I’m having one of those days …

… when I’ve got a bunch of disparate thoughts running around in my head. They’re all unrelated, but they are on my mind; and you know me, I love to share. So here goes:

A friend of mine recently wanted to change her communications provider. It should have been simple — two phone calls at most. One to the current provider, cancelling her services and one to the other provider, setting them up.

Turns out she was without email or voice mail for several weeks and when you called her home number the call was switched to her business line.

I remember a time when everyone just had a phone at home and a phone at the office, when there were pay phones in public places and on the street. Life was much less complicated and stressful then. We managed to keep in touch with each other very well.

Who decided we had to be accessible 24/7? Are we really better off now?

***

Last week I had a craving for cereal. Plain, ordinary breakfast cereal. It’s been more than a year since I started my day with a bowl. Granola sprinkled on yoghurt is not the same as a bowl of cereal.

Anyway, off I trotted to the grocery store. The cereal aisle was blocks long. There had to be 30 different varieties. Is that really necessary? Was life so bad when we could only choose between Corn Flakes and Special K and Cheerios and Raisin Bran and Fruit Loops? Between porridge and steel cut oats?

After spending almost 20 minutes marching up and down the aisle, looking at the photos and reading through the lists of ingredients I ended up leaving empty-handed. Trying to figure out whether I wanted sliced almonds, dried blueberries, many berries or apple, honey nut clusters, vanilla, maple or cinnamon, flax, hemp or bran, frosted or plain, chocolate or peanut butter, rice or wheat, crunch, chex, flakes, pops, crisps, puffs or pebbles I gave up.

All I wanted was a bowl of cereal. Life is too short.

***

You constantly hear horror stories of travelers trying to redeem miles or points or whatever you collect in the hopes of having a free flight from time to time. Either you want to go in a black-out period, or it’s too last minute, or you’re not eligible for business class, etc.

But what really gets me is when you end up having to make multiple stops. You know, when a flight that normally takes four hours ends up taking nine (or even longer) because you have to land and take off again from three different airports (or more), in three different cities (or more) simply to get from Point A to Point B for free.

There are direct flights to that destination. Try to get one on points.

Remember when we didn’t collect points? We called a travel agent or the airline, told them where we wanted to go and when, how many people were in our group — and bingo! Yes, I know, we had to pay for our tickets back then.

Well let me ask you this: How much money have you spent in order to accumulate points? If you’re like me, the answer to that question is way more than your flight would cost if you were paying for it. Not to mention the time wasted.

We’ve been had.

***

What did we do before we could buy everything from books to clothes, from groceries to mortgages online — in the middle of the night when we can’t sleep, when we’re still in our PJs, when we haven’t yet showered, brushed our teeth or combed our hair, while we’re at a restaurant, in a meeting, while driving (bad, bad, bad) or out of town?

Don’t know about you, but I went to the store. I still managed to get whatever it was I wanted or needed. And I also managed to find the time to do it, along with everything else I had to do.

Now we have all this convenience, we can shop wherever, whenever. So why am I always pressed for time? Why are there never enough hours in the day? Is life easier now?

***

This is a biggie. Customer service. Or, the lack there of. Everybody bitches about it. There’s a real epidemic of it too. I find it perplexing. Why is service so bad? Why don’t employees care? Why aren’t they better trained? Why aren’t they monitored? What happened? It wasn’t always thus.

An article in last Sunday’s New York Times set me straight. The subject being discussed was the passenger who was dragged off that United Airlines flight. But the point the writer was making was, that the blame really shouldn’t be aimed at the cabin crew, the police or even the airline executives.

The problem started on Wall Street.

Customer service has taken a back seat to meeting income targets and increasing profit margins. There’s more and more pressure from Wall Street for executives to meet investment-grade ratings which, in turn, has resulted in the numbers becoming the only criteria for executive compensation.

Or, to put it another way, since your happiness doesn’t put a Maserati in their driveways no one gives a shit if you’re satisfied or not. You (we) aren’t even on their radar.

It’s doubtful that this only applies to the airline industry. Mystery solved.

What’s on your mind?

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12 thoughts on “I’m having one of those days …

  1. Sent from my iPad. There is no room in this modern life for plain old fashioned service : be it from grocery stores,communication companies, department Or speciality stores or airlines.

    Do not blame the employees…they simply are not trained to solve problems. The object is $$$. In Saks, my store, we used to have a client service department. It was staffed with what I call ” go to people” . They knew what telephone number and company and paperwork was required for lost package credit,late payment, damaged goods, list credit cards etc etc etc. They resolved problems in 5-10 minutes. Then the corporations decided to save money! All hell then broke out. This service department was as specialized as for instance alterations department. The employees ( I.e. Sales people) were expected to serve this function ….now they were commissioned sales people with high sales goals, no training in accounting problems, etc etc etc. Then it became ” hell in a basket” for employees and customers! This was in All speciality and department stores, communications companies, service references! It is amazing to me that Anything gets done or bought!

    I have spent 5 years arguing with Comcast, the monster communications company, to fix my wiring…I live in a building with 150 condos . The owners not only pay for their maintenance every month …Comcast gets a nice percentage of that to provide basic service…the owners pay upwards of another $100 or so to get channels we want and SERVICE! Ha ha! I am the bitch if the century now…I do not want someone in India, Philippines, or Mexico trouble shootings my outages! I would like to be able to understand what they are saying. I want My Service! I have made so many calls as decided I would not give up. I also demanded credit for days without service..For past month, I have had Comcast service people come once or twice a week..I have given them obnoxious reviews ( on scale of 1-10h) they rate 0.. finally yesterday, two different Comcast men arrived…( fix this bitch’s problems) they spent from 1-5….they knew to fix problems, so,they would go home to dinner!) They Rewired

    building contacts for my appartment and every metal attachment where wires meet walls..( seems these wear out from humidity, vacumn is, etc) Scarlett sat in my lap and watched this to do…Moma hid…I have discovered that the service men they send are contract workers who are paid by job not service …so demanded a Comcast employee..these men actually know and train all those men who came to apartment before. Are the problems fixed? I thought so last night! This morning I turned on monitor and vcr to find they had wired my CD player into vcr. At this Point, I am just walking over to units and turning off CD player! As for grocery stores,they carry over 2000 items…the public wants choices, Nabisco etc needs to keep producing new to make public buy more! I am too old for this…I just want special K with as little salt and sugar aspossible! I do have to say that the massive Publix chain really tries to give service with a smile and they will walk you to aisle to find the goods..however, truth be told, they donot know ingredients,but will read back for you especially fir the old folks who, forgot their reading glasses!

    As for airlines, nothing to be said….in today’s world, you either have a private plane or join the masses..or donot try for freebies you have earned! I no longer want to fly but want to be a genie in the bottle or have the magic carpet! And Yes,it is corporate ruled by Wall Street who want profits given by burden of load on employees backs!

    sorry for this rant…just fed up..xoxo, Barb

    comcast

    >

    • We’re all in the same boat (sigh). It is so tempting to just get rid of everything and just go back to the basics.

  2. Cereal! Bah! I gave up cereal because somehow it all got so sweet. I had a fav that was discontinued. Then I tried a few that looked similar with similar sugar counts. Yikes! My teeth hurt. Even in the healthy aisle, they either taste like cardboard or sugar. Nothing in between.

  3. I agree with everything you said except for the phones. I do find life is less stressful knowing I can stay connected 24/7. Technology has a downside though. Remember snow days? No more – if you have a computer at home, you are expected to work. Also, the lazy days of summer are a thing of the past. It certainly is strange how in spite of all the modern conveniences, none of us seem to feel there are enough hours in the day. We just filled up the time with more stuff.

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