How to really piss off your prospective customers

Real-life example of how terrible
customer service cost a sale

A couple of months ago, you might have read the article I wrote about the Sales Prevention department.

It basically described how many companies lose a ton of business because of the way they reply (or not reply) to customer service and sales inquiries.

I’m talking about questions from not only prospective buyers, but also from active customers.

Seems like many businesses don’t place a priority on the way they handle these requests. (Hopefully, yours isn’t one of them)

So today… I’m reprinting an actual e-mail inquiry and the actual reply from the company. The company name has been changed to protect the stupid.

Then you can decide whether their reply:

  • Was a good reply
  • It was a dumb-ass reply
  • Maybe it was humorous
  • Or they just plain don’t care about customers…


But first a WARNING!

Whatever you do, don’t reply to your prospects and customers like this company did!

It could destroy your reputation and your business.

My original e-mail

(with subject line to an online distributor of small engine parts…)

To: Joe Blow at parts place
Subject: Looking for part

I’m looking for a retainer bearing p/n 784-0357 for MTD (looks like it fits other mfgs)

Your online price says “call us”.

Whats the deal… Do you have them or can you get them?


Merrill Clark
Web, SEO, Direct Response Copywriter
Marketing Advisor

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Their reply: (short and sweet):

To: Merrill Clark
RE: Looking for part

Send your spam some where else

The end!

My immediate reaction was… “Huh?”  How could asking for part number information be spam? Jeesh…

Note** On a positive note, they did at least reply from a real person, and they replied quickly.

Truly customer service at it’s finest! NOT!

I have to admit — I was confused — I laughed — I got angry — I thought about it for a bit — then I replied.

(Professionally of course, since I know that everything online stays online forever.)

How would you have handled it? (Leave a reply below)

Oh… If you are curious about what my reply was, simply post a comment below, and I’ll send it to you.

If you want help with your marketing strategy, writing effective sales copy, have any comments, or have a marketing project you’d like help with, e-mail me or call me at 603-686-5140

If you need help with website design, writing SEO optimized web copy, email marketing, or other online marketing strategies, I can help!

To your marketing success!

Merrill Clark

Website and Marketing Copywriter

Join my discussion by leaving a comment below…



6 thoughts on “How to really piss off your prospective customers

  1. Beth Frede

    It’s amazing that a company would allow someone who represents them to respond to inquiries this way.

    Merrill, what did you reply? Did you offer them help with their marketing?


  2. Merrill Post author

    Hey Beth,

    Yeah… I’m amazed, too. And in general, poor (or no) customer service seems to happen more often than not.

    I think part of it is that these people dont think there will be any consequences. Customers need to start rebelling against
    rude or incompetent employees, and poor service, instead of accepting it.

    Personally, I would fire their ass on the spot.

    I’ll e-mail you my response to them, for your reading pleasure. Plus, I’m going to write a letter to the company owner, not that it will do any good.

    Heck, he’s probably the one that responded originally.

    Thanks for your comment!



  3. Teak

    While my initial reaction is unprintable, I wonder if the extent of your sig file or the presence of HTML links within it might have triggered some sort auto function? I’ve had this experience a few times in recent months such that I’ve removed a link to my site in some of my default settings. Even so, I agree wid ya – customer *always* gets the benefit of the doubt and a courteous reply.

  4. Teak

    What time do you use on your site, the Greenland zone? This is displaying 4 hours later than EST. Sheesh . . . . 8-P

  5. Merrill Post author

    I wondered about that, too.

    But if that were the case… first… my email would have ended up in their spam/junk folder where it would have never seen the light of day or been replied to.

    Second, the words used don’t appear to me as being an auto response.

    And third, their reply came from a different e-mail address than I originally sent it to, so I’m guessing there was some human intervention in there somewhere.

    Oh… did you notice I spelled “somewhere” correctly, unlike their reply?

    Thanks for your comment, Teak!

  6. Merrill Post author


    Abidjan, Ivory Coast if you really want to know.

    I guess hiding my location worked pretty good.

    Now… back to real east coast USA time…


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