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Lying to customers: is this and acceptable practice?

By jd255 ·
I currently work for an ISP. Recently we had a hardware/software issue which had a negative impact on many user accounts. While tending to a Customer request I inadvertantly exposed or technical shortfall. Upon a later call from the customer; co-worker was informed that someone from within the company gave the end user (customer) this information. Thusly, it's been suggested that from this time on we simply lie; fix the issue if possible while online with the customer; place the cause on their computer, corrupt file, etc. Is lying to the customer acceptable?... Or is taking ownership and accountablility of an issue we caused a better practice?

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The answer is obvious - why ask?

by maxwell edison In reply to Lying to customers: is th ...

Lie to customers too much, and you'll have a lot of former customers.

Moreover, if you lie and claim a problem is not really your problem, the customer (people like me) will be looking for other reasons for the problem, which won't be found, because it's yours!

So don't lie to me and cause me to waste my time.

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Lying isn't acceptable

by rob mekel In reply to Lying to customers: is th ...

Allthough not telling all to a story can be understandable in some cases, I don't think it is acceptable. Special if a customer(or some one else) specific asks for the reason of something.

We all make mistakes. And yes some of those mistakes can mess up things quite big. Not very nice but we do have to deal with them. That is all about taking responsibility and growing up.

Some company's, however do tend to cover up their mistakes and blame someone else for it (preferably the customer ). This being afraid of getting sued.
Now normaly I don't think that every mistake made has to be follewed by a claim of any kind. But if a company on purpose is not telling the truth to cover up their mistakes ... cover up story's do tend to come out, so by all means sue them.

So yes I think that taking responsibility is the best practice.


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by Mark Miller In reply to Lying to customers: is th ...

I once encountered a similar situation many years ago. I was working in customer service of a small software manufacturer. A couple customers were complaining that our application crashed their computer and they had to reboot (this was a DOS app. in the days when DOS was the customers' primary OS). The problem showed up when the customer ran our software continuously for days on end. It had a small memory leak that gradually used up free memory the more it was used. I happened to reveal this fact to a customer. I followed it up by saying "It's a known problem, and we're working on it." This was true. My higher ups didn't like me saying all that. A fellow developer actually suggested that computer users needed to quit their programs (no matter what they were running, our software or someone else's) or reboot the machine from time to time, because it's just normal for resources to get used up if software is used continuously. I was incredulous at this answer, at least under DOS, which was a simple OS. I felt it was disingenuous to say such a thing, since it wasn't true, but I would've said it if my boss insisted upon it. Once we fixed the problem we could've said we "improved" the software.

I've learned over time that part of the job when communicating to customers is managing expectations. Sometimes revealing the whole truth to a customer just gets you in more hot water, and could create more headaches than are necessary. The question you have to ask yourself is, is it a situation where what they don't know won't hurt them, or not? That's a judgement call.

In my case, best I can tell, it didn't hurt the company that I was honest with the customer. But then, we probably would've achieved the same result by misdirecting them and saying, "Just quit the application and rerun it from time to time" or "reboot the machine from time to time" and act as if that's normal, and meanwhile work in the background to fix the problem. From my perspective this is all theoretical. See the discussion called "Why can't geeks lie?" When you or I are in the moment, our natural inclination is to tell the truth, and that's probably what we'll do. I've learned to be vague and diplomatic in how I communicate when the situation calls for it. Misdirecting people just feels uncomfortable.

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Thanks all...

by jd255 In reply to Lying to customers: is th ...

...whom have replied. Like one of the posters wrote it makes me feel "uncomfortable"; further to be caught in a lie (like WMD for example) then the damage to reputation/character is far greater I think... thanks again...

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