When I go to my pharmacy, they want to know if I have their “care card,” that little piece of plastic that gets me discounts, but also tells them everything I buy so they can more easily sell me more stuff. Because somehow, over the course of the last half decade, we are no longer druggist and druggee. We have a “relationship.”
Every time Bank of America shuts down my credit card because I have done something its fraud detection unit disapproves of, like being in a different city than my husband, because married people, you know, never do that, I have a screaming interaction with them over their 800 number (I am the one doing the screaming), and then they e-mail me a survey to see how satisfied I was with their customer service. I fill out the survey, explaining every time that their customer service person, while perfectly nice, is the helpless pawn of their stupid corporate policies and poor communication practices. And then a couple of months go by and they shut me off again and we repeat the whole cycle, including the survey. Because Bank of America and I have a “relationship.” An abusive one, but a relationship nonetheless.
A couple of weeks ago, a rep from Angie’s List called my husband at 8:00 am (which might as well be 6:00 am around here) and harangued him into giving feedback on a gutter cleaning service we’d found via Angie’s List and failed to leave “feedback” on.
“They came. They cleaned the gutters. I really don’t remember them,” my husband said testily.
Amazon is chronically insecure about its packaging. How many times is it going to ask me if everything was okay? I can hear it whining, “It was good for me, but was it good for you?”
Just what I need in my life. A needy online retail giant.
My wallet is fat with affiliate cards. If I just have one more cup of coffee, buy one more book, make 20 more copies, I will get a free something. If I remember the card and can find it the next time I enter the store.
You know what I long for?
I long for the time when I gave you money, and you gave me stuff.
Or I contracted for services, and you delivered them.
And then we shook hands, parted ways, and never thought about each other again.
That’s what I long for.
I give fully in my relationships with family and friends, but frankly, that’s all I can handle. I prefer to maintain some professional distance with my supermarket.
“It’s not you, it’s me,” I explained to the woman at the checkout counter as I turned down her offer to sign me up. Again. “I just can’t be involved in any more relationships.”
My car dealership calls with a was-it-good-for-you survey the day after every visit, despite that I’ve had notated on my account that I don’t want these calls. Last time they called, I yelled because, of course, I wasn’t supposed to be called. The guy on the phone actually said, “I understand, Ma’am, but we want to know how our service was.” And I said, “I don’t care what you want” and hung up. It felt very satisfying.
So true. And then there are stores where, when I try to hand them my money, they want to know my phone number. Or my zip code. I always say, I just want to buy this whatever it is. They oblige, of course, but they never look happy about it.
Great post, Barb! When it comes to things like that I just smile and say “no, thank you”. I value my time and privacy much more than the coupons they may send me that end up cluttering my purse until they expire.
I have always believed that coupons are a way of saying to women, “Your time is worth nothing.”
They really want us to believe they care what we think?
When I was young, my grandmother lived in Manhattan, and shopped at all the Name department stores (many of which have long since disappeared). When she went looking for something, the salespeople recognized her and would bring out selections they thought she would like. If she purchased something, they promised to have it delivered to her home–free. If we went to Tiffany’s, easy walking distance from her apartment, the sales people would let us (that is, eight-year-old me) try on the high end jewelry, again because they knew her. (She shopped there for a corporate account.)
Amazon, I will not tell your whiny computer-generated robot that I just love your packaging and the book embedded in six layers of bubble-wrap and three layers of cardboard that it took an axe to get into. (Yes, the book is fine.) Am I being discourteous if I don’t reply? Or is that what Amazon is counting on?
I love the story with your grandmother — something an Iowa girl could only dream of!
I think we had the same grandmother! My grandmother had been a millinery buyer for Saks Fifth Avenue for years, but had retired by time I was born. I still remember her stalking down Fifth Avenue about ten feet ahead of me and my brother, looking back over her shoulder and shouting, “Damn suburban kids! Don’t know how to walk.”
LOL! I never heard an adult in my family swear. So funny.
Great phrase re: Bank of America – an abusive relationship! Especially when you add in all their cross sell attempts for additional accounts when I go into the branch. Makes me love the ATM even more – it doesn’t talk back!
I will wait in line for the ATM even when there is a person with no line at the counter.
I adore my credit union. They have low fees, a comprehensive range of services and all the staff members I have ever encountered via phone, email or in person have been genuinely pleasant and extremely helpful. Maybe there is a credit union in your area that would be equally wonderful.
Now they want you to take a survey as they hand back the receipt and frantically search for your name — if I’d kept my maiden name they’d never be able to pronounce it. On the other hand, the Starbucks guy (when I go to the one nearest my house) knows my order. At the closest grocery store one of the guys always busts out some dance moves when he sees me and checks my groceries out even when I’m in the self checkout line.
Except for Walmart, we’re still pretty small town here in rural Maine, but the car dealership does that same annoying thing if you don’t send back the paper survey they leave in the car after they change the oil or whatever. The best solution we’ve come up with is not answering the phone. Everything goes to the answering machine. The only one this didn’t get rid of was Anthem Medicare who insisted we confirm our physical address if we wanted to continue our “relationship”–my husband asked for and sent back a complaint form about this silliness. We’ll see how long it takes before they bug us again.
Now all the hospitals are doing it. I was getting “how did we do surveys” from critical care when my mother was still admitted. Just to another department.
Great post, Barbara! It is so true. You can take control by calling the credit card company first to give them dates when one or both of you is out of town. It is a pain so that may not be a good tradeoff for you. Or switch to Chase bank. They seem more interested in providing service than being my best friend.
Believe me Karen. Calling ahead is a sham and a delusion. Bill does it every time and at one point they admitted it did nothing. And by “two different cities” I mean I was in Portland, Maine, less than a day trip away. I can’t call them everytime I cross state lines. This is New England!
I feel your pain, Barb! We often do notifications and still get shut down. We bank with a different bank and I’m glad they are cautious most of the time but it can be very frustrating.
Interesting. When I’ve gone abroad, I always tell BofA, my primary credit card holder, so that my card isn’t refused somewhere, sometime. (This past time, they asked me if I wanted a card with a chip, since that was the major format in Europe, and then sent it to me overnight for free.) Of course, it’s hard to tell if they’d actually pick up any fraudulent charges (none so far, thank goodness), or in a timely fashion. I do talk to a human at BofA, not just fill out an online form.
why should a megabank know where & when I leave home for a trip??? It’s like I’m asking their permission to spend my money!!!!
I don’t mind the cards (put them in a separate wallet, however), but I ignore the e-mail surveys and they pretty much go away. It’s not the end of the world to me, but it is annoying.
Heh. I know the feeling. I was in a store this weekend where the clerk (and I don’t blame the clerks, they’re just doing what they’re told) asked if I had the rewards card. No, I don’t. “Do you want one? It’s free and only takes sixty seconds to sign up.” No, I want to buy my goods and go home. Thanks.
Barb, you always make me laugh. I love this post. And I feel your pain.
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