Of Strange Requests and Rude Customers

Recently, the Minister for Foreign Affairs shared some quirky demands of Singaporeans made at the overseas missions. He described this as the “entitlement mentality” of some Singaporeans. 
The people at the embassies and missions are not the only people who have to deal with such unreasonable demands. In my almost 30 years of working, I find that more and more people are behaving very unreasonably and demanding. As people becomes more educated, their expectations and demands increases and woe befall whoever gets in their way of getting what they want or should I say, demand. They will threaten to complain to Senior Management, the Authorities, write to the press, go to the MP ……
Dealing with unpleasant people and situation is part of my job but still sometimes these people get me so pissed off that I will return as good as they give. And I don’t take kindly to threats of any nature. I for one do not subscribe to the thinking that “the Customer is King”. As far as I am concern, if a request is reasonable and can be accommodated, we will try but there is a limit to what we can agree to. Let me share some examples of unreasonable demands that I got from customers in the past few years.
1. A customer was at the banking hall to perform some transaction. By the time he completed the transaction, it had started to rain. He then demanded that the teller give him an umbrella.  People always assumed banks have umbrellas to give away as gift but that is not always the case. At the time, the company had no umbrellas to give away so the teller was not able to accommodate his request. There and then in front of other customers and staff, he started yelling and shouting and threatening to complain to the authorities. But there was no free umbrella to give away and in the end he walked away empty handed. Sure, the staff would have loan him one of their own but that was going beyond the call of duty and not expected of them. 
2. One of our branch has safe deposit box facility. The facility closes at 4.30 pm sharp in line with our business hour. About 4 pm, a customer called the branch and informed that he was on the way to the airport in the evening and would like to access his safe deposit box at about 7 pm while he was enroute to the airport. Naturally the staff at the branch told him the branch closes at 4.30 pm and they could not wait for him. But regardless, he still turned up about 6.30 pm and demanded to be let in. By then, there was only 1 staff left and there was no way for security reason that he could open the facility for him. He kicked up a big fuss, accused the staff of poor service and eventually wrote a letter of complaint to Head Office. 
3. A customer had bought a property. She managed to sell it soon after but like all property loan contracts, there was a lock in period where a penalty has to be paid if the contract is broken. She asked for a waiver of the penalty. We perused her contract, worked out our costs and looked at her sale contract and determined that we will lose money on this deal if we waived the penalty. Furthermore, she had made a tidy sum from the sub-sale of the property. So we turned her request down. That was when from a polite voice over the phone, she turned into a witch. She cursed me since I was the one speaking to her, cursed the company and told me that the day my company closed down, she will be standing outside our front door cheering and clapping! 
4. in the past, when a person wants a loan, he will go to the bank, sit meekly before a stern looking officer to make a case why the bank should lend him money. Nowadays, that is not the case. Of course, nowadays there are no more stern looking officer. What we have now are “relationship managers” but they still do the same job. They have to evaluate the client’s request and ensure that the 1001 legal requirements are met before they can give in-principle approval for the loan. In the past, if you don’t get the loan, you walk away with your head hung low, despondent as to how to raise that money. But nowadays, customers don’t take no for an answer. They scream, shout and threaten the officer. And when all else fails, they write letter of complaints to the authorities or go and see their MP. We even had people getting lawyers to come and sue us claiming that our refusal to grant them a loan results in them losing business deals and thus causing them to suffer loss. Good try but no go. But still they try.
5. Just yesterday, a customer described me as the “worst bank officer” he has ever met. And all because he was unable to pay a debt which we were chasing. That was uncalled for but something that I am so used to that I don’t even blink an eye at such “compliments”. Now if only there was an award for the most number of rude comments received, I think I will surely win that award!

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