Modern angst, right? Recently I fell for an email scam by NordicTrack for a tune up on my treadmill. They surprisingly and immediately outsourced the project to a treadmill parts company who themselves then outsourced me to a repair company out of Arizona(!) because, they said, there were no mechanics smart enough or patient enough to learn how to service NordicTracks in the whole state of New Mexico.
It was, predictably, a shit show. It took the Arizona company weeks to schedule visits to New Mexico and they kept trying to schedule visits on weekends two days before that weekend. I wasn’t allowed to schedule anything ahead. So if say I was on vacation Memorial Day weekend, they’d fully expect me to cancel that the Thursday prior. If you were out of town, too bad for you. You had to wait another two weeks or a month later for another late-minute, surprise schedule request. Great customer service, right?
I ordered the tune up in April and it wasn’t completed until July! They could have avoided all this by saying the NordicTrack tuneup service wasn't available in New Mexico but....they didn't offer that information...or a refund. Sucker!
And not only did I pay $200 for the tune-up, but I paid to fix all the broken items separately. The $200 was just a courtesy charge for the initial visit. At one point I was arguing with the middle company about getting a free visit for a mistake the repairman made on the previous visit that needed to be fixed before the tune-up could be completed. I did get the free visit.
No one understood the system, least of all me. And it was a horrible, time consuming experience being passed around on the phone for 30 minutes a transfer. Ultimately it was a complete rip-off at the end of which I was supposed to receive a one-year warranty. Guess what? It never came.
I had no one to complain to in the tangle of outsourcings. The service was all spread out so thin no one would take responsibility for any mistake in the chain. Lots of finger pointing happened. And even the employees involved seemed confused and frustrated.
Great job, NordicTrac!
But this is all to describe a quote I read from the New York Times Magazine in an article entitled “Panic Attack,” a piece about modernity and why it’s making us so angry and full of anxiety:
“…our world [is full of] strange and byzantine distances between individuals and the grand global forces affecting us. This feels as obviously true today as it might have to a midcentury reader of Kafka. You can argue with a store owner; you can’t argue with the call-center representative of the company contracted to maintain the point-of-sale machine owned by another company contracted by the multinational conglomerate that owns the store….In the 1991 novel “Generation X” one of Douglas Coupland’s character ventures that “the world has gotten too big—way beyond our capacity to tell stories about it, and so all we’re stuck with are these blips and chunks and snippets on bumpers.” A pressing national worry, right now, is that our dueling bumper-sticker snippets have nothing productive to say to one another."
So think about that as you prepare and devise your stories and poems. What productive thing do you have to say that goes beyond a bumper-sticker snippet?