Sunday, June 1, 2014

Slow Death

I was reminded of one of my favorite quotations recently when I contacted a seller to complain about a product they had supplied. It simply didn’t provide all the elements it had advertised. The missing one was even advertised by a small brass-colored tag attached to the body of the product.

When I sought out the company that provided the product to the final seller, I found an email address to use to "Contact us." I wrote a nice enough note, considering, saying only that I was disappointed, that I had bought their brand in the past and had been satisfied, and that I thought they ought to know that their Chinese producer had not delivered what the company and, ultimately, I had ordered. I wasn’t petulant or smarty, but instead, rather helpful I thought. I didn’t expect any real redress, and had decided that all things considered, I would live with what I had.

In my inbox in less than an hour was a message thanking me for contacting them, and that they would get back to me quickly. That was a few weeks ago. That reminded me of the quote.

In about 1560 or so, the Spanish viceroy to Mexico, who certainly knew more than a little about bureaucracy, must have been awaiting some sort of decision from the Spanish court. Like me, he hadn’t received an answer. He left a comment though, somewhere: "If death came from Madrid," he wrote, "we should all live to a very old age."

Well, I’m perfectly happy to be in charge of my own aging, thank you very much, and as it seems to be working, I’m happy to be doing it without help from Madrid, or in this case, Seattle. But I still would like an answer.

What I think is, nobody ever used the "contact us" link before, and I can imagine the frantic running around going on in the company’s headquarters as they try to find someone who can actually reply.

There was a time when you bought everything locally: food, clothing, tools, parts - - - everything. If it didn’t fit when you got it home, you took it back to the seller and either exchanged it or had your money refunded. If it didn’t work, the seller would replace it. Yes, most things sold for a bit more perhaps, but at least you didn’t have to package it and wait for mailing labels and instructions from the seller; you simply took it back. That’s a model that doesn’t work well today. It should, even in modern dress, but it doesn’t.

The Seattles of this world are the new Madrid.

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