Friday, April 4, 2008

Service IS part of what you pay for, contrary to popular opinion

It seems like every year about this time I suffer from a bout of horrible horrible customer service, I get mad, maybe I complain and maybe I do not and sometimes I ger it resolved and maybe my constructive complaining helps and maybe it is just a form of polite venting but I am at it again.

On a trip to Baton Rouge it was very smooth sailing until the very last leg home. In Memphis there were weather delays and we barely made our connection. Once they herded us onto the plane, we sat there for over 2 hours. Apparently the baggage handlers took a 2 hour break or a mini strike or something. They left everyone's luggage on the tarmac in a monsoonal rain storm. The flight crew tried very hard to get the situation resolved and frankly were as irritated as the rest if us. A little known fact that I will share with my readers - the flight crew does not get paid until the plane door is shut. So while we waited on someone to load the luggage and remove the jet bridge and then push us back, the door was open and the clock was not running. The pilots were however very helpful and kept us in the loop. The flight attendant cheerfully and might I add with much sincerity, served beverages, hunted down magazines and blankets and was very nice.

Now here is the deal. I expect there to be bumps in the road. H has stories which would make for a full length feature film. It is often a comedy of errors. Bottom line - however and frankly were flying is concerned I can forgive and overlook alot - but when I buy a ticket and spend upwards of $400 per ticket - I at a minimum expect to get from point A to point B on the day I paid for. Maybe not on time and I am willing to accept delays. I am willing to waive the drink and snack portion of the party. A functioning toilet domestically is optional. But I would like to get my checked bag and I EXPECT IT TO BE WELL TREATED AND NOT SOAKING WET.

Now I will say I have shared my concerned with NWA and they have been very nice in email and I hope that they can make change within their organization. At a minimum the person in charge in Memphis needs a reprimand or wait, better yet - lets pack all of his or her clothing into a suitcase and stick it in the shower for 2.5 hours. See how they like that.

Next on the poor service hit list - Columbia Gas - my natural gas service provider - no wait cut the service part. My natural gas supplier. I have for the pro bono job been trying to arrange to have install the automated device for meter reading at our rental house. We paid for the do-dad, now I want it installed. Other than the very pleasant Patricia I spoke with last today, everyone on that 800 line needs some serious personality and friendly lessons. I am the customer. I do expect to treated decently and I do expect to be able to ask for certain things - like being called before they come, so I can get across town. I am not willing to waste an entire day in a vacant house waiting on them. Needless to say twice this little adventure has not worked out for me - and when I asked for a supervisor - I was hung up on (the rep before Patricia.)

Seriously - they may be the only game in town and that is a crying shame, but they cannot just treat people like that. Our time is just as valuable as their service techs and it is silly in the world of cell phones and PDAs. For the love of Mike - I get my email on my phone. You cannot tell me that the service tech cannot call personally when he or she is on the way. I am not buying it. It is just plain silly.

The guys who delivered E's bedroom furniture from Value City - personally and politely called me to let me know they were going to be 2 hours early and could I accommodate that? Yes absolutely and thank you for your call!

So unless Colombia Gas is employing a totally non-English speaking workforce - I think they could manage a personal call, so that I could tell the person - great I will met you there ASAP and by the way I am driving there from Dublin with my two kids, one of whom is sick - so if for some reason I hit every single blooming traffic light, please give me the benefit of the doubt and wait. I will be there as soon as I can possibly manage. If you are really nice, I always have chocolate in my bag and will gladly share it for your trouble.

I would also like to add for all those folks who think it is perfectly acceptable to flake out, not show up and not follow through on what they say they will do. Stop it already. You are ruining it for those of us who try very hard to hold up our end of the bargain and those of us who enjoy being treated like an adult and not a petulant child!

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