Saturday, February 14, 2009

death of a salesman...kinda

it's not the death of the salesman that i'm bemoaning so much as the death of salesmanSHIP and the ethos thereof. anymore, it seems like customer service is a dying facet of the consumer-purveyor relationship and any genuine concern for customer satisfaction is becoming woefully uncommon. a few recent interactions have brought this phenomenon sharply into focus.

picture're in ocean city, maryland, your bare feet are stinging from the cold wet sand and you've just watched the sun rise with your significant other on an early spring morning. you walk along the deserted storefronts and find a lone cafe advertising the best breakfast on the boardwalk. cold and hungry you walk in and are greeted by the hostess. "g'morning. come on in and sit anywhere you'd like." she invites you in and gestures with a sweeping arm stroke to the empty, expansive dining room. you and your squeeze head for a secluded corner to enjoy your meal somewhat privately. the hostess comes over and advises that "we're not serving this area this morning, you'll have to move over there." what? how is our table not included in "anywhere you'd like?"

at another restaurant you are greeted by the brace-laden smile of the teenage hostess who asks, "two for dinner? bar or dining room? smoking or non?" you affirm that there will be two for dinner, dining room would be great, and non-smoking would be ideal. she says (i kid you not), "we don't have a non-smoking section." how do you offer non-smoking if you don't even have it? wtf?!

recently i called a bank to close several accounts. i asked the customer service rep how best to close my accounts and to transfer my balance to my account here at my new bank. she said to do it online and advised that there would be a $3 fee for the transfer. i asked if it would come off the top when i transferred or if i needed to leave $3 in the pot to cover the fee. she said it would come off automatically and that i needn't worry. i did as instructed and, predictably, got zapped with $55 in assorted penalties for overdrawing by $3. i called back to explain the error and they said "there's nothing we can do because it's already done." they said that i "should have been aware of the fee." i explained that i WAS aware of the fee and that i had sought the counsel of a bank employee to address it properly. that employee advised me incorrectly and i got spanked. "i do apologize, sir, but there's nothing we can do about it." that snotty bitch ended up hanging up on me so i called back and got the same treatment from another rep. "there's nothing we can do, sir," she condescended.

lastly...i called the nissan dealership and made an appointment to have the oil changed in my truck. my appointment was for 3 pm and i got there to drop off my truck at 3:03. i stood in line until 3:51 before anyone even acknowledged my presence and then they took my info and my key and took my truck to be serviced. the guy said it would be about an hour and that they would call me when it was done. three hours later, i called and asked about the truck and was told, "'s been done for a while but i just forgot to call." i asked if i could come get the truck was met with, "oh, no, the service center is closed for the night. sorry about that. guess these things just happen sometimes."

yeah, these things just happen sometimes, but it seems like they're happening with more and more frequency and it's pissing me off. are employer expectations so low that workmanship or just plain ol' courtesy (hell, i'll settle for competency) are no longer job requirements? i have half a dozen other recent stories but they all belabor the same point...customer service is dead.

share YOUR latest example or even offer one that contradicts, i'm all ears.


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