From the desk of friendly neighborhood paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney of Des Moines, Iowa.
I called the cable company about a problem with my internet service.
A computer answered.
We are already off to a bad start.
The computer asked me to press numbers on my phone to direct me to the proper human who could help with the problem.
I used my smartphone, which really means I touched glass where a number appeared.
I found myself nostalgic for the old push-button phones from Northwestern Bell. Those phones couldn’t take a photo or play games, but they were well-built and heavy enough to be used as the murder weapon in a blunt-force trauma homicide.
Somehow the ability to push that button really hard made me feel better about these phone tree answering services.
The computer routed me to what it believed to be the appropriate place. I waited for a human to come on the line.
The computer asked a final question: “Would you consider taking a brief two-question survey after your call about your customer service experience? Press ‘1’ for ‘yes’ and ‘2’ for ‘no.’”
This is an odd time to ask this question. I hadn’t had a customer service experience yet and I was already being asked to rate it.
I declined the offer.
I always do.
Don’t put the responsibility of reviewing your employees’ performance off on me. I just want to get my Disney+ streaming the latest episode of “WandaVision” in HD.
I buy a lot of products from a large online retailer. They often send me emails asking me to review a product such as a book or toy.
This offends me.
I make my living as a writer. If you want me to sling sentences for your $1.7-trillion online retailer, pay me. I charge $1 per word.
I would also consider deep discounts.
I’m realistic. They aren’t going to pay me. I’ll be a good sport.
Here’s a review of every product I ever bought from them: “[Insert product name here] was probably fine or I returned it for a refund.”
Cut and paste as needed.
This obsession with rating and ranking knows no bounds. I watch a movie on Netflix, they want me to give it a thumbs up or thumbs down.
Roger Ebert should sue. Of course, he’s dead. This probably keeps his litigation to a minimum.
EBay wants me to rate every transaction. The feedback system supposedly kept scofflaw sellers from ripping people off.
But everybody gets ripped off by somebody at some point on eBay. I’ve always gotten my money back.
Even if you want to give negative feedback, eBay makes you go through extra hoops to do it.
So why bother?
My feedback is I didn’t ask for a refund.
A favorite restaurant of mine offers discounts to frequent customers. They sent me an email asking me to rate my experience every time I used the card.
I blocked their email address.
I still eat at the place. That’s my feedback. I’m a repeat customer.
I understand that consumers want to have a say in how they are treated by the businesses with which they deal – especially the massive, monolithic and borderline oligarchic corporations that dominate modern consumer life.
But I believe most of the ways they gather feedback amounts to a wooden suggestions box on the breakroom wall with a slot for comment cards that fall right into a trash bin.
I struggle to believe that if I rate my customer service experience at the internet service provider poorly that this will lead to any meaningful change.
I don’t believe they record calls for quality and training purposes. I believe they record calls for evidentiary purposes in case of a lawsuit.
What ticks me off about the whole thing is I’m being asked for my opinion when I know damn well they don’t care and they’re going to keep doing what they’re doing.
My recourse is either to change where I buy things or accept a certain level of cruddy service.
Press “1” if you agree.
And if you disagree, just stop reading.
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