“Sir, you don’t understand what I’m saying.”

While we can try to avoid as much human contact while traveling thanks to online booking sites, online check-in, etc., there’s still some level of interaction, which I think is a good thing. If it weren’t for interacting with customer facing employees, I think travel would be a lot more boring. We wouldn’t get to experience the good, the bad, and the ugly.

On the ugly front, I know the most annoying line for me is “Sir, you don’t understand what I’m saying.” I typically only hear that when I’m actually right and the agent doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Even if the agent were right, this line accomplishes nothing. It’s like when a kid asks their mom a question, and the mom responds with “because I said so.”

Unlike my last experience at the Holiday Inn JFK, the front desk agent during my overnight earlier this week wasn’t nearly as nice. Tianna, the agent, refused to enter my Priority Club number because United was paying for my stay. I tried to explain to her that I could still earn points for incidentals. She said no less than ten times that I didn’t understand what she was saying. Her best attempt at an explanation was “You earn points if you pay or even if a third party pays, but not if an airline pays.” Eh, and how would you categorize an airline?

Eventually she gave in, and not only did I earn points for the incidentals, but also for the stay (10,000+ points).

Anyone have some other classic bad customer service lines?

Filed Under: Misc.
  1. “But, it is not possible”. Whenever I hear that, I never believe it. Almost everything is possible!

  2. “There’s no point in adding you to the upgrade list because first class is sold out”. After convincing the agent to add my name, I was number one on the list and was upgraded!

  3. “The system cannot find that routing” (Read: agent does not want to locate it. Stevie G hangs up, calls 1P line. Repeat as needed)

  4. Similar to it is not possible, is “we can’t do that” when they mean to say “we won’t do that”

  5. “Sir, I’ve worked here for x years” — used to justify their ignorance, even when I insist that I’ve had no problem doing something before and indeed do it again after I call back and get another agent.

  6. You lucked out with the Holiday Inn! The agent was totally wrong to resist adding your PCR number. However, the Holiday Inn agent was half-right in that you really shouldn’t have gotten points for the airline-paid hotel night (just for the incidentals).

    @Andrews: I also find “It’s not possible” to be aggravating.

    Also bad: “it can’t be done” and “I can’t do that” (To the latter I often replay, “you won’t do it, but you can!”).

  7. An answer to “Sir, you don’t understand what I’m saying” is to repeat back to the person what you believe they are saying. Sometimes they will see that you do understand, sometimes you will see that you didn’t.

    Either way, it creates a path forward for the discussion.

  8. @ Gray: Oh, good one. It’s like winning the race, but they getting kicked in the jimmy at the finish line.

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