Yesterday on my way to a callback in the far western suburbs, I was following a small white truck on the highway. I couldn’t see past or over it, so I maintained what I thought was a safe distance. All of a sudden, a huge section of a truck tire appeared before me. No time to change lanes. I ran over it. It hit the bottom of my car with a jarring force. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the car behind me run over it, too. Fortunately, we all kept driving without apparent incident.
These days we have more gadgets than ever that we rely on to do more things. When computers, printers, etc. perform as expected, we may take them for granted. But when they act up or are on the fritz, most of us get frustrated trying to trouble shoot. Our lives can be put on hold if that document/resume we need for a meeting/audition today won’t print. Or if your cell phone keeps telling you “your device is extremely low on space” and won’t let you send a text even after you’ve deleted all kinds of apps, cleared caches and more.
Manuals rarely seem to yield the solution. With online help, it’s often challenging and time consuming to find the FAQ that resolves your issue or wade through help forums. Reaching a live customer service person is a feat in itself, and finding a helpful one can be like running a marathon.
This week, so far:
Waiting for 3 boxes from Federal Express. My building has a locked package room, but they just left the first one sitting in the lobby. A box clearly marked Dell Multimedia Speaker System.
Fed Ex’s door tags don’t list delivery hours. I clicked all over their website but couldn’t find them. The guy I finally got on the phone (who said to press 00 to get to a person right away; I’d tried that but it didn’t work) was very pleasant but couldn’t do anything except tell me that I could pick up the boxes at a delivery center near me.
I’m sure FedEx employees are very busy. But you can’t even request a window of opportunity, you have to be available the entire time…which I think is 9A to 8P. I wasn’t, so I signed the first tag for the other boxes. Well, they didn’t leave them….
U.S. Cellular: I’ve found USC customer service to be friendly and helpful. However, I’m not thrilled by their advice. To get rid of the “low on space” error message on my HTC Desire, they say to install two pieces of software on my PC and back up stuff on my phone. Then I have to install froyo 2.2, which basically wipes clean all settings and apps but should improve performance and battery usage. Finally, I’ll have to reinstall and set up everything as if the phone was new. This is expected to take at least 45 mins (during which time, of course, my phone won’t work…and of course that’ll be when FedEx arrives…).
When they work and arrive when expected, electronic devices and software can make our lives so much easier and more fun. When they don’t, waiting for or fixing them can take over our lives.
Our economy is tanking, and consumers are paying the price in time, frustration, and money. Aside from the mortgage crisis and the high price of oil, here’s why:
Poor customer service!!!!!
On the phone: How frustrating are customer service phone lines…where, if you have enough graduate degrees to figure out how to get to a live person, you still have to press or say a zillion commands the overly soothing voice won’t understand?
And if you get an actual human, unfortunately chances are you won’t be able to understand him or her very well.
The newest wrinkle: fake friendliness, which they think makes them seem like they care but actually wastes more time. In recent dealings with a credit card company, cheeryisms like, “How are you doing today?” made the call twice as long.
In store: how rare is it to want help, and actually find someone who knows the products? Even at Nordstrom, which prides itself on customer service…one item I wanted had to be shipped from another store. I received a different item, with another shopper’s receipt. Couldn’t get the box picked up for weeks. The actual item I ordered never surfaced, despite numerous calls to and “I’m sorrys” from an assistant manager.
For many Chicagoans, one word exemplifies the problem: Macy’s.
There are still people protesting the changeover from Marshall Field’s…a recent news story told of a man who bought one Macy’s share so he could attend the shareholder meeting. Learn more: here.
One bright note: at a recent trip to Ulta, an employee was helpful and knowledgeable about the benefits of various flatirons. She seems to be the exception to the rule.
In home: A Certain Cable Company. Need I say more? Last summer, a neighbor and I each spent hours on the phone to resolve very frustrating, persistent service outages (particularly so because I work at home and couldn’t send files when I wanted to) and scheduling repair visits. And because they don’t have dedicated service reps, often I had to re-explain the whole situation. I couldn’t get them to show up when they said they would or at all. I think he got them to show up once, but then the required follow up visit to our building never happened.
I complained and got them to let me pay 1/2 for 6 months…then fortunately my building changed to a different provider.
–Almost every time I shop, no matter when I go: long checkout lines at most stores.
–What’s on the shelf: How many times do you go to a drug or grocery store and the product you want isn’t there…because it’s out of stock Do you have the patience/time to track down an employee and see if they have what you want? I don’t. More and more, it seems groceries are carrying fewer national brands and filling aisles with their own products.
The frustration of shopping these days often outweighs the enjoyment of acquiring and using new products. You’d think retailers would want us to shop more…what can be done?