Wednesday, February 27, 2008

And that's the way it is...

I grew up in the Walter Cronkite era. Every night we tuned in to watch him tell us what was happening in the world. We trusted him, and for many years he was considered one of the most trusted figures in the United States.

He was our source of information about the Cuban missile crisis, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the war in Vietnam, the Apollo 11 moon landing and Watergate. When he retired, the nightly news changed and will never be the same.

Perhaps his best-known trademark was ending the CBS Evening News with the phrase "And that's the way it is" followed by the day's date.

When Walter Cronkite said that's the way it was, then by golly THAT'S the way it was.

Lately, however, "that's the way it is" has taken on a new meaning. To wit:

1. Last Friday my antivirus program began to act up. I got an error message along with a link to the manufacturer's website where I was instructed to download a fix, run it, run an update and follow any further instructions in the antivirus program. After doing that, the instructions I received told me to uninstall and reinstall the software. So I did just that, using THEIR uninstaller. At that point my ability to connect to the internet disappeared. I called the software people. They told me to go to their website, download another removal tool and run it. Uh... I'd just told them I couldn't get to the internet. They assured me that uninstalling their software could not possibly affect my internet connection. They suggested I call my internet service provider. "But YOUR software caused this. You need to help me." "I can't help you," he said in his heavily accented voice. "Why?" I wanted to know. "Well, that's the way it is."

2. I called my ISP and when they found out I didn't have their router, they said they couldn't help. "Why?" I asked. "Well, that's the way it is."

3. I called the router manufacturer and spent 3 hours upgrading the firmware on my router and creating a new network, which still did not solve my problem. "You need to call the manufacturer of your computer because it's not a router problem." "But why can't I get online?" "Well, that's the way it is."

4. I called the store where I purchased the laptop because it's still under warranty. The Geek Squad youngster came two days later and spent over an hour going through various diagnostics before he found a message indicating a small piece of my antivirus software was still resident on the hard drive and was blocking the internet access. He went to the AV company's website, downloaded the removal tool onto his teensy tiny flash drive, put it onto my laptop, ran it and voila! Internet access. "Why couldn't the AV people have told me to do that?" I asked him. "It would have saved you a trip and I'd not have spent the last 36 hours madder than a wet hornet." He shook his head and said "Well, sadly, that's the way it is. Their people are just stupid." At least he helped me and was sympathetic to my plight.

5. I bought a new floor sweeper last month and already part of it isn't working properly. I called the manufacturer on Monday because it's still in warranty. I expected them to replace it. Nope. They told me to take it to a repair shop where it will be repaired free if it's determined the problem is a mechanical failure. If THEY decide it's not, I get to pay for the repair. I imagine a service bill is probably more than the sweeper cost. "Why can't you just replace the sweeper?" I asked. "Well, that's the way it is."

6. My ATM card expires on February 29 and as of Monday I'd not received a replacement. I called the bank and learned no request had been generated to issue a new card. So the woman I spoke with put in the request and said I'd get it in five to seven working days, which means I may well be without my ATM card for a while. I asked if she could expedite it and she said she could -- for a $25 fee. "Why? It's not MY fault the bank screwed up?" "Well, that's the way it is."

7. A few weeks ago I switched from using my old desktop to using my nine-month-old laptop that runs the Microsoft Vista operating system. I knew I'd have to download new drivers for my printer, but once I did that, I expected the printer to work properly. Nope. I have trouble getting it to do double-sided printing correctly. I've been on the phone to the printer people numerous times and the answer is always "Well, that's the way it is."

WHY is that the way it is? Instead of the phrase being words that left me with a feeling of security, the words now leave me feeling helpless and hopeless. Those words are now simply a big fat excuse for poor workmanship, poor customer service and bad management.

Well, hello, AV software company. I decided to forego the final six weeks of my subscription and I purchased someone else's product as a replacement. The Geek Squad youngster is billing YOU for the service call since YOU gave me such bad advice and wasted his time cause that's the way it is. The DH is just looking for a good reason to switch banks, and if they pull this stunt when his ATM card comes due for replacement, he'll yank the funds from all three checking accounts and take them to a new bank cause that's the way it is. I take Bill Gates' name in vain every day now. Sorry pal, but as far as I was concerned, XP wasn't broken. And why, since Vista has been on the market for nearly eighteen months, have all the compatibility issues not been worked out. And don't tell me "Well, that's the way it is."

I'd like the excuses to stop. I'd like for companies to be accountable for their errors and their customer service departments to really give customer service instead of reading from a prepared script that doesn't allow for any deviation. I'd like to hear the word "And that's the way it is" and feel good again.

How about you? Got any good horror stories you'd like to get off your chest? Let er rip!

P.S. My foot improves every day. I went to the orthopedic surgeon today to have my stitches removes, only there weren't really any to remove. Everything was done internally with dissolving sutures and the outside was closed with steri-strips.
I can get it wet now (yay! cause bathing was a real exercise in creativity). I can wiggle my toe but am not supposed to try and force it to move. I can wear my new Crocs (I got two pairs for the price of one on eBay) if they're comfortable (they are) but if I'm going to be on my foot for a while (like grocery shopping) he suggested I wear the surgical shoe since it provides more support. I have an Ace bandagae on it and still have to keep it elevated as much as possible.
He said today's x-rays looked very good and the bones ares healing well. He also said I'd obviously followed doctor's orders and stayed off it and kept it elevated because there's virtually no swelling. If he gave fancy stickers for following orders, I'd have gotten one. Or maybe two. I still have to take it as easy as possible. It's difficult to put life on hold totally for six weeks. I'm to amble along at a slow pace and see him in a month. And if things continue as they have thus far, I'll start physical therapy then.


Barbara Vey said...

Writing my horror stories would upset me, so I won't tell them.

I love my Mac computer. Never any problems and can never get a virus. I only have a pc laptop because I got it free, but at the first sign of a problem, I'm getting a Mac Laptop to go with my Mac computer. Did I tell you I loooove my Mac!!

Rhonda Nelson said...

PM, I loved this post. You hit the nail on the head when it comes to customer service. People just don't care anymore. Everyone wants to pass the buck to someone else. Grrr!

Glad you're feeling better!

Problem Child said...

Makes me all the more thankful for my Geek.

My friend spent two hours on the phone with Dell not too long ago. Her father has Alzheimer's and tried to set up the family's new laptop. The machine was totally locked up, but the guys at Dell kept with her until they were able to get it sorted out. Frustrating for my friend, but it was one shining light in the generally poor state of customer service.

Smarty Pants said...

I had a problem like this at my favorite store once. Their debit card machine kept cancelling out after I swiped my card so they had to do it 3 or 4 times. Later, I notice they debited my account the $100 I spent 4 times. Store said to talk to my bank, my bank said to talk to the was just a mess.

Instigator said...

No one wants to take responsibility because no one wants to admit they were wrong or made a mistake. And I think it's more than just ego, I think the potential for law suits and liability plays a factor in that mentality as well. Which just sucks!

I used to work in customer service for a bank. Let me tell you, my customers got service! Of course, everyone working there could speak english....


Lynn Raye Harris said...

I echo Barbara: Mac, baby! I have spent more time on the phone with Apple Care than I'd like, but they are always a) helpful, b) polite, c) speak English properly and without a heavy accent (unless you count Canadian as an accent), and they send me new stuff promptly and without argument when something doesn't work. Which isn't often, but it has happened recently with my Apple router. They sent a new one, express mail, no charge.

I tend not to have too many problems like you've described because of what I like to call my "Patriotic Speech." These days, it pays to be ex-military. If I get even the hint of a run around, I trot out the patriot speech. It seems to work, though I imagine there'll come a day when it won't and I'll be flabbergasted and in need of a new strategy. :)

So glad to hear your foot it getting better!!

LOL, word ver: tvhurdl. Am I supposed to jump over it or something?

Maven Linda said...

Mac. Mac, Mac, Mac. It's a beautiful word, and a beautiful computer.

The thing is, I seldom get bad service. I honestly don't. My all-in-one HP printer wouldn't turn on. It was still in warranty. I called HP, and they overnighted a replacement printer to me.

The company I have the most problems with? Bellsouth. It's almost impossible to talk to a human being. Their slogan may be "Reach Out and Touch Someone," but it's obvious they don't mean anyone who works in THEIR company. I e-mailed last Friday about a problem I'm having with my e-mail (and it's Bellsouth that's the problem) and I still haven't heard back from them. It's time for a follow-up . . .

Mark said...

People will never understand that it makes good business sense to give lip service to support and actually spend as little as possible on it. Support (and training and retaining people who are good at it) is prohibitively expensive and most companies find it more profitable to good poor support and spend those $ saved on ads or better salespeople.

On the flip side, support for Windows machines is incredibly difficult. I support all of my families computers and without being able to go and physically sit in front of the box I don't see how anyone can solve anything but the simplest of problems. And in each of the last 4 times they have had bizarre problems, reinstalling windows fixed it...a sledgehammer solution but with all the crap rootkits and apps and parts of things installed its impossible to solve most things.

catslady said...

I too have so many horror stories - I have spent days and days talking to 20 different someones from another country. A few problems got resolved, most did not. The problem you had with your computer sounds like a virus I got and eventually we ended up with a total remake of our computer and a huge bill (it was no longer under waranty). Just yesterday I was told a $25 GC that I received from an author isn't valid and it's something on her end (that took two long phone calls and 4 emails) and now the author hasn't gotten back to me - hoping it will get resolved but who knows. Three weeks ago I finally ordered dsl (I'm still on dialup) from our weird phone company, got a call and had to order all over again because of a mistake on their part (the rates were higher than they quoted) and was told 2 or 3 days - it's now been 2 or 3 weeks!!! I've had the flu so I don't have the energy to battle with them at the moment (sigh).

Homer Hickam said...

As I tell others, "Of course, I use a Mac. I have REAL work to do."


PS - Glad you're making progress on that toe. Soon, it will all be an unpleasant but distant memory.