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"Quick Thoughts on Customer Service and the Economy"

After witnessing one of the largest manias in history and the subsequent bursting of it, in the NASDAQ, I've now learned not to discount the small things I pick up in my own daily experiences in their importance to the grander scheme of things. My general excitement and motivation and instinct about things, if I learn to utilize it all fully, could lead the economic result by a quarter. Not that this is unique to me, people can sense trend changes once the momentum begins to level off.

Now. One of the biggest complaints we as consumers have regularly is customer support. And it does seem to actually be getting worse. You know the stories yourself, and you hear them from your friends, and online. Cooks spit in food, phone companies make you sit around for hours on hold and then tell you they can't do anything about the extra charges they gave you, products break and then some loophole voids the warranty, etc. etc.

My web host provider got bought out a while ago by a larger company trying to pick up a bargain, and as a result all the customers' sites got packed into the main company's domain and now as a result, I get less perks and features on my account, which of course didn't cost less as a result, and my e-mail has been completely down and inaccessible, my web site is broken in places and is slow to load, and customer service is IMPOSSIBLE to reach and they won't answer e-mail or the phone. I discovered one undocumented server to get e-mail from until they removed it, and now I listened to a phone message to Digiweb refugees to get the info I needed for e-mail this time. Pretty sad. I will probably switch.

The other day my friend and I went to get some fast food, and the place was empty except these two black kids. We listened to one guy complain about how much the job sucked and how the food sucked, and I even talked to them about playing hoops and how good Iverson was. But this was just another reminder from many trips to get fast food that the people who work at these places have no motivation to make the company better, and as my friend told me (having worked at a grocery store for a long time), the company has no motivation to make things better for their employees. They prefer high turnaround, so they don't have to pay people more than the bare minimum.

I KNOW your experiences aren't any better. Banks will NOT help you out when you need them to, and neither will insurance or anyone else who always has your signature in blood. I bet you routinely have to wait for the phone company or cable company to do something or another that they're supposed to be obligated to do for you without hassle. It is not in the interest of anyone to EVER help you right now.

And one of the worst things is when I talk to friends or random people about this and they disagree with me. They then spout some halfass capitalistic concept they picked up in class that has no real-world application whatsoever. No no, it's okay that the company rapes you in the ass, because you didn't pay them enough to justify them caring. Ohhh, right.

Oh, and when companies DO offer to help, guess when it is? When they call at dinner or send you junk mail, promising pre-approved shit or discount rates. It is the whole game of credit that exists in the US economy, something I know my dad would scold me about dissing, but something which inevitably gets to a point where the whole Ponzi scheme collapses.

So what am I trying to say here? Well, it just seems to me as if more and more companies and more and more levels at these companies are becoming more and more likely to try to rip you off or ignore you. Nowhere is this perpetuated more than at Wall Street, where using any means necessary to pull a fast one on you is allowed and even encouraged.

This cannot be a good sign. This cannot just be a result of cheaper prices leading to less expectations. It is not excuseable, even if you use convoluted or sickeningly distorted business theory arguments. The fact is that the consumer, the backbone of the economy, is getting fucked on a daily basis. This breeds consumer disloyalty and consumer pessimism at its core, and discourages healthy business. Every consumer has a million things to do and is just trying to hold onto the money that he's made, or trying to get more money, while companies put in a concerted effort to get that money out of the consumer in any way possible. Again it can be argued that this is the way it works, that consumers have a choice and all that shit and companies are trying to get consumers to choose them.

But for how long does this remain the case? Once bad customer support proliferates to all companies, it's all the same shit. It's not like one company treats you less worse than another. And I don't care how noble the intentions are for a company, when you hire people at cheap dollars/hour to do customer support, they're not going to be helpful or knowledgeable all the time. They might be at first when the company is growing but eventually it turns into a cesspool.

Not that I have any solutions for any of this, or that I don't think that this is the way people have wanted it to be for a long time (cheap, easy product buying in exchange for minimal service), but there needs to at least be accountability and responsibility.

And in conclusion I also think that it says a lot about the economy when businesses are able to get away with this without major complaint. It tells me that perhaps there is still excess in the market and when companies begin to need their customers more, instead of scratching by and letting accountants figure it all out, then maybe everything will be more fairly valued in the economy, start anew, and then grow again into another boom of unhelpful, rude, and often unavailable consumerist economy.

Isn't that the American way?

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