Customer Mis-Service

I’m not sure how true it is, but I always assume that doctors must have no fun at parties. Every time they’re introduced to someone the response is bound to be, “Oh, I have this strange tingle on my elbow…?” or “I have this pain in all the diodes on my left side.” Even lacking the title, working in IT as I do, I get the same kind of thing. “My PC blue-screens when…” or “How do I do [something esoteric] in [some weird application I’ve never heard of]?” It’s the curse of knowing something about computers.

Often it turns out that people have been mis-sold either the computer itself or some associated gadget. PCs are complicated and people often end up believing the sales-person not because they are inherently trust-worthy (quite the opposite) but because they don’t know enough to counter any assertions made. Can that £300 Dell really edit your home movies? Is an extra 512Mb of memory really necessary or do the margins on it justify a hard sell? How do I avoid all those viruses? (Answers: no, yes and buy a Mac.)

Of course, the truth is that life is complicated and mis-selling, or at least poor service, is rife in all walks of life. I recently went to buy a wedding band. I’m not a jewelry person and have never worn a ring previously, yet I have a good chunk of money to spend on one, a number broadly similar to a new computer. For something so expensive I would have expected some advice, the advantages and disadvantages of various designs and materials. But no, it basically amounted to looking at lots of shiny things and picking one based entirely on aesthetics. They seemed put out when I didn’t know what size my finger was and they offered no guidance on how loose it should be. Later on I found that the manufacturer engraved rings, but this was not offered at the time of purchase. It feels like I would have been better buying on-line!

And now, after a week of wearing it, I find it is doing the jewelry equivalent of blue-screening. We go back to query the workmanship and the assistant merely says — I paraphrase — “Yes, matt-effect white gold does that.” Thanks. She’s probably right but would it not have been useful to tell me this at the time of purchase? They could have made more money (as I might have picked something in a harder metal) and I wouldn’t be whinging about the scratches. We’d all have been happier, until my credit card bill arrived at least.

It’s very English not to complain about things. Many of us have had poor service in a restaurant, have grumbled about it to our friends but when the waiter asks if everything is okay we simply say, “It’s fine.” The difference with the ring and the computer is that we don’t even know that we’ve received poor service until it’s too late. Bad service in a restaurant can be rewarded with no tip, but the jewelers and the computer company already have our money. We have little leverage. After all the £300 Windows-box can edit home movies if you have the patience and my ring can be sent back to the manufacturer for re-polishing. They’re just not what we were expecting.

One thought on “Customer Mis-Service”

  1. Rather than asking a doctor at a party you can always read Why do men have nipples? by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg. All the questions that you wanted to ask your doctor after the third martini. Quite a quick read as I managed it all in a few hours lying in the back yard on Saturday.


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