May 27

… and, yes, there is a good chance you are an idiot too.

I work for a regional Internet company.  Like almost every job I have ever had, I somehow have ended up in a position where I get to listen to people complain about stuff or to people who are having problems with stuff… and usually the fixing of the stuff is way beyond my power or ability.   This is not enjoyable because, to be completely honest, most people are self-centered, self-serving, semi-retarded morons.

Internet tech support;  what does this mean?  It means that the company you have chosen to provide your Internet service has either an in-house or an out-sourced staff that handles issues you are having with the Internet said company provides.

“My router isn’t working… I need someone to come out and look at my router.”  You didn’t buy the router from us, the Internet works when we bypass the router, so why are you calling us?  And what do you mean you refuse to pay for a service call?  You are an idiot.

“I backed up my Quicken files on a flash drive before I restored my computer, but now I can’t get the files downloaded back on my computer.  How can I retrieve my files?”  Seriously, what does that have to do with the Internet service you pay us for every month?  You are an idiot.

Honestly, this is the truth… “I can’t remember my Facebook password.  Can you get my Facebook password for me?”  Sounds to me like someone needs to pull her head out of her nether-regions and get a clue.  You are an idiot.

People think that because they pay you for a service (Internet) on a monthly basis, all of a sudden, the Internet provider’s tech staff is suddenly the customer’s own personal Geek Squad.  Seriously?!?  You want 24/7 tech support that not only handles any Internet issues you may have but also support for your computer, router,  printer, fax machine, and your toaster toasts a little on the dark side… so you need some help with that too.  Seriously, $40 per month and you get unlimited tech support for everything… along with full-blown high speed Internet service?  You are an idiot.

People think that just because they pay for something, the employees of the company that they buy the service from become some sort of indentured servants.  “Hey, I buy cell phone service from your company… I need someone to come over and rub my feet… my corns are aching.”   Did I mention, you are an idiot?

We recently had a major hail storm come through the area.  Our service usually involves mounting a plastic-covered radio on the roof of a customer’s house to provide Internet.  The hail we saw come through the area was golf-ball-sized to baseball-sized.  Imagine what hail that size being pushed by 60 mph winds can do to a plastic cover on a radio.  And people have the balls to call in and say:

“Am I going to get credit for the time I’m down?  Am I gonna get credit for however long it takes for you to get out here and fix your stuff?” (It states clearly in the service agreement that we have each and every customer sign that we cannot be responsible for interruptions in service resulting from conditions outside of our control… i.e acts of God).

Well, let me give God, you know, the maker of the hail, a call and see if He’s willing to cough up a little dough for you, you idiot!  Seriously, a major hail storm goes through the area, you’re down for less than 72 hours, and you’re wanting a credit?  Okay, you pay about a dollar a day for service, so a $3.00 credit (since you were down for 3 days) seems fair.

“I think I should get a free month, ’cause of the stress not being able to check my Farmville farm for three days.  I coulda lost my baby chicks.”

Yeah, well, I fell like I should be able to walk up to people like you and slap you across the face just for the fact that you are an idiot, but that ain’t gonna happen either.

Dealing with idiots all day can be a very frustrating.  I am currently reading a book by Seth Godin called Linchpin.  Seth is a famous marketing dude who has a very well-followed blog.  I am about half-way through Seth’s book and am so angry I could rip the head off of a small child’s teddy bear.  Seth feels that we all just need to suck it up and find the “art” in whatever it is we’re doing and do the best “art” we can, which means shipping.  Confused?  Yeah, not a great synopsis of Seth’s ideology, but if you follow Seth at all, you know that of which I’m writing.  I think that by “art” Seth means whatever in the hell you are doing.  If there is actually something in the traditional sense of “art” that you would like to do for a living… don’t count on it.  Just do that crap for free, don’t ever expect a return from it, and concentrate on the “art” that is your job.  What does that mean?  I’m not exactly sure, but I know it involves “shipping”.  What does “shipping” mean?  I’m not exactly sure, but I think it means coming up with an idea and delivering the results of whatever that idea is (whether it be a success or not).  Yeah, it’s at this point that one comes to the realization that Seth Godin does not live in the real world.  He works for himself and does not have a boss and therefore shouldn’t be listened to unless one has a sincere desire to be fired by one’s boss.

you: “Yeah Boss, I came up with this great idea for increasing revenue.  I installed a device that tracks our customers’ web history.  Everytime a customer goes to a pornography site, we charge their account a quarter!”

boss: “We can’t do that.”

you: “Already done!  Just think of the extra income we’ll make!”

boss: “That is unethical and immoral, and probably illegal.”

you: “Yeah, like porn is ethical and moral.  Besides, the great thing is, who is going to complain!   What are they gonna say, ‘You can’t charge me every time I go to foot-licker-house-of-fetish.com… of course their not.  They are going to pay for it and never say a word.”

boss: “You are an idiot.  You’re fired.”

But you were just “shipping” your “art”, right?

I will write more on Seth Godin’s Linchpin when I, well, actually finish it.  The main thing that popped into my head while writing this post that made me think of Seth is the fact that customer service people need to find a way to make an upset customer a happy customer who goes out and helps build your “tribe” (more Seth-speak).  I don’t know how much time Seth has spent dealing with upset customers but, I’m guessing, it hasn’t been much time.  Positions in customer service and tech support usually have a relatively high turnover rate.  Why?  Because there is very little “art” to be found in dealing with idiots.  Even when the idiots are not idiots, they like to treat you like you’re an idiot, so the whole situation sucks no matter what.

My main issue is the fact that I really can empathize with people.  I wish I couldn’t, but I can.  I understand how you might be upset that your new router isn’t working.  I understand why you would turn to your Internet provider for help with this issue because, after all, if your router doesn’t work, your Internet doesn’t “work” (which it will, once the router is configured correctly).   The problem is, when you actually take the time and help these (usually computer illiterate so you’re looking at at least a half-hour phone conversation) people, these people don’t help you grow your “tribe”, because you have done what they expect (even though you have just gone above and beyond).  The expectations that people have make it had to win over customers because the customers expect way more value from a service than they are willing to pay for.  In other words…

People are idiots.

May 06

Apparently my wife feels the need to be teaching our 6-year old son about how a checking account works.  He and the wife were out shopping recently, and he wanted the wife to buy him something.  She told him, “We don’t have enough money.”  When the wife finally finds what she is shopping for and gets to the checkout, she writes a check for the last couple of dollars in the account to purchase this necessity.

My son, being brighter than the average bear, looks at the wife and says, “Why can’t you just give ‘her’ one of ‘those’ (‘the checker’ a ‘check’) for what ‘I wanted’ (‘some unnecessary toy… most likely Pokemon-related’).”

Well, the wife goes into a long spiel (I actually wasn’t there… but I know the wife… and long spiels are definitely in her repertoire) about how there has to be money in the checking account in order to guarantee that the store will receive funds to cover the purchase and the transaction is completed in an ethical and legal manner.  Of course, I wasn’t there and  I’m paraphrasing something that I found out after the “fact”… and I’m sure the entire conversation was much more kindergartenish… ’cause he’s, you know, six.  I am almost positive that something was lost on him in the translation of mommy-speak-to-kindergarten-mind, because of the “fact”.

The “fact” is that tonight, Sonny Boy came up to me and said, “Hey Dad, do ya know what’d be cool?”

Always looking for something cool, I replied, “What?”

“Wouldn’t it be cool if you could write checks for stuff!”

Amused at his nativity, I looked at my kindergartner and replied, “Yeah, Buddy, you actually can write checks for stuff.”

“Yeah,” Kindergarten-Boy responds softly,  first looking at his mom from the corner of his eye and then at me, “but without any money in the checking account.”

I was completely shocked.  I didn’t know what to say.  This boy is only six!

You come to a point in your life where you realize that all is not as you believed.  Somehow, time has slipped by and you find that life has become more complicated than you could have ever imagined.  I came to the realization that there is a question that must be answered:  how in the crap does my 6-year old son know how a checking account works?

“Yeah,” I said to Mr. Kindergarten in an equally soft voice, “that would be cool.”

My boy looked me straight in the eye.  His big brown eyes seemed to actually shine as if some inner light were attempting to break through the translucent goop that makes up his eyeballs.  Again, he glanced at the wife from the corners of his eyes and his voice became even softer as he spoke:

“When I grow up, that’s what I’m gonna do.”

Tears immediately filled my eyes.  I rushed to my little warrior and held him close.  This was the proudest moment I have shared with my youngest soon-to-be-felon since his birth.  He has something I never had.  He  has a goal… a plan.  Ok, yeah… it’s an illegal plan, but it’s a plan none the less.  His old-man never had a plan for anything.  The boy was going to go far… as long as he could avoid an extended prison sentence.

I have never been so proud…

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