By David Glenn Cox
It was Marshall Fields who first said, “the customer is always right.” It is an obsolete philosophy in the twenty-first Century with a kill or be killed business mantra. The idea that the world’s largest retailer has to ask on its survey’s “Could you understand the agent?” And the answer was, not really. It isn’t xenophobia when the customer service agent speaks your language poorly or with such a thick accent as to be unintelligible. That his employers have to ask you if you could understand them means it is all intentional.
I made a mistake and knew it was a mistake when I did it. I wanted to watch “Band of Brothers.” It used to be on Amazon Crime Video between Borat and the WW2 propaganda videos. Despite paying for a movie streaming service, I now had to join another streaming service to watch the movie I had watched previously on the first service. I had to sign up for a free HBO preview, aka a fishing lure with hook. At that instant, I knew this would end one day in an international telephone call.
“Can I get your e-mail address sir?” XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX@gmail.com. Can I get your address sir?”
123 Main St, Anytown, USA. “No, I’m sorry sir; we have no such address associated with that account. Could you have another address sir that you might have used?” I have my address from three years ago. “Let’s try that one sir,” 456 Pick Up Sticks, Anytown, USA. “No, I’m afraid we have no account associated with that address either.” Well, that’s a decade pal. That’s all I’ve got for you. Amazon has delivered packages to both addresses and has no record of it. Can I speak to your supervisor? Same song second verse, but on the third try they found my old Ohio address and he asked, “How can I help you today?” I want to cancel the free HBO preview.
“I’m sorry sir; I don’t see that on this account. Could it be under another account.” Maybe my wife’s account. “And what is her e-mail sir? No, I’m afraid there is no account under that e-mail.” My wife has used several emails over the years and has passed on since the account was established. I went down the list of her e-mail addresses and on the fourth one he stopped me. “I have found an account. What is the address associated with this e-mail address? I proceed to list the same addresses I previously listed when he stops me. “No, I’m sorry those addresses are incorrect.”
But that is the same address I gave you ten minutes ago you said was good! I then returned to other possible email addresses. Look, I don’t want to buy anything I just want to cancel a free preview. “I’m sorry sir, perhaps if you had the transaction number.” 6157… “Never mind, I don’t need it. I think I have found the account sir. What is the address associated with this email?” One more time with feeling! “No, I am sorry those addresses aren’t associated with this account.” Do I at least get some lovely parting gifts and thanks for playing, “Idiocracy” The home version?
I explained my next option would be to go to the bank and contest the charges. “That would probably be best sir.” From, “The customer is always right” to fuck you in ten easy lessons. He sent me an email reaffirming Amazons position telling me to talk to the hand and I kept it for sentimental value. The day I ran the corporate maze seeking the illusive cheese. All too aware I would have to give up eventually they would wear me down with lunacy. Step over this line. Knock this chip off my shoulder. According to Amazon, I must now pay for HBO for the rest of my natural life. The original plan was to cancel HBO now we cancel Amazon as well. I was about halfway there already after the latest Borat installment. I’ve always said, “It’s menstruation humor that put Laurel & Hardy on top… not.” And this is their good stuff! This is their top drawer! It’s this or WW2’s “The Fighting Lady.”
I was at a festival in Chicago. All the merchants had their wares on the sidewalk. There was a rack of lady’s tee shirts and on top of the rack a sign; “All Tops – Two for Ten Dollars.” A woman held up a tee shirt on a hanger and asked innocently, “How much is this?” His response was priceless, “Can’t you read the fucking sign you stupid bitch?” My wife was a small-town girl and was horrified. I explained this was the Chicago’s loop; millions of people go through here every day. He can cuss out every third person without any repercussions other than perhaps having his nuts kicked up to his Adam’s apple mouthing off indiscriminately like that.
In 1875, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. It has now been rendered obsolete as a communication device. Press one for English. Press three for a menu to select your party. Say or spell the person’s name. Sorry, no such name is listed Goodbye. Press one to speak to an operator, “Thank you for calling your call is very important to us. I’m away from my desk this week but will return the week of July 16, 2112, please leave a message and I’ll get right back to you!” The mailbox is full Goodbye!
When I began in business, I was taught that a return was an order in reverse. You give them back their money with the same smile you took it in with. If a customer felt uneasy, they wouldn’t risk any serious money. They wouldn’t buy that $10,000 industrial engine from you because someone gave them crap about returning a $12.00 distributor cap. My livelihood was dependent on repeat business in a limited market. I could not stand on a street corner cussing out my customers throwing out stumbling blocks in their path every Monday morning.
The richest man in the world operates a computer system that can’t find his customers, no he doesn’t. He uses third-world customer service agents and passes the savings on to you…no, they don’t. When they ask, “Could you understand the agent?” They are hoping that you say, “He sounded like a drunken hillbilly with a mouth full of chewing tobacco and I couldn’t understand but every third word!” Perfect, just perfect! If you ordered Guns and Roses, “Appetite for Destruction “and received, “Slim Whitman’s Greatest hits” you will give up. Who knows, you might learn to love yodeling? Returns as a profit center! “What is the atomic weight of Hydrogen? I’m sorry that’s incorrect. Next! If I bought the board game Monopoly from Amazon and tried to return it, would it be ironic? Trying to return Monopoly to a monopoly? The lawyers might say they aren’t a monopoly, but their customer service says they are.