One of my favorite books ever is Enslaved by Ducks. If I wrote a book, I would call it Chained to Chargers. I am forever charging one thing or another, or looking for the charger, or the USB cable that connects it to the computer. Or the User Manual–not that that would help. User manuals are written by people who already understand very well how a thing works, and have forgotten the first 57 steps they took to get there. Those are the steps you need to know.
Or I can’t figure out how to do something and have to chat online with someone from India about it. These are the people who Value My Business, Strive For Excellence in customer service, and are Very Sorry that I have a problem. All cynicism aside, online chat is my preferred method. I hate talking on the phone to them, and since the user manuals are no help, what’s the alternative? Plus, I have a certain sympathy for the position they’re in. This is partly due to knowing people in the call center business, and partly due to seeing the movie Slumdog Millionaire. But it’s mostly due to being in a customer service business myself. It always amazes me how people unload on the powerless. Had a bad day? I’ve seen people scream at a cashier for five minutes because the prices were too high, then say, I know it isn’t your fault. Oh that makes it all better now.
But I digress. Recently I had the occasion to make three new best friends from Amazon.com, and on Thursday, I got to know my new best friend Jayjay at Sony.com. The occasion was that I have lost the USB cable to my Sony digital camera and wanted to order a new one. Good luck finding that on your own on the Sony website. Lucky for me, Jayjay popped up and offered to help.
But this is not the perfect marriage between me and all my new best friends. Jayjay told me I would receive an order confirmation within 24 hours. Did I? Nope. Kind of like my last new best friend Joan, who said she would waive shipping charges for the USB cable (!) I bought for the Kindle, and then charged my credit card anyway. So every problem seems to require at least two contacts. One to get it fixed, and one to follow up on whether or not it really is fixed.
So, armed with the order number Jayjay gave me, I went on Sony.com to see if I could track my order. Very, very funny, Fakename. Do you also see dead people?
So I called them. On the phone, even. When I gave my order number, my helper said, Oh. That’s a Sony Store order number from the Parts and Accessories department. (Duh.) Unfortunately, you need to talk to them about it and they are closed this weekend.
Is that classic or what? It’s not my department. Anyhow, I started laughing. Helper Woman said, The thing is, they are usually open all weekend (I’ll bet they are. Miss an opportunity to sell stuff? I don’t think so.) But they are doing a major software upgrade. I laughed harder. Really! she said (somewhat offended), it’s a really big deal. I tried to calm down a bit. I know, I said, I’m laughing because this is just my luck–I’m trying to check an order on the only weekend the Sony Store has shut down.
So she gave me the direct number to that department and said I should call on Monday. On second thought, she said, it might be better to call on Tuesday. That did it. I was laughing helplessly by that time, because…I know how that goes, and I know she’s right.
I thought these devices were supposed to make my life easier and more rewarding. Instead, the care and feeding of them is like trying to raise a child or an orchid. Fakesister, always cutting brilliantly to the heart of a matter, says this: some devices are truly labor-saving. Like dishwashers and vacuum cleaners. But yours are not. Oh. My. Is that ever true.
But some days, you just wish that the Kindle, the smart phone, and the digital camera would just go to their rooms and play quietly.