To Disserve Man

Just a minute, ma'am, I'm filling out your online survey.  Does "shitty" have one T or two?

Just a minute, ma’am, I’m filling out your online survey. Does “shitty” have one T or two?

Ugh, is it Friday already?  I may not have actually lost half of my life sitting at that rain dance Wednesday evening, but I certainly lost enough of my weekend to have me completely behind schedule with all of my bloggy to-dos… one of which is the next post in my Prompt the Squirrel series.  Yes, it’s the day where you get to boss me around and choose the topic I have to write/draw about… and also complain to my supervisor about my tendency to blog without a hairnet.

There's a hair in your soup?  That's impossible.

There’s a hair in your soup? That’s impossible.

I have just five prompts left in this game of WordPress roulette, and only one that requires me to just sit down and start writing about something without having to do any real work prompt logolike making pictures or doing incompetent research.  I was saving it up for a rainy day when my time was limited, and I guess a week where I end up publishing my Thursday comic on Friday morning would qualify.  It comes from Marilyn, and if you read my Wednesday Photo Prompt posts, you should know who she is by now.  What topic did she want to see The Nest’s staff of one take on?

Customer service. I spent almost 9 f**king hours on the phone or chat with AT&T yesterday. I lost an ENTIRE DAY buying a telephone and getting a new service plan. Because the old iPhone 4S is dead. You would think they would WANT to sell me stuff, wouldn’t you? That it would benefit AT&T and Marilyn to make this process painless and pleasant, wouldn’t you? Huh? Right? Wrong.

Okay. I’m done. But I have found Customer Disservice to be a subject which never gets old. You never run out of material. You can rant and the world rants with you.

Power to the customer!

Power to the customer!

Well, I could take the really easy way out of this prompt, and just let the world’s leading authority on pretty much everything, the late George Carlin, give us his take on customer service…

But of course, my *ahem* chosen career has given me a lot of experience with the concept of customer service, or lack thereof, one can expect from big business these days.

One of the perks of working at Mecca.

One of the perks of working at Mecca.


Back in the days of yore, it was standard business philosophy that the best way to encourage return business was to keep your customers happy.  Short of hiring strippers as sales clerks, one of the best ways to maintain customer happiness was to ensure they received excellent service before, during and after the sale.  You’ve no doubt heard of this phrase before…

Even Moses couldn't keep a straight face when he brought this down the mountain.

Even Moses couldn’t keep a straight face when he brought this down the mountain.

Responding to customer complaints, even when they border on the absurd, was long the law of the business jungle.  Hotel room too noisy because the guests next door had wild sex all night?  Free room for you!  Had to wait 15 minutes for your Big Mac because the morning shift forgot to thaw out patties before the lunch rush?  Please enjoy this hot apple pie on us!  Your cholesterol medicine caused your liver to fail and your spleen to fall out of your body?  Please, take these samples of Viagra at no charge!

Of course, those of us who work in the customer service industry know that this worn out old saw is also a steaming load of bullshit…

It's hard work, but somebody's gotta do it.

It’s hard work, but somebody’s gotta do it.

For every complaint customers make about the rude, clueless service people they deal with, you’ll find a war story from the front line employees who have to put up with rude, clueless customers.  Working nights, I don’t deal with nearly as many customers as my colleagues who work days and evenings, but I’ve had a few encounters that have rubbed me the wrong way… including one I flat out had to walk away from.  The biggest issue of customer cluelessness I generally have to deal with is convincing customers that we don’t sell and have never sold a certain product they swear up and down they’ve found here before.  Chances are, you shop at a lot of different stores… including perhaps several different Meccas.  No matter how organized you think your puny little brain is, you can’t possibly remember where you bought every single product.

I buy these paper towels here every week!  Don't tell me you've never carried them before, stupid peon!

I buy these paper towels here every week! Don’t tell me you’ve never carried them before, stupid peon!

But while there have always been rude service people and rude customers, the biggest obstacle to efficient, friendly customer service comes from a source neither party can control, and that’s the ever increasing megalopolis corporations that have recently discovered that customer service is the latest, greatest expense on their budgets that can be lopped off to help increase those executive bonuses.  It’s been happening where I work for almost 10 years, the sales clerk staff has been essentially deemed unnecessary and their numbers decimated to where there are times when the store is essentially self service.  By 11PM most nights, the entire sales staff is already gone and the keys to every display case in the store all rest with the customer service manager up front… who is supposed to be keeping an eye on the one register we have open.  This not only hurts the service you receive directly, but indirectly as well since the tasks that crew once did have now fallen to those who are supposed to be busy taking care of making sure orders are filled and shelves are stocked.

Excuse me, is there anyone available for a customer carryout?

Excuse me, is there anyone available for a customer carryout?

Just like soylent green, customer service is PEOPLE.  And you can brag about your excellent customer service record all you want, but it means diddly squat if you can’t back it up with ample and knowledgeable staff.  So why do the overlords in my sector of the economy continue to scrimp on customer service despite the overwhelming wave of negativity lately?

Who needs customer service when you're a D cup?

Who needs customer service when you’re a D cup?

It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.  Customers will seethe about MIA employees and long checkout waits, all the while still stocking up on the lowest prices in town.  And you can rest assured that customer service will continue to get slashed right down to the point where it makes or breaks whether the dollars keep flowing into company coffers.  Higher prices at the old customer friendly stores still deter more shoppers than the consumer wasteland of the discount stores do.  In the overly competitive and uber greedy world of big business these days, the nice guys who still do things the old fashioned way will quickly find themselves out of business faster than a silly dot com…

Thank you for calling e*Trade, I'm (burp) your customer service representative, how may I help you?

Thank you for calling e*Trade, I’m (burp) your customer service representative, how may I help you?

So until the great customer uprising actually happens, continue to expect service not only without a smile, but without an actual human face to go with it.  In getting in line with the current business trends, I’d also like to announce that if you find your experience at The Nest to be in any way unsatisfactory, please call our customer service hotline at 1-900-GET-BENT where a chained trained possum on Dinkum Island will be more than happy to take your call after you’ve been on hold for 4 hours and speak pseudo-sympathetic scripted gibberish to you in a dialect you can’t possibly understand.

smashing smartphone

Your phone’s problem has been fixed ma’am! How would you rate your experience with our customer service team today?

Come back next Friday for another prompt…. if my blog doesn’t end up in Chapter 11.


About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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14 Responses to To Disserve Man

  1. What’s especially sad are the old brick & mortar stores that used to sell things at higher prices based on service. They’ve kept the higher prices, but eliminated the service. Why are they shocked this isn’t working well?

    Is this the end of “real” stores? Are customers going to stop shopping at stores who don’t give even a nod to customer service? I know I have. I go to a “real” store only to buy things that I need to try on or test drive. Otherwise, I shop online. Considering where I live, that’s not so unreasonable. We don’t have many stores and a lot of things are not available.

    We all assume thing will keep going the way they are going, but maybe that’s not true. Maybe things will move in the opposite direction — eventually. Or in a completely new direction we never imagined. Sometimes, the world surprises you. I wouldn’t mind a surprise or three. Nice surprises. Not the other kind.

    • I keep waiting for them to bring in the robots to replace us. I’m not sure if they can make them smile, but I hear they can work for days on end without taking a 15 minute break. If they are programmed with the two customer service rules carved out on that stone, they might end up stuck in an infinite logic loop with some of the customers I’ve dealt with…

  2. Trisha says:

    After working at Target during my brief stint in college, my sympathies definitely lie with the sales clerk staff. It seems for every pleasant customer, there are at least two unreasonable jerks and one snotty little bitch you want to punch in the face so bad it makes you shake all over. When a clerk is a bit cranky, I don’t take it personal. I just try to be as pleasant and reasonable as possible.

    However, my habit of avoiding all people if at all possible is probably contributing to the trend of replacing people with machines. If there’s a self checkout, I go to it. I don’t care if the clerks look friendly or not, I’d rather not have to interact with them. I really should stop being that way… No wonder there are so few jobs these days.

    • I like to avoid clerk contact as well due to my anti-socialness (Which is why I avoid stores where the employees get paid commission and converge on you like predators)… but I’ve always preferred being checked out by a real cashier, and oddly enough, not because it sucks jobs out of the economy. The self checkouts mostly intimidate me. I’m glad out store doesn’t even have them…

  3. draliman says:

    I expect soon shops will just have a customer service payphone on the counter where you get to call a computer in India to find out if the condoms in aisle three are hypoallergenic.

  4. Green Embers says:

    It is super interesting reading about this from a face to face counter. I am in Customer Service (over the phone) too and had a position doing back office work which I loved, until it went to India. So sad. 😦

    Anyway I am in training to be a regular front line target for customers, which I have done before. My personal opinion is that if services could have remained a more local affair rather than managed by a company who has to prove to their investors that they are always “growing” people would be happier.

    That Carlin bit is too true, lol 😆

    • Your second paragraph says so well what irritates the hell out of me. One of the old tenets of my employer was that individual stores operated most effectively when they were allowed to run themselves. Now you can’t even order TP for the restrooms without it getting criticized by the suits at the home office. The higher ups provide the circumstances for poor customer service, and we are the ones who have to face the consequences for it…

  5. gentlestitches says:

    I had no idea the shelf stockers had to deal with customers too!
    That just isn’t fair. I would have thought the upside of shelf stocking would be not being interrupted! 😀

    • It never really worked that way in the past, and definitely doesn’t work that way anymore! We do it all… sometimes everything other than what we’re supposed to be doing!

      • gentlestitches says:

        There goes my fantasy of a peaceful job. I thought you stacked whilst the shop was closed to customers and music played.
        I was soooo wrong! 😀

      • For the longest time, I only had to put up with customers for one hour each night. Now that we’ve expanded our hours, I get three hours of fun interaction. And even when we’re closed, there’s those pesky bosses!

  6. Mental Mama says:

    Because my job has a very large customer service component I try my best to be extra good to anyone I get good service from. It’s often a thankless job we do and I just don’t see any reason to make it worse for someone if they’re putting forth some effort.

  7. I worked in a lingerie store after college and I prided myself on good customer service. Even for the pervs (I need an XL thong), the b*^ches (unlike you, I wear size 0), the good-intentioned (uses his hands to air-guage his girl’s boob size compared to mine), and the sad little men who bolted if you made eye contact.

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