For those of you who’ve been following my blog, I don’t need to explain my love for big corporations like AT&T. For those of you who just started following my blog or stumbled upon it in some Google-crazed click-a-thon, let me explain. In my opinion, large corporations are designed to efficiently suck money out of your pocket. That’s it. They do not exist to provide service. They do not exist to produce a product. The name of the game is relieving you from as much money as possible.
So, my local telephone carrier is AT&T. On Sunday I had a dial tone, but could not dial out and nobody could call in. So, on my cell phone, I called AT&T. I went through the automated menu and finally spoke to a real person (initially, I went to the Internet and after clicking through several screens and supplying the prerequisite information, which they should already have had, the AT&T website told me that they were unable to complete my request over the Internet and that I needed to call AT&T). The operator assured me that my phones will be turned back on by Wednesday. That was on Sunday. I’m not sure about you, but to me this seems like an unreasonably long period of time to be without your home phone. So, I did what I think everybody tries to do, which is to expedite service.
Fast-forward to this morning. I get a call from AT&T telling me that my phone service is back on. Hooray! (more…)
Do you remember the scene from the movie, Back to the Future, where Marty is transported back to 1955 and he is walking through the town square and sees a gas station? A car pulls up and instantly three or four service attendants come out to wash the windshield and to put air in the tires and a fill up the car with gas. That scene used to happen throughout the United States. It was called service. Major corporations used to give us more than we expected. We would ask for X and they would deliver X plus Y. Those days are long gone. Now when we asked for X, we are hoping against hope that we can actually get X and not have to settle for something less.
One of the best industries for shafting the American people is the wireless companies. I wish I could tell you there was a difference between the wireless companies. There may be, but I haven’t seen it. Whether it’s Sprint, Verizon, AT&T or any of the others, they are all set up to suck money out of our pockets and to provide as little service as possible. Several days ago, I took my wife to buy a new phone. Her old cell phone was giving us a white screen. None of the buttons would activate anything. The first thing they tell you is to take out the battery and then put the battery back in. This is supposed to have some magical powers. Of course, it did not work.
Upon entering the store we were asked to put our name on a list so that we could wait. While waiting, we were “encouraged” to browse. (I won’t even get into how ridiculous it is that there isn’t somebody in the store who can help you right away or within five minutes.) So we looked at several phones and I tried to find out which phone my wife will like best. Do you like the slide-out keyboard or would you prefer to type messages on the screen? After about 20 minutes, a service associate (I know, the name is laughable) asks if she can help us. I explained that my wife’s phone has died and that we would like to buy this new phone right here. The associate states that she’s happy to help us, but that she can send us that exact phone in three days. Unfortunately, they don’t have any of those phones in stock. No store does. So, basically, they’ve put out this shiny, new, really cool phone but it is not available. Nowhere have they written that this phone is not available and won’t be out for several days. Instead, they are advertising and signage in the store has led us to believe that this phone is just like all the other phones in the store which are available for purchase right now. At the very least, this is false advertising. At the most it’s fraud.
For reasons that are unclear, buying a cell phone is different than buying a camera or a loaf of bread. When buying a camera or loaf of bread you simply go and pay for it and within a couple minutes you walk out of the store with your loaf of bread or the camera. When buying a cell phone, there is a 20-minute process where the sales associate is playing video games (clicking on the computer) and trying to sell you more stuff (trying to suck more money out of your pocket). Finally, we decide to go ahead and order the phone and have it delivered via FedEx on Monday.
This means that my wife has a cell phone that doesn’t work for several days. The sales associate did nothing to try to fix the phone. She basically referred to the “white screen of death.” It was as if the phone was unfixable. Well, I’m somewhat hardheaded. I spent an hour surfing the Internet and I download a new operating system for my wife’s Blackberry. Although it takes a while to download and reload all of the applications, I get my wife’s cell phone to work which is something the sales associate should’ve done in the store. This is simply another example of how big business is set up to suck money out of our wallets while providing just enough service to prevent you from coming across the counter and physically assaulting the personnel.
The story continues. Got a nice e-mail on Sunday with a tracking number. Cool. You could see that the cell phone was in Memphis, Tennessee. Knowing the way the overnight delivery service works, everything looks cool. On Monday morning, it was clear the cell phone was not going to be delivered as promised. The delivery date was changed from Monday to Tuesday. So, to increase my level of frustration, I decide to call my cell phone provider. After more than an hour on the phone, nobody admits that they out and out lied to me when they told me the cell phone would be delivered on Monday morning. Instead, I got the old “corporate shuffle” where the call is routed through multiple different people before I get the excuse – there is so much demand there probably weren’t any cell phones at the warehouse. Now, the new delivery date is today. Whatever. I’m still waiting for the new cell phone.I have now fixed my wife’s old cell phone and it works just fine. If the new cell phone does not arrive within the next couple of hours, they can keep it.
My point for writing this is not to point out my own personal frustrations but instead to point out that this frustration is universal. Today, I’m complaining about my cell phone provider but tomorrow it could be my home computer, my car, my television or the plumbing in my house. The fact is, as Americans, we need to demand better. We work hard for our money and we should get both products and service for our hard-earned dollars. What are your thoughts? Are you mad and frustrated, too? How can we make big business more responsive to our needs?
Update: So the much-anticipated cell phone arrives. The setup was relatively easy. The activation was easy. Unfortunately, it takes no time at all to find out there’s a huge problem. Every time you try to make a call, the cell phone asks you to reenter the number. If it happened every now and then, I would ignore it but it happened every time. See video –
So, I call my cellular phone company. I spent 42 min. on the phone without resolution. The good news, I guess it’s good news, is that we generated a technical support ticket. The bad news, is I’m not sure what this means and it doesn’t fix my cell phone. Is the problem with the phone? Is the problem with the cellular phone company? After 42 min. on the phone my technical support “expert” can’t answer that question.
With everything still in limbo, I call again this morning. My new technical support guru tells me that this is a security measure because I’ve placed parental controls on this phone. He assures me after removing the parental controls the phone should work just normally. Okay. The parental controls are removed and like magic, the phone works just fine. What is the take-home message of the last five days? Well, I guess one of the take-home messages is that my time is completely worthless. Including the time that I spent wandering around the cell phone store, calling technical support, calling customer service this whole ordeal has taken more than four hours out of my life.my cell phone company really doesn’t care about wasting my time. What are your thoughts?
By ecthompsonmd|2011-08-17T09:52:31-04:00August 17th, 2011|Business|Comments Off on Another Big Business Failure (Update)
Marine reservist Jasen Bruce was getting clothes out of his trunk when a bearded man in a robe approached him. (complete story) The man was asking for directions in broken English. Reservist Bruce attacked the man with a tire iron. The man ran. Bruce chased the man and called 911 on a cell phone. He told a 911 operator that he was chasing a terrorist. Unfortunately for all of us, reservist Bruce was not chasing a terrorist. He was chasing a man named Father Alexios Marakis. The priest was studying in our great country, working on his master’s thesis.
So my question is could this tragedy have been prevented? If the Marine reservist was better educated, would he have noticed that the robes were not those of Muslims? Would he have noticed any of a dozen things that would separate a Greek Orthodox priest from that of a Middle East Muslim?