Aug 11, 2012

Getting Customer-Serviced to Death

My Montana retirement villa. The guy who lives  here
looks like some kind of ZZ Top refugee, but he only weighs
about 110 pounds. I figure I can do a Willard Romney on him
and send him on his way with a nice picture of me living in
his old place and a couple of bucks in his jeans.

This week was full of the kind of frustration that makes people like me buy an arm-load of guns and a station-wagon full of ammunition and move into the Montana "dream cave." (see at right)

First, a friend decided he wanted to look at buying a new bike. So, he and I wandered into the local "we got everything" dealership and browsed the pickin's. He was interested in Honda's NS700X and Suzuki's V-Strom DL-650 ABS (which the dealer had mis-labeled as the DL-650A and the salesman had to wander the halls for 20 minutes to confirm was, in fact, ABS). Both bikes would go out the door at around $10k. After looking at the two, side-by-side, he seemed to be settling on the V-Strom. The salesman was such a zombie that I had to get away from the flow of babble and I left the building to stare at the weird-assed Victory contraptions parked in the front of the building. Forty minutes later, I returned to Zombieland and found that the guys had filled out application paperwork and were waiting for the shop guys to give some kind of appraisal on the trade-in bike. They had hauled the bike into the shop about 40 minutes earlier and we were running out of time. When my friend reminded the sales zombie that he'd said it would take about "30 minutes to do the appraisal," zombie-geezer replied, "I didn't say they'd drop everything and do it instantly." Meaning, "It will take 30 minutes to do the appraisal but that 30 minutes begins when we say it begins. Maybe next month?" So, we bagged up our stuff and went on with out day, leaving zombie-fool to mutter about all the paperwork he'd done for nothing.

My friend had left my phone number with the dealer, since he's in-transit to a new job in another state, and when zombie-sales-fool called Friday morning to ask when we'd be back to finish the appraisal, I said, "You're fucking kidding, right? The dude's buying a Honda in Wisconsin." Zombie-sales-geezer-fool was offended and wanted to "reason" with me, but I had stuff to do and hung up. My best guess is that when economic times are tough, the dealer mismanagers get rid of all of their smart sales people and hire semi-retired idiots who would otherwise be Wal-Mart greeters. That tactic might also apply to the shop guys who imagine that a trade-in inspection on a $10k sale can wait until all the donuts are consumed and the cans of Mountain Dew are drained.

This was, by the way, the polar opposite of the qualities of the shop my editor likes to hit up for magazine reviews. Those guys were absolutely customer-service oriented and would be my first choice for all things Honda, Yamaha, Triumph, and Kawasaki if they were 30 miles closer to where I live. As it is, if I ever win the lottery and decide I NEED a new motorcycle, that's where I'll be shopping. Parts, unfortunately, I'll still buy on-line because I hate dealing with dealers' parts children.

Move to later in the week.

I'm still wrestling with getting the Garmin software to work with my old 2610/2620 GPS units. When my office computer crashed last fall, I recovered most everything that mattered (except for the incredibly critical Quicken Home and Office backup data that turned out not to be backed up by Quicken's "backup" function). One of the few things that hasn't come back to life has been City Navigator v8. I can sort of get v7 going, but it only recognizes the existence of my GPS units and won't actually "install the unlock "(a crazy phrase if I've ever written one) and give me access to my maps. The device isn't useless, but it's not a lot more than a compass, altimeter, and a US Interstate locator as it is.

So far, the "recommendation" I get from the Garmin "technical support" guys is the routine I have already followed, which doesn't work. They, also, recommend I buy a newer GPS. I don't need a newer GPS. The roads I travel haven't changed much in 40 years and I can get by just sort of knowing where I am. The sun and the stars fill in the data bits the GPS unit can't complete. I know my 2610 is "old." So am I. It has also survived a drop from my bike at 70+mph and continued to function for 5 years afterwards. If Garmin can guarantee that one of their new units will be that tough, I'll buy one (used and for less than $50, just like the 2610 purchase in 2007). I think Garmin's tech support is still out of Kansas, almost US citizens, but their comprehension of problem-solving might as well be coming from ESL characters in India. Honestly, this experience has made me more open to the idea that Garmin might not be the supplier to my next GPS device and that's probably a good thing.

Finally, my wife and I "celebrated" our 45th anniversary yesterday (Yeah, I know. I'm older than dirt.). While my friend hacked away at the maintenance of his Yamaha TDM, we did some Cities prowling. First, because she is a plant-person, we spent the afternoon at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. I have no complaints about that place, other than the fact that I'm allergic to practically everything growing there. Following that, we went to dinner at what used to be one of our old favorite bar/restaurants on the Minneapolis Mississippi River. That place has changed! $6 domestic beer? $48 for a couple of hamburgers and two beers and the beer was luke warm and the burgers were too. I swear the fries came from McDonald's trashcan. Add the mediocre food to the fact that the clientele was almost exclusively spoiled UofM rich kids with nothing more important to discuss than their latest Facebook entries and you have a moment to "disremember" (to quote our last frat-brat "What me worry?" President). Good thing the plants were cooperative. As humans we should begin to aspire to the high standard of lilies, hostas, and trees.

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately, customer service is getting worse almost everywhere. I partially attribute it to the computerization of everything, which has cost companies so much that they cut back on staff and particularly older and more experienced workers, who were paid more. It used to be that you could walk into an auto parts store and show the clerk something and he would go right to the shelf and pull down a perfect replacement. Now, you've got to be able to tell them the year, make, model, so they can punch it into the computer to see if they have it and where it is located.


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