Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson


                  SANITY IN AN INSANE WORLD

      Something is deeply wrong.  I don’t really think the world is insane, but there is at least a substantial part of it that has spun off course into the strangest of orbits.  Like dealing with the power company for example…
     Phone tree for 20 minutes…finally, wonder of wonders, a human comes on the line.
     “May I have your phone number, account number, ID number, age, birthplace, password, and mother’s maiden name?”
     “Uh…I just have a simple question.”
     “Sir, if you don’t provide the information, I can’t help you.  Our system doesn’t allow us to answer simple questions.”
     After ten more minutes of divulging every secret I have, she says, “And how can I help you today?  Customer service is our most important concern.”
     “Really?  That’s great.  I just want to change my address.”
     “We can’t do that.”
     “You can’t change an address?  I provided you with the correct address and someone in your company wrote it down incorrectly.  Can’t you just type in the correct address?”
     “No.  Our system doesn’t allow that.  Our system operates on the principle that if we made a mistake, we simply blame you.  You are responsible for correcting our mistakes.  You will have to cancel your current account, then pay a new deposit, then establish a new account, and then your service can be restored.”
     “Well, if that’s what we have to do, I guess…”
     “Oh,” she interrupts.  “We can’t do that here.  You’ll have to call back and ask for the service department.” 
     What’s going on here?
     If you attempt to purchase an airline ticket, a recording tells you that if you want to deal with a human, the ticket will cost an extra fifteen dollars!  And this “coldness” is not confined to electric companies and airlines.  It permeates every business.
     My wife and I have recently moved which prompted the need for new purchases of washer, dryer, and refrigerator.  I sauntered into Home Depot and told the manager – who was reading the paper - that I would like some help in that area.  He replied, “There is no one here at the moment that can help you.”
     “What?” I said.  “You’re kidding.  It’s eight o’clock in the morning.  I want to spend well over a thousand dollars in your store, and there’s no one that can help me?”
     “That is correct,” he said.  “The person in that department doesn’t come in until 10:00 today.” And then, he went back to reading his paper.
     Somehow I got on the wrong planet. 

     Recently, one of my books was listed on amazon.com (I refuse to capitalize that name) as being “out of print.”  The book is not out of print and I purposely did not choose to distribute the book with that company.  I contacted the “customer service” department,  (Ha) requesting that false information be removed.  The response? 
     “Send us this product so we have it in our inventory, then the “out of print” statement can be removed – otherwise, the statement will remain as is.”  Welcome to the Nazi Party.
     What’s going on here? 
     A number of recent articles in magazines and on the internet deal with the “death of customer service.”  So many company reps are not interested in any form of customer service, but rather in not dealing with the customer at all.  I am at a loss to understand how quickly this group of events could have occurred, and how pervasive such practices have become in such a short time.  All companies suddenly seem to have the same business model – and it goes something like this…
     If you need a service, product, hotel room, or electricity – whatever the product is, it matters not – you begin by looking for a phone number.  You learn quickly that this is the one thing you will not find.  That little item is a most closely guarded secret.  So, whether we want to or not, we are forced to use our friendly, easy to use, quick, efficient internet! Hot Diggity!   Now we can learn words like “FAQ” – none of which, of course, have a single thing to do with the question you need answered.
     So almost every day, we hear, “Things are not like they once were.  In my day a person’s word meant something.  People would look you in the eye.  Deals were sealed on a handshake.  People are different now.  They just don’t care.  It’s all about money.”
     Is there anything we can do about that?  There is.  I have found something that helps – and it’s helped me a great deal.  At first, I thought this solution was feeble and weak.  Over the last few years however, this “answer” to the coldness of the world has changed my life…and here it is.
     I can’t control what the world does…but I can control what I do.
     I can help the world be like it once seemed. 
     My word can still be my bond. 
     I can still look other human beings in the eyes and be honest in my dealings with them. 
     My handshake can still serve as a permanent covenant with another.
     I can care about my brother and sister. 
     I can make money, and yet also prevent money from becoming the god I worship.

     Giant corporations show little concern for people, yet when they fail, they cry for us to provide them comfort.  Is it any wonder so few Americans want to?  We all need to be careful in our treatment of others…what goes around comes around.
     Surveys and statistics show an overwhelming number of people claim to have Jesus in their hearts.  After observing the way we treat each other, doesn’t it make you wonder? It’s sad and it’s corny, but it’s still true.  During our lifetime, the most important thing we can do in our life is treat others with kindness.  I’m ashamed to say I haven’t always done that – perhaps my deepest regret.  But I can from this day forward. 
     After all, I claim to have Jesus in my heart too.  And He said… 

                      “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.”

                                                                                             John 13:31-35




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