The Death of Customer Service

     Three months ago my wife's Dell laptop died of hard drive failure among other things from the beating it had taken.  As she was heading overseas for a month of study we needed an immediate replacement and she chose a Toshiba at our local Best Buy.  Last week, that hard drive failed.  

     Now within the 90 warranty, let alone the one year warranty we'd purchased, the folks at Best Buy offered to replace the hard drive by the next day.  But since most laptops (we're told) no longer come with installation discs, we'd have to call Toshiba to get Windows 7 and everything else the laptop came installed with.  The Geek Squad was even kind enough to give us a form with the 800 numbers including HP/Compaq, Sony, Gateway, IBM, Acer and Toshiba.  The cost according to the form would be $20 which included shipping. 

    However, when you call the Toshiba 800 number and work your way through the series of computer codes, one finds that you have to go online to order it now, and you can't talk to a human being.   Online when registering, there isn't a price list for the recovery discs until after it's paid for.  And it was $30, not $20, for something that should have been provided from the beginning, or be a free download once you enter the product, serial, model numbers and DNA sample.

     Having paid for the discs (or disc, who knows) I wanted to lodge a complaint, but there's no place to do that.  I tried the forums, but forty minutes later I'm still waiting for the confirmation email to come so I can confirm I exist.   There was no place to lodge an email concern, and of the list of 30 or so 800 numbers on the page, I just didn't really feel like talking to a computer again until getting to someone who would apologize profusely while playing solitaire on the their desktop but couldn't solve anything.

     Similarly last week I received a voice mail from the Michigan UIA on behalf of my son in Afghanistan, asking me to call them back.  After 70+ phone calls, each with multiple computer prompts only to be told that "no human being is available, please call back at another time," I haven't been able to respond to their request. I can see legislators in Lansing sitting around in leather chairs with single malts brainstorming "If we reduce staff so far that nobody can talk to a human, then all the unemployed folks will leave the state and we won't have to pay them."  Really. 

     I now completely understand the global economic crisis. It has nothing to do with overpaid greedy traders destroying Main street retirements to earn bonuses, Bernie Madoff's many cohorts in the financial sector,  real estate bubbles, outsourcing jobs or global economic equalization.  It's simply a matter of eliminating customer service to a degree that we don't want to buy products anymore because feasible obsolescence of 90 days is built in.  That way, they can continue to derive revenue selling you solutions to problems that shouldn't exist in the first place.  After all the problem of job creation in the U.S. has very little to do with federal policies (or inaction) and a lot more to do with disposable income that doesn't exist except for the the very few.

     It's really quite brilliant.  I wonder who holds the patent or copyright?

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