My family was waiting at the gate for a flight a few months ago in Europe. An airline representative made an announcement in the local language, and all of the local people left their seats and started to walk away quickly. I walked up to the airline representative, and she said that the flight had been cancelled.

The airline never re-booked us. We stayed at the airport for three hours just to retrieve our bags from the plane. We had to make separate arrangements on our own in order to fly home, on another airline.  The lines we waited in looked something like this:

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There are laws in Europe that protect passengers in this situation. Passengers are entitled to compensation for cancelled and delayed flights, as long as certain conditions are met. We met those conditions. But the airline avoided payment for two months.
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Recently I scheduled an appointment with a service company that never showed up at our home at the scheduled time. I tried calling for 2 weeks to reschedule the appointment. This is a company that doesn’t get paid if they don’t show up. They didn’t show up.
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My wife and I are working with a home technology company. We are trying to reset a password. This company cannot seem to do this. We’ve been trying to reset it for 2 months now. It is their technology-why can’t they reset their password?
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What has happened to customer service, especially at large companies?

I know that customer service representatives don’t “make money” for a large company the same way that sales people do. For companies that get paid every month (cable, internet, utilities), it seems like the customer service calculation is “how bad can we make customer service and still keep most of our customers?”
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Customer service has gotten so bad that I remember the exceptions, when customer service is good. A few recent examples:

1) I took my car to the dealer for a repair this week. It was a minor repair. They didn’t charge me for the work, because they said I am a frequent and loyal customer.

2) My family and I took a trip recently on a small “upstart” airline. I needed boarding passes, and we didn’t have accounts with the airline. I called their customer service. Within 5 minutes I was speaking to a representative who told me that she could email me the boarding passes. While I was on the phone with her I received them.

3) We work with a general contractor and an electrician, and we love to work with them. They deliver high quality work, on budget.

Why can’t every company deliver high quality customer service?