Consumer IQ

The 5 Habits of Highly Annoying Customers and How to Avoid Them

Stop

The customer is not always right. The squeaky wheel doesn’t necessarily get the grease. Ignorance is not bliss.

Those are just the leading annoying behaviors exhibited by consumers. And that’s not all.

Customers make mistakes — lots of mistakes — as we’ve seen in the last two weeks, but some are so vexing that they allow employees to justify their unethical practices.

Ending these bothersome behaviors could break the cycle, forcing employees to understand that they are dealing with real people whenever they dupe a customer into buying an unnecessary product or service.

OK, on second thought, maybe not — but then again, do you want to be tagged as a problem customer.

Here are the five most annoying consumer behaviors:

I want more.

Ah, the gimme-pig! They’re always asking for more, even if the business has already bent backward to make them happy.

These are the kinds of people who find an underpriced item like a TV that’s on sale and ask the store to “throw in” an extended warranty because they’re such good customers.

Only, they’re not. They are annoying the business by making ridiculous requests — or, put differently, it’s not enough for the store to lose its shirt on a sale, they want their pants, too.

Do you know who I am?

The entitled customer is a special kind of irritant. Because they’re valuable, or because they think they’re valuable, they make outrageous demands of the business.

By the way, “Do You Know Who I Am?” (or DYKWIA, for short) is a term that refers to entitled frequent fliers who flash their platinum cards when they aren’t getting their way.

I can’t say that I’m surprised that air travelers coined the term.

Can’t you do better?

There’s no shame in asking for a better price, at least in most countries. But knowing when to say when separates you from an annoying customer.

For example, it’s acceptable to negotiate at a car dealership or an overseas bazaar; it’s unacceptable to ask your grocer to “do better” on the price of milk.

The annoying customer can’t tell the difference, and it’s embarrassing.

But you never told me about that.

Many consumers fail to review the terms of their purchase. Now, in their defense, the contracts are sometimes hard to find and even harder to understand.

Still, some consumers are shockingly ignorant on basic items that are industry standards, like early termination fees on cellular phone contracts.

When they challenge the terms of their purchase, they say, “no one said anything.” No, that’s what the terms are for.

Why do these customers annoy? Mostly because they are uninformed.

I’ll sue!

Problem customers aren’t shy about threatening to take a company to court if it doesn’t cave in.

But they rarely do, and companies know it. (Just in case, many companies retain an army of well-paid lawyers.) That may be one reason saying you’ll sue is just irritating, and nothing more.

The obvious solution is to stop doing these things. You can get more by buying from a business that offers more.

Similarly, you shouldn’t have to remind a business that you’re a “good” customer (if you do, maybe you’re patronizing the wrong business).

Also, you should do your due diligence about a purchase so you never have to ask a question to which you should already know the answer. Nor should you have to threaten to take a company to court.

That just sounds like an empty — and annoying — threat.

Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate who blogs about getting better customer service at On Your Side. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook or send him your questions by email.