Saturday, May 9, 2009

Waiting for The Plumber

I am waiting for the plumber. Actually, my wife is; she's the one who made the appointment. He told her he would be here at 10:00. It's 10:45, no call, no plumber. This is typical. He'll probably get here around noon; he'll actually believe he's on time because he got held up at his last job--the one he should have completed yesterday.

Yesterday we bought a new grill: $300.0 plus delivery. The grill doesn't work. I can't get it started. I called Ace Hardware. The guy who handles the grills wasn't in. The guy who answered the call wasn't sure when he would be in. I told him we bought the grill because we were having a barbecue; we had invited ten people over. He said the grill guy would call as soon as he got in.

I said, "That's not the greatest customer service."

"He will do his best," he said.

Wells Fargo called me three times this week to check up on the status of our refinancing application. The first call, the guy asked, "Is this Ira Pollins.?"


"I'm sorry, I incorrectly dialed your number."


"I'm sorry; we're getting used to a new system. "

The next call was from a women who wanted to know if I had sent in our application.

"I sent it almost six weeks ago."

She paused. "Wait a minute," she said, and then she left me on a hold for seven minutes. Finally, she came back and told me that she saw that I had sent the application and that she was sorry for calling.

The final call was from another women. She said, "Is this Ira Pollins?"

"Yes, why do you keep calling me?"

"This is the first time I'm calling you."

"Not specifically you. Why does Wells Fargo keep calling me?"

"I have no idea. I see here you applied for a new loan. Is that correct?"

"That is correct. Can you please tell me the status of the loan."

"I have no idea. I don't handle that."

"Then why did you call me?"

"I was checking up to see how you felt about the service you were getting."

I didn't know what to say.

I wonder: does this stuff only happen to me?

I don't think so. The degree of inefficiency and lack of organization in business and government is staggering. Hardly anyone can be counted on to meet their commitments . No one calls you back when they say they will. No one shows up on time. No one cares whether or not you are satisfied. I might be exaggerating a little, but not much.

I was having an e-mail conversation with my nephew, Eric, which is unusual for me. I am not used to e-mail conversations. He is frustrated. After graduating from Columbia Law School and working for a top law firm he was laid off after six months of doing nothing. Now he can't seem to find a new job. He's taking it personally as if it were a reflection on him. He is bright, articulate, and personable. He really is outstanding in many ways. I was trying to explain to him that the business world is so screwed up that he should not take it personally. It was hard for him to accept this.

This is why I am concerned about the Obama Stimulus package. Seven hundred billion dollars is now loose in a system that is already out of control, and we've released it to the people who allowed it to get that way. C'mon, how much confidence can we have that this money will be used wisely?

Actually, all this is good for me. I am a consultant. I solve problems. I teach people how to be on time, why it is important to meet their commitments, and the importance of good customer service. Unfortunately, I have a few loose ends myself. In the last hour, while waiting for the plumber, I misplaced my glasses, couldn't find the receipt for the grill we bought, spilled coffee. I can't remember who I promised to call this morning. I think it was an important call.

God help us.


  1. mercury retrograde till the end of may

  2. did you fill the propane tank?

  3. This is a funny blog, Dad. Funny and tragic, because everything you say is true. God help us.

  4. Going back to Wells Fargo... now there's a good lead for SAP to push CRM - Interaction Center for their customer service department... I'm on it ;)