Last week I wrote about my trials and tribulations in simply trying to pump gas at an Ohio Turnpike service plaza, and I was amazed at the chord I struck with readers.

As I have been out and about this week people have told me how similar their customer disservice experiences have been. Apparently nearly everyone everywhere is constantly being thwarted by the very businesses that should be courting their patronage.

Of course I didn’t have to wait long to encounter another stark personal experience of a “you don’t matter to us” attitude from a large business.

To set the stage, I was dealing with a leaky kitchen faucet, which is frustrating in and of itself. To make things worse, I could not find the paperwork that came with the faucet, listing such critical information as the model number, troubleshooting guide and parts list and diagram. The missing papers were surprising to me, because I placed all of our home’s faucet information on a shelf above the stairs leading down to the basement.

After searching two more locations of similar paperwork, one pertaining to tools and another to appliances and outdoor equipment, I decided to go back to the shelf over the stairs. After pulling every set of directions and warranty information out of the boxes I found those for the kitchen faucet, tucked inside of the information on our kitchen sink which was tucked inside of the papers for the kitchen cabinets.

An hour wasted but now armed with the model number and parts diagram I went to the manufacturer’s online troubleshooting guide. It turns out I was destined for more frustration, as the guide described the fix for leaks from the spout or between the spout and handle, but of course not for the spot where my faucet was leaking, below the handle.

Fortunately the paperwork had a customer service phone number listed. Of course, just to goad me a bit more, it didn’t list the numbers, it spelled out a stupid message so I had to look up each blooming character on the phone’s buttons.

I didn’t have to be psychic to guess the message that greeted me next: “Due to extremely high call volume all our service representatives are busy helping other customers.” Of course this is business jargon for “You are not important enough for us to hire sufficient service representatives,” and of course my blood pressure rose a few more points.

For just a moment I brightened up when the recorded voice informed me I could schedule a callback time. That brightness was soon eclipsed, however, when the choices for a callback time ranged from the following afternoon through to sometime next week.

Here I am, with faucet parts and tools scattered across the kitchen sink counter and the water to the kitchen turned off, and I am being told to wait more than 24 hours. Had the recorded voice been an actual human my sigh and less than family friendly comment might have counted for something, but as it was it was simply wasted breath.

After I hung up I had the bright idea of calling back and being put on hold, but I learned being put on hold and talking to a human being that day was not an option. My only options were to schedule a callback for another day, or not schedule a callback number and simply go away.

Of course that is indeed the goal of the company, to simply go away. They obviously don’t want me to repair my faucet, even though it is not that old and has a lifetime guarantee. They simply want me to give up and go buy a new faucet. I don’t believe they even care if I don’t buy their faucet, as my guess is all the faucet companies treat people the same way so in the long run they all profit from customer disservice.

At about this point the idea of digging a well in the back yard and bringing water to the kitchen by the bucketful seemed attractive, basically telling the faucet company to roast in Hades. Of course I also realized the company doesn’t care about me, as it is cheaper to treat me like dirt than deal with me.

Now, as I’m waiting for my much delayed callback tomorrow, I am wondering what country the service rep will be calling from, and how difficult it will be to understand his or her broken and limited English.

Don Allison is an author, historian and retired editor of The Bryan Times. He can be reached at

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