Last week I wrote a fairly extensive editorial on my thoughts about United dragging Dr. David Dao off one of their flights from a human rights & basic dignity standpoint, however after reading some comments on Facebook today, I’d like to touch on what I’m going to call the customer service side of this whole mess.

The comments in question were a post by Mike Rowe – a guy whose thoughts I enjoy reading, though I happen to agree with part of what he said this time. The gist of it being concern that in the fourth or fifth apology from United CEO Oscar Munoz, they’ve essentially made it ok for customers to ignore when the crew of an airplane tells them to do something…

“But in the process of finding him blameless, he suggested that millions of passengers are under no obligation to follow a direct command from United employees. And that’s a hell of a lot more disturbing than a beat-down in the main cabin.”

Mike goes on to say that we don’t have a right to fly because we can always be removed for being beligerant or too big to fit in one seat or whatever reason the airline decides to use … and for most of those scenarios I would agree. If you’re drunk or disruptive, then sure – off you go. If you’re lucky, maybe they’ll even land the plane before kicking you out the door, but it’s that any reason deemed necessary where I take some exception because remember here that in this particular case, Dr. Dao was assaulted because United needed his seat to fly their own employees to another airport for work the next day.

And I don’t think that’s right.

Yes, I get that airlines run on thin margins, and that they overbook because there’s an average number of people who don’t show up for their flights as scheduled and the airline doesn’t make any money if those seats otherwise fly empty, but just like those United employees had someplace to be, so did their customer … their paying customer, and in accordance with taking his money in exchange for a plane ticket, it’s the airline’s responsibility to transport him to his destination as agreed.

And sure, it’s true that in its 47-page Contract of Carriage, United reserves its right to deny boarding to any customer it wants if nobody else volunteers when they end up on the inconvenient side of this overbooking teeter totter that they play … but does that make it right???

Those four employees had to get to work the next day to ensure that United’s planes were able to fly on schedule.

But so did the doctor who had patients to see the next day.

Just as overbooking is a relatively common thing in the airline industry, so is employees transferring from one airport to another – the idea that they don’t have a better handle on this issue and that it results in kicking paying customers off of their flights is the real travesty here!

So to Mike’s comment citing that we need order on our airplanes because they’re not democracies, they’re a place to follow orders, I would challenge that it’s the airlines who should lead this responsibility by providing stellar customer service, not the passengers who need to suck it up and accept whatever treatment they’re given because everyone has places to go and flight attendants have a thankless job.

In any other industry, if a business took a customer’s money and then refused to give them the service that they’d purchased, they’d face a day in court because that’s the entire reason said relationship exists between business and consumer … but because of the perceived safety concern, air travel has become an industry where consumers are left little to no actual protections after the airlines and the TSA have taken their own liberties from passengers just trying to travel in their own country and pay good money for the trip.

Last week we watched a guy get beaten because he didn’t want to leave the plane that he was scheduled to fly.

If I sell milk for a living and I sell you a gallon of milk, I can’t just show up at your house later on that evening and demand the gallon back because one of my truck drivers is thirsty and needs a drink so that he can complete his route healthy and refreshed tonight.

That’s my problem for not having enough milk in the first place, and to think that my customers should have to compromise for my own shortsightedness when they’re probably thirsty and want some milk to go with their cookies, too, is bad business.

And that’s why we have consumer protections in place to ensure that customers actually get the goods and services that they pay for.

Americans shouldn’t need a lawyer to review the 47-page contract that comes with their plane ticket in order to make sure that they’ll actually get from A to B like they’re expecting.

Regulations and Buying a New Home

March 16, 2017 10:23pm
Tagged with:

I just read a post on Facebook bitching about how much regulations add to the cost of a new home in America…

You know, like the ones that require builders to be licensed professionals who are going to craft the place where your family lives.

The ones that require your home to be built to best practices so that it’s less likely to catch fire or collapse due to shoddy craftsmanship.

The ones that ensure access to utilities are properly installed and accessible throughout the neighborhood.

The ones that check to make sure that the other guy is legally allowed to sell you your new house before you give him a huge amount of money.

And even the ones that help to protect the banks from risk so that they’ll be willing to loan you the money to pay for your new home.

Regulations aren’t all bad, and in a greedy, capitalist society like ours has become, government regulations are the common man’s last defense between the good and the bad. At least if you prefer your house with four walls and a roof over your head.

Not a Fan of Guns

March 10, 2017 11:49pm
Tagged with:

A lot of people have terrible judgment, at least when it comes to whether they think they have the right to take another person’s life.

That’s why I’ve always hated “Stand Your Ground” laws like the one we have here in Florida. They sound great on paper, but in practice it never seems to be the guy who’s about to rape your wife after breaking into your house or the guy threatening to kill you with a knife.

Instead, it’s I saw a guy walking down the street who looked pretty menacing, so I killed him.

Or, the guy in front of me in the movie theater wouldn’t put his cell phone away, so I shot him.

That second one is a hot news story locally because it literally happened a few miles away from my house. Two guys got into an altercation about one not turning off his cell phone – at the movie Lone Survivor, no less – and so the other guy, a retired captain from the Tampa PD, “felt threatened” enough to pull his gun and kill the guy.

A 73 year-old who should’ve had decades of experience didn’t know better.

Countless stories filled the news last year about unarmed black people killed by police officers … who should’ve known better.

Hell, we even hear stories about soldiers overseas who kill civilians and get away with it … and they should know better, too.

So no, if these “trained professionals” don’t have good enough judgment to determine who should live or die by their side arms, then maybe no one is qualified to be carrying them around “in self defense.”

Because the punishment for not putting your cell phone away in a movie theater isn’t death.

The Affordable Care Act has its flaws, there’s no denying it.

Healthcare costs are continuing to rise and with the individual mandate, it’s put a lot of people in a sticky situation where they can’t afford to carry insurance, yet they can’t afford to not carry insurance, either.

As President Trump apparently just realized what the rest of us have been saying for years, “It’s complicated…”

…BUT…

To say that the Affordable Care Act is “a disaster with nothing to love” is an insult to the millions of Americans who were able to get health insurance under the ACA, particularly those who have been able to get life-saving treatments thanks to their new coverage.

So the ACA has its problems … what do we say?

“We can’t afford to help sick people treat their cancer or their heart disease or their chronic diabetes because it’s just too expensive???”

Bullshit.

In 2015, Americans spent $3.2 trillion on healthcare – 17.9% of our GDP, and … like our defense budget … more than any other nation in the world.

And yet unlike defense, we don’t have the healthiest people in the world. The USA is 43rd in life expectancy and no surprise, we’re not the best at treating cancer, either. We’re really good at some types, like breast cancer, but we fall short in others and those where we do excel, we spend a lot of money to only be minimally better than those in our wake.

It was a historic step in the right direction when the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2009, and as long as the USA still dwindles embarrassingly low in these types of quality of life statistics, we’ve still got a ways to go. But it’s blasphemously ingenuous – when Americans have used its benefits to beat life threatening diseases – for anyone, much less the President of the United States, to claim that the ACA was a complete and utter failure.

Was saving the life of this award-winning tech journalist a failure to you, Mr. Trump???

Then Stop Doing Racist Things…

November 15, 2016 2:32am
Tagged with:

An ongoing theme that I’ve been noticing over the last week, and honestly something that I’ve keyed into for a while, is that frankly a lot of people don’t really seem to know what racism even is.

If they did, we wouldn’t keep hearing the same excuse over and over again – “I didn’t mean it in a racist way” or “My comment wasn’t intended to be racist…” The latter was the response given by the mayor of a small town in West Virginia after supporting the post of a county employee who wrote on Facebook“It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing an ape in heels.”

You know, because apparently West Virginia never got word that references to apes and monkeys have long since been established as ethnic slurs against black people.

Even earlier today I read a report quite literally from the local high school less than 5 miles down the street from my house where a white teacher said to a group of black students, “Don’t make me call Donald Trump and get you sent back to Africa.”

A high school teacher – someone who the community has trusted with teaching our children – doesn’t understand what racism is.

I get the impression that most people’s understanding of racism basically begins and ends at slavery and segregation, so anything that’s ever happened since the 1960’s can’t possibly fall into the same category – no jokes, no offhand comments, no words that they hear other races say that they can’t imagine why they can’t say them, too. These things are all said in jest and no harm is intended, so they can’t possibly be racist … and if they are, then it’s just the PC police pulling the race card to make everything about race.

Here’s a ProTip for you – If you don’t mean to be racist, then stop doing things that are racist! – it’s not complicated!!!

Making jokes about lynching the president … who’s black … happens to be racist.

Continuing to use racial slurs that anyone over the age of about 22 knows are racial slurs … is a racist thing to do.

There’s no excuse for this stuff. My oldest son is 2.5 years old and actively working on talking, and we already have to steer him away from saying words that are only for adults. As far as I’m concerned, once you’re old enough to have taken a history class or two, you should start to understand that racism is bad and as a society it’s something that we try to steer away from.

Because the thing is, I’d love to give these people the benefit of the doubt and say that “they just didn’t know!” but come on now. These people are nowhere near 22 years old – one is a high school gym teacher, the other is the director of a non-profit – they’re both old enough to know better. They just don’t want to.

Disappointingly, I have friends and family who use the same excuses and it’s absolutely cringeworthy every time, not only because they should know better, too, but also because I like to think of them as better people than that.

It’s not “political correctness,” it’s you behaving like a racist.

If you don’t want to be called a racist, then don’t act like one.

Guns

December 4, 2015 1:03am
Tagged with:

I don’t know the answer to our ridiculous mass shootings record here in America, but I don’t think I’m the only one who’s uncomfortable with just how ingrained guns have become in American culture.

It really is a cultural thing for us at this point because if you even mention talking about gun control, people go nuts about their 2nd amendment rights being infringed and how we’ve currently got 75,000 gun control laws already on the books and those ones never seem to work … people who love guns are convinced that anything but guns must be the problem, and yet the rest of us who aren’t gun nuts – and even some who are – still beg to ask the question…

…why do we have to have all of these GUNS lying around the country?!

I mean, I thought the statistic of more guns than people that I read last night was pretty alarming, but then to compound that by considering that only 40% of Americans own guns … that means that here in the United States of America, roughly 140 million people own roughly 350 million guns.

I’d love to dig even deeper into that statistic because I think it would be real telling to pull out how many of those 140 million own only one gun vs. how many of them own lots and lots of guns because just like the extremists that we observe in politics and religion and everywhere else, I’ve got a feeling there are probably a few backwoods militias jacking those numbers up quite a bit to get to the full 350 million guns owned.

And I guess the reason I say that I don’t even know the answer anymore is because although I don’t want to ban guns entirely, it frankly makes me very uncomfortable that we have almost half our population that’s this emphatic about owning these tools whose primary motive is for killing. We don’t see knife enthusiasm to this extent, and cars at least have a primary focus of transportation despite being responsible for a lot of deaths as well.

What is it about guns that so many Americans seem to fetishize to the point where we can’t even talk about them after shootings have become literally a daily headline in our nation???

I read a rather scary notion earlier today where somebody roughly said that “the war on gun control was lost after Sandy Hook” because when we weren’t able to make a dent even after a classroom of school kids got murdered in cold blood, it was already clear that America at large simply wasn’t interested in talking about its gun problem because if you ask the people carrying the guns, they’re all convinced that we don’t have one … or that it would somehow be solved if we were all carrying even more guns.

And that makes me sad because even if it was the right answer, you’ll never pull 350 million guns back off the streets of America – Donald Trump has a better chance of rounding up all of the illegal immigrants and showing them the door … all by himself.

Are the people who are pro-gun simply too in love with their weapons for America to ever shake its mass shooting stats?

It’s one of those questions that I’m not sure if we’ll ever answer until the whole thing just implodes, and yet, just under three years ago you could argue that it already did implode when 20 first graders lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.

Since that tragedy at Sandy Hook, over 1,300 more people have been killed in over 1,000 individual shootings in the United States in the last 3 years.

That’s almost as many American soldiers who died during the war in Afghanistan, except these all happened on U.S. soil.

If another country had been responsible for so many American lives lost within our own borders, we’d have declared war three years ago, but because it’s in our own fault, and it’s about guns, instead we do nothing.

A Verizon FiOS Upgrade Update … of Sorts

November 18, 2015 2:36pm
Tagged with:

So here we are, 10 days after my rant about issues with getting my FiOS Internet speed upgrade.

The good news is, I’m officially running at the 150 Mbps that I originally wanted … sometimes.

The bad news is, I’m not super crazy about what I had to go through to get it.

Here’s a quick timeline…

  • 10/23 – Found upgrade options missing online; no luck with support via phone or Twitter.
  • 10/29 – Sent an e-mail pressing further, response back that it was a mgt. decision.
  • 11/12 – Sent an e-mail to Verizon’s head over FiOS, got a response from his office in a matter of hours
  • 11/13 – Spoke on phone with exec. customer support who overrode issue and scheduled my upgrade
  • 11/16 – Tech came out, did install

It turns out that the final version of the story that I was given is that Verizon ran out of equipment nationwide, so in the meantime they decided to limit this particular upgrade to new customers until they were able to get their hardware issue under control. I didn’t ask if it was related to next year’s sale to Frontier because I wouldn’t blow a lot of money on equipment if I was selling the business soon, but it frankly wouldn’t surprise me…

Anyways, the gentleman from the VP’s office was very polite and offered to honor my upgrade by first submitting an order to upgrade me to 300 Mbps to get my order through the system, then coming in afterwards to back it down to the 150 Mbps that I actually wanted. And I did get my router included, though there was a one-time $150 install fee which I was honestly fine with at this point.

The install itself went super smooth – better than most, in fact – because instead of running a new ethernet line through the attic from the ONT to my router, he was able to make use of an existing line that ran to a smart panel in my closet where the router now resides anyways, so all in all we were probably done in about two hours. Speed tests were a little bit of a pain just because only my server is currently hardwired and it doesn’t have Flash installed which 99% of the speed tests require, but we worked it out nonetheless…

speedtest300 speedtest150

It was definitely hard to say goodbye to that 300 Mbps, though in no way can I justify another $90 on top of what I’m paying already, plus in reality I did find that the places I normally download from couldn’t push more than about 200 Mbps at me at a given time anyways … which was kind of expected. So it’s certainly worth noting that as sexy as the prospect of gigabit ethernet is, it’s really only useful for multiple devices pulling at the same time at least for the time being.

Still, this effectively doubled the speed in which I can download movies and TV shows, so that’s cool!

Also, my ping time is roughly 1/4 of what I was used to seeing, so also cool.

That said, even in just a day I’ve noticed my speed wobbling a bit – sometimes I can get the full 150 Mbps, sometimes it clocks in less than the 75 Mbps that I had before … not sure if that’s just standard Internet congestion (though I didn’t see it much before) or if moving me over to GPON puts me on a busier node where I’m competing for bandwidth more than I did when I was on BPON. Will have to keep an eye on that…

Anywho, at the end of the day my only real complaint is simply that I had to jump through so many hoops to get where I am today. One typically shouldn’t have to complain to a VP in order to get their service upgraded, and better communication at any step in the chain would’ve at least calmed me down and made me a little more understanding. I guess the moral is if you’re not getting anywhere with customer service, just go straight to the top and try there instead … which is terrible advice, really, but it seemed to work here.

I made the link above to said VP’s reference clickable just in case anyone else has the same problem… 😉

I’m really frustrated with Verizon right now, which is tough because I’m absolutely a huge fan of my FiOS Internet service.

We’ve been customers since 2012 and without a doubt they provide the best Internet service available in the Tampa Bay area. I’ve done the research, I’ve priced out the competition, but between their pricing and the symmetrical download & upload speeds that are pretty much unheard of elsewhere, Verizon FiOS is the best.

So why have I spent the last couple of weeks feeling like an inferior customer over one that they could have sometime in the future???

I’ve talked a lot about upgrading my Internet speed lately – right now I’m at 75 Mbps, but I’ve really been eyeing their 150 Mbps package … it’s just that until recently, it was a bit out of my reach at an extra $50/month. So needless to say, I was really excited when I noticed one day when browsing my upgrade options and saw that they had a new promotion where I could not only go from 75 to 150 Mbps for only an extra $20/month, but they’d also throw in the $200 router upgrade for free!!!

It sounds too good to be true, and apparently it was because a couple of weeks ago when I was finally ready to pull the trigger, the 150 Mbps tier was mysteriously nowhere to be found…

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 7.47.38 PM

My first instinct was understanding enough – there must just be something wrong with Verizon’s website, so I got on the phone and called to place the order manually instead, but the rep who answered my call saw the same thing and was pretty clueless as to why there was a hole in my tiers where the missing 150 Mbps option used to be! It was frustrating to hear her shrug it off, not even giving me an option to escalate the issue for someone else to take another look.

It just wasn’t there, and she was ready to move on to her next call, but that’s not even where the story takes a dark turn.

So I hung up and instead tried reaching out via Twitter, where I got a slightly different, but equally misleading explanation…

This time they told me it was a “technical limitation” and that the tier must simply be “filled up,” so it was no longer available. Here I started to call bullshit because things really weren’t adding up … namely, they had the capacity to upgrade me to 4x or 6.5x my 75 Mbps speed, but not to only 2x my speed! 

And granted, I’m not a fiber technician, but I know a little about how math works – I even gave them the benefit of the doubt here and asked if it was really a technical limitation or if Verizon was artificially limiting availability of certain tiers to encourage the higher sales, but from there the tech just doubled down on that speed is popular, so it fills up and isn’t available anymore.

That didn’t make any sense, but in between waiting for responses I did a little more research and found what I thought was the missing key that would finally make somebody say, “Crap – that’s not right! We need to look into that!!!”

Opening up a separate browser and going to getfios.com, I was able to bring up a brand new order – even at this same address – for a new bundle including 150 Mbps Internet service…

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 11.18.37 PM

Huh???

So clearly there must be something wrong with their ordering system if a new order will offer me that tier, but when logged into my Verizon account it was nowhere to be found!

Well, after waiting a couple of days for a response from the social media team that never came, I decided to send an email to customer service to see what answer they’d be able to come up with for my issue. And at first it seemed promising because I was told that they needed to research it more before they could respond, but eventually they sent me this…

Thank you for choosing Verizon. I have received your email dated 10/29/2015 regarding that  want to know why a new customer would be able to get Fios Internet speeds of 100 and/or 150 Mbps while existing customers can not. I apologize for any frustration or inconvenience this has caused. My name is Karen, and I will be happy to assist you. I will also review the account to make sure you are getting the best value.

Thank ou [sic] for your interest in our products and service.

We apologize for the delay in our response and regret any inconvenience to you.

Unfortunately the connection speeds of 100 and 150 Mbps are not availble [sic] to you.

The decision to only offer the connection speeds of 100 and 150 Mbps was made at corporate management level. Unfortunately it has not been advised to us of why the decision was made to only offer the 100/150 Mbps to new customers and not to existing customers other than that there is technical limitation of upgrading the equipment for existing customers who already have Fios working at their location.

I’m very sorry for the inconvenience and frustration this will cause you and your family.

This after Verizon “added more versatility to its industry-leading service” by apparently adding a 100 Mbps tier in between 75 and 150 Mbps, according to this swell press release boasting about their latest promotions in my specific market a month before I was unable to order them myself!

According to this release, “Verizon is the only communications provider to offer a symmetrical speed tier of 100/100 Mbps, or any Internet services offering the same fast download and upload speeds, in the Florida market” … but only if you’re a brand new customer for them because if you’ve already got an account, your business isn’t worth the effort.

Seriously, how insulting is that?!

Here I am, a long-standing customer and very much a fan of the service, and I want to give Verizon more money, and if I had submitted my order two weeks earlier before this asinine decision was made, I could’ve! But now my extra $20/month isn’t good enough for Verizon. They’d be happy to sell me 300 Mbps service at an additional $110/month, but sorry, the next logical upgrade that makes sense for my account isn’t available because they’ve arbitrarily dog-eared that speed for new customers only.

What sense does that make? My next door neighbor could call and get 150 Mbps service installed tomorrow, or hell, my wife could call and apparently get it installed at our same address … as long as she sets up a new account because this account – the one that’s 3 years old and has earned Verizon upwards of $7,000 over the life of our service – isn’t eligible for an upgrade.

Sorry / not sorry.

You wouldn’t do that with HBO or Cinemax – “I’m sorry, I know that you’ve had an account for 3 years, but we’ve reserved those premium movie channels to entice potential sales from our new customers only. We regret any inconvenience that this causes you…”

Traditionally it’s a poor business practice when one of your loyal customers wants to give you more money and you arbitrarily refuse to take it, but apparently a fiber customer in the hand isn’t worth two in the bush when you’re Verizon.

But it’s not too hard to fix this! We schedule an appointment, you send out the technician who makes my dog bark for hours on end while he tinkers around outside, he installs a new ONT on the side of my house and gives me my sweet, new Quantum router, I start paying you an extra $20/month for the service I’ve quite literally been salivating for all summer long, and in the end we all win!

You get some extra money without having to sell me on the upgrade I already want and I get an even faster Internet speed to rub in the faces of everyone I know who isn’t lucky enough to live in a FiOS market … which admittedly is almost everybody I know.

Verizon, I love FiOS and I don’t want to fight with you. I just think it’s bullshit that you’re offering better deals to the new customers you don’t even have yet than you’ll give me who’s been here this whole time. I’ve come to accept that your best promotional pricing is for new customers and my bill jumped up a ways after my contract renewed, but this is service – to tell me that I can have one Internet speed but not another is just cruel. 

We can get through this, you and me, but honey, right now you’re being kind of an asshole. Please call me when you’re ready to grow up.

recycle1

Recycling has always been something that I’ve felt is pretty important, and it frustrates me how inconsistent we are about it as a society across the board.

People who are the most adamant about recycling like to make you think that it’s this simple thing that everyone can do to help the environment, but the truth is for a lot of people it’s actually anything but. Take my community, for example, which has a recycling program sponsored by our county. They just recently made a change to how they’re going to pick up – we used to just leave everything out in blue plastic bags and that was that, but now they’ve decided that the bags are too much of a hassle so we have to use a separate trash can specifically for recycling.

Many places, such as where I grew up in Michigan, give you a bin to leave out by the curb with your garbage each week, but here you’re required to buy your own as part of their new Choose and Use Your Own Container program.

Except for blue bags, if those were you’re particular container of choice… 😛

But I think what frustrates me more about our local program is when you peel back the layers and see just what they actually do and don’t take. I’ll even admit that I knew they wouldn’t take certain items for a while, but I’ve always snuck them in the bags anyways … hopefully as a gentle reminder that we’d like our local recycling program to be all inclusive! Now with the bags gone and my goods just loose in the container, however, I’ve taken to sorting everything out just to ensure that I don’t look out to see a pile of stuff that they won’t take laying in my yard after the garbage people come by… 🙁

Here’s what they won’t take:

  • newspapers (who doesn’t recycle newspapers?!)
  • paper or cardboard
  • styrofoam (see bullet #1 – isn’t this like one of the most common things to recycling?!?!)
  • plastic film or bags of any kind (including the 8 billion shopping bags you leave Walmart with every visit)
  • plastic utensils, plastic toys

Admittedly I don’t really care about the newspapers for me personally because we haven’t gotten a physical newspaper in ages, but cardboard … we get a ton of stuff from Amazon, so I’m always leaving out piles of broken down boxes for the trash – it would be nice. And styrofoam I just think is ridiculous … I’ve never heard of a recycling program not taking egg cartons, for god’s sake!

As for what they do take:

  • aluminum and metal food cans
  • glass containers
  • plastic containers (#1 – 5, #7)

And frankly, the last one is a perfect example of what I’m talking about when I say that it’s not easy enough because never before have I had to sort through my recycling to look for the little stamps on each plastic container – which aren’t always uniform and sometimes don’t exist altogether – to figure out which ones go in the trash and which ones are ok to recycle. It’s crazy! Mind you, I spent a few minutes and did it anyways because it’s personally important to me, but there are a lot of people out there who really don’t care one way or the other, and yet the only way that a recycling program is effective is if the vast majority of the population participates in it.

I know it may seem petty, but expecting people to sort out their plastics is an extra barrier to entry. Expecting them to take their newspapers and styrofoam somewhere else because curbside pickup won’t take them is an extra barrier. Hell, to an extent even requiring a separate garbage can is an extra step that I’m sure some people are just going to say, “Screw it – all this does is cost me time and money. Why should I bother?”

As it is, not everybody thinks kindly of recycling … as crazy of a notion as that might be to anyone who cares about our environment. Here’s an interesting set of five short interviews with people who don’t recycle and it’s mostly a mixture of not caring, not getting an incentive to care, or it seeming like too much of a hassle … these are the kind of people you’re up against when you add another rule or limitation to what your local recycling program will cover, and as you can see, it doesn’t take much to make somebody just throw in the towel and send it all to the dump when they’re not really invested in the cause to begin with…

For me, I think the most vivid justification for why I recycle is the memory of the couple of times that I’ve actually been to the dump myself. It’s always been to dispose of some bigger items that the garbage won’t pick up when we’re moving, and if driving up a giant pile of garbage to throw away your trash doesn’t make you see the need to recycle, I really don’t know what else will!

Just so much garbage – as far as the eye can see – with random bulldozers and heavy equipment trying to shuffle it around as best they can. I remember once being worried that my car was going to get stuck as I backed in to drop off an old table that Goodwill didn’t want, only to then watch a garbage truck buzz in and add another pile of junk to the sea of garbage like it was just another day’s work. Which it really was, because he’s a garbage man, and hauling away the crap we no longer want is what they do.

So I do like to pride myself for doing the best I can to recycle, and I’m happy to say that if you were to count the number of garbage vs. recycling bags that our household puts out each month, the recycling probably outnumbers the trash … which is a good start. And as much of a hassle as it is to sort my recycling and use a special bin and make special trips to recycle the stuff that I can’t get rid of at the curb, I’ll probably be one to take the extra time to do all of that, too, because environmental science and putting less into our local landfill is important to me.

That said, I don’t live in a bubble, so it’s really just as important to me that my neighbors recycle, too, and if right now it seems like it’s too difficult or complicated or time consuming to make it worth the hassle for them, then recycling needs to be made easier so that they’ll want to care more about it, too.

The next generation of recyclers - playing in our new recycling bin...

The next generation of recyclers – playing in our new recycling bin…

I hate customer service.

September 28, 2015 3:14pm
Tagged with:

Sometimes I feel like dealing with customer service departments makes me out to just be another grumbling asshole when in reality I just want an answer that makes sense.

Not the copy & paste response that isn’t even relevant to my problem.

Not one that is just blatantly guessing on your part.

I just want a legitimate answer that justifies the problem that I’m experiencing, and bonus points if you can actually help me to solve my problem, too!

I think part of my issue comes from having a developer’s mindset because when I see an issue with a company’s website that I have to interact with, I don’t simply want an apology for the inconvenience … I want to know what’s wrong so that other people don’t have the same problem in the future, too!

In a way, systems are easy because they’re consistent, or at least they should be. If designed properly, a website should look the same to me as it does to you … the 1,000th text message that you send should be delivered just as the first 999 were … when banking transactions don’t all post to your account in a consistent manner, that should be a red flag for anyone concerned about how the online banking system is working.

In my scenario, I scheduled five transfers from my checking account on Friday – when I woke up and looked in my account, four of the transactions were pending, but one was missing.

This seemed odd to me because when I do regular, unscheduled transfers, every transaction always shows as pending immediately regardless of where the transfer is going to.

…and mind you, these are all transfers within the same bank…

All in all, I talked with six representatives across different customer service departments – some had different explanations than others, some clearly didn’t want to be talking to me at all, and even the final supervisor that I spoke with couldn’t really say why it was happening but at least offered an alternative to what I was having an issue with.

I mean, I get that most customer service reps don’t understand their company’s systems well enough to identify where a process is failing. Hell, I’ve had issues where I’ve had to talk to multiple developers to get to the one who could speak accurately to their own application for building new ones! But regardless of your knowledge of a given system, I think it’s a fair suggestion that anyone should be able to recognize one of these things is not like the others to help identify when the system might be behaving incorrectly so that those with more know-how can investigate those types of scenarios in more detail.

And don’t get me wrong – I’ve worked in a call center myself so I totally get that a lot of people just don’t care because as soon as my call disconnects, they’ll have another pissed off customer in their ear to deal with next … but that shouldn’t be the gold standard because you can’t improve customer service through apathetic customer service representatives. Good customer service starts with identifying that a customer is upset and then dissecting their issue into something you can work with, whether it’s through education or process improvement or even a bug fix.

It doesn’t neither of us any good for you to just say, “I don’t know what else to say – that’s just how it works…” unless you’re looking to keep your complaint level high.

It reminds me of another situation that I had earlier this year – I was driving home one day and noticed that one of the signs leading onto the interstate was wrong.

Huh?!

I even drove back that way a second time to double-check myself before saying anything. They were doing a lot of construction around a new interchange, and the arrow definitely indicated that one lane was split for both north and south … even though it really only went south.

So after mulling over who to even report that kind of thing to, I found a contact on the Florida DOT website for our area and explained the situation … to which I got a fairly curt reply stating that I was incorrect because the guy’s field engineers said that it was fine.

The next day I drove down and took pictures.

A few more days passed before he finally replied again that the road had just been reconfigured and now matched the sign overhead, so everything was ok. I drove through one more time, and he was correct.

But how hard would it have been to just say that they were in the middle of changing things over and the sign had gotten updated before the lines were repainted on the road???

I know that customer service is often depicted as a shit job that nobody likes because it’s nothing but people complaining at you all day long, but what if you were to take a step back and put yourself in the shoes of the person on the other end of the line?

Be the guy who got on the interstate going the wrong way because the sign was wrong.

Be the guy who wondered all weekend if his mortgage payment got pulled from somebody else’s account by mistake.

And then don’t just gloss over this issues with an “Oops!” – actually take the next step towards solving them so that they don’t have to happen all over again.

It’s the difference between “Give us a break – the sign’s fixed now!” and “Sorry about that – we’ll make sure our contractors know to cover up those parts of the signs that aren’t correct until the new lanes are opened to prevent that in the future…”

Or “Yeah, I can see why you would expect all of your online transfers to appear the same. This is how our system behaves today, but let me open a ticket with our development team so they can look into changing that.”

The more you act like you actually want to fix my issue from happening again, the less I’ll sound like just another grumbling asshole when I’m explaining it to you.

mainly because hopefully it won’t be the sixth time I’ve had to explain the same issue over and over again to apathetic ears that are just counting down the time until their next break… 😛

© 1999 - 2017 Comedic-Genius Media, All Rights Reserved.