Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Problem With The World

After extensive research and compilation of statistical data and a double blind testing procedure, I have identified it. And by it I mean the problem with the world. I know there are several problems but this is The Problem. Interestingly, I have been on the trail of this problem for most of my life (see here, here, and here) but failed to identify it correctly and categorize it as I have now. Ultimately I did this for you. Because I am generous like that and want to provide the best possible blog services on the net. Notice the word service in that last sentence? That is my slick way of using the literary method foreshadowing.

You guessed it. The Problem with The World is poor service. Sounds simple but it is very, very true. We all have our stories but here are a few pretty common and sad examples of woe:

The DMV: I beg of you to give me one example of a pleasant experience you have had at the Department of Motor Vehicles. The lines are long, the attitudes are horrid, and usually the end result is that you have to come back with other documents before accomplishing your original goal. A classic trick they like to pull is to go on break just as their window opens up for you to be serviced. Based on the personnel that I have seen at these offices, I would wager that these are the hiring requirements:

  • Must be 50 or older
  • Must be female
  • Must have horrible attitude. Smiles and positive attributes will NOT be tolerated.
  • Must have a sweater to hang on the back of your chair. Even in the summer.
  • Must have 5 years previous experience in pissing people off.
  • Incentives and bonus available for those that can incite a riot.

Call Centers: There are two types of these and both of them are putrid. Type one is the sales or outbound calling center. These are the shmucks that interrupt you at dinner time or just before bed trying to sell you a gismo or service that you will never need and could never afford. These drones follow a script and are taught to read without taking a breath…forcing you into one of two decisions, both of which are rude. Decision 1…hang up. Decision 2…interrupt them and yell, NO THANKYOU! My secret to these phone calls is to either not answer at all or answer in Spanish.

Me: Hola?

Jerk: Yes, may I speak to TheEdge?

(Did he not hear me say hola?)

Me: Lo siento senor, yo no se Ingles.

Jerk: Do you know when TheEdge will be back?

(For some reason, it is not registering that he has a wrong number and speaking to a Mexican man.)

Me: Que es tu problema? Yo creo que tu es muy loco y estupido.

(Finally registering that no communication is possible…)

Jerk: “Click”

(Sound of dial tone)

Me: (Sinister grin forms on face) Muchas gracias!

Call center number two is the one you actually need. This is the one that can correct a bill or walk you through activation or set up of a product. These people, unlike group one, do not want to talk to you. This call center will first put you through an endless voicemail maze where you have to press 1 if your head is on fire, 2 if your rectum fell out, 3 if you are pregnant with quadruplets, 4 if you sneeze funny, 5 if you love hold music and automated answering services…and so on. Once you finally get “an associate” they too read from a horrid script because they are incapable of thinking. Most times you are talking to “Ted” who lives in India and he realizes after 20 minutes that you need another department. Upon transferring you, oops…disconnected!

Contractors: This may or may not be common. But since this blog is all about me, I am going to post it. I just had and have had contractors work on my home. Some experiences are better than others but this was an absolute nightmare that still has no resolution. Here is a convenient bullet point list for you:

  • Promised project length of 3 days with actual length of 10 days and counting
  • Original bid is increased due to “unforseeables”, longer time on the job, and extra equipment.
  • Essentially sharing our small home with two dirty men that track mud, grime, grease, and grout through the entire house not to mention their horrible aim when using our one working bathroom.
  • Leaving the water hose in our yard, gunk on every doorknob, caulk on the driveway, trash in the garage, and tile bits everywhere.
  • Installing the wrong color shower door and trim.
  • Failing to show up on time any day of the week.
  • Disappearing for several hours per day with no explanation.
  • Failing to work late or any weekends to expedite the finality of the project.
  • Constant grumbling and bad attitude.
  • Commentary about other jobs being more profitable.
  • Poking the belly of my twins with extremely dirty hands.
  • And so much more…

Medical Offices: In the last 15 years I have not had any need to visit the doctor, save for a trip to the Emergency room and my brief bout with Anxiety. However, when My Wife and I began the long and torturous journey of Fertility testing and treatment, the doctor’s office became a second home. As such I have been to more medical facilities in the last two years than I ever care to see again. Between our multiple treatments, tests, procedures, and then OB appointments when finally pregnant I would say that I have been to a doctor’s office at least once per month for two years. And now the Nuggets (my twins) are constantly going for check-ups. The service levels vary at each office but the problems are always the same. The front desk manager messes up your claim or asks for more than your co-pay should be. You get a call needing to reschedule after re-routing your entire day around the appointment. A procedure lasting two minutes costs two grand and “oops…insurance won’t cover it…sorry for not telling you that up front.” This last visit was exceptionally irritating as we had just switched insurance providers. The lazy woman up front needed more information about our claim number and address to submit bills to. She did not seem to feel any need to call the 800 number I provided for her to get this information as her job would dictate. Instead she acted as if there was nothing she could do and sat watching me use my personal cell phone to perform her job. Insurance is a whole blog post in and of itself but a BIG problem with service issues in the Medical field stems from dealing with various insurance carriers.

Tables Turn: Maybe it is hypocritical but I have been on both sides of a service issue. Between working retail, managing restaurants, and running a staffing firm, I am no stranger to servicing clients and customers. And just let me go on record by saying…THE CUSTOMER ISN’T ALWAYS RIGHT! In fact, most of them could use a few more IQ points and an attitude adjustment. So between customers that have an over-inflated sense of obligation and service agents that really don’t seem to care, it is a wonder products and services ever exchange hands.

Your Story: There are probably enough service providers that we all universally deal with to allow this post to set a record for length. But I would rather hear from you. Leave a comment about a horrifying service issue that you have dealt with. The best story will be published on my blog in the near future.


Neil said...

The Spanish speaking solution is good, except I don't speak Spanish. Another option is that no matter what they are selling, tell them your spouse does that for a living.

kyotoca said...

The Problem With The World, that sounds as if you were writing the problems of the world on economy and government, not specific jobs that make this world functionable. I like this post, but I just thought the title was a little odd for this kind of content.

TheEdge said...


The title was purposefully an overstatement and meant to be ironic. I like titles that get people's attention. Obviously I realize that these minor service issues are not truly a global matter that need to be put ahead of real problems. As always, thank you for your readership and input.

kyotoca said...

I just got a little bit too specific on the title part, after reading some other blogs too that just happened to have a similar title and was talking about global issues.

Yes, its important to get people's attentions when we're in this era of the internet. Most people just leave after looking at the title, so there always has to be some factor that keeps them in.

Chris said...

Very good my friend. I will enterject this thought for the telemarketers though. I stole it from Jim Rome, but it is affective. As soon as they are if you are the man of the house or ask if they are speaking to das pledge (since they will screw up your name every time) you procede to give them the manual basketball buzzer. The conversation goes like this: "(long pause.... to see if you pick up),

"hello"(you) "

is this Mr. Dredge?" (telemarketer)

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkkeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkkkkkeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!! (you)

Hang up, and smile widely. With the thought that that crappy person has to spend the rest of there shift calling people with the thought that they just got buzzed. Another thought is when your kid get old enough to talk, just hand the phone over, a telemarketer that stays on the phone listening to thoughts of candy and butterflies I have yet to find.

Thanks for getting me fired up on this one.

Posted by chris on Thursday, June 29, 2006 at 3:39 PM (Cut & Paste from MySpace)

Nick said...

The customer, more often than not, IS wrong.

Unless it's the DMV. That's the type of place that Satan looks at and shivers in disgust.

If you want the best of two worlds, you could telephone the DMV call center. Can't speak for the rest of the world, but in New York they have phone numbers based on where you are in the state. These phone lines are rigged so that you cannot call outside of a certain area. For example, I am in New York City. I cannot dial the Buffalo, NY DMV call center number and get a person. A recording comes on to tell me I am calling outside of my range.

That epitomizes the DMV... they spend their time, energy, and resources in perfecting customer disservice.

Posted by Nick on Friday, June 30, 2006 at 2:33 PM (Cut & Paste from MySpace)

Zaphod said...

1) As the person hiring the contractor, you are the boss and have the control of the contractor doing WHAT you want HOW you want it. If you are not satisfied with their servies, you have the control to FIRE them and find somebody else.

2) People generally remember their unpleasant experiences. When things go smoothly according to plan without any problems, nobody remembers. Also, the WAY that people handle problems to resolution is a key element.

3) If the customer is not right, a skilled service associate can explain and show the customer a better solution. But let the customer think they are making a better decision, do not force a different answer/solution onto the customer.

Posted by Zaphod on Saturday, July 01, 2006 at 8:50 AM (Cut & Paste from MySpace)

Adam said...

i have to admit your description of the contractors was right on....and caused me to spit up my coffee this morning..kudos.

Posted by Adam on Thursday, July 06, 2006 at 8:11 PM (Cut & Paste from MySpace)

Zaphod said...

You guessed it. The Problem with The World is poor service. Sounds simple but it is very, very true. We all have our stories but here are a few pretty common and sad examples of woe:

At one time in my life, I thought I had a handle on the meaning of the word "service." "The act of doing things for other people."Then I heard the terms:* Internal Revenue Service* Postal Service* Telephone Service* Civil Service* City/County Public Service* Customer Service* Service StationsAnd I became confused about the word "service." This is not what I thought "service" meant.Then today, I overheard two farmers talking and one of them mentioned that he was having a bull over to "service" a few of his cows.SHAZAM! It all came into perspective. Now I understand what all those "service" agencies are doing to us.

TheEdge said...

Hilarious! And, oh so true.