Last weekend, I went off on the dry-cleaner and I am not ashamed.
When I went to pick up my cleaning, the dry-cleaner looked on two separate racks, came back, and without a modicum of emotion, said “Sorry. I can’t find it. I just bought this business from someone who went back to Korea. Sorry.” And then just looked at me. I started getting riled and said, “Is that all you got – Sorry?! I’m out of a coat and a new skirt and all you have to say is sorry! What about your obligation?!” He said that legally he has no obligation, but he will call the old owner in Korea and try to figure out what happened. But he can’t call right now because he doesn’t have the number, so he’ll have to write. (WTF?)
As I realize that, once I leave the store, I’m shit out of luck and a coat, I start pondering whether I can force him to be accountable in small claims court, though we’re all familiar with the small print waiving liability. (So I wonder why we keep taking our stuff…hmm) Then I remembered that, as he had advanced the electronic rack, I briefly thought I had seen my stuff go by, but had been consumed by anger once he uncaringly dismissed my property.
So, I broke the law. Yes, I did! I walked behind the counter and looked for myself. And there it was! I picked it off the rack, slammed it on the counter (as much slamming as you can do with clothing), and said, “This is it. This is mine”. Without any inflection, he said “I feel bad. You know more than me.”
Note to self: Get new dry-cleaner. Tell others.
That story is all too indicative of the current state of the service sector. I’ve been told to “enjoy” the wrong salad without getting a credit on my bill; I have to buy something to use the bathroom at Starbucks; anything over a $10 bill is checked to make sure it isn’t counterfeit; and convenience store owners don’t stop talking on the phone, expecting me to look at the cash register for the total, and just pay.
The service sector should run a series of truth-in-advertising institutional ads, banding together like the cheese consortium or the milk board. I suggest the following slogan:
We want your money; we just don’t want to do anything to get it.
Even more so in this economy, we are required to pay higher prices for the same contents ($5 for all movies at Blockbuster anybody?) or the same price for less volume (have you noticed an ounce or more has gone away?) so that shareholders can still get their profits, but we’re not getting anything additional in return. Not only are we not getting anything additional for our money, sometimes we’re not even getting the basics.
I hate it, but I understand why corporations are off shoring. Only in good ole America can you expect to overpay for half-assed effort and then be blamed for errors. (The cleaner suggested that, had I gotten my stuff before the store changed hands, I wouldn’t have had a problem. Sorry.)
And merchants, at the same time, are finding accelerated ways to get our money even faster. Have you written a check at a store lately? I’ve seen commercials where the music abruptly stops off-key, everybody halts and looks at the sad checkwriter holding up the line. Even if you do write a check, it is more often than not electronically converted on the spot anyway.
Since I’ve got my shoes and shirt on, can I get some service?