The Decline of Customer Service – and How It’s Mostly the Consumers Fault

I recently wrote an article about my experiences dealing with Wind Mobile’s Customer Service, while I was trying to get a cell phone set up for my brother.

In the end, Wind admitted that they couldn’t actually provide service for my brother in his area, but rather than refunding his money, they offered him a $100 credit, but only if he remained a customer… which we obviously declined.

After writing the article, we received thousands of supportive messages from people all over the world, through Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, email, and comments on my article. I was blown away by the sheer magnitude of the response from the masses- I couldn’t be more grateful.

But I did notice two overwhelming themes in the messages I received, and both point to a very sad state for Customer Service.

The first type: “I know how you feel, the same thing happened to me.”

The “misery loves company” type; I received message after message from other Wind customers (sometimes they weren’t even Wind customers) about how they were mistreated in a similar fashion- and sometimes the only common element in our two stories, was that we both felt ripped off.


As a consumer, we felt like the company took advantage of us, or wasn’t fair, and we just had to accept that and move on- we had no recourse.

The second type: “You should have known better”

This was actually a big surprise to me. I’m a pretty pessimistic person as it is, but I was blown away by the number of people that blamed me, and said “that I should have known better than to trust Wind”, or “why would you believe what they told you?”

I believe that consumers should be smart about their purchases; they should do their homework and understand what they’re getting in to when they sign something. But I also think that companies have a responsibility to be honest about their products and services and own up to it when they can’t or won’t deliver.

In my case, I had Wind Mobile insisting over the course of a month, that the cell coverage in my brothers area was “good, and definitely not the problem”, only to find out in the end, that it’s NOT good, and WAS definitely the problem.


Even with their lies, or at best, completely uninformed (intentionally or otherwise) staff, I had people saying that I should have known better than to believe them.

Is that really where we are? Consumers being trained to not trust anything that comes out of a company representative’s mouth, and if we fall for it, it’s our own fault for believing them?

Good Customer Service shouldn’t be a “niche” market for smaller guys to distinguish themselves.

Not a huge surprise, but the bigger companies are the worst offenders. It doesn’t really affect them as much if they lose a customer here or there- it’s the CODB, and in a lot of cases, the customer needs the service more than the company needs the customer. So consumers feel trapped- and simply put up with whatever the company tries to get away with.

The reality is, that if enough customers refuse to accept what they’re handing out; choose not to accept their excessive pricing, their arbitrary rules, and their poor customer service, we could make a difference; we could force them to change and put honesty before profits- or at least, “more’ of the profits towards being honest and fair.

… but we won’t. Most people, after years of putting up with it, don’t believe they can actually make a difference, so they become complacent and apathetic, and sometimes, in an ironic, Stockholm syndrome-like twist, evangelists of the shitty things companies do, triggering them to write comments about how people should have known better.


This type of thinking moves a large portion of blame on the consumer, as it tells these companies that’s it’s “OK”- we’ve developed a coping mechanism to deal with their recidivism, and they’re more than welcome to ratchet up the shit they want us to eat.

4 thoughts on “The Decline of Customer Service – and How It’s Mostly the Consumers Fault

  1. Puleen

    Maybe a march for good customer service across the city targertting all businesses is overdue! Consumers demand to be treated with respect, honesty and transparency. Those to me are the strong pillars that any business, small or large, should stand on.

  2. Jim

    Hi MIke,

    We as Canadians have generally become very spoiled by department store mentality. It has given us a sense of entitlement that we expect will carry over to all other industries. “Satisfaction guaranteed or your money cheerfully refunded” is what we expect from all retail outlets. I have enough horror stories from my dealings with Telus to fill a book, both for myself and others that I’ve helped get set up with cell service. Virtually everyone who has owned a cell phone for a number of years can relate to your story because we have all experienced it, or much worse.

    What you expected to happen was that when Wind said you have no service in your area was that they refund all your money and take back the phone, the department store “satisfaction guarantee”. That will never happen and it can’t happen because Wind didn’t sell you the phone. They wear Wind shirts, give you cute Wind bag, but they are actually independently owned franchise businesses. I found that out when I tried to return a phone and the guy said “That’s not our bag, ours is a different colour”. I had to return the phone to the original store that it was purchased from. They are contractually obligated to accept returns if the phone was used under 30 minutes and within 14 days. Otherwise, they take a personal loss which they will not do. They only make money selling phones and getting a commission for new accounts. They aren’t interested in providing any kind of tech support.

    That’s one of Wind’s biggest problems. They outsource virtually everything. From stores to customer service and probably tech support. And no one talks to each other, and everyone is just interested in passing you off to someone else if you have a problem that they can’t resolve. But that’s why you pay a much lower monthly fee. If they invested in the infrastructure that is required for better customer service, they wouldn’t have any customers because they would need to charge a lot more.

    Still I think we have it much better than people in the states where it is illegal to unlock your own phone and the carriers will scan your phone to see if it is a smartphone and force you to buy a data plan even if you don’t need or want data.

    Getting to your second point, “You should have known better”. Mike, a bunch of people told you that you were in a good service area, then one person told you that you were in a poor service area. Has it occurred to you that the last person was blowing you off so they didn’t have to deal with your complaints? Check an actual map like and it looks like you are in a pretty good area. Absolutely no one remotely can tell you what kind of signal you are getting. They don’t know where you are standing, how you are holding your phone, what your walls are made of, whether your in an inside room or by a window, and so on. You said you had 3-5 bars and your signal was dropping, and that the phone was working everywhere else. Chances are that you were connected to a tower that was having networking issues. You could have tested this theory with an app that you can download that tells you which tower you’re connected to.

    The timing was unfortunate since 3-5 bars indoors is a very good signal for Wind. And it looks like it would have worked out fairly well for your brother had it worked and I do hope that you eventually find something that works for your brother.

    Wind is actually not that bad of a company once you understand how it works, and is actually much better that the big 3 for a great many users including myself.

  3. Ed

    Jim pretty well nails it on the head.

    The only thing I have to add is that it’s your brother’s money. He worked hard to make it, and with your help, he should have to work hard to spend it too, since if he doesn’t work hard at spending it, others will take it easy from you.

    When I walked into Wind to get my sim card, I asked about porting in, and I got 2 different responses, and I expect 2 more different ones when I actually port in after testing.

    A long time ago, I had a problem with my car. The car was being herky jerky. The clutch was worn and I brought it to the mechanic telling him that the clutch was worn. He drove it around and said that ‘Yep, the clutch is worn’ $600 later, I have a working car again. 4 weeks later, same herky jerky. This time he replaces the spark plug wires for free. FOR FREE! Nothing is for free. With one hand he taketh, by overcharging $600, and with the other hand he giveth with a $20 set of spark plug wires.

    This story, and a $1600 brake and muffler job, and I’ve never been taken by anyone else ever again for any purchase I’ve made in my life since then.

    People will tell you whatever you want to get your money.

    From this point on, this is your story, and you will never be taken by anyone else ever again for any purchase you will make in your life from now on.

    Compared to me, your story is pretty cheap.

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