Customer "Service"

I am lamenting the passing of the notion of customer service.

Let me explain. There was a time when the holy grail of any business was customer satisfaction. Expressions such as "the customer is king" and "the customer is always right" were axiomatic. A disgruntled customer was something that any business would go to great lengths to avoid.

Nowadays could not be more different. Customer loyalty is seen as undesirable - someone who has remained brand-loyal to a bank or energy company is now on the receiving end of a Bad Deal. 'Customer service' means entangling people with unsustainably low introductory offers (which are never available to existing customers), and then hiking the rates once they have signed up for several years of corporate abuse. All of the financial and service sectors employ this tactic, with utter disregard for the mounting disquiet among their customer base to being treated like meaningless nonentities.

Presumably this behaviour can be justified on the grounds that they receive hardly any complaints; but it is evident that this is because only the most grimly determined or curmudgeonly will waste the time and expense necessary to navigate the complex web of call queues and unintelligible or unintelligent telephone operatives to raise such a complaint, in the faint hope that one may eventually be served. If one wanted a subtler way of telling a disgruntled customer to depart never to return, I cannot think of it.

Not only this, but they constantly bombard us with spam, flyers, mailshots and other forms of nuisance selling such as doorstep callers and 'random dialling' (frequently these days by machine - they do not even have the courtesy to employ a human being to sell their miserable wares for them) - all attempting to sell us what we neither want nor can afford. Every transaction is concluded with a further attempt to sell something else wholly inappropriate to one's needs, misguidedly believing this to be customer service, when in reality it is another shoddy attempt to meet ever more aggressive sales targets. I was subject to a 'pressure-selling' attempt to coerce me into a hire purchase agreement when I wanted to pay cash. It seems that we are all regarded as saps.

When I was young there was a saying: "A fool and his money are soon parted". I am sick and tired of being treated like a fool. I am a complex network of bone and sinew, synapse and emotion, and object to being reduced to some corporation's "revenue stream".

This letter was not published.


©2006 Reader's Doglist Association of Great Britain