I spend a lot of my day dealing with people in customer service. I check into hotels, I rent cars, I buy airplane tickets, and I own a good deal of electronic equipment that constantly needs fixing. And though I'm told my calls are recorded for quality training purposes, they're probably used as an example of what not to do."Did you hear the part where she ignored what he requested and repeated the inane policy that she's already explained twice?""Yes.""Try not to do that.""I'm sorry, what was that? I was busy ignoring what someone requested and repeating the inane policy that I've already explained twice."After a recent late show in Dayton, I called the hotel for directions. It was well after midnight, and I wanted to go to sleep. They gave us precise directions the wrong way. We were supposed to drive 15 minutes through Dayton. They sent us away from Dayton. You can understand simply that that is the wrong way.25 minutes later, we called to check. First the woman didn't believe she was wrong. Finally she admitted she caused us to go almost an hour out of the way, and with no apology she said, "Yeah, I thought it was the other way."I don't accept things like that. When I'm overcharged on my phone bill, when I get a late fee for a credit card payment that was processed on time, when anything goes wrong that isn't my fault, I demand restitution. And it works. Once, Sprint charged my account $400 after I already cancelled it. Though it took them three months to pay me back, I got the $400, 3% interest on it, and three months free phone service for my mother. Pay it forward, right?I got the hotel to comp us a free breakfast. All she did was get the directions wrong, so it wasn't worth a free night's stay. I was content that I beat customer service. It was over.Finally arriving at the hotel after 2:00, we checked in to a room that only had one bed. When we went back to the desk and politely explained that they gave us the wrong room, the same woman (with no apology) said, "yeah, there's another one I can give you."It was too late to argue. We just went to the new room and went to sleep. But the next morning, we ate a very large breakfast.I understand that most people do not choose jobs in customer service. I've never met a kid dreaming of answering questions about products they care little about. But for those unfortunate enough to be in an industry where their job is to help people should do their job or get fired. Or I should at least be able to sue them for malpractice. "Yes, your honor. She ignored me and repeated the inane policy that she's already explained twice.""I'm sorry I didn't get that. I'm still on hold with Toshiba."There are some very helpful people in customer service. But for every one person that has ever helped me, there have been two that went out of their way to further screw up the problem, or worse, insult me. As a humor columnist I don't really have feelings, but in case I did these people should not try to hurt them.I want to know what the interview process was like for the woman at that hotel."It says on your application that you're a people person. But all your references say you're terribly ornery.""Yeah, I must have lied.""Honesty about lying. We appreciate that. You're hired.""When do I start?""I'm sorry I didn't get that. I'm still on hold with Toshiba."It's easy for me to complain and not really do anything about the problem. (That's kind of what I do for a living). Instead, I want to use this column to make a difference. I encourage anyone reading this to join me in my quest to never take no for an answer. Join me in beating the system. Join me in forcing customer service to actually serve the customer. And most importantly, join me in
wait, gotta go, I'm off hold.Steve Hofstetter is the author of the Student Body Shots books, which are available at SteveHofstetter.com. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.