April 4th, 2006

static (transparent)

On corporate endeavor (and not coincidentally, how much it ticks me off)

My PHONE COMPANY actually sold my number to a "partner" that telemarkets. Lovely. "Aegis Communications." They call me about four times a day, generally when I'm busy and can't possibly deal with the phone, until I finally manage to field one of their damn calls, at which point the telemarketer NGs (No Good) me on the list... which gives me a week's respite before they pound the same list again.

The last guy REALLY fucking pissed me off. My #1 pet peeve about telemarketers is when they inquire after your health... and WAIT for you to tell them. About your health. Motherfucker do I SOUND like I'm 90 years old and will be more likely to do business with you if you waste my time talking about my health before you even say what you want? I do not know you. We have not even been socially INTRODUCED. Our relationship has not progressed to the point where I will respond favorably to you attempting to ascertain more about my health than is readily observable by my voice or appearance.

Anyway, so the phone rings. It's a local number I don't recognize, and it's on my business line, so you know I pretty much have to answer it. I do. Dead silence. Great. It's a telemarketer. But you know what? You HAVE to fucking wait through the dead silence to speak with the rep, or the goddamn machine just CALLS YOU RIGHT BACK AGAIN, frequently within an hour. Whereas if you tell an actual rep you're not interested, it buys you a week's reprieve. Wonderful. So I wait approximately nine seconds worth of saying "hello? HELLO?" into the line, waiting for the connection to get patched into a TSR (Telephone Sales Representative).

Finally one arrives. "Hello?" he says tentatively, as though someone might not actually be there, thus wasting his time... in spite of the fact that he patched in DURING me saying "Hello?" (I know because I could hear both the click of the patch and his breathing.) Already he's annoying me. "Hello," I say again. "May I speak to Jim?" "You are." "Hi Jim I'm with Aegis Communications, we're a partner of BellSouth. How are you today?" Wait. Continued wait. We've hit like two seconds worth of wait now, me expecting him to go on, him expecting me to inform him as to my present condition - which viewed in one way is, after all, only two seconds; but viewed in another way, is plenty to make it clear that this jackass is actually going to WAIT FOR ME TO WASTE BOTH OF OUR TIME telling him how I am. So I ask - politely, I might add, if in a bit of a tired tone of voice - "can we please just get to the point?"

Without saying a word, he hung up on me.

Now I have to be honest here. I could tell you "and now I can tell you that I will NEVER buy a goddamn thing from Aegis Communications, whoever the hell they are, whatever they hell it is they sell," but to be honest they crossed that line simply by telemarketing me at all. (I *know* how much it costs to run a TSR farm. Which already tells me a lot about how much margin is built into every sale a firm makes, and - worse yet - tells me that they think bothering the fuck out of people is a good way to spend a large portion of their profits.) So, you know, why should they care? And why should this TSR "waste his time on me" any further, given the tremendous unlikelihood that someone who politely but tiredly requests that the TSR get on with his pitch will actually buy whatever it is that's being sold - and the equal unlikelihood that I ever would even if he'd ended the conversation more politely?

Still, though. It's a sign of the times, and a shitty one at that. The great thing about modern communications and management structures is that they make truly *fantastic* projects not only possible but commonplace, requiring organization at a level that would literally be unthinkable, much less unmatchable, to previous generations. The *bad* thing about it, though, is it means that more and more of the world's resources are, ultimately, controlled by people who will never, EVER, have to face - on an intimate you-are-a-person, I-am-a-person, and-we-have-to-communicate-as-persons level - any of the people they depend upon leveraging their profits from.

I was struck this morning by what I thought was a pretty picturesque example of the contrast between corporate and local management - the little desk at my bank where you fill out your deposit slips. Corporate management chained a crappy little pen, worth PERHAPS one fifth of a cent or so, to the table to make sure nobody stole it - while just next to it, the local manager had provided a $20 calculator for the convenience of the customers, and trusted - rightly - that they wouldn't steal it.

I don't know what we do about this. We really do need big corporations. But goddamn it, there has GOT to be a way to force their managers and directors to remember that the customer is not a potentially lucrative but annoying resource, but an actual human being - a fucking customer - and needs and deserves to be treated as such.