Nickel and dime mentality!

I’m sure we’ve all heard the expression “I’m sick of being nickel and dimed”. Well, I have reached the end of my rope when it comes to this axiom.

The other day I attempted to get a number from directory assistance with the clone that is fast becoming the voice of America. Most often it misinterprets my requests and gives me numbers in cities I have never heard of. This must have been happening to a lot of people because the phone company has come up with a solution. If your annoyed at the robot you can press the number 1 and get a “real operator” for twenty five cents. So on top of the money it costs to access a number you have to pay additional funds to talk to a human who can understand what the robot has screwed up. You used to be able to do it for free.

If you delve into it, they’ll tell you too many people didn’t want to talk to the clone so they had to charge extra money. I suppose it would cost too much to bring the real people back so that more humans would be employed rather than robots? But this is the new wave of so called economic prudence.

The air lines is charging for just about everything, food, luggage, ear buds, pillows and blankets. There used to be a pillow and a thin blanket as a courtesy. Not any more, if you want it, you buy it. How many of us, unless we’re desperate, want a pillow, harder than a rock, and a blanket that has no potential for warmth as a remembrance of our trip?

I bought a refundable ticket for a recent trip and tried to change it. By the time I got told all the rules and the additional costs I felt as if I had just gotten off a Ferris Wheel run by a mad man. The explanations were so convoluted that I was convinced the agent had previously worked for the C.I.A.

I’m waiting for them to start charging for the pilots. We’ll soon walk onto a full airplane with an empty cockpit. They’ll ask for volunteers first and if there aren’t any takers, they’ll read off a menu of individuals with certain levels of competency and charge accordingly.

Banks now charge for all kinds of services that used to be free and I’m sure they will soon make you pay to talk to the teller. All they have to do is call them a consultant or a coach and they’ll be able to grab more cash from us. Paying your credit cards by phone is another money drain. They position it as a convenience their offering and then inform you that it will cost you ten to fifteen dollars for the service. The reason is that they have to process it.
How taxing is this process, and how many people are involved in the process? Don’t you just access the account on a computer and put in the amount with the persons’ information? How long does that take? Not fifteen dollars worth?

If I don’t pay it on time it will cost me twenty five or thirty dollars. Sure you can do it on the internet or put it in the mail and not be driven nuts. But all the above organizations used to have services that were supposed to make their customers feel they were valued.

Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate some of the “nickel and dime” mentality and return to some “soothing and supportive” ways to keep your clientele wanting to come back instead of running away.

We All Need Good News

By now the majority of the world has witnessed the miraculous rescue of thirty three trapped miners from Chile. How these men were able not only to survive but to do so with grace, dignity and even traces of humor is beyond comprehension. Yet they emerged from a hellacious ordeal to the embraces of families, friends and co-workers who stood vigil anxiously awaiting their return. I for one cannot imagine living in the conditions they endured. It certainly isn’t something any of us are prepared for. Much of what they did to survive was contingent on their unbelievable ability to work together as a team, along with those who created and helped with the rescue. What lifted my spirits and filled my heart with joy was how the human spirit can rise to such spectacular heights. We have seen these types of heroics over and over when disaster strikes, and we are in awe and proud that we humans are capable of rising to the occasion. I know from conversations I have with family, friends and colleagues, that stress, anxiety and depression have become much more prevalent and have begun to erode our outlook as Americans. Many individuals I deal with in my work have also felt a certain trepidation as to where our culture is headed. So much of what we read and hear about in the media feeds into our deepest fears ; i.e. the economy is tanking, politics are filled with rancor, prejudice continues to raise its ugly head, bullying is growing exponentially and reality shows continue to showcase entitlement, dysfunction and bizarre behavior. If I watch too much news, I start to think that the next image that I see will be of Nero fiddling on a roof. It is easy to forget that many people have good hearts, work through their problems with integrity and do the best they can with what they have. We need to focus more on man’s ability to be kind, empathic, and generous. Our minds need a break from the relentless messages that permeate our airwaves that focus on the dark side of humanity. I don’t expect not to be informed of things that could be hurtful or harmful, but please let’s start sprinkling some good news in between the mayhem. It just might make us feel that we are more the same than separate.