12 Most Disingenuous Customer Service Phrases

12 Most Disingenuous Customer Service Phrases

No matter how much is written about how valuable and integral to business success high quality customer service is, some companies still don’t get it.

There are those with blatantly poor customer service — so poor in fact, that online review forums are busting at the seams with post after post from their disgruntled customers. Make that ex-customers.

But what I find more deeply annoying, are the companies that seem to simply go through the motions of providing good customer service. Whether it’s a sappy mission statement that nobody at the company has ever read, a grunted memorized greeting or a follow-up canned email, it just torks me more than the companies who don’t even bother to pretend they care.

At least the ones who don’t even try to pretend are honest.

Here are the 12 most disingenuous customer service phrases — with of course, a bit of explanation as to why they made the list.

1. “Your call is important to us”

No it’s not. If it was, you’d be answering the phone in person.

2. “Thank you for calling [insert company name here]

How can you thank me for calling when you have no idea why I am calling? Maybe I’m calling to tell you that you’ve been turned down for financing, or that you owe back taxes, or that your check bounced.

Listen first, thank me later.

3. “Can I help the next guest in line?”

I’ve noticed lately that retail stores and fast food restaurants have started referring to patrons as ‘guests’ obviously mimicking the hotel industry. It rubs me the wrong way because I’m not a guest at a shopping mall or drug store in the same way as I am a guest at a hotel — no matter how often they say it.

The next time I stop in at one of these places, I’m going to bring a suitcase and a pillow… let’s see just how serious they are with this ‘guest’ stuff.

4. “Would you like a bag for that?”

If I have more than two or three items on a checkout counter, I want a bag. Don’t bother asking me, just bag the stuff.

My Dad was always so annoyed by this that whenever he was asked this ridiculous question, he would pull out the bottom of his shirt with both hands and say “Just put them in here.”

One cashier actually did.

5. “Can I help you find something?”

This one can sometimes be genuine, but usually it’s not. If the person stops what they are doing, and walks over to you while they make this statement, they really mean it.

If they barely look up, or jut their chin out as if pointing to you with it — they don’t mean a word of it.

6. “Have a nice day!”

I hate to admit this but I think we’re all guilty of saying this to someone when we don’t mean it. I’m actually trying to stop. I think we all should.

Besides, what the heck does “nice” mean anyway?

7. “Would you like to save an extra 10% today?”

This is secret code for “Sign up for our credit card with an annual percentage rate of 24% and I’ll get a few bucks extra in my paycheck”.

8. “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

This is another one of those phrases that can be very genuine. Or not.

When the interaction results in actual help with whatever problem you need fixing, then the phrase is genuine.

I once called a satellite internet service provider with three serious issues I was having with their product. They couldn’t help me with any of them, so when the representative uttered the phrase above, I couldn’t help but respond with “Else? Else? You can’t help me with anything else until you helped me with something first!”

9. “Free shipping & handling”

Shipping and handling are never free. The price for both are built into the product price.

10. “If you buy one, you’ll get one free”

No you won’t, you’ll just pay more for the first one.

11. “For your safety, this area is under video surveillance”

I have no problem with businesses video taping areas that get shoplifted often, but be honest about. They’re not trying to protect me, they trying to protect themselves from me.

12. “Dear Valued Customer”

Ever get a letter with a salutation like this? How valued can I really be if you don’t even know my name? Or worse, you know it but don’t bother to use it?

In this day and age, any company that doesn’t have the tech know-how to address each letter personally needs to not send letters to their customers at all.

There you have it. If you have a customer service gem you’d like to add to the list, post it below.

After all, your input is important to me, and you can comment for free. Have a nice day!

Featured image by Andy Dean Photography via BigStock with agreement with the writer.

Jeannine Morber


Jeannine Morber is the owner and founder of Morber Marketing Group. She develops and conducts customized sales and marketing training sessions for companies all across the US. Morber is also a popular public speaker, an avid blogger, an amateur photographer and a reality TV addict.

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