This post is a little different than most. Normally, the video is my rambling thought process that went into what’s ultimately a more condensed, concise post on the topic but this one’s basically just a big ol’ rant. When I write about a topic, I try to also put in a potential solution along with my complaints but this time, I don’t really have one. The video is long but contains the stories behind what this post is about, stories that would make this an epic wall of text if I repeated them out. If you want to know the stories, watch the video and feel free to relay your own stories in the comments!
A sad reality most of us have come to accept these days is that good customer service is something that’s generally the rule and not the exception. Big companies have learned exactly how bad their service can be before people will go from just complaining to actually taking their money elsewhere (there are people who actually figure this out for a living) and they ride that line with precision. However, if you do your research into who you buy stuff from, you can often find the few diamonds in the rough and proceed to hold on to them for dear life. If you can find a small business instead of a big chain, that used to be almost a sure bet. You may end up paying a bit more but you know you’re dealing with a place that will treat you right and make up for that. Nowadays though, it seems we can’t even count on that and that even when you do your due diligence, you still can’t be guaranteed you won’t be treated like shit.
In the last month and a bit, my girlfriend and I have experienced a near constant string of some of the worst customer service we’ve ever seen (again, watch the video if you want to hear the stories.) Appliances, parts for said appliances, computers, cars, video games, retail, these nightmares cross all kinds of genres. If you look at the video thumbnail, you’ll see many large, familiar names that you might nod your head with but there’s a couple in there you might not know either. Indeed, the kinds of small companies you thought were the bastions of treating customers with respect seem to be just as bad as the big dogs now. When it came to my RetroN 5 experience, I actually would have had an easier time had I purchased it from a big box retailer instead of supporting one of the few Mom N’ Pop video games stores left in this country.
I’ve been on the end of bad customer service most of my adult life. I’m largely steeled to it and and the fact that I should be pleasantly surprised when a company treats me like a valued customer instead of just a profit centre. I have learned to expect when dealing with certain companies that I often need to work up a good mad before I call them because I know a fight will likely ensue. Nothing in my long history in the trenches of this stuff can hold a candle to the last month. It is simply astonishing to me not only how customer service standards have slipped but product quality standards as well. High-end products, in some cases brand new in the box, have had major defects. We’ve dealt with multiple companies that even in this age of hyper-computerised supply chain management, still can’t accurately tell if they have a simple product in stock or not. We’ve had to spend hours trying to find a part for a dryer that’s less than 10 years old. I’ve dealt with a small retailer that actually misrepresented the features of a product before selling it to me, admitted to doing so and yet still expected me to cover the cost of returning the item to them. All of this accompanied problems that were actually not that major and shouldn’t have been hard to get sorted out.
All of this is due to what is known to cold capitalists as “what the market will bare.” In plain English, that means that companies treat people like shit because they know they’ll tolerate it. However, it feels to me like this had reached a new height or more accurately, depth the last while. The vast majority of companies seem to place no value whatsoever on their customer’s business any more. Indeed, they feel they’re entitled to our money and that anything we ask of them after they’ve taken it is a burden that they should try to divest of as soon as possible. In the era of social media and outrage culture we now live in, you think if anything, the ability of people to broadcast their dissatisfaction would have forced an improvement but the opposite has happened. These companies have learned that what people bitch out on Twitter and Facebook doesn’t really matter in the end because like so many other things, it’s all just become noise that no one pays attention to. As long as the company feigns concern, most people won’t see anything past that. When everyone provides shit service, no one has to provide good service and it seems even the small players have gotten wise to that.
Like I said up top, this isn’t a problem I can really offer a solution to. I still don’t tolerate bad service but I’m one person and have no means to make a real difference. The last month has made that abundantly clear. Indeed, it’s much like politics. Everyone bitches about how the government isn’t doing right by them but a lot of us don’t go out and vote, yet think we still have a right to bitch. The fact is, if you don’t fight for the respect you deserve, you kind of don’t deserve it in the first place. If you keep giving your money to companies that disrespect you and don’t demand better from them after you have, why would any of them change? They know they don’t have to and good service costs money so why spend it? People need to step up and demand better but we don’t seem to be. Everything has a tipping point and I’ve said for years now that people are only going to tolerate this crap so much and we will reach a point where various industries will have to step up their game but it hasn’t happened and the goalposts of good quality products and service seems to be moving further and further away each year. We keep putting up with this crap so the companies keep trying to push further and further back and there’s no breaking point in sight.
I’m seriously waiting for the day when some large corporation just decides they’re going to make money by charging like $5 to every credit card and bank account in the world and saying “If you don’t want us doing that, you have to tell us.” They won’t provide any actual product or service, they’ll just take the money and give it back to whoever complains. Hell, some cable companies have already tried what’s known as “negative billing” before, where they add service onto your bill and charge you for it until you tell them to shop. I swear at this point, some company could try that and they not only would get away with it, they’d probably actually make a huge profit on it because a bunch of people either wouldn’t notice the $5 missing or wouldn’t care to jump through the hoops needed to get it back. That’s like the capitalism singularity, when companies can literally charge money for absolutely nothing and I swear, one day someone is going to try it. If people don’t stop putting up with this shit, they’ll get away with it too.
I don’t know what the answer is and I don’t know where the line is where people will finally say enough is enough but when we have put up with the kind of shit we have in the last month, I get as mad at the faceless people who don’t stand up to it as those who perpetuate it. When I have to kick up a massive, time wasting fight with some company to get the service I should expect out of the gate, it’s not just them I’m fighting, it’s all the lazy, complacent other people who didn’t mount fights of their own. As someone who strives to provide good service in my own endeavours but also demands it from others, this is immensely frustrating. Consumers are supposed to be the ones with all the power. We’re the ones with the money after all. When did we all stop giving so much of a fuck that we just shrug when a company takes often thousands of dollars from us with one hand and slaps us in the face with the other? We need to snap out of this. I’m sick of fighting for all of you as well as myself. Demand better, we all deserve it.