Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Apathy Epidemic

What's wrong with the world? It's a rhetorical question, but I just can't stop asking it. Every day some new outrageously idiotic event occurs and I'm left speechless at the complete lack of sense displayed by those involved.

I think what's wrong with the world is apathy. Nobody cares any more. You go into a store and show interest in spending large amounts of money there and all you get is a blank stare. You ask a specific question about a product they carry and have undoubtedly sold hundreds of in the last week and they can't help. If you badger them enough they may eventually retrieve an answer from their computers, but you'll find most of the details are actually wrong anyway.

We went to IKEA this week to buy two floor lamps. We chose the ones we wanted from the display, and when we couldn't find the appropriate boxed product we asked an assistant. 'We don't have any. We won't get any for at least three weeks.' I expressed my surprise and dismay, and then asked if they were available at another store. The nearest was 150 miles away, and they can't order them in or have them transferred to our local store. 'So, why are they on display if people can't buy them for the next three weeks?' I asked. 'Not my call,' she says. Great. Really helpful.

We went to Curry's to buy a digital SLR and a high-end laptop. They didn't have either in stock. They had them on their website and the laptop was on display in the store, but we weren't able to spend our money on either. Same story as IKEA, they couldn't get them in for weeks. Why are they on display? They didn't know.

So, shops display their wares and tempt us with their offers. When we go in and wave our money in front of them they don't have anything to give us. They can't even be bothered to put a little tag on out of stock products informing customers of their availability. Pure apathy. They just couldn't care less.

To the people who work in these places I think the customers are just a nuisance. An ideal day for them would involve opening up in the morning, having several cups of tea, standing around chatting for a few hours, then going home. No work, no sales, no bother. Pathetic. Why are these people working in retail? Surely the idea is to sell, sell, sell?

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm old-fashioned. I do tend to argue with staff if I don't get what I expected when I went into the store. I suppose I still believe in the old adage 'the customer is always right.' I argue with telesales people and customer service reps too. Nothing gets my goat more than having to call a customer care line to get something fixed that should have been done right in the first place, then find several days later that nothing has been done, and having to call again. Rinse and repeat. We've been going through that cycle over remedial works to be done on our home for three months now. There's still a list of about fifteen items needing attention. Do I think they'll ever finish them all? Not a chance. We've bought the house now. They've got our money, so to hell with the customer service. Thanks Persimmon.

So what can we do to stem this tide of apathy that's turning the world to grey slush? I say we fight back. Next time a sales assistant fails to deliver the service you expect, give them an earful, kick their ass and call for the manager. Make a formal complaint if the service is bad enough. The same goes for telesales, customer service, bank staff, local government officials, politicians and all the rest. Don't sit back and take it - stand up and demand the respect you deserve.

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