Friday, March 14, 2014

Public Manners

I love new gadgets.  I enjoy the things technology brings.  My smart phone is so cool.  I can just say who I want to talk to and the phone dials the number.  The tablets help keep things organized, the internet and google make researching things so easy.  I even know who is calling me because of the ringtones that can be set to an individual number. 

So the down side of all this personalization with technology is people no longer interact well with one another.  The friendly "Hello? has been replaced with a cold computer voice asking to press 1 for English. 

We as a society do not have a lot of face time anymore.  We communicate via text messages, e-mails and "liking" things on Facebook.  When I talk with people on the phone when they are done talking they just hang up without saying "goodbye".  Some of the old school etiquette has just vanished.

Some people have forgotten how to be polite, others have never learned, because they don't know how.  Please, thank you, and you're welcome have dropped from our vocabulary.  And when things go the way someone thinks it should a temper tantrum is thrown.

A few months ago I was walking past a local hobby shop.  A lady was standing outside the open door, her head was inside the store screaming, "It only flew three feet!  I want a full refund!"

Then a stream of swear words and threats and yelling and screaming.  I thought, a remote controlled airplane or helicopter is dependent on the skills of the modeler.  If it flew, the hobby shop doesn't need to do anything.

A few days later I talked with the owner about the incident.  He laughed and said, "If she had been nicer and explained what had happened I might have worked with her, but her threatening and swearing, no way was I willing to help her out."

I've thought about that over the last few weeks.  We've been trained to get upset with customer service.  I know I've done it, I call to complain and if I'm nice, nothing happens, I end up with nothing, but if I get testy and demand to speak with the manager and remain angry, I typically get some sort of settlement that I can live with.

"If she had been nicer I might have worked with her." still rings in my mind.  Last month I went to return a faulty tablet I received as a Christmas gift.  I took it in and got another one back in January.  The clerk told me that the brand of tablet was not any good, they were all being returned.  If I wanted to pay the difference I could upgrade to a better tablet.  I agreed, but not having the money at the time I asked how long did I have before I couldn't return it.  I was told I could bring it back within 90 days.  I took my receipt and noted when the 90 days would be up and left.

About 45 days into the 90 I came up with the difference to buy the better tablet.  I went in with the tablet to trade it in and was told only 30 days, see it is posted.  She pointed to a notice on the wall and sure enough posted right there 30 day refund policy.  I explained that I was told 90 days. 

"Sorry sir, it is posted 30 days."

Old habits started to kick in and I was getting into my angry customer mode, I want to talk with the manager, but then I thought "If she had been nicer I might have worked with her."  So I reigned in the anger and asked politely, "is there anything you can do?"

"No sir, policy is 30 days."

"Could you call the manager please?"

So she did. I explained I was told 90 days, and no they couldn't, but as we talked the manager thought of something that could work, and I was able to get the trade in, and everyone was happy, and no angry exchanges and threats.  It was nice.

On the whole it seems everyone is worried about me and what can I get.  But when you stop and think of the others and work on a win, win, things seem to go a lot better.

I've more ideas about face time and technology I'll share in future blog posts, but I just wanted to say, we need to find our Public Manners and work once again on being nicer to one another.  It makes things a whole lot more pleasant. 

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