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When Life Is Chaos! May 24, 2011

Posted by wooddickinson in Change, Hope, Systems Thinking.
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It’s really funny (or aggravating) when life decides to take a detour from where you think you are going. I’m in the middle of a huge detour right now. These trials are upsetting and aggravating primarily because you think you have a handle on life and a focus on what you want to create and how to do it. Then life happens. Out of your control some system or person decides to throw you into chaos. Like when I came to work the other day and I turn on my computer only to find my DSL line from AT&T was suspended with a message telling me to call them now!

My world grinds to a halt as I wait on hold for 30 minutes. When I get a person I ask what the frozen DSL line and nasty message are all about. She, in the best of self-righteous ways, tells me I haven’t paid my bill and if I would like to take care of that she could help me and unfreeze my DSL line. It took all the patients I had not to take this woman’s head off. I counted to 10 then asked her, “Didn’t you receive a check?” She tells me to hold and clicks off. A dangerous thing to have happen after a 30 minute hold time. She clicks back on sounding meek and not nearly as self-righteous. She said, “Yes, I have a check for xxx amount and your current balance is xxx and everything is just fine. She will get my DSL back up and have a nice day.” Click.

This is what is passing for customer service these days. I have had Shell call me telling me I’m so past due and they want a credit card number now. Oh sure, I just give anyone who calls all my credit card information. I asked for statements to be mailed to me so he asked what my account number was (now he called me) and since I don’t use gas cards I said I didn’t have a clue. What came next just blew me away. Suddenly I didn’t have an account with Shell. This was the most confusing call. I asked how I could owe anything if I don’t have an account? He didn’t know and hung up.

One of the best calls I experienced was one I made. I was going over a credit card bill and noticed a charge for AAA auto club. I can’t remember ever signing up for that. Currently I drive a Mercedes and it comes with roadside assistants. I called the number listed on the bill and got a marvelous customer service lady. I said that there was a charge from AAA and I never order it so I want it off my bill. She began to argue with me that I did order it. It was an automatic renewal. I just love auto renewals because it is near impossible to get them stopped. Finally I asked when the charge was started. She said 1985 so I told her I wanted a refund from 1985 to the present for all the AAA charges. She hug up on me!

Now that just doesn’t work on me. I called them right back. Of course I got a different person and this guy was very nice and helpful. The last lady had removed the charge after she hung up on me. I told this gentleman what my experience had just been and he was very sorry, took an incident report and promised it would be taken care of. We parted friends.

Citi Corp calls day and night because I’m past due on my bill for $8. They spent more than $8 collecting that debt. These companies are so reactive now that they alone can create a lot of chaos which in the end does them more damage than good. A sign of the times I guess.

I understand people are hurting now. I’m one of those people. I don’t care what Washington keeps saying this “economic recovery” seems very unreal. This is a time for compassion and looking for ways to put together deals with customers that help the company get paid and doesn’t over burden the customer or charge an exorbitant interest rate. But do they do that? No. Conflict is what they like and the customer feels shame at being in this position and the company doesn’t have a clue that when you shame a person you have just hurt yourself as well. The person shamed will either strike out at them or strike out at himself. Both actions have negative consequences for the company.

And so it goes. Business in the 21st century…

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