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Monday, April 07, 2008

The art of (diplomatic) complaining

Last Wednesday, our new (and very nice) upstairs neighbors had their cable and Internet connection set up. Not thinking much about it much when it happened, but things started to go awry when the cable company technicians knocked on our door first. I answered the door rather puzzled as one of the technicians asked which "apartment" was which. When I realized it was for our neighbors, the men went ahead and installed their cable and Internet. The deal was, as I found out the following day, the technicians not only unplugged our Internet connection, but cut the wire and left it dangling from the roof.

I checked with our neighbors to make sure their services were working, and when I found out they were, I called the cable company. The soonest another technician could come was Saturday afternoon, so I cleared out the entire day and waited. When the technician came out before 6pm, he was very friendly, and was done by 6:20. Now that things are back online (and I was credited for the days without service), all should be forgotten, right? Well, to me, this was a test of when to complain, and how to complain.

I've often said that my time in retail taught me that I shouldn't make a career in retail. But another result was dealing with complainers. There are the nasty ones (who often come out of the woodwork on the day after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas), the mean-but-not-nasty, the whiners, the diplomatic, and so on. Thinking about how I complain, I take some caution as I don't want to be nasty or whiny. Since the most amount of complaining I do is more of a way to vent, I try to not make it ugly. But it can be so easy.

I could have called up the cable company and chewed them out. I could have chewed out the technician that came out on Saturday for the ones that came out on Wednesday. I could have screamed at the billing people for the slight inconvenience. Hell, I could have unfairly blamed my neighbors for all of this. But no to all of these. I'm just not that kind of person.

It's like the small disclaimer that ran in every issue I wrote for Punk Planet: the views of the records are squarely those of the writer, not necessarily the entire staff. Still, to the world at large, the name of the company you work for is bigger (and more well-known) than its individuals. You definitely want to present something that is consistent for the whole company, but not everybody does everything right (and not everybody does everything wrong). Things go afoul, and instead of forever holding a grudge about it, I try to look for a way to get things fixed.

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