Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Thank you for calling. How may I infuriate you?
What the hell is going on with Customer Service in this country? Am I the only one who is annoyed with how I've been treated as a consumer recently?
First, on a flight back from my freakin' honeymoon, of all events, I ran into what must have been a bulldog dressed like a US Airways flight attendance. To set the scene...it was a redeye, so everyone was sort of tired and wanted to sleep. As we all settled in, I noticed two things.
Numero uno, the airplane was colder than death. Absolutely frigid. I was wearing three shirts and trousers, as my Anglish friends would call them, so I wasn't underdressed. The guy two seats over wasn't so lucky. He was wearing a t-shirt, some of those fancy little Keen slipper/sandal/sneakers, and a pair of those short hiking shorts, which I guess are meant to let us all marvel at his massively sculpted quads. Bad choice, bucko. It was so damn cold on this plane that at one point I saw the guy with his whole body, head included, tucked into his t-shirt. It was sort of hilarious, sort of pathetic, but that's how cold it was.
The second thing I noticed was that it cost $7.50 for a blanket. You know, one of those napkin-sized scraps of synthetic fleece that does nothing but conduct static electricity and keeps you warm from, say, your knee caps to your ankles? It's not bad enough that I can't get something to eat unless I leave the continent, but now I have to freeze half to death just to get home. So, like a normal consumer, I went to ask the aforementioned bulldog if she might be able to raise the temperature to something in the ice water range. She flat out said no and looked at me as if I was trying to strip her of her last oxygenated blood cells.
So, that's where we're at as a nation. Not only have our airlines gone to hell in a handbasket, to the point that makes Greyhound look good, but the people who staff these flights clearly don't give a damn about the people in the airplane. And, to boot, the vultures in the boardrooms have made it such that we now have to pay to maintain a body temperature in the double digits.
Then, just this past weekend, I was flat lied to by hotels.com. I went on the web to reserve a room (more on this later) and was given the impression that, probably because of that recession that no longer exists, I was given a great deal that included free parking at said hotel. When I checked in, the poor guy who worked the desk--who was, in fact, a beacon of good customer service--asked how I was going to pay for parking? Confused, I asked what the discrepancy was and we decided that it was best if I called hotels.com and see what they thought was going on. So I did.
The first charmer I spoke to hung up on me. The second insisted that I had made the reservation with an agent and then insisted that I was mistaken when I told them that I had, in fact, made the reservation online, where I had read the Homeric tale of the mythic, evaporating parking deal.
So, apparently, we have reached the point where the customer service people are allowed to call us liars, right after their company lures us in with a deal that doesn't actually exist. At least in Communist Russia everyone knew the breadlines were going to be there.
So, in the spirit of Sarah Palin, I'd like to sit on whatever death panels get to judge the future fates of US Air and hotels.com. Let's just say that they won't be offered any counseling.