The holidays seem a good time for another rant. And today, Black Friday, is the perfect day to do so. I have, in the past, ranted about the cravenness of this most artificial and pointless of Days. So, here goes a new one.
Before I get to the meat of this rant, let me begin by saying it’s become apparent that precious few stores, services, companies, or corporations care to employ anyone to answer the phone when potential customers call for information. Whether you want to know business hours or the availability of a product or anything else, you have to endure an endless wait through an automated message giving you more extension choices than any sane person might consider reasonable, up to and including “For our racial, religious, and gender accessibility statement, please press 98.”
These businesses might say it costs far too much dough to employ people simply to pick up the phone. This even though the employees of small, locally-owned businesses seem to find the capability within themselves to answer the phone even as they wait on live, in-person customers. So that cost excuse appears to be nothing more than bullshit. Which, BTW, is the premier product most stores, services, companies, and corporations provide.
What makes this state of affairs even worse is the fact that all those stores, services, companies, and corporations find it necessary to employ entire armies of people whose sole function is to harass and harangue you after you’ve done business with them. Go into a CVS or Walgreen’s, say, for a Hershey’s bar with almonds and the checkout machine prints a receipt some three and a half feet long, most of it being a questionnaire probing the deepest recesses of you heart and mind concerning your thoughts and feelings about your “experience” buying said hunk of milk chocolate.
These places, in addition, can’t even find the financial resources to hire enough people to check you out and take your cash or credit card. Soon, I fear, they’ll be asking us to unload the semi delivering all those Hershey’s bars, Fleet’s enemas, Revlon nail clippers, house brand razors, and Christmas cards, among all the other flotsam and jetsam the store offers. Hell, who needs any on-site employees at all when you really come down to it?
Anyway, even if the place of business does not utilize automated checkout machines, after you’ve given it your custom you’ll be hectored for days and weeks after your transaction via text or email, similarly dunning you for your feelings about that “experience.”
I dunno about you, but I find this whole patronizing, supplicating, desperate need for my attention as annoying as all hell.
Look, if I have a major problem with a business, I’ll pick up the phone or write a scathing email to tell them so. And if things go too unforgivably awry during my “experience” I’ll send a message by never throwing my money that company’s way again. I can name any number of outfits whose doors I haven’t passed through in years because they screwed up so egregiously at one time or another.
That’s the way business has always gotten the message throughout most of our holy land’s history. If you’re happy, you come back. If you’re mildly unhappy, you raise a fuss with some unfortunate manager or supervisor. If the clerk or product turned out to be unspeakably offensive, you resolve never to do business with that place again for the rest of your life.
The makers of New Coke, the Yugo, the Edsel, and the late 1970s band The Knack all got the message that American consumers had countless better things to spend their money on.
But that simple formula of consumer activism has been relegated to the trash heap of history. Now, that army of supplicants, if one is to believe these businesses’ claims that they’re striving day and night to provide us with the greatest, most satisfying “experience” outside of the times we conceived our eldest children and then watched them being born, must stalk us telephonically, text-ually, or email-ly in hopes of gleaning our merest psychological and emotional reactions to, again, our purchase of a single candy bar.
Enough! Stop! Quit it! Leave me alone!