Monday, May 30, 2011

2011.05.30 — We Are Alive in the Age of False Sincerity

“The secret of success is sincerity.
Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”
Jean Giraudoux*

The age we are living in is not most accurately described as the 'information age', despite the explosion of abbreviated information being flung between smart phones. Nor is the age ware are we living in most accurately described as the 'space age', despite man have created fecal matter shooting stars.

The age we are living in is truly that of
false sincerity. And while fakery has always been popular our age is particularly blessed: we the help of media propaganda we have
1) given over our authority to the politician's speech writers;
2) come to deify the Harvard-school MBAs and their agents and;
3) we defer socio-economic complexity to empty economic jingoism and feel good words or phrases like 'team,' or 'embrace change,' or 'initiate opportunity.'

And while these societal maladies are everywhere made manifest, they are most easily discerned in the lowly and unwanted task of providing worthy customer service once the post sale coital blush and cigarette have passed and become cold. This customer service cold shoulder occurs despite the MBAs having read the importance of customer service. And that they have read such scripture is easily deduced because its importance is yelled from corporate image ads ad nauseam and in puerile internal propaganda campaigns.

So why is customer service often the worst by those who shout its importance?

Simply because the executive MBAs quarterly bonuses are not immediately dependent on customer service. Worse still, the opposite can be perceived to be true because GAAP relegates customer service to an expense best minimized. The short term financial intangibility of slightly reducing good customer service combined with leadership pelf are perhaps the two biggest reasons that service industries everywhere have leapt to outsourcing their call centres, for example. The MBAs are being paid huge sums for making these choices while they proffer to care that the third world or imprisoned contractors are trustworthy, loyal, caring or whatever the corporate image ads effuse because everyone signs promises of ethical behaviour.

It does not take much intelligence to question the service side of this practice. Customer service contractors do not have a long term vested interest in their 'employer,' their wages are often locked to very short response times, and they are aware that they could as easily lose their jobs to outsourcing as did the original call centre employees.

This dead-horse-flogging was triggered Friday, May 20th when I experienced yet another example of false sincerity from a Customer Service Rep. This one, for whatever reason, stuck a burr up my butt. And while I don't blame the rep as such, because s/he is quite likely unsupported in that role. However, s/he was still my link into getting my Casio watch band fixed.

The details of the exchange are below. Except for the minor editing required to convert an e.mail chain into a readable blog, it is unedited. You can decide whether or not I'm blowing smoke out of my ass, or that we are living in the age of false sincerity.

-----Original Message----- [my on-line enquiry]
Sent: Friday, May 20, 2011 10:34 PM
To: watches_cms
Subject: Watch Band Replace

NAME-Guy A. Duperreault
CATEGORY-Watches- All Others
MODEL-2531 DI (Pro Trek)
MESSAGE-I would like to replace the broken watch strap for the 2531 DI (Pro Trek) sports watch. When I looked for the watch on your web page, it did not exist. When I did a global search, it was not found. Please help.
[-----Original Response-----]
Mr. Duperreault,

Thank you for selecting Casio America, Inc. We would recommend a local parts distributor for your purchase. If you are located outside of the U.S. please go to where you will be able to locate your nearest Casio branch contact and service information.

If you reside in the U.S. please use the parts/accessory distributors below.

When ordering parts or accessories please have the model number or accessory number handy!

Casio Parts division for the U.S. residents may be contacted via phone:
This list is subject to change without notice.

Official Parts Distributors Listing

Pacific Coast Parts Dist. Inc.
153 E. Compton Blvd., Gardena, CA 90248
Tel: 310-515-0207, 800-421-5080
Fax: 800-782-5747

American Perfit Crystal
520 8th Ave., New York, NY 10018
Tel: 212-246-8292 (NY), 800-345-0537 (Outside NYC)
Fax: 212-265-4085

We hope that we were able to assist you with your question and again, thank you for contacting CASIO AMERICA.

Customer Services
Casio America Inc.

[-----My First Response-----]
Dear Cori @ CMS.
Your response has not been of any use, given that the watch's model number that I supplied did not exist on the Casio watch page.

Also, when I searched for a repair location in Canada, there were none that were convenient that fixed watches.

So, I went to the US links that you supplied me with. From the first:

You will notice that the model number has supplied me with anything but watches.

The other link you supplied gave this:

Thus both the sites you supply gave me, more or less, the same information I got from the Casio web page: my watch does not exist, which goes round back to my query and puzzlement as to why you wouldn't have confirmed the viability of these sites before sending them to me. Please re-read my query because it would seem that you, Cori — meaning Casio's representative — do not have have this watch nor its parts, and your directions are what I call 'false friendly' in the MBA-style of doing business. You want to appear like you are being helpful without actually providing help. If you want to be helpful, you can
a) tell me that the watch I have is irreparable, with an apology and an equivalent to replace it along with some kind of really friendly gift certificate or

b) the equivalent part number of my watch, if it exists, and my easiest/closest method of getting it repaired, which, given that I located myself in CANADA (in the ZIP code slot since your inadequate page does not allow for Canadian Postal Codes) is unlikely to be either CA or NY or

c) thank me for having wasted my time(piece) because it is unlikely I would ever consider purchasing a Casio product in the future and, furthermore, I will relate my experience with you as a typical example of the false friendliness of MBA-style customer service.

[-----Cori's Second Response-----]
Mr. Duperreault,

It seems you did not enter the model number correctly. you [sic] have a Protrek watch so it should start with a P and it will be on the back of the watch. However, it may be difficult to find part in the United States since Protrek models are not and never have been for sale in the United States.

Customer Services
Casio America Inc.

[----My Second Response---]
Sadly, you have confirmed absolutely that Casio is infected with MBA-disease and that you have been improperly trained in your function as a customer service representative. I speak from experience because I also deal with customers. We both know that customers are often not correct. However, it is your job to correct customers of their errors without making them feel stupid and to get them to where they want to go. Your e.mail also confirms my experience with the false-front MBA customer service practices that have become endemic to the business world, and is not just limited to you and/or your department.

Before reading what I have written below you may want to consider what you and your organization's web page may have done to represent Casio in a manner that would convince me that I would want to both recommend them for their customer service, and would convince me that buying another Casio's product would be worth while. Consider: you have no idea whether or not I am just some lowly grunt not worth talking to, or the child of the senior purchase agent for a big retail chain looking to purchase new POS devices.

With your response you have fully acknowledged that you in fact did not read my original request, and wasted both our times by putting me onto a wild goose chase and creating from me two pukes of verbiage. However, your response also reveals that Casio's customer service web page is poorly designed, given that you have now stated that you only want to help Americans. My IP address when I searched Casio's web page would have flagged me as being from Canada. Since being a foreigner precludes me from getting Casio's help, it would have been prudent and cost efficient on the part of Casio to flag foreigner's coming into the web page and advising them that we are not going to be helped. Better, of course, would be to take us to an aliens' only page, where country options would be available, and appropriate redirection given.

As to my having seemingly entered the number incorrectly, that was a sloppy job of blaming the customer. On the surface that might appear to be a good guess, but if you are ignorant of alien products, you are gambling with an already irate customer. As it turns out, your guess was wrong. Find attached the images of both the product manual and a photo of the back of the watch.

You will see that in neither case is the 'P' you allude to included.

And now that I've brought up the THICK manual into evidence, I have now re-confirmed that nowhere in it is there a single reference to customer service or repair, domestic, foreign, or metaphysical. This absence yet again re-confirms that Casio, in their congratulations on my intelligent purchase (yes, the manual does congratulate me), are hypocrites. Casio wants my money, but isn't willing to work for it.

And, again, despite my noting that good customer service would be to provide me with some kind of effective direction or link to someone somewhere on the planet that would be able to help me, you have failed to provide me with any help whatsoever. You have, actually, in polite language, told me to ', sucker! Only dumb-a$$es would consider buying anything outside of America.'

So, I thank, you for providing me more evidence of MBA-itis. Your response has confirmed that my experience with you and Casio is worthy of being included on my blog. Which, I guess, you hope, no one reads or takes seriously, and that I am just a nobody. But I am a nobody who will not purchase a Casio product, and who will be relating this story to anyone who has their own stories of customer service failure.

And I say this with all the sincerity I can muster.
I did not get a response after that. Can't say that I blame Cori, but I most certainly will not be buying a Casio product.

“The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”

A no more accurate and succinct description of the typical MBA and Executive MBA and their effects on society has been written.

* As time progressed, I have seen this quotation attributed to three other people. Since JG was the first I came across, I've left the attribution stand with him.