Don’t Just Phone It In.

customerserviceI know people who will scream for customer service, ask to speak to a manager, or demand a refund at the drop of a hat. The slightest thing sets them off an angry tirade. I don’t know if I can say I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum but I let a lot of things slide, mainly because they just don’t bother me enough to deserve the time and energy it would take to get angry. There are things that set me off like a firecracker in a furnace, like stupid unnecessary computer “upgrades” that are really just cosmetic changes because some developer has too much time on his hands, but on the whole I don’t have a lot of pet peeves. They require a lot of care and feeding and shed too much.

So generally I don’t bother reporting things to customer service, but once in a while I have to say something.

The bus driver kept stopping at random places. Technically you can flag down a bus at any intersection along the route, and while drivers are only supposed to stop and let people off at approved stops sometimes they’ll let somebody off at an intersection or even between intersections. It’s not a big deal. This driver, though, stopped between intersections when nobody needed to get off or on and he’d pull out his cell phone and fiddle around with it.

Technically bus drivers are not supposed to use their cell phones while driving. There’s even a metal box that blocks signals at the front of the bus where the drivers are supposed to store their phones while driving. If a bus driver preferred to keep their phone in their pocket and didn’t text or play Candy Crush while driving I’d say it was no big deal, but I wanted to get home and this guy stopped three times over the course of eight blocks. Still I didn’t say anything. Then someone else did.

“He needs to get this bus moving!” a guy in a seat across from me said very loudly. Several other people agreed. That’s when the driver turned around and said, “There’s another bus behind me that y’all need to take.”

I can’t speak for anyone else but this is where I gave the driver a little benefit of the doubt. Maybe he kept stopping because there was something wrong with the bus. I wondered why he was using his cell phone instead of the bus radio but maybe he was using Google to look up what it meant when the little oil light on the dashboard lit up. Anyway we all got out. As soon as we did he took off, going from zero to something probably exceeding the speed limit in nine and a half milliseconds.

The next bus came along just a minute later and I probably got home at about the same time I would have if I’d stayed with Mr. McStops-A-Lot, but it was the principle of the matter. I sent a message to customer service and got a nice automated reply assuring me a human being would follow up within seven business days.

A month later when I got the same driver again I was reminded of the other reason I don’t bother with customer service.

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  1. Sarah

    I have to smile when I read posts about your adventures in busing. I’ve used public transportation my entire life (i.e. I’ve NEVER owned a car of my own) so I can identify with bus related shenanigans. Usually it’s the people on the bus, though, and not the driver! That was nice of you to give him the benefit of the doubt at first, but it sounds like something was going on with that guy. In Germany, customer service is quite different. Whereas it’s a ‘customer is always right’ mentality in the States, the opposite is true here. The customer is literally always wrong. Actually…uh oh…you may be inspiring a post for some point about the differences in customer service between here and there. Oooh! If I do it, I’ll make sure there’s a pingback or whatever it’s called. 🙂 And I won’t talk about ‘other stories.’ 🙂

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Several years ago I worked in customer service and the first lesson I learned was you do not talk about customer service, but the second lesson was that sometimes the customer is wrong. Saying “the customer is always right” is a polite way of saying “sometimes it’s cheaper to give these people what they want and make them shut the hell up”. Neither “the customer is always right” nor “the customer is always wrong” is a good philosophy because I think both are unfair to people who have legitimate complaints.
      Anyway I look forward to your customer service post. I bet it’ll be both interesting and another story.

  2. Sarah

    P.S. When I first saw the title of this post, I thought it was going to be about Jillian Michaels because at the end of one of her workout videos she keeps yelling ‘Don’t phone it in!’ so that you’ll keep planking.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      So Jillian Michaels is familiar with the Hollywood handbook. That’s surprising because she seems like the last person who’d just phone it in.

  3. Jay

    I wonder if he had a sick kid or a wife in labour…the cell phone is suspicious and makes me feel like it was a personal issue.

    On the speaking up scale, I’m somewhere in the middle, which is not to say that I’m even-tempered. I experience all of the anger but don’t like to make a fuss. I know people who complain because they like to get free stuff and that frustrates me. It has to be something pretty major before I’ll escalate things for a business but believe me, my car hears some pretty frequent rants!

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      If it was a personal issue I’d feel really bad for ratting him out. I can even understand that maybe he couldn’t leave. I don’t know what kind of time off bus drivers get but I bet it’s not good.
      Anyway those people who just complain for free stuff frustrate me too. I feel like they’re ruining it for the rest of us because if enough people do that businesses are going to look at every one with suspicion. I only speak up if I feel like it’s a problem than can and should be fixed.

  4. Ann Koplow

    I agree, Chris, that the waiting is the hardest part. I’m sorry you had to wait so long for this comment from me. As always, I have no complaints about your post.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The wait was worth it so while it should go without saying I’ll say anyway that I have no complaints about the delay.


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