2018-01-10 / Editorials

Talk about the good ol’ days

Other Voices
Mitch Clarke

Editor’s Note: The following column is reprinted from the Feb. 1, 2017 edition. When I was a kid, I’d sometimes tag along with my mother as she ran her errands in the small town where I was raised.

As we left every place, be it the Piggly Wiggly, the gas station, or the department store, the owner would say something like, “Thank you for shopping here. Please come again.”

On the rare instances these businesses made a mistake, they promptly apologized to my mother and corrected their mistake. Often, as a way of making amends, the owner might offer my mother some free merchandise or a discount on her next visit.

That has always seemed like the appropriate way to run a business. It was simply their way of saying, “We appreciate you doing business with us. We value you as a customer, and we hope we have provided quality products or services to you that were proportionate to the money we have charged you.”

Boy, talk about the good ol’ days.

If I had any questions that customer service in this country is dead and buried, the last week removed all doubt.

I went to a store recently to buy a small cooler. I knew it was in stock, and I knew exactly where in the store to find it. I walked in the front door and straight to the sporting goods section. In less than two minutes, I was ready to check out.

But the three checkout lanes that were open were packed. The lines backed up into the store. So I decided to use the self-checkout lane. It was closed.

I saw a manager standing nearby. I asked him if he could open another checkout lane.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “You’ll just have to wait.”

No, I won’t. I handed him the cooler and walked out.

For several months, my iPhone has been using almost three times as much data as it did for the first 18 months I owned it.

I called my phone company’s technical support. They said I must be streaming movies and playing video games on my phone.

I’m not. I have a 50- inch television. Why would I watch a movie on a 5-inch screen? And I don’t play video games on any device.

Finally, they agreed to do an analysis of my data usage.

“It will take us 24 to 48 hours to complete, and we’ll call you back,” the technician said.

They never called back.

Of course, the biggest problem with calling a major entity like the phone company is how long it takes to get an actual human being on the phone with you. After punching in numbers to answer a bunch of questions for the automated system, you finally get a message that’s says you’ll be connected to the next available technician. And maybe, in 15 minutes, you will be.

I’m tempted to do as a friend suggested and send the company a bill to compensate me for the time I’m on the phone. When they call me to inquire about my bill, I plan to put them on hold for 15 minutes like they do to us.

“Your call is valuable to us,” my recording would say. “But our customer service representative is busy playing fetch with his dog or watching reruns of ‘Sanford and Son.’ Please continue to hold. You’ll be connected to the next available operator as soon as the show is over, you big dummy.”

The customer may not always be right. But that doesn’t mean the customer can’t have some fun.

Mitch Clarke, a native of Blakely, is the editor of AccessWDUN. com in Gainesville. He can be contacted at mitch.clarke@gmail.com. Read previous columns at www.accesswdun.com/blog/mitch.

Return to top