Monday, May 10, 2010

Outrage Feels So Right?

Why This Traveler's Outrage Feels So Right

After yelling at about the ninth person (people who admittedly bear no responsibility whatsoever for my lost bag), I opted to seek justice the American way: in small claims court.

Yelling and lawsuits are the American way? If that's the case then I'm ashamed to be an American today.

How can yelling at people who bear no responsibility feel so right? In my world, that's just being a jerk. Further, few people in customer service are going to go out of their way to help people who yell at them.

My only disappointment is that I won't be eligible for a jury trial, since the claim is less than $1,500.

Be thankful for that. I can't speak for others, but you would most certainly not want me on the jury. While I might side with you over the $25 fee, I'd also be looking for any kind of excuse to offer the nine customer service representatives some sort of emotional pain and suffering judgment too, especially if your words were the last straw that made one of them quit their job.

Until recently, economists assumed that no rational person would do anything that makes them worse off -- such as filing a lawsuit that can't possibly be worth the cost of my time, even if I win. But economists should have been reading more Shakespeare. It turns out that vengeance, or harming oneself in order to inflict harm on someone else, is both explainable and important.

I'm siding with the economists on this one. You aren't rational.

1. Yelling at people who were not responsible for the original problem is not rational.

2. Yelling at people who might be able to help you is not rational.

3. Paying $72 to file a lawsuit that might pay you $25 is not rational.

4. Filing a lawsuit when none is needed is not rational. You can enact your vengeance simply by continuing to call them. It costs the company money every time you call. You've no doubt already cost them $25. You can clearly keep costing them money by continuing to call until you have either enacted enough vengeance, or your problem has been resolved.

5. You tried yelling once. It did not work. You tried yelling twice. It did not work. You tried a third time, a fourth time, a fifth time, a sixth time, a seventh time, an eighth time, and a ninth time. It still didn't work. That's not rational.

Our economic and social advancement depend on cooperation among groups of people; some of those people cheat, shirk or provide unpleasant customer service.

If our economic and social advancement depends on cooperation, then how do you justify yelling at customer service representatives? Where's the cooperation? One reason we are likely to get unpleasant customer service is because irrational people yell at customer service representatives. We ultimately get the level of service we deserve.

My girlfriend called Electronic Arts to check on the status of a broken RockBand guitar once. She was so nice on the phone (in sharp contrast to most customers) that the customer service person actually sent us two replacements (in case the first one never showed up). Both eventually arrived so we now have an extra one. That's the kind of thing being nice can get you.

If you want bad customer service, then by all means treat customer service people poorly. If you want good customer service, then treat them as you would like to be treated. You might be surprised just how well that works.


EconomicDisconnect said...

"I want you to be nice. I want you to be noce, until it's time to not be nice"

"How will we know when that is?"

"YOU WON'T. I'll Let You Know!"

Stagflationary Mark said...


That took me some time to track down!

Top 7 Patrick Swayze movie quotes

In "Road House," Swayze plays Dalton, a bouncer who's been brought to a really rough bar to take over security as their 'cooler' - the head bouncer in a bar who directs the other bouncers and steps in for the toughest problems. When he's training the bouncers on how to handle problem customers, he uttered that famous line. And Dalton lived up to it.

Always polite, always patient, Swayze's Dalton was the perfect gentleman on the job, until it was time not to be. The calm exterior that was the front for fierce and dangerous skills; his total lack of fear in the face of deadly danger; his complete lack of arrogance; and an air of confidence when delivering this line or his punches are what made this line so memorable.

He was the ultimate customer service. He knew how to "handle problem customers". Yell at him at your own risk, lol.

mab said...


Knew it. It's Candy Mountain.

Stagflationary Mark said...


The situation has sparked recent debate about what was once unthinkable — paying people to donate organs.

It is unthinkable. I'm going to really regret posting this but I just can't seem to help myself.

Chicken Nugget

...sold for a whopping $26.

If people will bid that much for something shaped like an actual body part, then just imagine what they would bid for the real thing.