 says:
"I bought a $200 dollar HP All-in-One scanner, printer and copier. When I got it home, the printer wouldn't recognize the ink cartridges and kept saying, 'Error: no ink.' I called the HP customer support number. It was horrible ... I was on the phone for probably 45 minutes and all the solutions she was telling me to do were either out of the manual that comes with the printer or other BS methods that didn't apply. She was obviously reading out of the manual that I had in my hands."
Reader Lysistratagal says:
"A couple of months ago, I decided to order dinner for myself and my son from Pizza Hut to be delivered ... I was told sure, no problem, it'll be about a half hour. 45 minutes later, I called them asking about the delivery. They then tell me that because it rained, one of their drivers was unable to make the rounds and asked me if I could come pick up the order. I told them I couldn't because of my lack of transportation ... I said we could wait for another driver. We waited for at least another hour. I finally got fed up and ordered delivery from another local pizzeria."
What's a company to do when sales slump and interest in its product or service fades? One option: A major makeover. From Wal-Mart making over its Supercenters to Pepsi introducing a new product design to McDonald's turning out new burger boxes, we profile 28 companies that decided to put on a fresh face in 2008.
Click through our gallery to see what's changed with these 28 well-known products and brands. Start Next Gallery: Company Makeovers