From Where I Sit – Rant Alert!

Rant alert! Rant alert! Am I alone in believing that basic customer service is going to hell in a hand basket? Didn’t think so.

It doesn’t seem to matter if the purchase costs a few dollars or thousands of dollars. It doesn’t matter if the business is a corner store, big box store, e-commerce website, multinational corporation, franchise, chain, or is home based. It doesn’t matter if it is goods or service based.

I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore. I’m sick of retailers taking me and my dollars for granted. I’m fed up with incompetent, uninterested, indifferent employees (or sometimes even owners). I’m angry that it often takes several phone calls, e-mails, or return trips to get something remotely like customer satisfaction. I’m sick of telephone menus–press one for service in English (what, no Swahili?); press two for blah, blah; press three for yadda, yadda–and voice mail. “If you know the extension of the person you’re calling, please enter it now. To hear the company directory, please press . . .” When you finally get to a real live human being, a recording warns that the call may be monitored to improve customer service. If only.

Oh Lord, spare me the broken promises, the lip service, the rhetoric, the catchy slogans, the mission statements. Just give me a human being who gives a damn.

Doesn’t every self-respecting business owner know that it takes on average six times as much effort to attract a new customer as it does to keep an old customer happy? I’m not sure of the exact numbers but I do know dissatisfied customers tell many, many more people than do happy ones. That’s why word of mouth is potentially a business’s great marketing tool or the proverbial kiss of death.

Speaking of the kiss of death–I was directed recently to a website entitled www.ripoffreport.com. It seems to be a wide-open forum for people with legitimate customer complaints to get the air time they need. It also offers targeted companies the opportunity to rebut claims and for letters of support to get equal time. Apparently there are safeguards in place to prevent malicious, libellous attacks from competitors and/or disgruntled employees. I haven’t yet posted a report about a particular company I have a beef with, because I’m hoping they respond favourably with the refund I’m requesting based solely on the very compelling letter I wrote (and the implied threat that Rip-Off Report is the next step).

What a shame that so much time and energy is being expended just trying to protect our consumer dollars. What a shame that some companies still don’t get it. They haven’t figured out the real dollar cost of ill will, bad press, lost opportunities and employee time. We can’t blame all the lousy service on Alberta’s overheated economy. It existed before the boom; it existed beyond our borders; it’s rampant.

I’m mad as hell and I’m not taking it anymore. It’s self-defence, from where I sit.

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