Today marks my second month anniversary of home captivity. I’m tired and cranky. Doing nothing is quite exhausting.
We Californians pride ourselves on being in touch with our feelings, so I’m sharing with the world my list of everyday petty annoyances.
10) “Due to Unusually Heavy Call Volume…”
This standard customer support greeting is the most repeated lie in the history of civilization. Staffing call centers is a near exact science – companies know to a tee their expected volume of calls. When you’re on hold for ten minutes, that’s deliberate.
The companion “please listen carefully because our menu options have changed” complements the lie. The only reason someone remembers menu options is because they’ve called umpteen times and couldn’t get through. Changing the menu options is a cruel attempt to make customers go away.
Then there’s this taunt: “Did you know that answers to most frequently asked questions can be found on our website?”
9) The “Do Not Reply” Email
The “Do Not Reply” email is another technological advance that’s taken customer service to a new bottom.
I’m still seething that Chase Sapphire, supposedly a premium credit card, sent me an email asking me to confirm a gas station charge in Georgia. The purchase wasn’t mine, but I had to call Chase, wait on hold, and have someone in India locate my account.
Chase is ultimately responsible for fraudulent charges. The onus should be on Jamie Dimon to call me, not the other way around. That’s the way American Express did things a decade ago.
8) Happy Thought Promoters
I see lots of this on LinkedIn: Psychologists and life coaches promoting listicles on how to attain happiness. If these people are so happy, why are they resorting to posting listicles on LinkedIn? (Possible reason: The listicles get 10,000 or so “likes” which, I confess, would make me quite happy.)
Promoting happiness to a negative sad sack like me is like trying to sell Dale Carnegie public speaking seminars to monks who have taken vows of silence. This pearl of wisdom particularly grates on me: “Happy People Think Happy Thoughts.” Really? I’d never have guessed.
Thinking negative thoughts has its advantages. When some of my worst fears are realized, I’m never surprised.
7) “We’re ‘Here for You’ Messages”
I’m inundated with an avalanche of emails from companies telling me, ‘We’re Here for You.” With the exception of Traveler’s insurance, which offered me an unsolicited rebate on my car insurance, these messages ring hollow.
The only company that’s shown me genuine concern is Fidelity, whose rep reached out to me when the market tanked and convinced me not to jump. If you can’t be bothered to call your customers, then send them a Hallmark card. Emails don’t cut it.
6) “Personalized” Mass Emails
I want to grab the skinny leg pants of the geek who pioneered “personalized” mass emails and give him a wedgie. I’m sometimes tricked into reading emails addressed to “Eric” but when I discover I’ve been had with junk mail I get really mad.
An app I’d like to see: One that monitors my email inbox for these emails and sends a personalized “Not Interested” reply and deletes the message.
5) Magazine Subscription Practices
I subscribe to nearly two dozen magazines and newsletters and I don’t know off the top of my head when each one expires. The industry appreciates this because as soon as I renew a publication, I still keep getting hounded with renewal offers. It’s a full-time job having to constantly check the expiration dates of all my subscriptions.
Note to magazine subscription executives: Please leave me alone after I renew until three months before my subscription expires. Then, and only then, send me my “extra, super special ‘preferred’ rate because you so appreciate my loyalty.”
One more thing: No more flimsy tote bags. How about a can of Clorox wipes? Make it a package of three and I’ll subscribe for life.
4) Sallie Krawcheck’s Media Coverage
Sallie Krawcheck has put a modern spin on a legendary P.T. Barnum saying: There’s a sucker born every minute – and they inevitably pursue a career in journalism.
Krawcheck is the co-founder of Ellevest, a financial advisory firm for women that protects them from “a by men, for men” investment industry that has “historically kept women from achieving their financial goals.” Abigail over at Fidelity and Abby over at Goldman Sachs apparently are in on the plot. (Ellevest’s other co-founder is a man named Charlie Kroll, but no matter.)
Krawcheck maintains that women seeking financial advice are better served by women, but she doesn’t have much substance to back up that claim. Krawcheck is savvy and knows that bullshit sells, particularly with reporters looking for clicks. Krawcheck has received the most fawning and dense media coverage since Gutenberg invented the printing press.
I’d welcome seeing how the investment returns of Ellevest clients compare with women who entrust their money to “by men, for men” firms.
3) Compromisers of Ben Jr’s Pooping Experience
Here’s a message for people who don’t own dogs: When dogs are in the midst of pooping, neither they, nor their owner, are readily mobile. So, if you are walking down the street and see a dog engaged in a poop, the onus is on you to yield and maintain social distance.
I’m appalled how many people keep walking towards me while Ben Jr., my English golden retriever, is crouched on all fours unloading waste that he invariably stored for hours. It makes me anxious and Ben Jr. senses my anxiety.
Pooping for dogs is a meditative experience. Respect that. If you don’t, I’ll stop picking up Ben’s excrement. Given his high fiber diet, I’m the one with all the power.
2) New York Times
Have you ever participated in a consumer focus group and been asked something like if a certain pickle brand was a person how would you imagine that person to be? Here’s my imaginary Times person: An Ivy-educated non-binary millennial who always finished first in their class but is overrun with guilt because of their white privilege.
Times readers don’t want to know this, but their beloved publication is riddled with errors and misinformation. The publication last year published “The 1619 Project,” reexamining slavery to suit its preferred narrative. A half dozen prominent historians trashed an introductory essay for its inaccuracies and mistaken revisionism, which would have left me mortified. Not the Times. They submitted it for a Pulitzer. And got one!
I double dog dare every Times reader to read this article and watch the embedded video.
1)Not Getting “Likes” on LinkedIn
I’m the Rodney “I Get No Respect” Dangerfield of LinkedIn. Regardless of how much time and effort I try putting into my blog posts, I rarely get “likes.” Yet someone who boasts some platitude like, “Covid-19 has reminded me of the importance of loving my wife and kids,” gets thousands of likes, claps, and comments like, “Thanks so much for sharing!” These are people who aren’t even from California.
The other day a woman posted it was the tenth anniversary of the founding of her company. She got oodles of likes and comments, including one from my favorite Washington Post columnists.
Here’s my shameless attempt to garner a “like” or two. To the guy who loves his wife and kids: I’m so inspired by your love and devotion! And to the woman who founded her business 10 years ago: Happy Anniversary!
Oh, and remember to heed this advice: Happy People Think Happy Thoughts!