Money & Career

Canada’s worst customer service - what’s your experience?

Did you watch CBC's Marketplace on Friday? I'd like to hear your top customer service complaints and whether you complain about poor customer service.


Did you watch CBC’s Marketplace last week? I did. Like everyone who tuned in, I couldn’t wait to find out which companies made the list of retailers offering Canada’s worst customer service. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a glance – the entire episode is available online (without commercials!). Click here to watch.

Marketplace named Canadian Tire, WalMart and Zellers as the top three retailers that leave the most customers feeling frustrated.

Dirty floors, store clerks who ignore you and inconsistent or unfair return policies are among the top peeves Canadians have when it comes to poor customer service.

One Marketplace shopper bought a coffee maker that had been used (evidently quite heavily) and then put back on the shelf. When they tried to take it back to the store (albeit a month after purchasing), the manager would not give them a refund. Another undercover shopper went to several stores and had difficulty trying to find clerks who knew where to find basic items.

The list of complaints aired on the show is long – but one of the biggest insights I came away with was how hesitant we Canadians are to complain. In fact, when tested, we consistently wimp out when it comes to speaking up about poor customer service.  

I think we need to get better at demanding good customer service and complaining when it’s not up to par. No, you don’t have to be rude, but you do need to speak up if you feel that you have received inferior service.

To help, Marketplace offers some helpful tips for effectively complaining about poor service. These include:

1. Be persistent, polite and clear about what you want.

2. Let other people know. Use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Yelp to communicate about your bad experience.

3. Escalate your complaint to the store’s executives if the manager won’t help you. Bypass the general customer service centre and look for direct-mail addresses online. You can read the full list here.

I’d like to hear your worst customer service stories and whether or not you complained. If you did complain, did you end up getting what you want? Let us know below.

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