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Equinox 2020

Flame Out


That awful feeling when you realize that yet another favorite vendor has sold out to stupidity — just happened to me.


Last week, I ordered online 2 candles from this company whose name shall no longer be mentioned. The package got mis-delivered, and I spent the past 3 days trying to track the thing down. When the Customer Service — of a Delivery Company located in America — is located in Mumbai, it’s not a good sign of capitalist success. An Investigation is being opened, though, from India to locate a package mis-delivered in Placer County, California.


And when the latest and most featured candle scents being sold are:

Canna-bliss — to Save the Buzz

Honey Bee — to Save the Bees

and,

Heirloom Tomato — to Save the Tomato —


Then the flame of a once-wonderful company has just gone out, at least it has for this very long-time customer. There’s no saving what’s left of my ardor for a high-priced scent sensation from this business. Save Our Business will be their next sob.


This scented candle thing has become a real gimmick, anyway. As for neighbors filching your mis-delivered package, I learned about a decade ago that if a gal one-street-over can pinch your mail-order bras, anything is possible!


The most interesting, and enlightening, aspect of this transaction, however, was yet to come. Within hours after my having placed this order online, the company contacted me for a Physical Address because, sigh, for the longest time that I can remember (about 6 years), this company does not deliver its wares to a P.O. Box. And I do prefer that address for the delivery of smaller packages.

Yesterday, I emailed this business to inform them of the non-receipt of this delivery that had been delivered to my front porch, according to the tracking data. I was hoping to receive an offer to refund the $80 I coughed up for those candles. After waiting a day and not receiving any reply, I decided to terminate any business with this merchant. I sent a Dear John/Joanna message, and deleted all my info account on the website.


Within an hour, I got a prompt reply!


The Human Resources Coordinator (for that truly personal touch!) must have heard the door slamming through the Internet! I received a paragraph of half a dozen run-on sentences, with at least one insult to my intelligence per sentence. I immediately thought of the unhealthy, nearly co-dependent relationship that I carried on with Country Curtains (See Boilerplate Excuse Form). And I said to Self:


“You are NOT backing down on this one.


For almost a decade, you’ve had to put up with the refusal of this company to ship their candles to a P.O. Box. Does a customer have to get irate and delete all her account to get respect??”

Reading the entire paragraph from The Groveling Crocodile-Tearful Team Leader did not improve my mood. In fact, I was only more insulted and infuriated by this gal digging her Customer Service hole deeper with a bunch of disingenuous lingo. The false niceties-schtick is heavy on the false, short on the nice.


First, there was the boiler-plate penned agonizing over not replying earlier to this “Situation”.


No, honey child. It is NOT a situation. It’s a person. A pissed-off customer!  And I am she!


Then there was the assurance of how much WE absolutely value you as a customer.


Well, if you SO ABSOLUTELY VALUE ME, as anything, then why did you wait until after I absolutely blew out your candles for good before you sent this phony-baloney so-sorry missive! You did not reply to my earlier message.


The PR Patois only got worse: “If I would be SO KIND as to . . .”


So you are putting the problem back on me?!!! The ball that you dropped is now in my court!?


“ . . . provide the address of the P.O.Box . . .”

Now you are willing to do what I asked you do in the first place: send the order to a Post Office Box. Well, it’s a little too late to do the right thing now!


“ . . . so we can make sure there are no further issues.”


I DO NOT HAVE AN ISSUE! I have $80 missing from my bank account and no candles to show for them!


And I have a problem — with being insulted by people who think they are going above and beyond the call of their capitalist duty to finally contact me, and let me know what it is — that I have to do for them!


After adamantly refusing for years to ship any merchandise to my P.O. Box, and after being informed that I will no longer do any business with them, this company now is almost begging me to give them my post-office address so they can re-ship my order because “it is more of a convenient option.”

Pull-eeeze, have some dignity! And the convenience is now for you. My convenience ended when I had to give you the Physical Address that led to someone else’s porch. Frankly, I think it is archaic for any company not to ship merchandise to a post-office box. When I first moved from the suburbs to the foothills of California in the late 1990s, the only delivery was to an LBJ-era post office. I lived too close to that run-down building, a mile away, to receive Rural Route Delivery.


Within a mere matter of months, I greatly preferred picking up my mail — letters, bills, packages — at the social hub of Newcastle, the P-Off. The system was secure, trackable, and the employees were polite, friendly, and efficient. I was a pioneer woman for the UPS Delivery Trucks in that town, and I fondly remember Mr. Big Brown and his inter-actions with my Hounds! When he retired, I missed him. I think Bridget did do.


It’s no wonder that I find appalling these online customer service “interactions” with people who do not have a clue as to how to conduct a relationship with anything other than an App. The human touch hasn’t been lost due to digital business. With those pitiful human beings, the human touch was never there to begin with.

I know that, as usual, I am late to this party where the spaced-out website workers are concerned. My adult children have had to contend with them for years now; but I am nonetheless flummoxed that any successful business would hire front-line personnel who have all of the politesse and genuine sincerity of a cold, wet cloth that believes he is coming off as a warm, fuzzy blanket, or a cold fish who thinks she is mimicking a hot tamale — simply because he, or she, is inputting the correct spiel, from the Company Handbook of Humane Phrases for the Modern Ages.


Which is why I put the onus for all of these idiotic “people skills” on the Company brass who have no class, and who hired Whizzes to Peddle Words Without Meanings.


The dissembling fake-fawning message from Miss Company Prig ended with more of the faux-atonement that these insincere employees are trained to ape, as in Canned Response Number 12: Again I do apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.


(And “this” is a demonstrative modifier, not a noun.)

This entire experience has not been an inconvenience. It has been an illuminating and exasperating lesson in how an American company can manage to survive the Great Recession, only to blow it by then slavishly marketing candles to a demographic that still won’t buy their pandered-to product. And the rest of us, who were the backbone of your customer base, just got tossed to the curb. So now you have to hire these cheaply-paid girls and boys who will parrot gobbledygook for a paycheck, cause your bottom line is getting pretty bottomed-out.


Your scents do not make sense.


Well, you live, you learn. It’s a jungle out there in Capitalist World. What your company failed to do, what it has not offered one single time, throughout this entire botched-up buying business — is the first rule of Retail 101 to an unhappy customer:


OFFER TO REFUND HER MONEY!

I do not want your stinking candles anymore! I want my money back!


Experts and their 5 tips, 9 tips, 20 tips for Dealing with the Unhappy Customer are not needed if you use the Golden Rule, and a few of those 10 Commandments. Engaging in this faux-virtue when dealing with other people is a sure sign of a fraud and a devious person. I think the Unhappy Customers are now the ones hired to PR the Doomed Transaction.


Greedy-Misanthrope Bill Gates has claimed that your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. Well, Bill, I have 1 word-acronym for you: GIGO.


What’s next? The Bezos Method of Profitable but Altruistic Employee Relations. Free Shipping! And 2-day-delivery for the Kindle edition!