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Norma Sherry: I'm Mad as Hell, How About You?

I'm Mad as Hell, How About You?

By Norma Sherry

Are you as frustrated as I am when you call the company that sold you your expensive computer and your call is answered in India or Timbuktu? Or you call the software company because the dang thing doesn't work and you get a foreign voice reading from a manual? Or how about when you call your neighborhood Wal-Mart, or the local pharmacy, BellSouth, or your insurance company, any one of them - or any business these days and you find yourself listening to a five-minute list of options? Gosh darn it; you can't even call your favorite restaurant to make reservations anymore without being put on hold and hearing a singsong message.

The sugary fake voice at the other end of the receiver says, "Listen to our selections because they may have changed since your last call." They know darn well they haven't changed a thing. But for some unknown reason they insist we give up our time, because of course, our time isn't as important as their time, otherwise they would be answering their own telephone.

Then there are more instructions, "For English press one". Dutifully we press the right number. "Please enter your five numbered zip code." "Your social security number, please." Followed by, "I'm sorry, we don't have a number that matches your input. Would you like to try again?" "No!" you scream into the vacant receiver. Then the voice says, "If you're calling about" a flat tire, a broken nose, a loose screw, a telephone outage.Finally, you think, blessedly you breathe, you're going to speak to a live person. Wrong! "Listen carefully to the following selections" .and pick the one that most closely resembles your problem. Of course, none of the choices ever matches your specific issue; so, after listening and pushing buttons for five minutes, you're finally directed to press "0" for a live operator. Why didn't they tell you that to start with?

By the time a live person gets on the phone, you're so livid and short-tempered it's difficult to be civil. A word to the wise here, don't let them wear you down, and don't express your hostility in your tone, because if you do - they'll hang up on you! You will have gained nothing but the opportunity to dial and push the buttons one more time.

But nothing gets my goat worse than calling for support, particularly when it's technical support, and the person on the other end of the telephone is speaking in an almost unintelligible accent from India or Guam or some other country where earning anything above three cents is a lot of money. Some foreign country where the company that is multi-billions of dollars wealthy, is saving money to farm its work outside of America and far from American workers.

I find myself losing my patience before the first hello. It doesn't matter, though, because there is a pervasive attitude among this workforce. They are overtly polite - in a disgusting, loathsome manner. If they use your first name, they call you "Miss Norma". I feel like I'm on a plantation and the year is 1920. Actually, I don't feel that way at all. I feel as if they are compensating for their lack of knowledge and inability to listen and absorb the issue with false politeness. It's disgusting really.

I disdain being talked to as if I were a child. An ignorant child, at that. But that's precisely what this new evolution of tech support does. Furthermore, they never listen. You can spend three minutes articulating in minute, very clear details exactly why you're calling and what transpired.and no matter what you said, the retort will be an inane question that asks exactly what you just described. It's not a fluke. It happens every single time.

While I'm on the topic, I have another bug that's eatin' me up. Have you also noticed how all of a sudden tech support is no longer free? Not only is it not free, it's shoot 'em up, bang 'em up, hang 'em out to dry downright robbery. They got you right where they want you. You're stuck with their $100 or $500 software package that's full of bugs (not the kind you can disinfect or spray away with bug killer). Nay, it's the kind that eats away at the very heart of your operating system. Chunk by little chunk until one day everything just quits.

When you call their highly acclaimed tech support out of desperation, the falsely friendly vacuous voice on the other end of the phone says, "I'm sorry, but since this isn't an installation issue, you have three choices. You can go online and go to our extensive 'knowledge base' for help. You can go to the message boards and talk to your peers, or you can pay $99 per issue and we will be glad to help you."

Ninety-nine dollars you want to screech into the telephone, but you can't because you can't catch your breath. You paid $449 for this program and now they want you to pay when your back is up against the wall and you have a serious problem that you shouldn't have in the first place if they perfected their product before they sold it. It's highway robbery at gunpoint. The sheer audacity of this corporate mentality is stifling and infuriating. Then you think of the alternatives. 'Knowledge Base' may be a consideration IF I COULD GET ONLINE you want to shout. Talk to my peers? Now there's a suggestion.

You make a big enough stink and threaten to rip the system to shreds - that's when the sugary voice concedes and offers you one free technical issue. You're so appreciative you want to cry - and cry you might if you knew what was in store for you.

How did we get to where we are? What happened to customer service, and truly meaningful assistance? What happened to delivering a product, a service, and goods, be it clothing, or food, or medicine that are free from contaminants, well-designed, technologically sound, safe and good for you products? What happened to common courtesy? When did the customer become the enemy? When did we become so willing, as consumers, to accept inferior workmanship, inferior customer service, inferior products? Why have we not raised our voices, closed our checkbooks, and refused to accept this new status quo?

We need a revolution - a change of mindset. We need to get mad as hell and unwilling to take this anymore. Not just because corporate America is a lethal indignity; not just because truth in advertising is a lie; not just because American jobs are being shipped out of the country. We need to realize we are the power, we can make this a better world, a better place in which to raise the next generation. We can start here and now and tell Bill Gates' Microsoft, the McAfee's and Norton's, The Gateway's and the Dell's that if they want our business, they are going to have to earn it.and they're going to have to keep on earning it. It's time folks to become mad as hell and not take it anymore.


© Norma Sherry 2003

Bio: Norma Sherry is co-founder of, an organization devoted to educating, stimulating, and igniting personal responsibility particularly with regards to our diminishing civil liberties. She is also an award-winning writer/producer.

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