Monday, November 3, 2014

When Hassles Breed Like Rabbits

This is just a long rant about incompetence and inconveniences, written to relieve my stress, and has little to do with horses, so move along to the next blog if you are short on time or not interested.  I have this tendency to overreact when something breaks down in our house and/or when I am forced to set up an appointment with a business.  People say, "What's the big deal?  Just make an appointment.  Problem solved."

But it's never that simple for me.  My appointments always explode into dozens of phone calls, miscommunications, hassles, and additional appointments of which each additional appointment comes with its own set of phone calls, miscommunications and hassles.  I usually have to give up several days, weeks or even months of my time to deal with resolving just one issue that requires an appointment with a business.  I'm just unlucky that way.

So, it's like I have an anxiety disorder wrapped around this whole business of having to deal with businesses.  I especially dislike having to bring someone into my home, because that's my personal space, and that's where I should be able to relax and get away from stress.

First off, for some reason, people always type my contact information wrong into their database.  Perhaps as I am getting older, I am developing a speech impediment that makes people hear me incorrectly, but I would swear that businesses get my phone number, email address, and physical address wrong more times than they get them right.

Secondly, everyone who looks for my house gets lost.  Well, they really don't get lost.  They just make assumptions that prevent them from bothering to read the addresses on people's mailboxes and homes.  I've had drivers sitting right in front of my house calling me to say that they can't find it.  I've had drivers race back and forth in front of my house, ignoring me as I stand on my driveway waving them down.  I've had drivers turn up my street, take note that the first address isn't even close to the number of my address, and then turn around to look for another street with the same name because they are from a city and they think that addresses in rural areas follow the same form of logic in which the addresses drop or increase by one even number on one side of the street and one odd number on the other side of the street.  But where I live, people just picked numbers they liked when they built their houses.

Thirdly, I find that most business people have no concept of anyone's time other than their own.  Not only do they call at inappropriate hours, but they show up outside of the window of time they set up for the appointment, so I know from experience that when I have an appointment in my home, I have to wipe my entire schedule clean for the day and just sit at home and wait.  Although, there have also been a few times when they showed up on the wrong day.  That seems to be a common theme around here.

Fourthly, the most important phone call they can make is to let me know that they are on their way, so that I can lock up my dogs, yet so many of them skip that step and just show up at the door at their convenience.

Fifthly, when they do show up after I've sat around waiting all day or week for them, they take five minutes of my time to tell me they will have to go buy some part and come back another day, so that we can do it all over again.  They want to be paid up front for both the part and their time, or they at least want a deposit because they don't trust me to pay them when they are all done.  Well, guess what?  I don't trust them to actually buy the part and show up to fix the problem, so that kind of leaves us at a stalemate.  I have to make sure that I have all of their contact information and business license and make sure it is legit before I will part with my money.  There are just too many scams on the loose right now.

Here's my most recent story that includes a series of unfortunate inconveniences.  The control panel on my washing machine partially stopped working.  I could still wash clothes, but only on one setting.  It's one of those things that isn't an emergency, but it would be nice to get it fixed.  So, I set up an appointment between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM on Friday.  I told them the make and model of the washing machine, and that it probably needed a new control panel, so that hopefully they would bring a replacement with them.

They said they would call right before the technician was going to head to my place, and that I had to pick up the phone or they would send him to a different job.  I hesitated and explained that I have trouble keeping my phone attached to my belt loop, so it's possible I won't be able to pick up in time.  She said they would give me 15 minutes to call back before sending him to the next job.  I agreed to that, because all I had to do was to keep checking for messages every 15 minutes if I couldn't keep my phone with me.   There are a lot of things I do during that day that I can't do with a bulky phone attached to my body like take a shower and workout.

So, Friday arrived.  Just before noon I wanted to work with a horse, but didn't have enough time before that 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM time slot to saddle one up and ride, so I took Bombay for a hand walk in the desert.  I did attach my phone to my belt.  I kept the walk shorter than usual and returned home around 12:30 PM.  When I walked into the house, my laundry room door was closed and the technician was in there with my husband.  I checked my phone and there was no blinking light to show that I had a message.

My husband said that the guy showed up early and was going to come to the front door to ring the bell or knock, and he stopped him before he got the dogs all riled up.  Then he brought him around to the garage door and shut the laundry room door to keep the dogs from attacking him.  Of course, the guy didn't bring the replacement part, and had to order it.  He also wanted to be paid a hefty deposit, and the total bill was 1/4th the value of the washing machine.  Normally, we'd just buy a new machine, but this one is only two and a half years old, and of course the warranty was only good for two years.  He said he'd call us on Monday to set up a time to repair the washing machine that day.

My husband asked him to call first so we can lock up the dogs.  He said, "Didn't they call you today?"  He said no.  The technician called the office, and the office claimed they called and left a message.  I said I didn't get the message, so we had to verify my phone number.  They had the correct number, so I thought someone dialed it wrong.  I pushed the button to bring the phone out of sleep, and nothing happened.  I held the power button down and nothing happened.  I apologized and told them that it appeared that my phone was broken.  My husband told me to hook it up to the charger.  I did, but I knew the battery hadn't died because I just charged it the night before.  After I hooked it up to the charger I was able to hold the power button and boot up.  Then I remembered that I was in a class the night before and had to turn the phone off -- something I only do when I am in a classroom or a hospital or on a plane, so powering up a phone is not a part of my regular routine since I almost never power it down.  I had been walking around all day expecting a call and the damn phone wasn't even powered up.  Argh.  Granted, that part of the hassle was my fault, but it was a hassle none-the-less because the man didn't arrive within the window of time for the appointment and he came over even though I did not answer the call, so we were unable to lock up our dogs ahead of time.

I wasn't happy about the Monday appointment, because I already had another Monday appointment of which I would have to wait for a phone call on when they would arrive.  Any time that I have two or more appointments on the same day, they always collide and I end up running around writing checks out to people while they all talk to me at the same time.  I'm a horrible multitasker, so I really try hard to keep it simple and limit myself to one appointment per day.

I had been having trouble sleeping all week and probably only got about two hours of sleep most nights.  Come Monday morning, I finally fell asleep around 5:00 AM only to be woken at 7:00 AM by the phone ringing and the dogs barking at the sound of the phone ringing.  I was pissed.  I decided to roll over and ignore it -- until I heard the trash truck coming up the street and had to bolt out of bed and run outside in my "pajamas" to drag the trash can to the curb.  Monday mornings suck.  When I was younger, most business hours were from 9:00 AM until 5:00 or 6:00 PM, and it was considered inappropriate to call a household before 9:00 AM, but I think because of the extreme heat in the desert, businesses around here work around sunrise and sunset to beat the heat, because I've had them calling me as early at 5:00 AM in the past.

I decided to listen to the message and return the phone call at a more suitable hour of the morning, so I went about my business of feeding and medicating the animals first.  When I finally listened to the message, it was the appliance repair place calling to inform me that my technician is sick and they needed to reschedule.  WTF???  So, they are going to inconvenience me three business days in a row now.  Calling to reschedule an appointment is not something that constitutes an emergency, so I have no idea why this gal thought it would be a good idea to call a private household right at sunrise and wake people up to do so.  Perhaps she thought I was staying home from my job for the appointment and wanted to let me know right away that I can go in to the office, but that's not my case.  I just need sleep.

When I called back to reschedule, the woman cut me off mid-sentence and said, "Who is this?" after I had just told her my name.  I'm continually astounded by poor phone manners.  When someone calls you, let them finish what they are saying before you interrupt and start asking questions.  So many of these businesses have a strict flow of information and train their employees to ask questions in a certain order instead of shutting up and just listening and letting the customer provide the information more quickly.  I'm a professional.  I know enough to identify myself when I call someone and follow that up with my reason for calling.  It only takes me a few seconds to reveal that information, but if I get cut off and have to wait for the other person to look at their cheat sheet and read off questions to me, it takes a lot longer.  People are becoming machines thanks to poor management.  It's way better for businesses to just hire personable people with good phone manners than it is to write up a procedure manual for them to follow when the phone rings.

She made me say my name and my reason for calling multiple times.  I was about ready to snap at her for not listening, but then she said she couldn't hear me and needed to move to a different room.  I didn't hear any background noise on her end, so I figured it must be a reception issue on her end only, because I could hear her loud and clear.  She said, "Hold on just one sec," and proceeded to put me on hold for several minutes.  I knew the other room couldn't be that far away and that she probably was either helping some other customer or fixing a sandwich.  Just when I was about to hang up, she picked up and made me repeat everything again.  Then she asked for the spelling of my name multiple times.  I began annunciating really slowly and speaking loudly into the phone as if I were speaking to somebody who was hard of hearing and new to the English language, but it didn't help.  I suspect the lady was distracted and just couldn't pay attention.

Then she asked for my phone number and address multiple times even though they already had it in their database.  I guess she gave up on figuring out my name and was going to look me up by my phone number or address.  She misspelled the address, so I had to correct that.  There are two streets in my area, one with the way we spell it and one with the way she spelled it, so getting that correct was not an option.  Then she said that this was an appointment to fix my dishwasher, and I had to correct that.  She tried to pronounce the word "Electrolux" and couldn't do it.  I was about ready to ask her if she was on drugs.  She didn't sound mentally disabled.  She just sounded like someone who is incompetent, takes no pride in the quality of her work, and doesn't care how it affects others.  Sometimes I just want to slap people upside the head and tell them to just do their job and do it right.  I think of all the years I've spent looking for work and not getting hired, knowing that I can do a better job than 90% of the people who do have jobs, and it's so aggravating.

All I can say is that I'm sorry I even bothered to repair that damn washing machine.  I should have known better.  Now I'm really grumpy because I still haven't gotten a whole night's sleep.  I'd almost rather just wash everything on one setting or hand wash or go to a laundromat than to deal with another slew of hassles like this.  Also, does this place only have one appliance repairman?  Can't they just send someone else out who isn't sick?  I don't get it.  Plus, if this guy is sick, I don't want him bringing his germs into my home, so I will have to wait another several days before I'd be willing to let him in my house.  Maybe his problem is just a hangover after watching too much Sunday football, but I'm not taking any chances.  I'm already sick or in pain with my own health problems the majority of each month, and I'm not willing to complicate matters by picking up a virus from someone else.

Unfortunately, I have at least three other things in the house that have been broken for a while that we need to get repairmen in to fix, but I'm just too anxious to pull the trigger on those appointments.  They have to become bigger problems before I will be repeatedly inconvenienced by business people.  So, they just remain items on my To Do List.

No sooner did I get out of the shower and my phone started ringing regarding my other appointment for hay delivery.  The guy told me last week that the only hay they had was moldy, but they had another shipment coming in on Monday.  This time he was telling me that the new shipment never showed up, so he was bringing over some of the old hay.  I was like, "Uh, you told me that hay was moldy.  I don't want to buy moldy hay for my horses."

Then he said this hay was actually the only hay they had covered, so it was good.  He didn't tell me about it previously, because someone else had already reserved it, but that fell through.  I thought, huh?  How can a company that sells hay not keep all of it covered?  If it gets moldy, they lose thousands of dollars.  That's their livelihood.  I certainly would make sure that I have plenty of hay barns and tarps before I go into business selling hay.  I originally thought it molded after they bought it from the farm because it was gathered and bound while it was still too wet in the field, but apparently they just left it exposed to the elements after buying it.

Anyway, I agreed to buy the hay, and then the guy hesitated, because he wasn't sure if all of it was good, so he needed to recheck to condition of the bales and make sure he had enough to fill my order.  I was like, seriously?  Why did he call me before doing that in the first place?  If my only job was to sell hay, I would know at any given time how much I had of each type in inventory and its condition, because those two things, along with the price are what customers need to know.  The guy said he'd call me back.

Ugh.  The last time I dealt with them, they called me six times before the delivery.  First, to take the order.  Then to verify the appointment time.  Then to tell me the total, but not collect payment.  Then to verify my address.  Then to verify where I wanted the hay to be stacked.  Then to collect payment.  I know that some people just keep their phone on them all the time, but it seems that my phone only rings when I am in the most precarious positions and cannot answer.   Then I get stuck in a game of telephone tag.

The other thing is that for some reason, people only show up at my place between noon and 1:00 PM right when I am eating my lunch.  Don't other people take lunch breaks?  I decided to avoid that problem by eating my lunch at 11:30 AM, and guess what?  I took two bites out of my sandwich and the phone rang.  They were on their way to deliver my hay and needed payment over the phone.  So, I had to find a safe place up high to set down my sandwich where the dogs couldn't get to it, find my credit card, find my reading glasses...  Then I had to wolf down my sandwich before they arrived, biting my cheek and getting indigestion in the process.

When they got here, they had three men to stack the hay.  One of the men headed toward the back of my property.  I thought, "What's he doing?  The hay barn is right here."

Then it hit me.  He was headed into the bushes to pee on my property.  I suppose it's no big deal because wild animals and my horses pee on my property all the time, but I would have let this guy use my bathroom.  Another guy tried to distract me with small talk, and then as soon as I went back in the house, a second man headed into the bushes.  Apparently, they don't get lunch breaks.  Later, when I dumped the manure into the trailer, I discovered a puddle of pee right up against my trailer.  The wood siding didn't look stained, and it's a good thing, because I would have called in a complaint if they peed ON my trailer.

When they unloaded the hay off the flatbed, this one guy lifted these 120 pound bales above his head and threw them with great force down onto my brand new wooden pallets that I just bought, breaking them to smithereens.  How hard would it be to just slide them off the truck to the ground?  I understand that he was just trying to chuck them as close to the stacking area as possible so that they didn't have to carry or drag them, but now I have to replace all those pallets and pay to take the broken ones to the dump.

When I tried to cover the hay with a tarp, I discovered that the stack was not safe to climb on, because they didn't alternate directions of the bales.  They just threw the bales haphazardly all over the place.  I'm at a point where I don't give a damn if I get another hernia, I'm going to start picking up, transporting and stacking my own hay.  And if I'm too weak or in too much pain to stack the hay, I'll just drive the truck into the paddock and let the horses eat the hay out of the bed.  Or maybe I'll get another flatbed trailer just for hay and park that in the paddock and put a huge soccer net over it to make it one gigantic slow feeder.  That way I won't have to worry about the horses kicking dents into my truck and colicking from eating too much too fast.  It sure sounds like I'm getting lazy, doesn't it?

Also, this time and the last time they delivered hay, they said they would email my receipt to me, and I never got the email, so I mentioned it to these guys.  I was concerned that either their email server wasn't working or that they had my email address wrong despite me spelling it out to them half a dozen times.  He said he'd call me when he got back to the office to verify my email address and try sending the receipt while I was on the phone.  Can you guess what happened?  He never called.  So, once again the onus is on me to call them to correct the problem.  At some point, everything just feels like it is all in vain and I have to simply give up in order to keep my sanity.  Suffering from data input errors seems to be my life story.

Also, I'm thinking that in the future, as soon as a business arrangement begins to look like it's going to turn into something that will monopolize more of my time than I'm willing to give, I should just end it and try a different company.  But it's kind of like being in The Amazing Race.  You choose one roadblock competition, it turns out to take too long so you switch to the other roadblock competition, and that turns out to take just as long, so you end up taking twice as long as you would have had you stuck with the first task.  I know that ultimately, I just need to exercise patience, but that's difficult to do when life is so short.

On another subject... I need to make a note to self to never buy clothing over the Internet.  I thought it was safe to order loose-fitting tops online, but I recently ordered one only to discover that it is sheer.  The pictures in the catalog show the top as being solid.  You can't see a bra, camisole, or tank top underneath.  I feel they misrepresented the product with the trickery of lighting and perhaps editing.  What's the point in wearing clothing if it is transparent?  What is wrong with this world?  Now I have to hassle with either looking for something I can wear under it that won't clash with it, or shipping it back for a loss of shipping costs and time.  In fact, the way it was packaged, I could tell that someone else had already tried it on and returned it to them.

I went to the website and viewed the descriptions of the item just to make sure I didn't miss something when I ordered it, and a few minutes later I received an automated email advertising that item I viewed from that website that I already bought.  That means it is time to delete all my cookies and possibly change my IP address.  The Internet is getting to be so insidious that I am seriously considering going off the grid.  Have you seen the movie Idiocracy?  If not, it's a must see, because that is where we are headed with today's society.  Advertising is so aggressive and in your face that it is beginning to cross privacy lines.

I'm really not a customer service rep's nightmare.  I just want simple things like getting what I ordered and getting it without a slew of hassles and without creating new problems.  Is that too much to ask for?

One last topic since I'm on a roll with this crabfest:  I think the race car driver either got a job or moved out or is on vacation or went to go race his car in the deep South, because it has been incredibly quiet around here for the past couple of weeks.  I was feeling blessed to have had all those barking dogs move away, and then to have the race car mechanic go missing is just over the top awesome!

However, no sooner did he quiet down and a new neighborhood problem started up.  The Mad Pruner and his wife have begun the habit of bicycling back and forth in front of our house every morning at dawn and every evening at dusk.  That's not noisy, but the problem is that they bring their dog along off leash, so every time my dogs see, smell or hear their dog, they go nuts.  Even when they don't pass by when we are outside for a potty break, my dogs can still smell their dog, and they get so distracted that I can't get them to get down to business, which results in them pestering me to take them right outside again ten minutes later.  If I'm too busy to cater to their needs, I wind up scrubbing stains out of the carpet.

It's disappointing, because the potty training was going so well for a short while there and now the dogs have taken two giant steps back.  I probably wouldn't be as annoyed if these neighbors just rode past my house once on their bikes with their dog, but they go up and down the street, repeatedly passing in front of my house because it's a low traffic road and they don't have to worry about their dog getting hit by a car.

I often wonder if I could desensitize my dogs to sights, sounds and scents if I took them to public places all the time -- just overload them with sensory information until they are bored with it all and don't pay any attention to people and animals passing by our house.  It took about a year for them to stop barking every time the coyotes howled outside at night, and it didn't take that long because of any lack of effort on our part to train them to stop that behavior.  It was as if the dogs' brains had to make some kind of shift for them to finally ignore the sound.

Also, one of the things in our house that is broken are the blinds on the front of the house, and there have been a few times when I've walked past the window and saw these neighbors stopped in front of our house on their bicycles looking in at me when the lights were on inside.  So, I have to get on the ball, take measurements, and order new blinds if I want my privacy.  I am so looking forward to that, because I know it will be such a simple process.  (Wink wink.)  It seems I am always having to make a trade off between quiet and privacy.  I finally get one, and suddenly lose the other.


Cindy D. said...

Its not just you...alot of service people are just stupid.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Cindy - Are you saying that I'm stupid, or that it's not just me who has to deal with these people?

Cut-N-Jump said...

It is NOT just you. I have seen the level of incompetence skyrocket to astronomical levels over the last year and the crazy part about it? Nobody gets in trouble for NOT doing their job or Not doing it Correctly. WTH?

No accountability, no responsibility, no apology for their mistakes and nobody seems to care. Yet if I make one misstep in the process, Oh Holy Hell! The world is about to end. Seriously.

And you think your stress levels are high???? Hahahaha. I'm pretty sure I win hands down on this one.

Customer service in America pretty much sucks, no matter what the market or industry.

Cindy D. said...

No No, I was saying that you aren't the only one who gets frustrated with service people. It is as if there is a low IQ combined with a lack of communication skill, requirement for people who work in the service field.

I'm sorry, I should have chosen my words better.

Its enough to make you want to bang your head on the table!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

CNJ - I have no doubt your stress level has been through the roof.

Cindy - I was just teasing you over the way you phrased it, but I knew what you meant. No apology needed.

achieve1dream said...

Omg I have the same problem with service people!! I always have to spell my name multiple times and they still get it wrong! So annoying. I also hate having people in my house. If they have been sick it has to be a minimum of two weeks before they can come inside! My farrier is awesome. She knows to reschedule if she or her kids have been sick. I love considerate people like her. I wish more people were like that. I'm lucky though because my dad or husband can fix just about anything that breaks here so I don't have to deal with repairmen usually. Of course fixing stopped up toilets like we did last weekend kind of sucks and I'd almost prefer a pro do it lol!!!