I am going to be upfront with you. If you saw the title of this post, the following words will probably let you down and go against everything you thought this post would be. My post today is not about fighting for the rights you have. No, not at all. In fact, it is a whole different spectrum. This post is about how we as consumers fight with companies about things that have occurred, we know are right, but we don’t like the outcome or the effects it has on us.
Every day, consumers contact companies in some method, rather it be in person, over the phone, through email or chatting online. When thinking about the act of having to contact customer service or tech support, many of us may cringe at the thought of the bad hold music, the billions of questions we get asked and the arguments we are going to have to have to carry out our task. As a customer contacting a company, we know what we want and many times we know exactly what to say to get it.
Being On The Other Side
Over the past 14 years, every position I have held has had to do with dealing with the public directly in some form or another. My current day job is online tech support for a large company. (Some of you may be rolling your eyes right now, thinking “oh, he is one of THOSE people). Yes, yes, I am one of THOSE. Each and every day I am at work, I communicate with people who are upset, need help or just want to complain. This job can certainly be tough, but I am not asking for sympathy.
Having been in this type of position for so many years, I always see the same thing every day. Something happens to a product or with a service and customers call so that “things can be fixed”, because after all, as the saying goes, the customer is always right. The problem with this is that society has told us this for so long that we believe it to be true. To some this may be shocking to hear, but most of the time, the customer is not right. To make matters even worse, I would argue that most of these customers who contact companies because “the customer is always right” damn well know that in fact, they are wrong. We as customers use this old motto to try to manipulate the system to get what we want.
Seeing It First Hand
Here is an example that I have seen over and over. You get your monthly bill in the mail, rip open the envelope, see an amount due that is higher than normal, look further and see that you were charged a late fee. Last’s month’s bill was due on the 20th and you know that you sent in your payment on the 19th. What gives? Although you may not admit it, you know all too well that the check you put in the mailbox on the 19th did not make its way through the postal system, arrive at the destination, get processed and post to your account in less than 24 hours.
Ok, ok, so many of us do not make payments by check through the mail anymore, but the same principle applies. You get a bill online that is due on the 20th, but payday is not until the 26th. You schedule the bill through you bank to be paid when you get your paycheck and boom, you are still hit with a late fee. Upon receiving this bill, what do we do? Yep, that’s right, you guessed it. We call the 1-800 number on the statement and demand to know why we were billed a late fee. Rather than think about it and make sense of it all, we just demand answers.
We Can Make It Easier For Ourselves
So yes, sometimes there are billing errors. It happens. But 99.9% of the time when you are billed a late fee, it’s simply because your payment was late. I don’t mean to sound like Captain Obvious, but you know that this question goes through your mind if you have ever seen such a fee. I know it has gone through mine. So now, with the customer service rep on the phone, we start fighting and screaming that we made the payment and “how dare you charge me a late fee”. We become so upset that a company would do this to us and threaten to cancel or service or subscription. In the midst of all this anger and frustration, we know in the back of our minds that we were indeed late. We then find ourselves fighting for something that we know was right all along.
There are many times that this tactic will work and we will get the late fee waived. Sure you now get to save the $5, $10, $35 late fee that was billed to you. It is always good to save, right? Well, yes, but at what cost? Why is it ok to argue with what we know is right just to save a few bucks? Why is it ok to scream at another person that we don’t even know just to make our point that we think “late fees are stupid”? “Oh, this is their job, this is what they deal with everyday”. Even if we do deal with this every day, does it make it right?
As someone who works everyday in this field, I can tell you that it is much easier to get help when it is asked for and not demanded with threats. It is much easier to work with someone who can admit they know what is going on and that they want to work together to fix it. Instead of choosing to pick a fight or throw out threats about something we know is right, why can’t we work toward a solution rather than add fuel to the problem? Yes, I know that not everyone is like this. I know that there are many people who accept the responsibility of what has happened and move on. But I wonder, how much better off would we be and how much more can be grow if we stop fighting for what’s right and start working to lift each other up?
What are your thoughts about this? What has been your experience? I would love to hear from you in the comments, but please be nice. You can also reach me directly through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, on my Facebook page or on Twitter @defeatingnormal. Thanks for reading and keep up the work to defeat normal.