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Don't put up with shabby customer service

A good sales clerk is hard to find | July 31, Bill Maxwell column

Let them know you won't take it anymore

Thank you, Bill Maxwell. It's about time somebody wrote about the appalling state of "customer service" being rendered in an overwhelming percentage of American businesses today, especially the retail sector. Unfortunately, both you and those you quoted missed the mark by offering up excuses; advice to accept it, thus implying that it is we, the consumer, who will have to readjust our expectations; and finally suggesting the move to buying via the Internet as a suitable alternative.

What we should be saying is what the character Howard Beale, in the 1976 movie Network, said, "I am mad as hell and I am not going to take this anymore!" But we don't. We've become an all-too-complacent society.

Apparently the vast majority of us have become so busy, so hurried, so self-involved, that we have learned to willingly accept such mediocrity in just about every aspect of our lives. Where will it end?

It's time to start holding employees, businesses, corporations, politicians, educators, everyone, accountable again and force them all to take responsibility for what they do, and don't do. What we tolerate we deserve!

If you (we) really want things to change, the next time you go shopping and can't find a sales clerk, or are treated in a less than courteous manner: Stop! Demand to see a manager. Make your complaint known, then turn on your heel and take your dollars elsewhere. It may be inconvenient. It may take some time, but if enough of us do it, believe me they will eventually get the message — especially in the current economy.

George A. Newman, Tampa

A good sales clerk is hard to find | July 31, Bill Maxwell column

Looking for appreciation

Bill Maxwell is on point in decrying the death of customer service. Employees who have little stake in their companies' fortunes often show that indifference. What galls me most is the lack of courtesy at the checkout counter.

There was a time not long ago when the pre-eminent grocery chain in this area had a card posted at each register reminding employees to thank their customers. Most often now, the best you can get is "Have a nice day," but more often it is a disdainful "There you go" or nothing at all, as the clerk continues some inane conversation with somebody else.

I have a choice when I spend my money. Whether it is $5 or $500, all I really want to be is acknowledged. There are really only nine words that count, with variations. They are: "Thank you," "Please come back" and "We appreciate your business." They tell me my business is appreciated.

I have written to customer service departments and responded to surveys, but my remarks fall on deaf ears. I agree with Maxwell: Cyberbuying is a lot less frustrating.

Scott Hopkins, Brandon

A good sales clerk is hard to find | July 31, Bill Maxwell column

Complain efficiently

I was amused by Bill Maxwell's response to poor customer service at several retail outlets recently.

Instead of building up the anger in himself, why didn't he do the obvious: Speak with the department manager, store manager, or even write to the president or CEO of the corporation.

I have done this in the past with great success in getting satisfaction. If nothing else, it is a way to vent to the right people (and still could make for a good column).

Morton Goldstein, Palm Harbor

A good sales clerk is hard to find | July 31, Bill Maxwell column

Service isn't scheduled

Bill Maxwell is correct, customer service continues to deteriorate. A couple of years ago I worked for a national retailer. Corporate weenies have it all figured out and know exactly how many widgets and doo-dads employees can unbox, shelve and sell per shift. And when the corporation weenies compute labor schedules they leave no wiggle-room for customer service.

When a customer requires attention, the time is lost for the "real work," and you can expect a counseling session about your "performance." There are no brownie points for helping customers, and most places treat customer service as employee misconduct.

James B. Johnson, Port Richey

House issues slavery apology | July 30, story

Do something more relevant

It is indisputable that slavery is perhaps the most dishonorable of chapters in American history.

However, last week's apology issued by the House is ineffectual and empty since both the direct victims and perpetrators of the "peculiar institution" are all dead.

While America is not perfect, it does have a conscience. After all, slavery was terminated due to the Civil War, which caused the death of more than 600,000 souls. In addition, many Americans of all races and ethnic backgrounds lost their lives during the civil rights movement.

There are many dilemmas facing those in the black community that need to be resolved immediately.

First, approximately two out of every three African-American children are born out of wedlock. This is a perfect recipe for a lifetime of poverty.

Second, African-American children continue to trail their Asian, Hispanic, and white classmates in test scores. A recent Times article stated that only 40 percent of black students in Florida graduate from high school.

Third, one out of every two new HIV patients are African-American. Young people must be educated on this ominous trend.

It would be more practical if the House of Representatives addressed issues currently affecting African-Americans.

Thomas W. Cunningham Jr., St. Petersburg

Florida volunteers

Many lend a hand

If there's a shortage of volunteers in Florida, it's news to me.

AARP-Florida has more than 650 volunteers, who work tirelessly on issues impacting Americans 50 and over. They speak to groups across Florida, are advocates on legislative issues and do anything needed on the Divided We Fail initiative.

Our stand-out volunteers include college students, working and retired teachers, lawyers, doctors, communications people and other professionals from every walk of life. Their volunteer service translates to thousands of invaluable hours of work on behalf of the citizens of Florida.

They enhance and strengthen our state, and just saying thank you is not enough. But I do thank them for their willingness to contribute and share their time and expertise.

Lori K. Parham, AARP Florida state director, Tallahassee

Aversion to regulation is costly

Current events now have us clamoring for effective insurance regulation. We also see uncontrolled corporations abandoning retirement-benefit compensation commitments made to retain employees. We demand government intervention in our ailing financial systems. We decry lack of proper food inspection to prevent illness-causing contaminations. We ask for adequate testing of medications.

What is an appropriate degree of regulation in the public interest? For the 60 years of my adult life (I'm now 80), I have heard a persistent drumbeat declaring "government regulation is evil, taxes are evil, big government intervention is evil." If public opinion nevertheless called for regulatory measures, then the regulatory bodies were crippled with ineffective budgets, muddled objectives and weak staffing. The opposition to regulation has come largely from those who most benefit from American economic life and are best able to pay taxes to fund proper regulation.

Decades of neglect now rapidly bring us to crisis stage in many areas at once. We first have a mind-set to overcome. I believe sensible, effective, intelligent oversight — adequately funded and staffed — is vital in solving these issues.

Charles W. Cook, Belleair

Don't put up with shabby customer service 08/03/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 5, 2008 8:06pm]
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