Dealing With Customers Fresh Off The Crazy Train

The frontlines: I’ve done everything from serve fries, cut fabric, collect money, answer phones, outbound calling (ick), counter sales, sales cold calling, to whatever there is to do when dealing with clients and customers. And I’ll tell you right now: There are crazy people out there. And they can make things extremely *difficult* if you don’t deal with them appropriately.

Tone is everything. It can diffuse a customer time bomb immediately and effortlessly.

Voice tone is easy to manage when you’re dealing with customers over the phone or in person, but how to set the tone online when communication by email? They can’t hear your voice, can’t hear the sincerity or the concern or the willingness to help.


  • Customer buys a downloadable report/ebook/script/template or whatever.
  • PayPal payment goes through effortlessly.
  • Hosting burps just at that moment and the download page reads: Page Not Found.
  • Customer immediately bombs your email with “You Scam”, “You Stole My Money”, “I’m Reporting You To PayPal”, “Where Is My Report You Asshole”, “I’ll Make Sure You Never Sell Online Again”, “I’m Reporting You To the FTC and the FBI”, “GIVE ME MY MONEY BACK”, “You Messed With The Wrong Person” and so on.

A dozen screaming emails from one customer within an hour–due to a simple hosting burp that you had no control over. And you’re instantly tagged as an online terrorist in this customer’s mind.

You know you’re not a scam, you know you have full intentions of fulfilling the transaction, but they don’t know that. All they know is that they paid and they got jack.

Every person’s fear when buying online just became real to them: Pay Cash, Get Jack.

What do you do? At this point you don’t know the hosting burped, you just know you had a sale and now the customer has gone off the deep end. Do you reply:

  • WTF is your problem you I-D-I-O-T, give me a chance at least to fix this before you call me a scam.
  • You must have done something wrong, the download page loads as soon as you make your payment. I checked it, it’s fine. Here’s the download link again: [insert link].
  • Huh, that’s weird. The download page works just fine for me. Here it is again: [insert link].
  • Here’s your refund, don’t ever buy anything from me ever again.

The first three will kick the crazy train into warp speed and you’ve just drastically bumped up the reality of a refund being insisted on. Guaranteed. You’ve laid the faulty sales transaction at the feet of the customer. He/she doesn’t know what happened or what went wrong, all they know is that they paid you money and you didn’t deliver. You told them it was their fault. Wrong answer. They will either take it and not be happy about it, or they’ll fire off one support request after another. And then ask for a refund.

The fourth response may shed you of Mr. Crazy, but it’s also an invite for the especially pizzed off to now stalk you and scream like a lunatic on every forum and blog for miles around about how crappy your product is and what a scam you are :roll:.

How to diffuse the situation?

  • [Insert Name] I am so sorry you didn’t receive your download immediately, here’s the link for the item you purchased [insert link here]. Can you tell me what happened once you made your payment? Did you receive an error page or did PayPal forward you anywhere or did everything just freeze?

You’ve now sliced the chance of a refund request down to a minimum threat level. And you’ll have a good chance of finding out just what happened, chances are they’ll respond to you.

Customers who are unreasonable and madder than all hell can push your buttons with their nonsense, but the biggest problem that you want to avoid is that they’ll eat up huge, huge chunks of your time. Diffuse the situation immediately, set the “I’m going to make this right for you” tone right off the bat, clear up the prob immediately, and you’re in the clear.

Most times ;).


I've been trying to find my way online for more years than I care to admit.

4 thoughts to “Dealing With Customers Fresh Off The Crazy Train”

  1. Great post! Very entertaining 🙂

    I am planning to write some articles about increasing conversions from Canadian customers – may I incorporate your thougths into my work with due credit?


  2. Thanks for the post…very helpful. People are so quick to call something a scam if there is the slightest problem. Even though we work hard to make all transactions run smoothly, there are sometimes problems which cannot be avoided. thanks for the help.

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