Don’t pretend it’s for my convenience

“For your convenience, please have your transaction ready while you are waiting to be seen by one of our representatives” said the sign by where I was waiting.

It matters not what I was waiting for, but that the business was pretending my advance readiness was for my convenience rather than their convenience.

C’mon. Customers aren’t that stupid.

I’m having some real issues lately with the kind of pseudo customer service that seems rampant in our culture. You know exactly what I mean. Put simply, businesses have started tasking us with doing what they should be doing.

Instead of back-door doublespeak, how about a front counter sign that says, “Sorry, but we need you to pick up your own trash because we can no longer afford to pay someone to do it.” I might not like it, but I could accept it on the basis of straightforward merit.

What’s got me all fired up? Perhaps it was the 30 minutes I spent last week trying to pay my Waste Management bill via the Internet. I begrudgingly went to on-line payment a year ago “for my convenience” after they began tacking on a $2 quarterly surcharge for the privilege of having them snail-mail my statement to me.

Now Waste Management has switched billing companies, so I had to come up with a new account identity and password for them . . . . oh, I mean “for my convenience.”

Funny how their new  “convenience plan” seems to be convenient only to them.

Fortunately, I understood Waste Management’s instructions to go to their main website and type in my old password to trigger them sending me a temporary password so I could re-access their site to gain a whole new password, then re-input my VISA information so the new billing company can charge me more easily.

Forgive me, but this reminds me of the time Grandma Smith allowed me to go and select from her willow tree the switch with which she intended to whip me. Double ouch.

Thirty minutes of my life wasted on-line so Waste Management can save 42 cents. Gee, thanks! What kind of trade is that? A homemade cinnamon roll for Little Debbie snack cake? I happen to believe my time is worth more than 84 cents per hour.

I considered calling Waste Management’s customer billing number and playing dumb for at least 30 minutes so they would have to waste their time and money dealing with me, versus vice versa. Why should I perform their work for them when the cost of doing business with me is already padded into my quarterly garbage bill?

It’s not just Waste Management, it’s everywhere.

At the beginning of the school year, I registered my kids with the credit card-based, private lunch money management service Union City contracts with to more conveniently handle school lunch payments. I spent another 30 minutes on-line, setting up and pre-paying the accounts, only to discover I had been hit with a credit card (I presume) surcharge faster than you can say “outsourced billing.”

While I understand it’s a pain for the school to pay an employee to process all the incoming lunch money and data, does that activity cost equal the $1.75 per transaction charge levied me “for my convenience” when I put money on my kids’ lunch accounts? This system is a time and money saver for someone. Just not me, the customer.

I’ll play curmudgeon on this issue because all it did was tick me off. But this charge may have pushed some already financially precarious (but not quite eligible for free or reduced school lunches) families further over the edge. Are some paying 24.9% credit card interest to buy lunches? I wonder.

One way to dodge more surcharges is to pre-pay larger sums upfront. But I don’t view credit card charged school lunches as a good, long-term investment. Do you?

People can usually handle just about any kind of information as long as you give it to them straight and are honest about the implications it will have to them. Don’t insult our intelligence with sugarcoating, half-truths, and euphemisms.

Most of all, don’t tell me it’s “for my convenience” when it’s clearly for yours.


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