I wanted to write a blog post about the miserable customer service experience I am still receiving while trying to fix an error on a company issued Skype account. I gave up on ever actually using that account, and I’ve given up on writing that post. I morphed that attempt into a rant against all the horrible customer service providers I’ve encountered lately – rants are generally among the more popular of my blog posts – but I decided against that too. By nature, I am not an angry person, so the spirit required for a successful rant doesn’t last long. Also, whenever I think about the awful way Skype has handled my problem, I keep remembering last week when I left my coffee cup in the courtesy van at Gengras Jeep, and not only did they set it aside for me, they washed it! So a rant against “the terrible state of customer service in the world today” would be a cheat, I would be sharing bits of my life out of context in order to gain followers.
One of the reasons I wanted to write the post about customer service is because I had experienced a wave of bad customer service from companies as diverse as Skype, The Hartford Courant and Microsoft (not the part of them that owns Skype, the other part). I had planned to draw a reference to one of my favorite Star Trek episodes: “The City on the Edge of Forever.” In that episode, Dr. McCoy wafts back into time in a drug induced paranoid state and ends up altering the future. Once they travel back in time too, Spock explains to Captain Kirk that he expects to find McCoy because “…there could be some logic to the belief that time is fluid, like a river, with currents, eddies, backwash…” I was thinking that these bad experiences are somehow just flowing through my life right now. Unfortunately, due to the proximity of the coffee cup thing, that analogy doesn’t work. My life isn’t awash with bad service, I’ve simply managed to run into a bunch of it and it’s time for an alignment.
So, who goes and who stays? Well, I told the people at Skype that they have become my communication platform of last resort. We will continue to subscribe to the Hartford Courant due to the mercy of my wife, but my advice to them would be not to push that particular envelope too far. I will still seek guidance from Star Trek, particularly in the wisdom of McCoy, Picard, Spock and Commander Data, and I still believe that building a Heisenberg Compensator is possible. At the start of what could be their 21st consecutive losing season, I have renewed my subscription with MLB At Bat so I can listen to Pirates games on the “radio” and there isn’t a cell in my body that would think about supporting any NFL team other than the Steelers. I will continue my seemingly naïve attraction to good marketing, especially when it’s associated with great brands; clearly, I will buy the new Stanley FatMax anything. I will however, work harder to question people, products and brands I have been loyal to, to make sure they are still earning my support. I have ended friendships with negative people, racist and otherwise narrow-minded people and selfish people. I have stopped buying everything from donuts to laser printers from companies that seem to want to extend their good reputation around poor quality products the way the Enterprise extends its shields around a defenseless cargo ship. I will pay particularly close attention to the things that involve my emotional resources and the budgets entrusted to me by others.
My spring cleaning will affect my real and virtual worlds. I have already started to trim the list of people I follow on Twitter of those who only seemed to follow me to gain a follower or who only ever tweet about their superior product. If you can’t tweet about beer, sports, politics, Legos, fast cars or stupid people from time to time, you aren’t worth following. If you can’t support a cause other than your own self-interest, you aren’t interesting to me, and if you can’t say something good about somebody on Earth, then I am done listening to you. I am still trying to limit Facebook connections to people that I have met and liked in person or whom I have come to know so well over other social media that I want to meet them in person.
I just listened to an interview of Robyn Hitchcock on NPR Morning Edition where he spoke about being too old to be reflective. He talked about the need to just move forward with his music. He and I are about the same age, and I found those comments remarkably honest and valuable. At this point, I am concerned about how I will move forward, not how I got here.