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The Erosion of Customer Respect

The Erosion of Customer Respect

Have you noticed customer service has been severely lacking these days, especially in large corporations? In decades past you always had a general meme that the customer was always right and companies did their best to be sure you were satisfied with their service. Now we face a very different attitude. In my opinion the worst invention of all time was the automated answering machine that puts you “push #1 for sales, #2 for technical, #3 for billing, #4 for IT, #5 for cafeteria, #6 for janitor…” ARGH. To add insult to injury, even huge companies like Rogers that are certainly not poor and can afford to hire large volumes of staff always seem to be lacking enough customer service representatives.

Have you noticed that 9 times out of 10 EVERY single time you call you get the now familiar message “We are experiencing a higher than normal call volume, please be patient as your call is important to us”. Really? If it was so damn important, they would have enough people working the $*%& phones so that they would be able to assist you immediately! A little clue for the service providers…If you are consistently experiencing higher than normal call volume…that means that IT IS NORMAL. Hire more staff and be prepared for the influx of calls!

Then when you look at companies like Toronto Hydro…well it gets even more ridiculous. Not only do they either demand pre-authorized bank payments to waive an exorbitant fee as an insurance down payment, but they have the most outrageous list of delivery charges that the customer is forced to pay.

Then you have ANOTHER category called “Regulatory charges”.

Regulatory Charges

  • Wholesale Operations Charge1(includes Rural Rate Protection Charge): 0.65¢/kWh
  • Standard Supply Service Admin Charge2: 25¢/30 days

If that’s not enough, they have one final kick in the teeth:

Debt Retirement Charge

  • 0.7¢/kWh

The Debt Retirement Charge pays down the debt of the former Ontario Hydro. Toronto Hydro collects this charge, without mark-up, on behalf of the Ontario Electricity Financial Corporation.

Oh gee. How lucky we are. This fee of paying down the OLD Company’s debt that somehow we the consumers are responsible for is collected without markup. I guess we should be grateful they are being so kind!

I think this tends to happen with companies that get a little too big for their britches. Monopolies are the worst, and it’s a good thing that the phone service is now spread around. Funny how those long distance rates of yesteryear aren’t so expensive anymore. Could it be they were just artificially inflated for pure profit? Or am I just being cynical.

I have one more group of companies I hate with a passion more than any other though. Automobile Insurance. This has got to be the most outrageously money-grabbing, extortion scheme in the biz. They get away with it because A) it’s absolutely mandatory to have if you want to drive and B) They are all in cahoots and the contracts are written with the utmost of critical care by the finest lawyers in the business. If they can find a way to exclude you or deny you a claim, they will!

But even good drivers with ZERO accidents are being penalized. My roommate just moved to Toronto last year and he has a completely accident free record. Now legally they can only insist on the last 7 years of your record. In his case he DID have over a 10-year blemish free record but he couldn’t locate the period prior to the seven years and would you believe they reserve a “special” rate for people who can prove that extra 3 years? Shouldn’t that be illegal to do considering BY LAW they are only supposed to be focusing on and judging you based on the last seven? It makes a mockery of the idea of forgiving and forgetting the past and moving on with your mistakes.

In any event, the grand total that he could get at the most reasonable rate for collision and comprehensive was $252.00 a month. That’s $3024 a year. So let’s get this straight…in 10 years time you would have paid over $30,000 to the insurance company, the cost of a brand new car and this all predicated on the assumption that you aren’t going to have an accident so you get NOTHING in return. God forbid you DO have one because your rates then go up drastically and they’ll collect even MORE over the next 7 years. Isn’t this a bit ridiculous? How can they justify the average person paying such a ridiculous amount of money for a statistically insignificant amount of accidents per person?

Some quick facts: Drivers and Vehicles

  • There are approximately 11.2 million registered vehicles (includes passenger vehicles, motorcycles, mopeds, commercial vehicles, buses, trailers, snow vehicles, and off road vehicles), 9.1 million drivers and approximately 85,000 bus and truck companies actively operating on our highways.
  • There are approximately 1.3 million commercial vehicles (of which approximately 253,000 are large trucks), 32,290 buses, and 632,500 commercially licensed bus and truck drivers registered in Ontario. Thousands more operate into Ontario from other jurisdictions.

Now from a Toronto Insurance lawyer reporting on accidents, we have a clear trend. The City of Toronto has recorded approximately 12,000 car accidents per year from 2004 to 2010. The great majority of accidents are minor and usually less than $1000. Occasionally there are total write off of cars, and severe injuries but in Canada we don’t allow people to sue others willy-nilly for outrageous multi-million dollar damages like the US. We have caps in place to keep things fair and reasonable. So how is it possible for them to justify such exorbitant rates? I can’t even imagine what the person with 1 or 2 accidents on their record is paying a year.

While many things get better with time and progress is being made on many fronts in society, I think customer appreciation and even the nominal equality of the role of consumer has been downgraded to supplicant.

photo credit: Roman Beltran

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