Marchbooks' Blog

April 25, 2009

A Sign of the Times, Buyer Beware by M.J. Claire

Filed under: Comments from our Authors — marchbooks @ 7:49 pm

I don’t often venture into the land of essays.  I live in the world of fiction. Reality is often too harsh and brutal for my tender soul. So, let’s not call this an essay, but rather a commentary, a product review or perhaps a consumer warning.

I think it is no secret that quality control and pride in workmanship have been on a steady decline.  However, is it just me or has everyone seen this phenomenon take a rapid plunge downward of late? It seems that with some (many) companies, there is no longer even a pretense of making the customer happy. I don’t consider myself particularly hard to please, yet when I buy something I still hold onto the expectation that it will perform as promised.

Even large companies feel safe in selling crap (yes, I said it, CRAP) with a high price tag, that is either defective or works below expectations or promises made. It seems to be a sign of the times that these companies’ philosophies have changed to ‘get in, get paid and get lost’. There is no regard for the happiness of the customer, culling repeat business or even ensuring that the product works. There is only lip service given to customer support because the customer no longer matters once the sale is made. If they don’t come back, no problem, there are five more standing in the wings waiting to take their place.

I can cite two examples; one from a major company and one from an internet company that seems to be doing a very good job of hiding their physical entity (with good reason). The first and most recent example is with Kodak. I think everyone has owned a Kodak camera at some point in their lives. You have to believe that they, at one time, knew how to do things right. However, after three calls to their customer service department, I am still not satisfied with the way they are handling the issue of an EasyCare camera that has not worked for a full 60 minutes since I received it a month and a half ago. I am obviously a less than avid photographer.

Over the few times I used this item, performance declined to the point where it will not even stay on long enough to take a picture. In the course of several phone calls, it became apparent that just because Kodak employees are handling customer service complaints in the U.S., fluency in the English language is not a requirement. Nonetheless, I finally got someone who could understand me and did not disconnect me twenty minutes into the call. After all the wasted time on hold and being REPEATEDLY asked to give my personal information, the ‘technical diagnosis’ consisted of this: take the battery out, take the media card out, put the battery back in, try to turn the camera on. Don’t get me wrong, I have the greatest respect for people with technical experience that offer assistance by phone. It must be very difficult and infinitely frustration, but, when the best you can do is ask me to reboot the item – well, that is just a colossal waste of my time.

In the end, I was told to return the item (under the warranty) for repair. A satisfactory outcome, I suppose, but Kodak thinks that it is okay for me to foot the bill to return this defective item to them. I just think that is wrong. We both agree that there is something serious wrong with this item. We both also agree that it is still under warranty and yet they leave the onus on the consumer to go to the expense of sending it back to them for repair. That is not my definition of standing behind your product.

Case number two. I have a house full of animals. Anyone with a lot of animals has probably experienced at least one close encounter with the flea population. Last fall I had just such an experience.  These critters resisted everything I could throw at them. I love my animals and was becoming seriously concerned about the toxic measures I was going to have to take to deal with these pests. I instituted an online search and found a company called Cedarcide. The site was cheesy and in retrospect I discovered a marked omission of any clear guarantee but they tout products that work naturally, are safe for animals and effective for ridding  treated areas of fleas and various other insects. The product was supposedly developed for the U.S. army.  I purchased 100-some-odd dollars of this garbage, with disastrous results. The product, a cedar derivative, reeks in both the figurative and literal sense of the word. The scent is noxious. Although the claim is that you can apply it to any surface, it is an oil-based product that left stains on bedclothes and carpeting. One of my cats lost a significant amount of fur. Itching increased twofold, so either the fleas loved it or we were all having an allergic reaction to it.

Within two weeks, I had exhausted the supply and there had been not the slightest abatement of the problem. To the contrary; the fleas were having a ball, my animals were miserable and my house stank. I called the manufacturer for satisfaction. I was told simply that the item had been tested by the U.S. army and worked – end of story. After lodging a dispute with Paypals, Discover and the Attorney General’s office, the company, which apparently has no physical address, refuses to resolve the issue.  Case closed.

Maybe it is more of the corporate philosophy that is so concerned with keeping the bottom line low so they can preserve their big bonuses. I don’t know the reason for this blatant and total disregard of the customer, but I do know that it is becoming rampant and we, as consumers, should take a stand before it’s too late.

 

Kelly and Fagan escape from the Black Institute

Kelly and Fagan - Coming to Amazon August 1, 2009

 

 

 

 

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1 Comment »

  1. […] Marchbooks’s Blog placed an observative post today on A Sign of the Times, Buyer Beware by M.J. ClaireHere’s a quick excerptI don’t often venture into the land of essays.   I live in the world of fiction. Reality is often too harsh and brutal for my tender soul. So, let’s not call this an essay, but rather a commentary, a product review or perhaps a consumer warning. I think it is no secret that quality control and pride in workmanship have been on a steady decline.   However, is it just me or has everyone seen this phenomenon take a rapid plunge downward of late? It seems that with some (many) companies, there […]

    Pingback by Topics about People-search » A Sign of the Times, Buyer Beware by M.J. Claire — April 25, 2009 @ 9:17 pm | Reply


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