AS I SAT down to lunch at a Thai restaurant with a friend the other day, she told me about her son’s recent wedding, adding that the newlyweds had already bought a house together. I said that any minute she might be a grandma. Scanning the menu, she responded with, “If it happens that’s fine, if not, even better. I don’t think it’s fair to bring a child into the world now.” She expanded, citing her concerns over climate change, political turmoil, terrorism and growing violence around the globe which could erupt into nuclear war at any time. “It’s basically over for the human race,” she declared. Then we ordered.
Surely we would all agree that things are bad in just about every area of modern life. War, mass shootings, rioting in the streets, social injustice and melting polar ice caps all suck. But that’s all “out there.” What also sucks is closer to home: The complete and total lack of customer service.
I experienced this most recently when I opened the door to my nearly new $6,000 refrigerator and was met with a loud beeping and a flashing digital sign that spelled out “Over Temp” in angry red letters. That could not be good, I thought, and hastily searched for the booklet our Kitchen Aid appliance had come with. No luck. I called the appliance store where we purchased it and a recording directed me to describe my problem, with a promise that someone would get back to me “soon.”
Not soon enough, as the beeping continued. So I logged on to KitchenAid and found “Troubleshooting.” By entering my credit card information I could text my problem to a “live agent.” An initial fee of five dollars would enroll me in a club that would cost $28 per month after a month’s free trial, but I could cancel at any time. I proceeded.
Pearl, the so-called live agent, turned out to be an idiot. She asked for my problem and I described it in detail. Then she asked for my problem again, and I described it again. Then she asked for my problem again, and I realized she was a robot with a few screws loose. So then I looked around and found something that said I could talk on the phone with a real person, perhaps that would suit me better. I said yes! Oh, but that would cost another $25 on top of the initial five dollars. WTF?
I decided to cancel my membership immediately and write off the five dollars to my being stupid. But first I had to figure out how. The “Cancel my subscription” button was hidden deep within the website. I finally found it and clicked it, which triggered a series of messages begging me to stay, promising they would solve my problem, and then audaciously asking me what they could do to convince me not to leave. “Cancel at any time” my eye!
Next I got an email from the company manager asking me to reconsider my cancellation. Enraged, I responded with a string of curse words in all caps. Fortunately my husband came home before I could fire up my AK-47 and hunt the man down. Mitch started punching random buttons on the fridge and eventually the beeping and flashing stopped. (He is a mechanical genius.) Anyway, that’s what I call bad customer service. Not as bad as a war, agreed, but still a major pain in the ass.
Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid.