Has the business world just gone stupid?

Remember the great line from the 1976 movie Network – “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”  Over forty years ago and it’s still just as relevant today, maybe even more so. The new frustrations of dealing with various businesses seems to suggest that they are all being run by idiots now or, in fact, no one with any semblance of a brain is in charge. The days of visionary CEOs like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have given way to leaders whose only concern is the almighty dollar and forget about paying any attention to their customers. Ever since the days of automated phone answering systems, which claimed to be in response to customer needs instead of just another way to lessen service, layoff thousands of workers and save a buck, like we just couldn’t wait to press one for English, business has dumb downed service.

PLEASE feel free to share your own stories. These are just a few of mine:

Banks

As evidenced by the recent inquiry into all the charges being levied by banks customers are tired of all the charges, like paying for paper statements, promoted by all the big banks as their green motive, yet they send all kinds of junk mail out which goes against the grain of any real green movement. More frustrating for me is how pathetic their online message format is. My bank allows youo to login and send them a message, but their answers if I can call them that have nothing to do with the questions you ask. My bank also has the dumbest message system where you can’t respond to the messages they send. I recently got a response that was little more than boilerplate answers that had nothing to do with my question. Instead of being able to reply the only option is to start a whole new message, repeating everything you already said. Really dumb!

Expedia

For the last few weeks I’ve been researching flights trying to get the best fare. It unleashed a torrent of alerts from various online flight companies promising me everything from two-day sales to last-minute offers. Last week I suddenly learned that all the fares had jumped almost a hundred dollars in one day so I panicked to book my flights hopefully at the lower price. Expedia was the only one still showing the lower price so I tried to book the flights I needed. When I got to payment and put in my credit card information I got a message that there was an issue with my payment. I had just received an increase to my credit limit on my credit card so I had no idea why there was an issue. That is until I checked my credit card and saw that although my credit limit was increased my available credit was zero. I didn’t want to lose my flights so I changed my credit card info to my debit card info as was shown on the Expedia payment screen. Again I got that there was an issue. No idea why so I called Expedia and was informed that despite the fact that the field on the screen clearly showed debit/credit card they don’t accept debit cards. When I asked why they did it show debit cards she had no answer. Finally, it was solved by the credit card issue shown below.

MasterCard

My card is with CTC Bank and has an interesting history. I’ve had a good record with them ever since getting my first card with a two hundred dollar limit to now having one with thousands of dollars limit, not that I will ever use it at nineteen percent interest. It’s been hacked twice needing replacement cards, but other than that I’ve had no problems. Recently I got yet another letter from them saying my credit limit had again been increased by several thousand dollars. When my payment to Expedia was apparently declined I called MasterCard to question it. A very nice lady answered me and said she would check with a supervisor. After only a couple of minutes, she came back telling me that everything was fine now. Sure enough when I went back to Expedia this time my payment was processed okay. Relieved to say the least.

Dell

My history with Dell goes back almost fifteen years to when I bought my first laptop, a Vostro 1500, which lasted me far more years than expected, all without a single issue. Eventually, it became just too slow for the work I was doing so I decided that it was time to upgrade. I went to Dell’s site and built the model I wanted, but the price was more than I could afford some fourteen hundred dollars. That was when I first came into contact with Kyle Ross, a sales guy in Toronto. He came back and asked how was eight hundred dollars instead? Needless to say, I jumped on it and placed the order. Little did I know at the time that it was going to be the start of a long and agonizing journey with Dell. From techs coming to me to replace parts to getting replacement computers, all of which meant I had to transfer all my data and reinstall all my programs every time it took three laptops to finally get one that worked.

Fast forward to this year. After a horrible experience buying a Lenovo from Costco and returning it I went back to Dell, this time ordering an Inspiron, their latest model. The very first time I booted it up I couldn’t log in. That was just the start of a host of issues with this laptop, all of which cost me hours and hours of work and lost time working on my websites. Given my previous experience, I immediately asked for a replacement but got nowhere and they insisted on fixing it, to no avail. At one point they asked me to do a complete restore which meant I lost all my programs and had to reinstall everything. Although this did solve many of the earlier issues I still had keyboard errors where I would get characters that I hadn’t typed. Again I asked for a replacement but instead they sent a tech to replace the keyboard.

It took the tech at least two hours to take the laptop all apart to replace the keyboard. No sooner had he replace it than he had no power and no battery. After conferring with Dell he said he had no choice but to put the original keyboard back in. With the original keyboard back in he now had no power and no battery again and no clue as to why. The decision was to send the laptop to the Dell service depot in Toronto. After being without my computer for two weeks I finally got it back. The minute I started it up I again had the same keyboard issues. I then learned that the service depot had not replaced the defective keyboard and had done nothing but reassemble the laptop. Nothing was fixed and they just sent it back to me.

While I was struggling without a computer in decades I wrote out a long letter to Michael Dell giving him all of my history. When I got my laptop back I typed the letter, which turned out to be nineteen pages long. I sent it off not really expecting a response. In the meantime, Dell had decided to again send the tech to replace the keyboard and had refused to send me the replacement I asked for months ago. Although I had no choice but to agree with this, I said that if he replaced the keyboard and we again had no power or battery that was it. I was done. I wanted my money back and I would buy something else. The next day, coincidentally enough, I got a call from Dell corporate thanking me for my detailed letter to Michael Dell and offering to replace the laptop as I had been asking for months. I agreed but the takeaway on all of this is why would Dell choose to spend thousands of dollars trying to repair a dud computer, not to mention the countless hours I had lost, instead of just replacing it in the first place? Makes no sense to me.

Bluehost

This is a hosting company that I had previously used for over ten years. Although their prices were not competitive with the likes of GoDaddy their technical support was unmatched. They were simply brilliant and answered you very quickly. My first issue was when they suddenly with no approval started charging me five dollars a month to backup my sites, something that had always been included in the hosting fees.  Their hosting fees were also becoming less and less competitive approaching five times as much as other companies were charging. The final straw for me was when I contacted technical support and waited forever for somebody, they couldn’t even pronounce the name of the person who came on. Then it became obvious from their lack of English to how little they knew that I was now dealing with an offshore company instead of the brilliant techs I had before. I started looking for other hosting companies for my sites.

After a less than satisfactory experience with two other hosting companies I came back to BlueHost. I did do a lot of research on the company to find out why things had changed so much with them. I learned that there had been some changes in management who had significantly destroyed their previous excellent reputation. I tried to find someone in charge of BlueHost, who was now just one of the many companies they owned but couldn’t so I just wrote a detailed email to their press address. Surprisingly I got a call from someone in only a couple of days and we had a lengthy conversation about the good old days at BlueHost. He explained that his position was to restore this previous reputation ad he said he had management approval to do whatever was required. We’ll see.

ehost.com/domain.com

These were the two hosting companies I tried to use before returning to BlueHost, but they both proved equally inept. Their technical support was again offshore and in twenty or more chats I could not recognize a single name, pronounce it or have any idea whether it was male or female. It didn’t really matter because they were all pathetic. None of them had a clue how to solve the many issues I had after transferring my sites to them and my sites were all down for weeks.

 

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