Opinion: Not worth the wait


“We’d love to offer you a complimentary coffee,” they say. “Sure, two creams and a sugar,” we reply. Returning empty-handed, they report, “The machine is broken, again.”

It is not an earth-shattering disappointment. Still, their promises urge that we choose them over other dealers because of their great customer service – and free warm beverages! Then the promised parts did not arrive or were never ordered. It seems that there is a parts shortage. Then there was a delay in completing the work. It seems that there is a labor shortage. Then there was difficulty in using the “handy” online process to approve the invoice and pay the bill. It seems that there is an internet efficiency shortage.

After 15 minutes or so of wrangling with a computer and agreeing to all manner of information-probing for reasons that don’t conform with the simple repair work being done, the online transaction is complete. Wait. An unspecified error resets the forms, demanding them to be completed again.

This time, the process goes a bit faster because the answers to the odd questions remain in the human mind longer than they do in the computer’s short-term memory. Wait. This time, another error. Contemporaneously, the bank is texting to let us know that the charge has been approved, now twice, even as the service provider’s website is telling us that we need to pay again! So, now we call. The automated attendant tells us that they are “experiencing longer than usual wait times.” No answer here. So, we go stand in line, in person, and pay as they dictate. The surly employee behind the counter snorts, “This happens all the time.”  So much for customer service. What’s our right to expect from their promise? How patient should we be with grand promise and petite performance?    


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