Modern Conveniences

It was brought home to me yesterday, once again, how much we take for granted in today’s world. We had a severe storm come rumbling through; one of our Tucson monsoon storms. At my house, there were hailstones the size of huge garbanzo beans, frightful wind that bent trees almost in half, and then pounding rain, thunder, lightning. Then the power went out. By the time I arrived home from work, the house was hot and sticky, and the power had only been out for an hour! The outside temperature at that point was somewhere in the 90s with humidity in the 80s after the storm. 18 power poles a couple of blocks from my home were snapped by a microburst; yes, 18! There was also an overturned vehicle on the interstate not far from my house, so traffic was backed up for a mile or more on a major street I use to get home; police were out directing traffic at one intersection to try to move traffic through.

So what does one do when there is no electricity? No computers, no TV, no radio, no lights, no AC. Our home faces North, and it was still overcast, so the living room was as dark as if it were 8 or 9 o’clock at night. Navigating furniture when we’ve only been here a month and aren’t exactly sure where everything is is fun in the dark! We did manage to find a couple of flashlights – most of them are still packed – and a candle or two. We sat on the back patio and talked, fixing the world.

We depend on electricity for almost everything and take it for granted that when we flip a switch the light comes on. I have to wonder how people lived out here before electricity and before AC. It gets hot here – often over 100 in the summer – and once the monsoon gets here, the humidity goes up. We are used to humidity of less than 10%, so higher humidity during monsoons feels much worse than it is. Anything over 30% feels yucky, so when it gets to 60% and higher, it feels as if you can cut the air with a knife.

We have also become dependent on TV and the internet for entertainment instead of having conversations, and laughing, and enjoying ourselves with another person.

There are so many other things we take for granted, too many to list here, but I am thankful we had our electricity back after about two hours. I am grateful that there are people working for the power company who get out there at all hours to make sure we have electricity; and I am thankful to the Sheriff’s Department for making sure traffic flowed smoothly so I, and everyone else, could get home safely.

Customer Service

Is there such a thing as customer service any more? In the past month, we have had to call our ISP (who touts customer service in all their ads!) twice for the same issue; both times the tech support was totally useless. Essentially what they said was well we didn’t mess it up so we don’t have to fix it; it’s your problem fix it yourself! Now the problem was that my partner couldn’t log in to his email account; one day he could, the next he couldn’t. We didn’t change anything. In fact, between the time it worked and then didn’t, we weren’t even on the computer! We fixed the problem ourselves – eventually. And their website is awful; there is a feedback button prominently displayed on their help page – it doesn’t work!

I have heard similar complaints from all my friends; items ordered that never arrived, are poor quality, are not what was advertised. And trying to find someone within the company to fix things is impossible. What happened? It used to be that when there was a problem we could call the company and they would make it right. It used to be that the sales staff in a store were there to help; now it seems they are just there to collect a paycheck. The customers are not important enough to please. The only ones who deserve consideration are the top echelon and the stockholders.

Excuse me, Mr. Executives, but without your customers, your million dollar bonuses won’t be there. And you stockholders, how about holding companies accountable for taking care of customers? If there are no customers, your dividends will disappear.

I research reviews for any company I have to deal with; and if the reviews are bad I will go elsewhere. Or if the reviews are good, and I am treated badly, I let them know and then I stop shopping there.

Of course, not all companies are like this. There are two that I buy from regularly (neither of them is paying me). Both companies are fantastic in terms of service and speed. New Mexico Soap sells handmade soap and soap-related products. I always receive my order in a couple of days, and there is always lagniappe (a mostly New Orleans tradition of a little something extra).  Real Purity sells cosmetics and personal care products. When I had a problem with my PayPal account, they not only called to say my payment was blocked, but shipped my products to me before payment.

So there are companies out there that have good customer service, but not many. It seems the bigger the company, the worse their customer service is. But we can change that by voting with our money – find companies with good customer service and good products and use them; let them know you appreciate their taking good care of their customers; tell your friends about your good experience with them. And also, let companies know if they have treated you badly and tell them you are going elsewhere and will tell all your friends.