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A Very Different Customer Service Model

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A story appeared over the weekend in the New York Times about a business that has a very different sort of customer service model. (Read the story here.)

I’m not going to refer to the company by name for reasons that will be apparent momentarily, or if you read the article. 

The business is an online eyeglasses retailer that sells the highest-end brands and also happens to rank highest among Google searches — higher, in fact, than many eyeglass manufacturers’ own websites. How’d this company get so high up in the rankings? By providing the absolute worst customer service possible.

Yep, you read that right. The company stocks no eyeglass frames. When an order comes in, it scours eBay and other sites to find frames that are close to what the customer ordered — maybe legitimate, maybe counterfeit. In this business model, it doesn’t really matter. When complaints roll in, the owner of the company comes out swinging, using foul language, threatening lawsuits until the customer shuts up, or, more likely, vents his frustrations on the many consumer review and complaints sites out there. Anytime this company’s name registers on one of those sites, lo and behold, the algorithms of the highest-tech search engine out there pick up on the buzz on that company (never mind that it’s negative buzz) and ranks it higher in the search findings.

On the bright side of what’s a pretty shocking business model, the company’s owner says it’s very tiring being that belligerent. Maybe he’ll wear himself out.

Meantime, it’s just another reason to favor the traditional bricks and mortar store. And if you do read the NYT story, make sure you don’t pick up any tips; better read INSTORE for those!

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