25 things vanishing in America, part 2: Customer service

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A day in modern life-
  • Drive-thru at the coffee shop. Attendant shoves change, receipt and coffee at me simultaneously. Hurry hurry.
  • Stop for gas. 10 customers are pumping their own, while the single employee is inside selling lottery tickets and smokes. Never even glances at me as I spend $40.
  • Call my Doc to double-check the time for my physical; ninety seconds wasted listening to a menu.
  • Check email. More unsolicited messages from companies letting me know about all the wonderful new programs they have to suck cash out of my wallet. One, Dell, charged me $49 just to talk with them the last time I had computer trouble.
  • At lunch, pop over to K-Mart for some toiletries. Ten aisles, two open, with boxes stacked on either side of the cattle chute leading to the register. The clerk shoves my purchase in a bag, which she leaves lying on the shelf for me to pick up. At least they don't use the merry-go-round bag stand that WalMart does; I've left purchases behind, lost on the bag carousel, several times.
  • After work, settle in to watch the local "news." I wrote the station a month ago suggesting they quit using the phrase "You won't believe what happened next.," because the story is never unbelievable. Did I receive a reply? You won't believe what happened next- they ignored me.
  • The doorbell rings. I respond in seconds, just in time to see the UPS truck drive away. My package lays on the stoop for any passerby to see.
  • I pop into my online banking account to pay off my credit card balance before I"m dinged with a $39 late fee. Like many people, I like to pay my bills monthly, and resent the 28-day (or less) billing cycle used by banks to suck up billions in late fees.
  • My wife and I decide to go out for dinner. The waiter looks my wife in the eye and asks "How are you guys tonight?" The menu states that the restaurant won't provide separate bills for large parties, and automatically charges a 20% gratuity to parties of 8 or more.
    We stop at Kroger's on the way home. The checkout person is engaged in conversation with the person on the next register and barely makes eye contact with us. I once wrote to the company suggesting that an attentive clerk at the cash register is crucial to cultivating customer loyalty. You won't believe what happened next. They never wrote back.
I'm not one who believes that the old days were better days, but I do sometimes long for a time when people in commerce were more aware of who provided the money that paid their salary, and acted at least slightly appreciative.

In that respect, have I told you lately how much I appreciate your reading WalletPop? I do. We all do.

After reading many of the comments to this post, I realized that customer service is only half of the equation. See my post Vanishing in America: Polite customers

What customer service failures really tick you off? Share, please.

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