Yes, Virginia

When you need to reach out to a customer-service representative of a big company (let alone a government office) it is possible that, like me, your impulse is to discover that you absolutely, no question about it, must clean out that pesky catch-all drawer in your kitchen before you can do anything else. (My husband tells me that he does not relate to this urge, so this may not be a gender-neutral notion.*) Listening to a tinny voice tell you for forty minutes how important your call is only to be disconnected before anyone picks up is irritating. Being transferred from one person to another is even more so. When you cannot begin to understand the person either because they are on speakerphone with a terrible connection or else because their English is so thickly accented that you have no idea what they are saying is simply exhausting. Having to repeat the same information each time a new person enters the picture makes you wonder why you did not find a second drawer that adamantly needed your attention.

If any of this resonates with you, I have some good news. Over the past few weeks I have been absolutely delighted with the response to a few calls and/or emails I initiated. You may or may not be customers of these companies, but dealing with them was a heartening experience.

Let’s start with Brita, purveyors of water filters and dispensers. I did not consider it a flaw in their product when I dropped my long-owned pitcher and it cracked. That was clearly my fault and I purchased a replacement. However, I was disappointed when the lid on my new pitcher stopped fitting well after only a few months. I easily found an email address on the company’s web site (a plus to begin with as some companies hide their contact info) and wrote them. In less than a day, I received a reply email asking me for readily available information, which I happily supplied. One more email quickly followed asking me my preferred color for a free replacement pitcher, and then the most recent email telling me that it was on its way. All in all, I invested about five minutes of time and I am a happy consumer.

I love the clothing choices on the eShakti website. They have a wide selection featuring good quality items at reasonable prices. The cherry on top for me is the ability to specify sleeve length, collar choice, and skirt or dress length. I wanted to send a gift certificate to a friend and got completely confused through the process. It was easy to find the helpline phone number and the woman who answered was pleasant, knowledgeable, and helpful. Problem solved.

My final example may blow your mind. I had gone in person to the Department of Motor Vehicles to order a title report on my car. In itself, that was less unpleasant than I expected, though it would not be my choice for how to spend an afternoon. I paid my fee and was told to expect the document within 10 business days. That didn’t actually happen. Tracking this document was a phone call I truly dreaded making. To my absolute delight, after only about seven minutes on hold, I reached a cheerful and very competent woman who readily found my account and confirmed that the paper had not gone out on time but it was on its way. I did not have to give her any long string of digits or reveal all my offspring’s blood types; my name alone was sufficient for her to find my account.

At times when I suspect that civilization is deteriorating, simple encounters like these are reassuring. Suffice it to say that if all interactions were as smooth as these recent ones, my catch-all drawer might remain blissfully messy.

*P.S. Here is my husband’s third editing mention of not understanding what cleaning a drawer has to do with anything. Am I the only one to understand the connection? He wrote: I recommend finding something better than the drawer or alternatively at the front, explaining more fully why cleaning a drawer is the fall back. Makes no sense as is.

What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this Susan’s Musings post.
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