Tag Archives: buyers rights

Great prices! What about the workers?


When a company grows, it’s usually a good thing. However, there is the real possibility of too much of a good thing being bad.

I’ve seen people run companies like a Wall Street portfolio. Diversification is key. When you diversify, you’re not investing all of your money in one thing…one thing that could ultimately fail. Creating different sides of the business, and even acquiring subsidiaries, not only ensures that you will strengthen your main business, but you will also have reach into many other businesses as well. You can do this by breaking off parts of the company under different names, and as long as you don’t focus too much on one side of the business, you don’t risk the hackles of anti-trust lawsuits.

Add to this an intense focus on retail growth by worshipping your customer base, and you have the recipe for building an empire.

But to what human cost?

When you live in a consumer culture, investing in customers is a no-brainer. It’s simple when the average individual has been socialized from birth that buying random products that in no way fit any real world need, all in the name of proclaiming a socially constructed status that says, “Hey! Look at me! I’m cool, and important, because I have all of this STUFF.” Well, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that loyal customers will continue to pay to buy their fictional happiness and the fat-cats at the top will continue to get fatter.

How are customers impacted? Well, they have it good for a while. With a focus on low prices, customers can buy even MORE of what they don’t really need. But think of this, as the company grows, becomes better at its various business interests, what will this do to the market in the long run? What a lot of people don’t realize is that the tendency of capitalism is toward monopoly. You may ask, how so? Think of completely free, open market competition – no holds barred. In any competition there are winners and there are losers. Our government has recognized this, and this is why we have anti-monopoly laws. But even when it doesn’t come down to just “one company,” the consumer choice will become fewer and fewer.

So what of the company that has diversified its business? Surely it couldn’t corner the market in every side of its business dealings. However, when one side of the business does well, that spendable income can be used to boost the competitiveness of other businesses. And when all of the businesses focus on having the lowest prices…well, we’ve already talked about the tendency of capitalism and competition. 

All of this culminates in one company being able to corner multiple markets. As a reasonable people, what do we think will happen when said company controls market share and the competition either folds or just cannot keep up anymore? Quite simply, once a business controls the market, they can then control the price of products with little regard to having the lowest price because they have the only price 

Even if prices do not go up because the business wants to maintain consumer loyalty, how can the business continue to remain relevant, particularly if new competitors come on the scene? There are multiple ways that companies cut costs, mainly by controlling overhead. What is one way to control said overhead? Workers. Either by outsourcing the work to cheaper labor or by underpaying the non-union workers that are currently employed. A very easy way to do this is if the workers actually BELIEVE in the cause, so much so that the idea of lower pay or perceived mistreatment does not even enter the collective mind. Corporate enculturation. Enslaving the masses is easy to do when they’re willing to be enslaved, or better yet they don’t even recognize they’re being exploited.

When thinking about big companies that do things such as this, one very simple thing to do is follow the money and ask who benefits. Do consumers benefit? Absolutely. Do the shareholders benefit? Sure. Upper echelons of the corporate structure? Without a doubt. What about the workers? All the way from the front line to upper management (below VP level). If long-time employees struggle to take care of their own families and are urged to be “happy” with minimal increases (if any), is it really worth it? Even more so, what about the conscientious consumer? When thinking customers learn how workers are expected to overwork themselves, put the company before family, manage any illnesses that come about because “customers” come first and be content with this mission when annual take-home income actually decreases…aren’t those the seeds for boycotts? You would think that someone in PR is thinking about these things…and of course directing the company to provide a few more crumbs so that the working masses do not revolt. 

When health care and mental health professionals speak of seeing trends with a particular company in that multiple employees are patients because of stress and anxiety-related illnesses, surely there is something more that needs to be investigated.

As consumers…as employees…as decent individuals, we need to start asking these questions. And for the love of all that is holy, if you find yourself in a situation like this, and there’s no union…start educating yourself quickly. Remember, if it’s bad in “good times,” just think of the outcome when times are rough. It won’t be the company’s elite that has to lower their living standards…it will be the workers.

The Upside of US Airways


Now that I have cathartically cleansed myself of the main negativity of the experience (writing is good for cleansing), I want to talk about the positives. And I mean more than having some interesting character inspiration for future novels.

Just as my good friend Raymie White pointed out, “we should try to take time to send notes on really good customer service people too.” I actually did take the time to do this, but I admit that I could have done much better.

It’s all on me – I failed in the respect that I didn’t make the extra effort to get the names of the people who demonstrated just how good at their jobs they really are. I provided as much identifying information as I could to US Airways so they could be commended for their commitment to performance quality. Because of this entire experience, I’m going to commit myself in getting the names of those extraordinary people who not only take pride in their jobs, but who also interact with the public in such a way that they are the foundation for building brand loyalty.

Again, I apologize that I don’t have their names, but much heartfelt thanks go out to the following individuals:

The female flight attendant on the flight from Seattle to Charlotte, NC on September 4, 2013. She was not only gracious, but she made my daughter smile, which actually meant more to me than just about anything.

The younger male counter clerk at HTS on September 20, 2013. I know his job with interacting with me was made difficult by the interruptions, but he remained calmed and poised and never once said anything out of the way. Others could most certainly learn from his excellent behavior.

The flight attendant on the flight from HTS to CLT on September 20, 2013. She was not only efficient and polite with her normal duties, but she showed urgency layered with good manner when addressing a passenger she thought was smoking. He wasn’t – he attempted to puff on an electronic cigarette, which is also not allowed. Through the whole episode, she maintained a good, but firm demeanor. Even in the face of confrontation, she handled herself professionally. She is truly to be commended.

The female gate agent at gate B4 in Charlotte for the last US Airways direct flight to Seattle. After the debacle with the special assistance I was supposed to receive, I was in an extreme amount of back pain. She not only showed concern and sympathy, but she even checked on me after I boarded to make sure I was okay. I don’t know her name, but I will never forget her.

The male flight attendant on the CLT to SEA flight on September 20, 2013. He also made it a point to check on me to see if I needed anything and showed concern when he saw me crying. He didn’t have to, but showed the type of humanity and concern for others that is a step beyond the normal expectations for a service position.

Looking back on the experience, I’m saddened that I didn’t get these people’s names. They deserve that much, and I feel like I have disrespected them for not doing so. That was never my intention, and I genuinely hope that US Airways follows through on recognizing them for being the outstanding examples that they are.

Bravo to all of you. You all were truly a refreshing reminder that it’s the individuals that make the impact, not the company.

US Airways Saga Continued


Again, instead of writing about the situation more, I present you with the last e-mail I sent to US Airways customer relations.

Readers, I urge all of us to be more diligent with our interactions with companies. Don’t pay for bad service – if you’re going to spend your hard-earned money, demand the best…or at least demand to be treated with decency and respect.

Also, it’s a good idea to research companies before you give them your money – a lesson I have learned. If you look at customer satisfaction data such as that  from J.D. Power and Associates, you’ll learn that customer service is something that US Airways is not exactly known for in their business.

Text of e-mail:

We finally made it home on the flight the next day, September 20, 2013, but not without further aggravation. 

This Jimenez person – who identified himself as a so-called manager – was there to make matters worse. I know that his explanation will be that I was rude to him on the evening of the 19th. I admit, I did become indignant with him AFTER he was ill-mannered enough to interrupt me when I was talking. 
 
When my daughter and I arrived at the HTS airport on the 20th, I became concerned because I saw that the flight was delayed by 20 minutes again. I was especially concerned about this because it was the same situation as the day before and Jimenez had advised me that we would be better off staying in Huntington because we would likely get stuck in Charlotte because it was the last available flight to Seattle. I began talking to the counter agent that had checked us in, a young gentleman who was very polite and had assisted us with courtesy and grace. Jimenez was standing beside him. As I was expressing my concerns to the agent, Jimenez felt the need to interject himself into the conversation. I told him bluntly that he was rude to me the day before, therefore I wasn’t talking to him. All I wanted was assurance from the gate agent that although we were facing the same circumstances AGAIN, we wouldn’t have the same fate as before. The agent advised me that the computer screen showed that the flight would arrive just 2 minutes later than scheduled. I did not understand this on how a flight could be 20 minutes delayed, but still arrive pretty much on time. The only thing I could think was that maybe the weather pattern was different and the winds were more favorable in speeding up the trip. The agent couldn’t even get that far in any explanation because although I told Jimenez I was done talking with him, he continued to interrupt and force himself into the conversation only aggravating the situation even further. His display of contempt and rudeness was highlighted by a condescending attitude, and once I got fed up and started to walk away, he offered the solution of canceling the ticket and refunding my money. 
 
The nerve! This is really how your so-called managers treat people? How US Airways allows someone like this to interact with the public is an absolute marvel to me. For any of the other issues we’ve had to deal with on this trip, he was the absolute worst and made everything else look perfect in comparison. The fact that someone so callous and impolite is a manager at HTS indicates either a serious lack in training or a seriously low standard in hiring practices. He is not only an embarrassment in his inability to de-escalate upset customers, he’s a poor example to the employees who work for him. Instead of handling the situation and making it better, he actually escalated it and made it worse. I urge you for the sake of other customers who may have bad experiences to require him to go through remediation training to learn soft skills. When someone is upset, the last thing you should do is raise that emotion to anger. That is the basics of customer service. Not only that, it’s the foundation of decency when interacting with others, something that Jimenez showed that he is seriously lacking.
 
Lastly, the icing on the cake in this situation was the fact that on the 19th, Jimenez had tried to assure me that these delays don’t happen very often. THAT’S when I became indignant because my personal and professional travels through HTS have shown me differently. He just kept repeating that same phrase again and again although I had told him that what he was saying didn’t mean anything to me, and I didn’t want to hear it. Well, it’s obvious that he doesn’t listen because he just kept on aggravating the situation. Then what ultimately happened? The very next day the exact same delay happened with the exact same flight (US Airways 4236 from HTS to CLT). So much for it not happening very often.
 
My daughter and I were able to finally make it home on the 20th. We did arrive at CLT only 2 minutes later than scheduled, just like the counter agent said, but was unable to further elaborate on because of Jimenez’s interruptions. Unfortunately this outcome still makes me suspicious – we were able to make it when the known circumstances were the same as the day before, yet Jimenez had suggested that we stay another night in Huntington and rebook. Why did we get stuck another night? Was there another factor that no one could seem to explain, or does this alleged manager not really know what he’s talking about and only further inconvenienced us with no real reason? I will probably never know. At this point, I’m fine with never knowing. 
 
The totality of this experience has strengthened my resolve to never fly with US Airways again. If this is the service I pay for when traveling with US Airways, it’s totally not worth it. I can be treated badly for less money – actually, with Delta, I get cheaper rates and better service, making your offering completely superfluous. 
 
I will also continue to discuss this experience with friends, family and on social media. Further, given the grave indignity of this individual, a physical copy of this complaint is being mailed to US Airways corporate headquarters.

US Airways for the FAIL Again


The return trip for this vacation has taken a bad turn. Given the horrible experience with the $1000+ authorizations on my account because of the error on US Airways’ website, the circumstances are beyond ill repute. I’m really beginning to believe that US Airways actually TRAINS their employees to rudely interrupt customers when they’re talking.

I don’t even have the energy to type about the whole thing, so here’s a copy of the e-mail I sent to US Airways customer relations:

And after the HORRIBLE experience of having over $1000 of authorizations on my account that Chase had to fix – and you only said “sorry” to – we get ready for our return trip. Against my better judgment, I pay for premium seats so my daughter will be more comfortable. We get to the airport at HTS to find out that the flight to Charlotte is delayed by 20 minutes, which would only gave us 10 minutes to get to the gate for the plane to Seattle. As I was explaining this to the gate agent – a young man named Dario Jimenez – he said if WE hurried to the gate we should make it on time. I told him US Airways would have to hurry because I requested special assistance because of the degenerative disc disease in my back making it difficult for me to walk. He then explained that we would likely miss the connection, it was the last flight to Seattle and he suggested we stay in Huntington (I guess you all don’t have any sense of urgency for people who need special assistance). As he and I were talking, he ALSO interrupted me. I was in complete shock. After being interrupted in conversation with two of your phone agents and a supervisor, to have it happen again was like a slap in the face.

Then to make it even more inconvenient, he rescheduled us for the SAME flight tomorrow and oh yeah, the premium seats I paid for were no longer available. I can understand that others had paid for them and we did get a refund, but the culmination of all of these experiences has only strengthened my resolve to NEVER fly US Airways again, tell all of my friends and relatives about it, and continue to comment on the situation on my blog and Twitter.

No amount of apologies can even come close to fixing the heaping pile of inconsideration and deficient customer service US Airways has shown us.

Response from US Airways


I got a response from US Airways Customer Relations today.

“Thank you for contacting Customer Relations. We appreciate it when customers take the time to share their concerns.

I’m sorry you felt the agents in our reservations department were rude. The details you have provided will be instrumental in helping us improve our service. I have documented your experience for review by the relevant supervisory staff and also to our Reservations Manager. Additionally, this incident will be discussed with the employees and handled internally.

We value your business and are working hard to earn your continued patronage. We hope you will give us the opportunity to do so.”

I have a few problems with this response.

One, it’s obvious that this was a canned response with very little personalization. It’s shocking to me that at a corporate level, the customer relations department would actually “blurb” customers.

Secondly, felt? I guess from US Airways’ view, interrupting someone when they’re talking is not bad manners – it’s just a person’s perspective. Obviously in this alternate universe of theirs, common courtesy during a social interaction is relative. Well, US Airways, so is my money.

Lastly, this is just an apology with a promise to take action for the rudeness. They completely ignored the website errors, multiple authorizations on my card and the inconvenience I had to go through to get all of it straightened out before my trip tomorrow. Hey, US Airways – it’s called solving the customer’s TOTAL problem, not just part of it.

Mediocre product and hellacious customer service – even at the so-called customer relations level. Actually, I have a suggestion. Change the name from US Airways Customer Relations to US Airways Customer Alienation – this name would be more representative of the actual service.

Just more reason to give my money to Delta.

Some Good News


us-airways-messupThe Evils of US Airways

An update on the issue I’ve had with my US Airways trip.

Chase bank did the right thing. They removed the authorizations without waiting on US Airways to contact them, so I now have access to my $1002. They did point out if there is to be a charge from US Airways, it could still post to my account. The hell – it better not!

I briefly had a debate with myself. Should I go ahead and try to upgrade again? Nah. After all of this, I’m not giving them any more money. Lesson learned!

Generation Huh?


I miss empiricism. I miss critical thinking. These are elements of logic and rational thought that are sorely missing in our society.

I plan on discussing many of these issues in detail in other posts. For now I want to focus on a recent example involving a response to one of my posts on a different website.

I had posted a review of our current apartment complex on a ratings website. My review is summed up in the bullet points in this post. One of the people who responded based their response on so many assumptions the only way to describe it is that they pretty much fictionalized my review.

First off, the person described me as suffering from “entitlemntitis.” My first reaction to this word was “what kind of wing-nut buzzword is that?” The only thing I can figure is that this is a made up “disorder” used to described people who have the nerve to demand fair treatment. Of course I’m biased in my description. It was obvious from the response that the person meant that it’s people who think they’re entitled to everything and throw “a page long temper tantrum” if they don’t get it. (Yes, the poster actually used the phrase in quotes).

What’s interesting to me is the “entitlements” that the responder specifically highlighted in the response: disabled parking and non-English speakers. I abhor political correctness to the point that we even embrace the worst ills of our communities, but the disabled and people who can’t speak English? Given the current political climate and a growing faction of “learn the language or leave” mentality, treating not speaking English as a detriment can be unfortunately expected (I’ll address in another post). But disabilities? Really? I’m taking poetic license here, just like the poster did with “entitlemntitis” – have we’ve gotten to the point in society where we figuratively kick disabled people to the side and say, “It’s unfair if you don’t have to travel as far as me even if you’re not as mobile?”

What the hell? Now, granted, I could be a lot worse off than other people. I thankfully do not have to use a wheelchair or cane (yet), but because of my condition I am in near-constant pain. Although I’m much younger, more than one doctor has told me that I have the back of someone in their 60’s. Because of this, doctors…medical professionals…more than ONE have told me not to exercise. When was the last time you heard a doctor say that? The reason for this is because if I injure my back now, it’s more than likely that I will end up in a wheelchair.

I did not post this in my review, because well, I didn’t think going into that much detail was necessary. Medical issues tend to be private. However, the person who responded made some assumptions and suggested that I “begged” my doctor for the disability placard so that both me and my husband could have good parking spots because I was the type of person who would exploit anyone or any situation to get what I wanted.

Again, what the hell? Am I missing something? Do you all really get that from my post on our apartment woes? Please comment and tell me if this is the case and I should have been more clear/detailed in what I wrote.

And just for further clarity, my husband and I never both got good parking spots. I had a disabled spot and my husband continued to search for available parking outside in the first-come-first-serve area.  The issue with Shorewood was always them blocking disabled spots inside the garage, not that they wouldn’t give two premium spots. Also, once my back started showing improvement and I was in less pain (meaning I could walk farther without the lower half of my body going numb), I stopped parking in the disabled spots so that others who were less mobile could have them.

Now, just with the piece on my mobility issues, see how posting an opinion based on assumptions at worst – anecdotal evidence at best – can be used to twist people’s perspectives in such a way that people start believing something that is, well, just not correct?

Are people okay with basing opinions on fallacy? This anecdotal evidence would say yes, but this is something that I’ve seen on countless occasions. Seeing this behavior time and again makes me feel like we’re dealing with a society full of people from what I’m beginning to call “Generation Huh?” We had Generation X…then came Generation Why?….it seems to be that a better description is “Generation Huh?” because people don’t even ask “why” that much anymore. Few people question things to gain further understanding. Instead, they fly off the handle based on one piece of information.

Is it too much to ask that people seek out facts and/or information before forming any opinions or theories? Sadly, the answer to this seems to be yes. It’s weird. With technology we have access to more information and the ability to interact with more people than ever before, yet many do not use it to improve their perspectives or world views. Instead it’s as if  technology – with everything at our fingertips – has encouraged us to embrace instant gratification to the point that unless the information is provided to us, we can’t possibly be bothered to search for it ourselves.

Great times and sad times, y’all.