It happened again.
Do you ever feel like Jerry when they didn’t have his rental car?
I am always friendly, respectful, kind and generous to people behind desks, windows and counters, unless they engage in a particular kind of conduct that is guaranteed to cause me to be confrontational and critical, and that almost always leaves me feeling simultaneously guilty and infuriated. This is when an agent of a service provider announces, almost always with a smile, that the organization/company/government agency will not be able to do what it has assured me, often for a price, that it would do, or is not able to do it at an acceptable level of quality, or perhaps in the promised time frame. The agent helpfully tells me that I am stuck with the inferior product or service I bargained for and relied upon, and that yes, it shouldn’t be this way, but it is, so there.
Then, when I express some dissatisfaction with that result, explanation, and most important of all, the absence of any guaranty that I will be compensated or that the organization, while acknowledging its failure, has given any thought to compensating those like me or executing some response in time for my problem to be, if not solved, mitigated, the agent pathetically points out that he or she is just a humble and powerless messenger and that it is cruel of me to persist in expressing my dissatisfaction to him or her, since the agent is neither responsible for the problem nor has any power to fix it.
This is where I lose it.
And it happened again.
My wife and I paid close to $1500 ( in fees only, transportation and lodging not included) for the privilege of attending a national conference of a professional association to which we belong. When we arrived at the site hotel to register and pick up our credentials, badges, tickets and materials, shortly before the opening reception, we were told by a cheery, smiling woman that our name and convention materials were not there. “But we paid for them, and pre-registered,” my wife said. “I got a confirmation. We were told in an e-mail response that the materials for events and programs we designated would be waiting for us here.”
“Ah, then you must have registered on-line after Wednesday,” she told, us smiling. “Unfortunately, we were already here by then, and there was no way for us to make out your package! And you don’t have one of our formal, printed, professional badges that make you look like the member you are, but I’m happy to give you a crappy sharpie so you can scratch out a couple and look like you snuck in instead of paying 1500 buck for the privilege. Isn’t that good enough?” (She didn’t quite say it that way, but that was the gist of it.)
“Well, no, actually, it’s not,” I said. “Your confirmation said that everything would be ready for us here. It isn’t ready.”
“That was just an automatic response, sir.”
THERE it is! “Don’t blame the owners and programmers of the computer, sir—it’s Skynet’s fault!” Do not tell me that. Ever. Continue reading