The One Key Insight You Need To Avoid A Customer Service Disaster

I’ve been listening to Dan Ariely’s “The Upside of Irrationality“, which is the follow-on book to his very popular “Predictably Irrational” that I listened to earlier in the year.

Dan Ariely's The Upside of IrrationalityOne of the chapters I just finished takes a look at our desire for revenge when we feel hard done by. Dan illustrated with plenty of examples, including one of a couple of guys who got such bad service at a hotel that they produced a video about it that went viral, and another about the difficulty of changing Apple iPod batteries, which prompted some disgruntled customers to spray paint every single iPod poster ad in New York they came across.

In each example, the consequential bad press that comes about from just one or two upset customers is significant. After the fact, it is very clear that the company should have done everything it could to appease the upset customer.

As I was listening to Dan explain the outcome of his research experiments into our desire for revenge, I started to think about those few times over the years that I have received emails from people who were upset with me.

Whether it was a blog reader, or newsletter subscriber or a customer who bought one of my products, if they feel upset, they use very strong language to tell me. There’s something about the energy behind a complaint, the motivation a person feels when they feel something has impacted them negatively or they see a mistake that came from another person, that drives them to say, and even do, some pretty irrational things.

The Desire To Matter

I believe, at the core, the reason we react with such passion in any situation where we feel we have been the victim of bad service or any kind of discrimination is that we all desire to feel we matter.

If we receive poor customer service, we are being treated in a way that undermines our value as a human being. It is that personal.

We want recognition of our value and that comes from other people when they treat us with respect. This is especially important when something we perceive as bad happens to us, when another person promised that it won’t. If someone else made a mistake, we suffer, and they don’t respond with an adequate reply, that’s a crime worthy of a hefty response.

How a person responds when they feel they are a victim of poor customer service or a faulty product really depends on the perceived magnitude of the “crime” and what type of person they are. The challenge as a business owner, is keeping up a standard that can be applied as uniformly as possible, so as to over-deliver in customer satisfaction, and on the rare occasion something goes wrong, you respond to it quickly and appropriately.

The Internet Loves To Spread Bad News

Several years ago Rich Schefren wrote about how quickly the internet can spread bad press. If left unchecked, within days reputations can be ruined, so much so that an entire company can go under as a result.

One of the primary examples Rich shared was that of Kryptonite Bike Locks, which suffered significant bad press that spread like wildfire, after a video was released showing how their locks could be opened just using a standard Bic pen.

Many years ago during my first or second year of blogging, I was still learning how to deal with the social nature of comments. At the time a flame war erupted in the comments on my blog. The battle didn’t include me at first, but because some of the comments made were quite slanderous and without any proof to back it up, I felt it necessary to delete the entire thread.

Boy was that a mistake.

A person who was making many of the comments felt I was censoring their voice, which I was. I censored the entire conversation because I didn’t like the idea of hosting comments that might potentially get me in legal trouble.

The mistake I made in this case, was underestimating the reaction I would get from this person and not doing enough to manage expectations. I simply deleted the comments without warning or consultation. I didn’t even email the people who left the comments to explain why I was doing it.

As a result of this the person decided to have a go at me too, by writing an entire blog post about how I had censored their conversation on my blog. This blog post managed to capture a bit of attention within my niche, even prompting a few other bloggers to write about it. I continued to add fuel to the fire, by defending myself through comments.

The battle raged for a while, and in typical flame war style I had trouble getting my points recognized. Everything I wrote was picked apart and thrown back at me as evidence of my crimes. Eventually I realized that in a flame war or any discussion with an online “troll”, you are best to just leave them alone. Any attention you give just provides them with more fodder.

Eventually it all died down and was forgotten, but not before my blog and name had reached a few more people in my industry, in perhaps not the ideal way. I did apologize for the part that I felt I handled badly – deleting comments without explaining why first – but for the most part the whole thing became a lot larger than it should have.

That’s the risk with the internet. You never know who you are pissing off, who is taking offense to your words or what type of person is consuming your content. There’s a potential blowout of bad press if you make just one tiny error that happens to impact a person who is prepared to complain in public places.

The Best Customer Service Advice I Can Give You

Years ago I wrote about what I consider the “secret” to good customer service.

To put it simply, you just need to acknowledge people exist.

In the online world that means the act of replying to an email is the most important thing. You don’t even need to reply with a solution to the problem. All you need is to say that I hear your voice, which a reply does, and keep the line of communication open and responsive.

This backs up what Dan Ariely writes about in his book on the power of saying sorry or offering an explanation for why something happened. He explained how a new Audi car he bought broke down within months of purchasing it, unfortunately while he was driving on the freeway at 70 miles per hour, resulting in a very scary experience.

Dan received terrible customer service from Audi after the car broke down, which triggered his initial research into the desire for revenge because he felt the urge for retribution from Audi. A month later when collecting the repaired car from Audi, the repairman gave him the keys with a simple comment – cars break down. This statement made Dan feel just a little bit better.

I experienced similar situations during my time working at a help desk in university. There is one particular example I remember clearly, where I came down to start my shift in the middle of a confrontation between a particularly upset middle aged lady and one of my fellow help desk staff.

Since my colleague was wrapping up her shift, I took over helping the lady with her problem. She was clearly angry when I began listening to her. As it turned out, I couldn’t actually solve her problem, however I did what I am good at – I made eye contact, listened to her, acknowledged her complaints with little hmms and ahs when appropriate, and did my best to give her the feeling that she was being heard.

John Grey's Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Guide To RelationshipsBy the end of the interaction she had calmed down and even thanked me despite the fact that I couldn’t actually fix her problem. I did offer a couple of options to follow up on, but that didn’t matter nearly as much as the emotional satisfaction she felt because someone was willing to acknowledge her problem.

Now maybe this situation is just an example of what John Grey talks about in his very popular “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” book, where he explains how women want to be heard, and men want to provide solutions and fix problems, but it doesn’t really matter. The most important point is that a customer first needs to know that you care about what has happened to them.

Customer Service Begins With Acknowledgement

I’ll leave you with one piece of advice, which I hope will help you avoid any irrational responses from disgruntled customers.

Acknowledge whatever your customers come to you with, no matter how inconsequential, basic or trivial.

That acknowledgement should be in the form of some kind of concrete reply, ideally delivered as quickly as possible. It doesn’t need to be a solution, just a “yes, I am listening and I hear you“.

If you have the resources to take this concept beyond your customers to every person you or your business comes into contact with, then you have just discovered one of the best forms of marketing in today’s social internet environment.

I personally find it very hard to find the time to reply to every comment made to my blog, on facebook, tweets, youtube comments, linkedin messages, and emails – and this is just within my own social world – that doesn’t include other people’s blogs and social media profiles. However some people manage to do it, which shows it is possible. As always, do what I teach, not necessarily what I do or do not do, if you can.

To drill down the thesis of this article into two simple ideas, I consider the key to success as a content marketer online (which is what we all are), is to make sure you do two things well:

  1. Distribute value
  2. Acknowledge the people who respond to the value you create

That’s all there is to it. Do this well and you will enjoy a healthy relationship with your tribe and all the fruits that come with it.

Yaro Starak



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  • Hi Yaro, thanks a lot for this post. It’s a good reminder and fair warning that people can get nasty, when no one is willing to listen to them. I’m still in the beginning stages of setting up my blog, but knowing this beforehand can save me a lot of trouble in the future. Cheers!

    • No problem Hans, bear in mind the challenge in the future will be more a time management issue than anything else. I still can’t keep up with comments made to this blog, which I would like to.

      • I have deleted an entire post before in one of my blogs simply because the comments i received were too advanced compared to what i wrote about, with many other questions that i don’t have answered to. so i decided to delete the entire post but now i have been inspired.

  • Hey Yaro, great advice as usual. I actually just picked up Dan’s Predictably Irrational book but haven’t started it as yet.

    Just curious about when you said “do what I teach, not necessarily what I do or do not do”, what do you mean by this? Because I was under the impression that what you teach was the result of what you do

    • Hi Shola, I meant that I will say things like reply to every blog comment and facebook comment and twitter tweet, and then go out and interact with other people’s blogs, facebook and twitter profiles, etc but I don’t actually do that.

      I do what I can and realize if I did more it would be better in terms of a specific result, like in this case with communicating with my customers, but also my audience and even other people’s audiences to bring new people back to me.

      • Hey Yaro, I understand a little better now. Thanks for the response!

  • Thank You Yaro. Very true,, & brave to reveal your story. It is also wise to not let “one bad apple ruin the whole bunch”.

  • Acknowledge that the customer is not always right and that some people are just bat shit crazy.

    • When the customer is not right you may need to resolve the issue and ultimately tell the customer (in a polite tone) that the relationship cannot work and that you need to part company. Keeping in mind that you part company after collecting your debt!

      • That’s a good point Gerry, which is sometimes the hardest thing to do. Showing patience when you feel you are in the right and being wrongly accused, but still willing to help this person, takes a certain level of maturity (you need to drop the ego sometimes!).

  • Thank you so much for this valuable information, but tell me if its really good idea to keep comments with blogs ? I have just started my site and I keep reciving lots of spam comments which I need to move to trash.

    • Get yourself a spam eater like Akismet. I only have to deal with a few that sneak in.

  • Jon

    Yaro, thanks for being so open about your story and sharing some books that sound pretty interesting that I havent read/listened to.

    Like you said when arguing with someone that just likes arguing there is no way to win…just grin & bear then it will all be over before long.

    • No problem Jon, I like sharing my stories as a way to illustrate a point.

  • Great stuff Yaro. I think listening to what the customer says and treating them with respect goes a long, long, way to achieving a resolution of the conflict. It may work 95% of the time, or even 99% of the time but in a small minority of cases maybe one has to realise, in the words of Ben Herbert (above), ‘some people are just bat shit crazy.’?!

    • Hehe, yes that is true John, Ben did have a point, but perhaps we have to careful with how we deal with these people the most as they may just be crazy enough to go and rant about how “badly” we treated them at a bunch of forums, blogs etc.

      Thankfully most people are not like that.

  • CLJ

    Yaro, yours is one of the first blogs I ever read on the topic of blogging (at that time I had a very niche-specific blog yet used it more or less as a diary to complain about barking dogs in the neighborhood, so I benefited enormously from your posts back then).
    This article today from you is something of which we can’t be reminded too often. I don’t know how many times I’ve felt my pulse go back to normal just because a customer service person listened to my issue and then paraphrased back to me what I had said, so that I knew s/he had listened.

    • I’m glad to hear from a long time reader CLJ. It sounds like you have a very unique blog topic 🙂

  • I’m not the pushy self-promoter, but given this topic I would be guilty of career malpractice if I didn’t share my book on Acknowledgments with you. Please visit
    to learn more.

    If you’d like I’d be happy to send a copy to you, just let me know where to send it.

    Thanks again and great article.

  • I completely agree with you! We love/need to be acknowledged because it makes us feel like we matter, that someone hears us, and what we do has worth. I was just thinking about this tonight after I had spent a lot of time helping some kids and though I wasn’t looking for praise, I was amazed how few parents stopped to say, “thank you.” I notice that the kids who say thank you have parents who say thank you and those simple words make my day.

    • It goes to show how important as you grow up to remind your kids to have those basic pleasantries. I remember being slightly embarrassed by the need to say thank you, but that was more to do with being shy than rude. If you keep getting told to do it, then it becomes habit, especially as a child.

  • The best definition for “customer service” I have ever heard is “under promise and over deliver”! You cannot go wrong with that as your guide.

    • That’s always a good policy, the challenge is maintaining it, especially as your business grows and you are no longer the person having direct contact with your customers.

  • Great Post. I can relate to what you have said. I worked in customer service and used to encounter very irate customer’s. If you empathise and acknowledge, you can always manage to calm them down.
    Thanks for sharing, Yaro

  • You betcha, acknowledgement is *the* key customer service skill to learn if you’re going to do business of any kind, online or off.

    Just this morning I had a long and drawn out conversation — actually, several conversations, over the course of about 4 hours — with my cell phone service provider trying to resolve a few issues. And each time, the person on the other end said, “I understand why you’re frustrated,” or “I would feel just the way you do if this were happening to me,” and “we’re going to resolve this problem,” and so on. I know they’re trained to say such things, but I’m telling ya, it sure calmed me down off of the ledge. I even told one of the many people I talked to, “Wow, you are *very* good at what you do — you made this angry, frustrated customer feel understood and respected.” And that’s what it’s all about.

    And as someone who’s worked in plenty of customer service facing positions myself over the years, I can tell you, the simple act of acknowledging someone really does work to diffuse tense situations.

    • And I bet you giving that feedback about saying they are very good at what they do made them feel very appreciated too, a sense that they enjoy their job. Nothing like respect and patience at both ends to make life easier.

  • this article is very useful because it remind me that not everything would happen will be pleasing your eyes. we should always be ready for this kind of awkward situation and particularly to a newbies which will be surprised of this issues

  • Brilliant, vigilant replies to comments so far Yaro! You know we had an ongoing problem with our internet. Cockies kept chewing our wire. The optus engineer would come out and my long-suffering husband would explain the problem and the engineer would challenge the suggestion. Always (we had at least four visits) and after climbing on the roof and beraking open our telephone, they’d come back and admit that my husband had been right all along. There was never any anger on my husband’s part, and we were pleasantly surprised when, a few weeks later, we received a substantial discount from out quarterly bill. It pays to be civil I think.

    • Nice example Maria, and for those non-Aussies, I believe Maria is referring to a cockatoo, a big loud white bird, when she writes “Cockies” (which incidentally I read as “cookies” at first).

      Or maybe you meant cockroaches?

  • Extremely interesting post. It’s always a good choice to read Dan Arielys books, he’s a very smart guy and he’s always got something that people can take on board whether they’re in business or not. My most recent blog post also mentions one of his concepts, which has helped me personally to make changes and reorganise the way I do things from a mental perspective.

    • He’s definitely an interesting guy Wasim, and wow, he has been through some hardship in his life with his injuries. It’s inspiring how he has bounced back.

  • I really appreciated the way you framed complaints (or revenge) as people’s need to matter. This is a great perspective to consider during those times when people act out in a way that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Of course, taking the high road can be harder when you’re under attack :-). Still, it’s a great mindset to work toward adopting always. Thanks for sharing.

    • Exactly Nanette, it’s a simple enough reframe, one that you can easily do when you step into the shoes of another person. It’s always ego based, so if you give the ego what it wants – recognition of it’s existence and need to be right – you are half way there.

  • I acknowledge you Yaro for writing a very thoughtful and interesting blog post. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head about customers wanting to be perceived as mattering when things go wrong, or even before then!

    • Oh it looks like Jim you snuck in there before Paola, so thanks for responding to my email too.

  • Of course I acknowledge you Yaro ;-)!
    I think that acknoledging others is a very important part of relationships: showing empathy and understanding helps create rapport with the other person. And this is true for both personal and business relationships.
    Great post!

    • Thanks Paola, you’re the first person to actually respond to the subject of my email 🙂

  • Olga

    This is a fascinating post and I certainly plan to check out Dan Ariely’s books!

    I actually personally have witnessed a case involving some people I know when a company and a couple of individuals in that company rubbed the wrong way literally a couple of people, who in turn decided to fight their cause using the internet (a blog). The outcome was that the company ended up going out of business and losing literally tens of millions dollars. In that case, it had nothing to do with revenge. The individuals believed in their cause, had legal rights and used their blog to mobilize others. The owner of the company was actually engaging in activities for which in my opinion he could have been easily sued. But he most likely would have gotten away with it if not for the publicity that resulted from those couple people fighting it online. But when you think about it: they could have sued the company which would have costed them hundreds of thousands of dollars, years of major headache and iffy outcomes, versus they set up a blog (which costs next to nothing as we know) and kept blogging away till the outcome.

  • Louise

    Reading this and the comments made me realise that sometimes it’s the ones that make one single comment and slide away that are potentially the most dangerous – they give no extra chances to respond and sort things out, but are probably some place seething and potentially bad-mouthing so it is is really important to catch the issue early and deal with it well then and there. Swallow the pride, smile and see the issue from the customers perspective. And on a positive note – often the biggest opposers can become the biggest supporters with a bit of TLC.

    • That last comment you made is very important. The most vocal, who may start off against you, with some solid customer service, can use their passionate voice for you. It really is the “loud mouths” you have to look for because they are going to put in the effort to be heard, and what they say about you can be in support or against, depending on how they feel about their interaction with you.

  • john kahanic

    Hi , good day sir thank you for letting me acknowledge you when i was selling on ebay that was always an issue and time consuming but you have to answer everyone’s question that is what usually made them one happy camper and back as repeat customer i have not include website have not quite figured it yet will some time shortly thank you have a great day

    • I can imagine at eBay good communication has become a standard expectation. If you don’t reply quickly to messages, then you are not meeting the bare minimum level of good customer service for ebay sellers.

  • Great post! We can get so busy going through the motion of “Customer Service” and in our own hearts and minds, THINK we are providing it, but the customer’s reaction will always be the best way to measure. We should allow ourselves to do whatever it takes, usually within reason, but sometimes maybe even outside of reason, to make them feel heard, and appreciated as a customer. As you can tell, this post really got me thinking 🙂 Thank you!

    • That’s a good point about looking at the customer’s reaction Gary. I’ve noticed lately here in Australia that some of the big shopping stores like Myer and David Jones are really suffering and I think a lot of it has to do with customer service. So many times the people working don’t make any effort to help you, they may not even look you in the eye as a basic first step to see if you want help. It’s easy to walk away and not buy something if you can’t find anyone who will take your money.

  • Yaro,
    Another great example of distillation that is your forte. Thanks for the reminder.
    BTW, I would just like to mirror comments I’m sure you’ve already heard since you’ve gone back to providing all the content for your site. It doesn’t matter how good or bad the guest postings were. The simple fact is people come here to read what YOU have to say and miss it when you’re not the one saying it. Many times during your absence I would get your RSS email, go to the site and say”The topic’s interesting but I don’t know who XXXX is. Why should I spend my time reading it?”
    Thanks again for your incredible content.

    • Thanks for your feedback Jeff. I certainly agree with your comments about guest articles. I feel the same when I see guest posts on other sites. I think you can transition a single author site to a multiple author site, but it takes time and some of the initial readers who were there for just that author may never like and thus stop reading. You will however pick up new readers who come to know all the authors, but it is a different branding strategy, one that I had trouble with.

    • Shela

      Right! Can’t live without Yaro!

  • Shela

    Your subject line? I’m gobsmacked—most unusual (and eyecatching) one to date (from anybody)—strangely, it wasn’t dramatic, but oh, so powerful with only two words. I’m acknowledging! Wonderful article, Yaro.

    • Haha, that’s a good reaction Shela, exactly what I was going for. Glad you liked my article too!

      • Shela

        You are SO welcome! I’ve learned so much from you, Yaro, and I hope very soon to join one of your membership sites. God bless you and your family!

  • Great post! So true….I personally identify. I won’t forget this and I will use it. Thanks so much!

  • Thanks Yaro, I’ve read “Predictably Irrational” which was a great read, but after reading your post I’ll have to read “The Upside of Irrationality“.

    Your post brought back memories of when I owned the model train website… I used to get angry emails because I displayed an ebook image on my sales page. Some customers thought they were getting a book in the mail, rather than a downloadable pdf.

    I adjusted the sales copy to distinctly say that the product was a downloadable pdf, but the complaints still came in. I used to acknowledge them, but often it was just easier to provide a full refund.

    I tried a help desk, but that made things worse, as I was then accused of making them jump through hoops…

    I remember getting really upset in the beginning at some of the accusations and the bad language being used in some of the emails, but I put it down to the target market… Some model railroaders are VERY angry people!

    Ian McConnell
    Western Australia

    • You are not the first person who has had this issue Ian where people expect a physical book to be sent to them because there is a picture of a physical book.

      I think a certain demographic, who does not read the sales page (probably scans it like most people do to find the bits that grab their interest), who is not that technically savvy, wants a physical book and expects that just because of the picture.

      Like you said, sometimes just a refund is an easier solution because they won’t understand – and worse still – probably think you are trying to scam them by taking their money and not shipping them a book.

      The hard part about all of this, which you can’t rely avoid, is no matter how many places you tell someone something, they still may not read it.

      For example with CrankyAds, we tell people in many places that when they buy an ad, they are going on to a subscription that will rebill them. There’s always one or two advertisers who then write in complaining just after they got rebilled that they never signed up for a subscription.

      Of course we need to listen to this feedback and potentially do something about it, like offer a non-subscription version during the checkout process. However there is a risk that this will reduce conversion, so sometimes you need to balance out the pros and the cons and accept you will upset a few people as a part of business.

      Thanks for your comment as always Ian!


  • People truly don’t understand the power of acknowledgement sometimes.


    I wrote a Kindle book. Published it, and have been making money off of it since. Several reviews, private and public, have praised the book, however, like any author, I’ve received my fair share of not-so-good reviews also.

    One reviewer said my book was garbage and I shouldn’t be paid for this material. Bristled but realizing there may be truth to this, I asked her to email me to let me know what she hated and told her I’d like to do what I can to compensate her for this.

    A private discussion revealed that it wasn’t so much that my product sucked, but the fact that she had already known what I had told her – because she was also highly passionate about this niche to begin with. She had been reading several books on it and searched high and low for information – something, anything – that was new and would enlighten her.

    I thanked her for her honesty and awarded her with an Amazon giftcard for her feedback.

    I don’t know when or where but she changed the 1-star review to an updated 4 star one. She praised it honestly for what it provided and added that it just wasn’t for her.

    Since then, I’ve clearly seen the power of acknowledging customers, developing positive rapport with them and maintaining grace under fire.

    No matter what your online or offline niche is, it’s needed to command the prices you want to the people you serve (excluding deliberate trolls of course).

    • Lauryn, brilliant example, you really went above and beyond to turn this person from a negative to a positive impact on your business.

      You can only imagine how often situations like this arrise online, especially when a product isn’t exactly meant for someone who bought it (e.g. too advanced or too basic).

      I bet in a situation like this with Kindle, where the reviews dictate how a product is perceived, that having a negative review turned positive can make a big difference to how many you sell.

      Thanks for sharing your story.


  • Devsharan Sah

    Dear Yaro Sir
    I am fresh new guy but I want to go into online business by using your concept like
    affiliate program, email marketing, commission based program etc like that but I don’t have idea how can I do such kind of things so I would like to please help me for making such website

  • Hey Yaro, great article but it would also be important to note that people should use their own judgment when implementing some of your techniques and advices. For example, you are telling people to acknowledge when a customer is upset/annoyed about something by saying “yes, I am listening and I hear you“. However, it really annoys me when people repeat those words exactly as if they’re reading it off a script and then they go ahead to talk about their policies and what not without talking about anything else that I mentioned. I guess that comes with experience though.

  • David Childress


    Aretha Franklin

  • Yes, we all like to be acknowledged, and the customer is no different. Great article to bring us back to our basics. “Do unto others.. “

  • Great article. It’s truly an area that too many people either forget or shy away from. I think removing ego is the best approach to this area. Whatever business you are in, online or offline, you will always need customers. Listening to them, showing empathy, and understanding are vital components to any entrepreneurs success.

  • Hi Yaro, thanks for this post. However, I believe if a person is unduly concerned with oppositions and negative comments on his blog, he would soon loose his position as a result of distractions. There are diverse opinions and views on every issues of life; and every man is entitled to his opinion. Yet, we must learn to balance this with respect and a good sense of value for the customers we serve.

  • Yes, thank you Yaro. With social media being what it is no one has any real excuse or justification for not listening to customers any more. But it’s important to learn from feedback and to share it too. That means not deleting those pesky negative comments. Instead reply and deal with them fairly. Your customers will respect you for that.

  • An essential Reminder about dealing with people….even in general…not just on your blog.
    I’ve been guilty as a “newbie” of posting unwanted links on comments made in FB groups…I remember the ones who took the time to explain “not appropriate” and let me remove instead of just clicking DELETE.
    It often boils down to just plain old courtesy and respect given from human being to another.

  • We need to acknowledge every person. Very important lesson here Yaro. Thank you.

    • Right on Stephen, a simple idea, but well worth practicing, especially online.

  • Here is my revenge experience:

    I did some work for an online company earlier this year and when it came to paying me they simply ignored me and hoped that I would go away, apparently this technique had worked for them quite a few times in the past with other writers, but I’m not just a normal writer. 🙂

    I published some posts on some very popular blogs and the posts went viral and I eventually got contacted by the owner of the company who was not at all happy with the negative publicity that I had created and said that one of their business partners had even pulled out after reading my post.

    They eventually paid me a small portion of the $700 they owe me and hopefully they will pay me the rest this month or I might have to publish more posts. 🙂

  • The car example hit home with me, as I’ve had the same experience with a new car breaking down (an Audi, coincidentally or not), and then feeling the festering desire for revenge after receiving terrible service. What made my experience especially vexing was that the service center repeatedly dismissed my ordeal as a common occurrence. Common to them, perhaps! I had a week waiting for the repair to plot dozens of ways to take revenge online, though I never did carry any through.

    It turns out lightning does strike twice, and I found myself in the exact situation in another new car. The service response and repair time was exactly the same, but this time the service center called me later to ask if I made it home safely. Regardless of how sincerely concerned they were for me, I felt like I mattered, and the week of repair went by with with much better feelings.

    A prompt and appropriate acknowledgement is really all it takes to keep our inner demons from going on a rampage.

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