Friday, September 2, 2011


Hi again.  It’s Bea Bell here asking you a question.  Do you remember the Texaco Service Man?  You know, the service station attendant that would come out to put gas in your car, check the oil, and wipe your windshield?  For those of you who don’t remember this, once upon a time there was such service.  I remember that service man, and I miss him.

What I actually mourn is the death of customer service.  In the gasoline business of today self-service translates to no service. The death of the notion that customers should be treated with some respect is rampant.  If customers are dissatisfied with the service they receive, who cares?  The motto—the customer is always right”—is true only if you can shout loud enough, complain long enough and write a letter to the right person. 

How much does rude customer service bother me?  Let me count the ways.  

Have you ever gone on line for a product or service, but can’t quite maneuver around the web site?  There is usually an email address to contact the company and I admit that most sites are quick to respond. However, by the time that some of the companies do answer you’ve gotten someone else to figure out the problem, or you just don’t care anymore.  Now the object of having an on-line computer business is to have it on line—I get it.   But if you can’t get around the website because it is poorly designed or you are computer illiterate, you need to talk to a human being.  If you work really hard and want to spend hours searching the web site, you may eventually find a telephone number. There are some cases, however, where it will take hiring a private detective to get a phone number.

Whenever I call a business, I make sure I have the entire day to make the call because in all likelihood I’ll end up in telephone hell.  You know what I mean. It goes like this:

Thank you for calling (insert any company name).   Please listen carefully because our menu options have changed.   (Like it makes any difference; you won’t get to talk to anybody no matter what option you pick).  

After fooling around for 15 minutes trying to pick an option because none of them are what I really want, I call back because I figure maybe I didn’t hear my option.  Here is where they trick you. They don’t give you an option to talk to a live person.   But, I figured it out one day when in my frustration I shouted “OPERATOR!”  Now here is where telephone hell really gets hot.  The robot voice says that it is transferring your call, and you are put on hold for an eternity only to have the robot eventually disconnect you!

For a long time this type of treatment really ticked me off, but no more. I’ve learned to play by their Rules To Make Customers Suffer.  I now have snacks, sandwiches, drinks and the television remote on hand. When I hear the robot say, “Please stay on the line, your call is very important to us” I laugh hysterically.  I know they don’t mean it, but I can wait them out—for hours if I have to.

Another situation that pisses me off is walking into a store and making a complete tour of the place before I can find a salesperson.  Here’s another blast from the past:  once upon a time sales people, actually knew something about the product their customers wanted to buy. Not now! When I finally find what I want—with no help from the salesperson—and head to the cashier counter, I only pray there is not a power outage and the computer goes dead because these days no one knows how to count.  I was in a store when the computerized cash register died and the clerk could not count my change!  She looked in horror at the dysfunctional register, frantically punching the register buttons with one hand and clutching my money in the other one, but it was her lucky day.  Before I could say anything, a little ten-year-old girl standing nearby with her mother quietly stated the correct amount that the cashier should give me.

Change doesn’t always mean progress. Right now, as I curl up on my sofa preparing to make a call to yet another business, I’m thinking about the Texaco man with his pearly white smile, broad shoulders and ever- ready squeegee. I can’t help but sigh. I miss the man. He really knew how to service a girl.

Click below to see exactly what I’m talking about, and then muse on it.

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