Complaint Department

When was the last time you talked to someone in the “complaint department”? In today’s world of political correctness, a friendlier term is now in use- “customer service”. Based on interaction with people who populate this ever-growing field of work, the term is most definitely an oxymoron. And you can also say that some of the customer service people are morons, too.

Just last week, I was on the phone with a representative from the phone company complaining that they increased my bill from the previous month by ten dollars. I spent some time scrutinizing the four page statement of small print to figure out that they added an extra three dollars per phone number for something called ‘line charge’ and fifty cents each for ‘linebacker’. Having two lines, that was an extra seven dollars plus three dollars in various taxes to feed politicians need to take away my money. I wouldn’t have minded if the fees were reversed because ‘linebacker’ was a polite way to say inside wiring repair insurance. I’ve needed the talents of strangers coming into my apartment to rip up a few wires now and then. They call telephone repairmen linebackers not because they also doubled as football players but at some point in their career they climbed telephone polls for recreation, I guess.

Even so, the hike represented a forty percent increase in what I used to pay for that category and it was shameful to do so in one leap. After I griped for a couple of minutes, the customer service rep calmly explained that if I had a magnifying glass I could see that in the previous month’s bill it was clearly written that they were going to rip me off even further starting the following month without any additional service or feature provided. Then, she had the gall to ask me, “was I satisfied with the service that she had provided today and would I say so if asked in a survey?” I said, “come again? I called because I was unhappy with a price increase and you just told me that the price increase was justified and now you want me to say that I am happy?” She said robotic-ally, “yes. I don’t see what the problem is- I told you that we had the right to charge more. So you should be happy with me.”

No question, I am a professional complainer. It helps jump start my heart daily. But, I am all bark and little bite. I am the timid soul who is afraid to return an item that is not what I expected although two weeks ago I did muster up the courage to bring back a container of vegetarian liver that was spoiled to the supermarket. I had the necessary confidence only because this time I kept the receipt from the day before and was able to show the customer service clerk that the expiration date on the food was still reasonable. It was just bad fake pate. I took the refunded money but made sure I bought something else in the store as I didn’t want them to think I was just a taker and not a giver.

This is not a personality trait I inherited. In fact, my mother feels it is a bad month if she doesn’t go back to the store at least twice to return something. My father was in a whole other league by himself. Being a born salesman (insurance), he had the gift of gab and the confidence to talk himself in and out of anything depending on the situation. This man, mind you, returned a toilet seat three days later because it just, ahem, didn’t sit well. No questions asked.

In 1964, He brought home a gold colored Rambler station wagon. We used it for a couple of weeks and then the next thing you knew, he drove home a green colored four door Rambler sedan. How he pulled that off without paying an extra return fee I’ll never know.

Although he was a fun-loving guy who enjoyed kidding around with his social friends, Dad did not get to enjoy the final years of his life so much. He was confined to a nursing home for six years and nine months as he needed twenty-four hour assistance. He could not stand let alone walk. During those difficult emotional years, Ma and I both visited him at least five and sometimes six or seven days a week. Sometimes twice a day. It was the least we could do. No complaints.

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