I am reminded today of how much our world changes during economic downturns, how everything about the world changes some for good and some well not so much. This time though, this time I think it has been worse than others times, I have to ask myself, why is that what is different? I believe there have been some very real changes in the social dynamics, as well as, business dynamics of this nation. Sure, we complain about the perceived and very real slights but we don’t seem to be willing to take any real action to change course. Instead, we continue to pour oil on the slide to perdition and plant not only our own asses but those of the next generation so we can give them a push almost as if we want to see just how hard they will land.
Did you read that, scratch your head and say to yourself Val has gone off her meds, wonder what she is rambling on about this time? I just want to talk about some observations, provide you with my personal aggravations some that you also might encounter, things I notice these days that I think weren’t like this before, things I have heard everyone complain about yet we continue to live with. I have to say first, this might be a bit of a rant, yeah I might sound a little like some old women sitting on the front porch shaking my cane and in a wavering voice stating the obvious;
‘It wasn’t like this when I was young!’
Clearly not, when I was young things were indeed different. First, when I was young, there was a complaint department; every single last company in the country had one. The funny thing about the Customer Complaint Department was there were real people in that department, they answered the phone and spoke respectfully to you when you called. They were concerned that you were not happy with their companies product or services and they were committed to finding a way to ensure not only were you happy this time, but that you would be a return customer. These days, not so much, if at all. In fact, if you get a live person on the phone their goal is to convince you it isn’t the product that is the problem it is you, after spending 30 minutes on hold and another 60 minutes asking the person on the other end of the phone to repeat themselves as they speak some language other than your own, you will find out that — You are the problem and even if you aren’t the problem, well it doesn’t really matter cause there is not one damned thing
you can do about it; no refund and no competitive product or service, tough nuggies.
Oh Val, really aren’t you being a bit harsh you ask. No, I am not. I am not at all. That much vaunted and wonderful free market has created a nightmare. The only thing trickling down is products made of toxic materials and made-to-break for which we pay 1000 times more than the components used to build them. They will break and when we try to return them for service or because our child becomes ill, we find they can’t be returned or the warranty ran out the day prior to them breaking. I dare you, walk through your house and grab ten random items, I will bet eight of them were not made in America, do not even have American parts. I will go one-step further, if you picked up any electronics if you call their Help Desk, you will not get anyone on the phone who speaks English as a first language.
You are likely thinking to yourself right now, that is a bit over the edge Val, a little off sides. Well maybe it is, perhaps that was a bit on the cruel side, I am not feeling charitable to business today. In fact I am feeling downright uncharitable to businesses that don’t stand by their products and services.
Yesterday was two weeks without air conditioning on my second floor, the part of the house with my office and my husband’s music room, frankly where we spend a large part of our time. For 26 years and three houses, I have maintained a home warranty on my house through the same company. On average, the cost of this service has been $38 per month, so the total price I have paid for peace of mind has been $11,856. This year the cost went up and new conditions were added to my contract, new conditions such as the 24-hour wait time for emergencies, another increase in the co-pay. I thought these new conditions weren’t great, especially during a recession but still this is the best Warranty company around, or so I thought. Until yesterday when I found out the part required to fix my air conditioner was on back-order, had been on back-order two weeks ago and after two weeks in 105 degree weather I still wouldn’t have my air conditioner fixed, they hadn’t bothered to call, look for an alternative …. Nothing. I had to call them. When I did, because I hadn’t received confirmation of my appointment, the only excuse was:
‘We don’t call when there is a back-order, that isn’t our problem to notify you.’
So, I am just a little cranky. I have more of these stories. More of these observations of what the ‘free market’, Globalization and Outsourcing has done to us; I think I will tell them this weekend. Frankly, I think we are meaner people over all. Meaner of spirit, meaner in our manners and in our compassion toward each other. I think we are uglier. I think we are turning into a nasty and mean nation of greedy,
self-serving and self-righteous prigs. Those who have will do anything to keep what is theirs; including lie, cheat, steal and grind those they believe are beneath them into the ground. Those who have been convinced they can join that club will do anything and say anything to slide in beside them.
The rest of us are left out in the cold, or in my case puddled in our own sweat wondering just what in the fires of Hades has happened, and where the extinguisher is.