#1.332 – Humans Say Yes

First published June 27th 2012.

#332 - But The Computer Says I Can't
#332 - back
sent from: London, UK. destination: Santa Monica, California, USA

Had a conversation with someone at the storage unit, where I still have a number of items in the USA. She was called a manager, I wanted to see if I could secure another long term contract (the current one is about to expire). It’s a version of a conversation we all have – she said that “computer says no”, abdicating all responsibility to the box in front of her. I contested [that] I was told she could make decision about such things, [and] she would reply with 2 points –
1) computer says no, and
2) you’re only paying $ for a small unit.
This always sets me off, and I feel the need to challenge people – esp. when, as in this case, they refuse to let me talk to someone behind the computer who CAN make decisions.
She said “the decision probably will end up with me anyway.”
“A decision where you have no ability to say anything other than no.” I challenged.
“It’s a huge corporation.” she said also.
“But a corporation is a bunch of people,” I said, “and I’m not talking to a corporation, I’m talking to a person.”
She was very nice and we were polite – she did say something that almost threw me off – “It’s like going into Starbucks and asking for them to reduce the price of a latte.” No, I said, it’s not. I’m not buying a service from Starbucks, I’m buying a thing, and people in a client/service relationship enter all the time into longer term agreements of mutual interest – in this case, me to get a good price, and you to keep my business. Plus, everyone’s dollar should be valued – they have no idea what buying power I have.
At the end of the day we are people, not corporations or computers. Say YES.

Few aspects of modern life frustrate me more than the “customer service agent” who doesn’t know what a customer is, is incapable to providing adequate service, and has no agency to do anything useful. No matter what you do, if you don’t apply some critical thinking to the most basic of tasks then you’re no better than an automaton, and you cannot be surprised when you are eventually replaced by one. 

A different version of this happened to us on our trip to India. Namely, the person who for reasons you can only fathom is gunning for a fight over the smallest issue. What started as an offhand remark anyone might make while waiting and watching an agent go through the process of checking you in was taken as a criticism, and the agent bit back at me with a needless insult. I tried to reset the conversation to show her how ridiculous the whole thing was, but she was having none of it. Something had upset her and she was dying to take it out on someone; I was the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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