Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Don't Get Me Started

I am dealing with some genuine, real anger, and it has to do with my experiences over the past few days with businesses. I have been trying to find out what’s going on with a package that is coming through both UPS and the Post Office. It’s like a double whammy of “Oh no. Please no.” And I have been trying to buy groceries and do the normal things of life. But things have decayed to the point that you almost don’t want to leave the house or ever talk to one of these companies ever again. It is more becoming more true than ever before in human history that people are just numbers.

The only thing worse, these days, than not getting any customer service is actually getting it. Through the use of our wondrous technology, every company in the world is eliminating that dreaded problem of actually having to talk to the actual customers who are actually trying to use their actual products and services. For the customer it’s all actual. For the companies, it’s becoming more and more virtual. They put a virtual human beings voice on an answering machine, and if you don’t tell that virtual voice what it wants to hear, it says, “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that.” And they try to make the voice sound really sorry that it “doesn’t get that.” But the reality is that you either do it their way or you don’t do it all.

I have found that if you scream really loud at the virtual voice, “I want to talk to a real person!!!” then that sometimes trips a menu that they don’t tell you is there and a real person comes on the line. And this is where your problems really begin.

This real person does NOT want to talk to you. They know you were not happy with the virtual voice, they know your problem has some actual complexity to it, and they are now a mediator between you and their virtual, computer based problem solving information systems. Now it’s their job to deal with the virtual voice and they don’t like it. When you tell them what your problem is, they click on the virtual voice on their own little computer. The virtual voice tells them “I didn’t get that,” and so the real person says to you, “Hmmm. Well, that’s not supposed to happen.” So now you’re dealing with both the annoying virtual voice and an employee of some big company who is working hard to get you off the phone without really helping you, but hoping to make you feel better about it somehow than you did with the virtual voice.

And don’t get me started on the grocery stores (too late), where you are expected, more and more, to behave as if you are an employee of the store.  Last night I was at Meijers grocery, and as I was walking to the one and only human operated checkout, the girl turned off her light. When she saw me, two seconds later, she just shrugged her shoulders like, “Oh well.” I said, can’t someone ring these up for me?” I had quite a few groceries. But she just shrugged. Do it their way or you can just leave. You get to ring up your own groceries, solve pricing issues, bag your groceries and do it all with a disinterested employee watching from a distance, treating you like an idiot if you have a problem with their computer system. Pretty soon they’ll have us stocking the shelves and sweeping the floors for them and they’ll still act like they’re doing us a favor. And don’t think for a second that this is just at Meijers. K-Mart, Walmart, restaurants, gas stations, it’s all becoming the same beast.

Whatever. I’ve complained enough. But, seriously, it’s about to put me out of my mind.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011


  1. It kills me that there are so many people without a job right now, but this is still happening.

  2. I usually get revenge at Meijer by getting something that won't work on the automated machine which forces the person to interact with you. Mind you, this is not intentional, but happens almost every time.

  3. I'm experiencing this with trying to pay my federal student loans online. As if it weren't "online" enough, they've made it even worse. If I didn't think this month's payment would come back to bite me in the bum, I'd just let it go.

  4. Yep. You do it their way or they make you pay. And they make you pay even when you do it their way. For my auto insurance, I pay three dollars extra a month so I can pay it monthly. This isn't true of health insurance or insurance on the house, but with a car, if you want to have a monthly bill (how outrageous!) you have to pay a premium. It's nutty.

  5. The folks at the Allen Park Meijers are really nice, as are those at the other stores. Dave, if you need to ask for help, try doing it in a soft, southern drawl.

  6. I'm sure they're all nice. Just like my mail lady is amazing. It's the business systems and the way a few people care more (or less) about the systems than they do the actual customers that makes it such a mess.


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