Monday, March 17, 2008

Why It Matters

I've had a couple people ask me why it matters so much this thing with Dell. It matters because it's gotten to this point because we stopped caring. In fact, most of what is wrong with this country is a result of people who couldn't be bothered to complain about a lot of things. We became a nation of mindless spineless sheeple who just kind of accepted we deserved to be treated like shit by corporate minions.

Think about it and see who we've become. Let's go through a few examples, kiddies.

Got internet? Are you happy with it? I'm not. I have Comcast, probably the worst service in the entire world. They have the rudest most inept tech support I've ever had the misfortune to call in my entire life. Back in my more naive days, I called when there was a problem. In return I got people telling me there was no problem. Hello? I have no internet. Okay, I see, you want me to check your web page. But I have no internet!

Countless jokes have been made around that very familiar example. But what does it say about us that when we get done laughing we still put up with it? Why the hell do we? Probably because the few times I've called I've had to wade through functional illiterates who read through a list of instructions on their screens that had nothing to do with the problem. Yes, I've powered up/down/rebooted my modem. Nothing, no admission of a problem on their end, except a little while later everything works fine again. Nothing changes with my computer. They just fix whatever they claimed wasn't broken.

And we put up with it because what are the other options? Where I live there's not much. Comcast has a monopoly. It's them or chasing down a dish after each windstorm. Or getting Clearwire that has even more complaints against it than Comcast.

So I've started to keep records of outages and after each one I call up the billing department and demand a refund for the time my service was down. About half the time I get a credit toward my bill. Other times I get the screenreaders who bleat out that they can't possibly do that, they don't have the authority. I sometimes call back half hour later and get someone who says yes.

For many years I had a cell phone that was At&t and then became Cingular. I paid my bill every month on time. I was their dream customer who never complained, who never was a problem, who was loyal and dedicated. My contract was up. My phone needed an upgrade. Did Cingular reward me? Hell no. They raised my rates, told me I'd have to start paying international rates for phone calls to Guam, and no I wouldn't be getting any discounts on new phones even though the new upgraded service everyone had to have no longer functioned with the "old" phones.

I upgraded by moving to T-Mobile and got two nice new razor phones. So far the service has been quietly efficient, except for a small matter of their billing department not knowing what the person in the next desk was doing. My credit card expired and so I called and went to my website to upgrade the info. A few days later I get a text message that my credit card was declined and to please arrange for payment. I called. The young man was very nice and promised to take care of it for me. I gave him my new expiration date. A few days later I get a postcard for everyone to see that says my automatic payment was declined! I call back. Another pleasant Android tells me almost exactly word for word that he will take care of me. By then I had received a bill in the mail with two months of payments due. I sent a check, one of those ancient paper things. They cashed it. Rinse repeat to the point where I get the text message. I finally cancelled the credit card altogether and changed my payment to where it comes directly out of my checking account. I got notices for a couple more months and then they stopped. The right hand finally met the left hand.

I have more stories about Circuit City not honoring a 10.00 rebate to the point where I turned them in to the Attorney General's office. Yep. 10.00. I believe the tech support on that one was in India and will live forever in memory as the call where they claimed they had lost the receipt and rebate card, gave me a number to call and a new claim number, cut me off halfway through the call, and when I called the same number back, told me that I'd have to refile as my claim number had expired between the time I was cut off and the time I called back. I cut up my Circuit City charge card and mailed it to them. Idiots did this just before Christmas and lost all my holiday shopping biz.

I could go on and on because this is how business is these days. They donate to campaigns to get favors to screw the consumer at every turn. We mean nothing to them. We're pawns, numbers in their corporate charts, a means to fund their candidates so they can then bust out unions, work people long uncompensated hours for little money, and choke down hot dogs on the weekend as they proclaim themselves to live in the greatest country in the world.

Sorry folks, but I think more of myself than that. As a small business owner I make a point of finding ways to appreciate my customers. Let's be honest, people. The economy is in serious trouble and if someone wants to spend money on your goods, at least have the decency to treat them with some respect. And if they don't, then take your business elsewhere. There's lots of hungry small businesses out there who'd really appreciate your business and won't treat you like crap for spending your money with them. I'm one of them. I promise if you shop with me and there's a problem, I'll make it good. That's how small businesses are. That's what built this country, not those corporate whores who could care less about the customer. It's time they got the message.

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