#AtoZChallenge: C is for CASTIGATE

61 Comments#AtoZChallenge 2015, Language, Writing/Blogging
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#AtoZChallenge Day 3, April 3
Day 3, April 3



Verb, formal

reprimand someone severely
“he was castigated for not setting a good example”

Have you ever had occasion to castigate somebody? I mean really let them have it?

Incompetent customer service seems to be more prevalent than ever, these days! This is where a good reprimand can garner favourable results. There’s an art to it. First and foremost, never let your anger overpower you. Remain courteous and calm at the outset. Ask for the person’s name. State your case politely yet firmly. If that doesn’t work, try again. Remain polite, but with an icier tone. Still not satisfied? Demand to speak to a supervisor. If all else fails, threaten something that could hurt their business: Cancel your account, take to social media and spread the word about their lousy service, write a letter to the CEO and send a copy to the local newspaper. Companies don’t want bad publicity. Never, ever be afraid to speak up! If you don’t complain about bad service, it will continue.

For years, I was on the other end of the telephone, dealing with clients.

My recipe for customer service excellence:

Rule NUMERO UNO is “THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT” (even if they’re dead wrong). Never argue – always agree, for example: “I don’t blame you for being upset. Please accept our apologies for this error. How can I make it up to you?” If the client continues to castigate you, be self-deprecating, and usually, their anger will deflate. Are they making unreasonable demands? Offer an alternative. Don’t ever say “We can’t do that”, but rather, “Here’s what we can do for you.”

Have you participated in an online forum?
You can make good friends there, but also encounter a few agitators.

There’s a popular meme that states you don’t have to accept an invitation to an argument, but, if it’s one of my “hot button” issues, you can bet I will jump in, full force! Not recommended unless you have a thick skin and are willing to go the distance. When your opponent starts name-calling, you know, they’ve lost the argument. I never stoop to their level, but castigate them with my intellect and voluminous vocabulary. BRING IT ON, BABY! 😉

“CASTIGATE” stems from Latin “castigatus”,
past participle of “castigo” (I reprove)
and from “castus” (pure, chaste)

Have you dealt with similar situations? What were the results?
Looking forward to your comments!


AtoZChallenge 2015
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Debbie D.
Canine Innkeeper in suburban Toronto, Canada, known as "The Doglady". Writer/website owner, photographer, animal lover, music fanatic, inveterate traveller. History, literature and cinema buff. Eternal "hippie/rockchick". Binational, German/Canadian and multilingual. Looking for the next adventure!
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61 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge: C is for CASTIGATE

  1. This is one area social media really helps, no company likes to see their services openly criticized!!

  2. I have Caller Id so generally ignore calls from telemarketers. The ones that do get through, I turn them down politely. I have never been very good at castigating, except when it comes to my students. Those people are scared of me 😉

  3. Love this word. Thankfully I haven’t had too many occurrences of being on the receiving end of castigation! And, come to think of it, I can’t say I’ve distributed much of it myself. 🙂

  4. “Customer service” should be renamed to “customer harassment”! 8 out of 10 times that I call customer support, I end up talking to a supervisor! I don’t like getting into conflicts usually, but, sometimes you just know you’ve had enough!

    You shared some excellent tips there. Most of them are quite afraid of social media at present. I got a bad HP printer once (it had been opened and then cunningly re-boxed to make it look new, and was covered all over with scratches) and the reseller refused to exchange it. I wrote a review for that shop on one of the most popular business listings websites in India, and the very next day I received a call from that reseller that he would exchange my printer! 😀

    1. Yes, companies hate bad publicity and social media is a great tool for airing grievances. Glad you were able to resolve your issues that way. 🙂

  5. I have on occasion castigated people, usually due to poor customer service; however, I do follow the steps you recommended. I like the last step and not sure if I do that diligently: thanks for that idea! 😉 <3

    1. Hi Elly; Sometimes, just threatening to publicize your dilemma is good enough. It worked for me and I’ve only done that once, so far. 🙂

  6. I always hold off on criticism. I have found myself eating my words. Then other times I have stood politely for a neanderthal.

    The funniest and most satisfying happened when I was a young teacher. This old teacher who must have been about 35 would get on my case all the time. The air conditioner in the building had broken and it was incredibly miserable that day. That teacher came to give me a piece of her mind in front of several teachers. When you are uncomfortable you are more outspoken. I dished it back. She never gave me a tongue lashing again. lol

    1. I’m never shy to criticize incompetence. 🙂 Good for you, standing up to that teacher. See how that paid off? Sometimes you just have to make your point in no uncertain terms!

    1. Fuming in private doesn’t resolve the issue, plus it’s bad for your health. 🙂 I have no patience for incompetence and always address it directly. Thanks for visiting, Nick.

  7. Most definitely — I use social media to take them to task. Recently I was told I was not entitled to my $415 security deposit for our local telephone company business account. They wanted to keep it until I closed my account instead of refunding it after the first year. Ten minutes after I tweeted about it – I had my refund.

    1. Well done, Carol! 🙂 I’ve threatened to do that, but in the end it wasn’t necessary. Companies hate bad publicity more than anything!

  8. I had honestly never heard of the word “castigate”. I love your advice about how to deal with bad customer service. As for online forums, I can totally relate to beinf flamed at for stating my point. I don’t have very thick skin so usually I avoid arguments.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Astrid.:) There’s a joke poster going around that says something like “Want to start a fight online? Just voice an opinion and wait.” The only time I get involved in anything like that is when it’s a subject I care deeply about and I’ll hang on until the end, determined to have the last word. I’m stubborn that way. LOL A good fight gets my creative juices firing on all cylinders! 😉

  9. Yes, indeed. On many occasions. But, you need to be careful. I’ve been having problems with my insurance company because they won’t pay for my insulin; I called them up and the girl just became ruder and ruder. I then asked to speak with a supervisor. She said fine and asked me to wait while she switched me over. I’m patient, so I waited almost 10 minutes before I realized she had hung up on me. They had a survey, so I called back and gave the girl all negative points. At least my frustrations were gone (for the moment).

    1. How aggravating for you Mary! 🙁 Hope you were able to straighten things out in the meantime. This has happened to me too and I kept calling until there was some sort of resolution.

  10. Another great word! I don’t believe I’ve ever used that word but I certainly will add it to my vocabulary. Oh the customer service issues: Lord, haven’t we all had maddening experiences at one point or another trying to resolve an issue with incompetent company reps?! I used to lose my cool a lot quicker in my younger days but as I’ve gotten older I seem to be a little more….hmm…a little more determined to reach a resolution. Your advice is definitely sound advice. Great post again Debbie!

    1. Hi Michele; We’ve all had those maddening experiences, I’m sure. Losing one’s cool rarely works, I agree, but you can still manage to convey annoyance, while maintaining a courteous demeanour. Glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

  11. Well, I was generally on the other end of this. I worked in retail from the age of 16 and so many companies expected you to expect downright rude customers and smile as they called you names. To be honest I got the point where if I had a wish granted it would be that every rude customer would have to work in a shop or store from October until the end of December, the busiest time in retail and learn patience and compassion. Most challenging staff members are having a bad day, have had shit from their boss and then have to smile and be nice. I left retail for this reason.

    1. Retail work must be so gruelling; I can only imagine! Much easier dealing with clients over the phone, from the safety of your own office, as I did. Thanks for sharing your experience, Kelly.

  12. Oh you are so right! It’s usually the customer care folks who I need to castigate but personally avoid it under all circumstances. Reasons being they don’t know much and are always under performance pressure. I take it to social media on most occasions and let that get dealt easily..
    Great post Debbie!

  13. I’ve always been of the opinion that castigating someone should be reserved only for the direst of times. Usually situations can be dealt with, without requiring dressing someone down. Too many people go off on one too quickly IMHO.
    Tasha’s Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

    1. I agree in principle Tasha, but from my experience, incompetence has risen to dire levels these days, calling for more drastic measures, on occasion. Either that, or I’m just a grumpy old woman! 😉

  14. Hello, nice to meet you Debbie. I haven’t had to castigate anyone, yet…

  15. I have not tried this method yet, but I have a few more years to go so maybe sometime in the future 🙂

    1. It’s a last resort kind of thing, when all else fails. The older I get, the less patience I seem to have. 🙂 Thanks for visiting.

  16. I buy and sell every day. I mediate a lot, as well. If my customer is right, I will side with them. If the customer is in the wrong, I will side with my staff.

    1. Hi Myke; Each case is different and if the customer is wrong, I might say something like: “There were no errors made but clearly you are upset. What can we do to make you feel better?” And take it from there… Thanks for visiting. 🙂

  17. Aah! The cab services in my area are really testing my patience now-a-days! And dealing with their customer service is one harrowing experience. I liked the pointers you shared, yes, anger will not take you anywhere! It has to polite yet firm talk.

  18. The bus service from my area has been appalling for the last few years ever since a new company took over. They very politely tell me each time I complain that the buses run very late that their job is not to ensure buses run on time nor is it their job to have good customer service!

    1. I’d be castigating them all over the place! So then, what do you suppose their job is? 😛 How aggravating for you, Suzy. Thanks for visiting.

  19. Great word! I’m looking forward to ‘D’ already.
    I’ve learned a lot from my computer guro. Listening to him complain to our telephone company, and software companies, well…that was a show within itself. He always got what he wanted. How? He was the most gifted telephone flirter on the planet. It didn’t matter if the person was old, young, male or female. No way can I flirt on the phone to strangers like he does, but I’ve learned to soften my voice. And it helps! 🙂

    1. Hmmm, that probably works better for men than for women. LOL I always start out friendly, but tend to get impatient when the incompetence level is too much to bear. 🙂

    1. Dealing with customers is definitely challenging, especially when they’re unreasonable. There are points to be made on both sides. As a customer, I only want what’s fair, but sometimes you have to demand it. 🙂

  20. That was an informative post, Debbie ! Thanks for sharing. I have had several such instances even where the call turned out to be a complete disaster. But as you said – “Anger is not the answer”. Displeasures have to be faced politely too.

  21. Think I will use that word more often. I’m a bit like you… a short fuse when it gets personal.

    As I See It Daily

    1. A short fuse, perhaps, but I never lose my cool. Dazzle them with your intellect and they won’t know what hit them! 😉 Thanks for visiting, Katy.

  22. I don’t like to be castigated but it would be better than being castrated.

    Customer service can get really weird nowadays. Lately I’ve been getting abused by phone solicitors when I let them know I’m not interested. These people can get really rude!

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host

    1. You answer the phone for solicitors, Lee? Two words: Call Display. 🙂 Unknown names and/or numbers go to voicemail. Rudeness in society seems to have escalated in recent years. 😛

      1. Sometimes I do answer, sometimes not. It depends on what kind mood I’m in. If it says “private number” or “out of area” it’s sometimes family members so I usually do answer those.

  23. I had been in a similar situation few days ago. I was trying to return a faulty product delivered by a online shopping site and they were arguing about reimbursing the money through promotional balance on their site instead of returning it to my bank account! I tried talking politely at first but when that didn’t work, I had to castigate them and that is when they finally gave in to my demand 😛

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