Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Please Hold...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketEvery generation like to talk about their own "good old days" and ours is no different. But one thing that I have to say my parents' generation had better than us was "customer service". I grew up in a house with a Mom who was very adept at dealing with customer service. If someone failed to give her what she paid for, she knew about it. And she would take her case to whatever level she had to in order to get satisfaction. We kids used to tease her about her "Poison Pen Letters", but when she talked, people listened. She was good at getting her money's worth, and then some. You didn't cheat Mom.

I don't think that level of customer care exists anymore. I remember one of the first signs of that was the so-called "Lemon Laws" for automobiles. Imagine, the government had to enact a law to force car manufacturers to deliver what the customer paid for. And I remember one time trying to get tech support from Microsoft relating to a faulty product they'd put out, and being told I had to pay for customer support. Seemed a little funny at the time, since I thought I purchased customer support when I bought the damned product.

That's not the case anymore. It used to be "caveat emptor"-buyer beware-but now it's "buyer be damned." It's almost as though the manufacturers and retailers are telling us that successful purchases of their products and services is a luck-of-the-draw process. Plumbers and electricians are notorious for ridiculous prices, building and home contractors are famous for signing the contracts and then never coming back. And tech-support is synonymous with hours of frustration.

And companies don't care anymore. Look at Dell, America Online and their outsourced customer service. English as a Second Language was something taught in this country to help immigrants assimilate into the culture, but now it's a fact of life because no one seems to speak it anymore.

But they don't have to care. What are the consequences of selling inferior products in this country? More sales. People accept bad service as the status quo, simple as that. Occasionally a company might lose and have to give a little money back, but, as a whole, there will be plenty of money piling in behind it. Microsoft basically says, "Our way, or the Highway" and the on-ramps are empty folks. America Online lies, flat-out, but their customers aren't the subscribers anymore, the advertisers are. And there's no shortage of ads on anything AOL. And the gasoline manufacturers can just keep raising prices, without good cause, and people will just keep buying it. Exxon says it doesn't worry about "Being Green" because they make more than enough money without doing so.(they admit that here, read it if you want)

It's what we live with now. People lie down and take it. The earnings of these sub-par companies prove that. Cannot argue with success, right?


  1. The days of customer service are sadly dying, if not already totally dead. As buyers we're now second-class citizens because we're seen as being deficient as compared to the seller, who has what he needs. So what if we have a problem or can't find just what we want? It's not their fault that we're so picky. And we should take our finickiness somewhere else because it's obviously not in their interest to have us as customers. And this even happens at Arbys! Makes me sick.

    As does calling customer service and getting someone I can't understand or who can't speak English well enough to understand what I really want.

  2. My dad won't deal with people who can't speak English. He demands someone who he can understand and who understands him. He cracks me up.

    If a company has pissed me off enough, I will totally take my business elsewhere. That is the beauty of America: choice. Having said that, it IS difficult to find decent customer service. However, money talks and I won't spend it on services or companies that suck. (Word of mouth speaks volumes too).

  3. Quiet Jimmy, you communist! This is capitolism at hand, you should be happy! The strongest (ie those with billions of money) survive, the weak (normal people) die or scrape a living. :(

  4. It doesn't bother me to talk to a customer service representative who may speak English as a second language. However, it does bother me that jobs are being outsourced to other countries when our own unemployment rate is so high. When are we going to stand up to these companies and our government and fix things in our country before trying to fix others?

    P.S. I hope your mother isn't one of the old ladies in stores who demands her 15 cents off when the coupon expired 4 months ago!

  5. May I please place my vote for the worst customer service ever?


    And they're growing like a weed, I can't escape them!!

    I'm also ready to give up on the PC and switch to the Mac, but my husband won't have it. I guess there's certain level comfort that comes from the hours spent trying to fix what wasn't created well in the first place. Maybe that's our problem. It used to be survival of the fittest where the crap products got weeded out, now it's survival of whatever you've spent the most time with because you assume everything is equally bad or you're scared of getting stuck with something worse.

  6. Anonymous9:13 PM

    Coming soon to a teleprompt near one for Spanish, two for all other languages. Customer service, sure we'll be happy to help after you push buttons for ten minutes on our voice prompts...never mind I'll fix it myself!!

  7. Oh, we sure can argue with success. Or perhaps we're better off changing our definition of what success actually means.

    Anyway, I do agree with you. And my have no idea how good she was at those poison pen letters and getting back the worth (and then some). I learned that knack and I'm glad.
    Remember those smashed M and M's I posted? I now have coupons for more than 3X as many free M and M's! Oh, I hate doing it, but damn I'm good.


  8. I agree completely, Jimmy. The most frustrating thing for me is the customer service rep not speaking english. You have to use "basic" words to describe what are usually complex issues to some degree. Ugh! It really does drive me nuts.

  9. Hi guys, I had to laugh tonight because I had to call Comcast tech support. I posted the results :)

  10. Anonymous10:22 AM

    thats why if i have a computer problem i just ask you...i agree though customer service is even goes to a lot of the fast food restaurants...awful.service.
    you know i saw a commercial the other day i believe it was sears...their commercial said if your kids wear out their clothes before they grow out of them we replace im wondering how you "wear them out" what is "wear out to them" haha
    and what are they replacing it with if they no longer have that


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