Chris Edwards just coined the phrase “tele-cutting”. And he doesn’t like it in the least.
Is it me or do you get better help from salespeople by calling than showing up in person? Last week after work I went into a nail salon to buy my girlfriend a gift certificate (insert “awww” here). Below is a transcript of my interaction with the cashier:
Her: Can I help you?
Me: Yes I’d like to buy–
Her: Hello Nail Salon…Yeah we still open. Can take you now. Okay bye bye.
(to me) Yes?
Me: Yeah I’d like to buy a gift certificate for–
Her: Hello Nail Salon…when you want come in? Let me check…(flips through calendar) how bout Tuesday 5:30. Okay see you then bye bye.
(to me) Sorry. What you want?
Me: A gift certificate for my girlfriend.
Her: Okay how much?
Me: How much is a manicure?
Her: Hello Nail Salon…
I then stood there for another two minutes listening to her side of the phone conversation that now took place in what I think was Korean. She took two more phone calls during the credit card transaction and one more as she said “bye bye” to me on my way out. I left there fuming, wishing I had walked out without buying anything, but quickly realized it wouldn’t have made any difference. She just didn’t get it.
And she’s not the only one. I was waiting in line at a department store for what seemed like an eternity and when I finally got to the register, the phone rang. As the salesguy reached for the receiver, I looked him square in the eye and said, “Don’t do it.”
I mean, is it me? Shouldn’t priority be given to the customer who actually took the time and made the effort to show up in person? Do they not make phones with hold buttons anymore? It’s gotten to the point where I’ve given up and actually begun to play the system. The other day I was at the Cheesecake Factory and the desk was mobbed with people trying to put their name in. So I called ahead…from ten feet away. Sure enough, someone answered and took my name down.
Why do we accept this “tele-cutting” phenomenon? If an actual person showed up out of nowhere, cut the line and started shouting “Answer me! Answer me! Answer me!” that person would be considered rude and would either be ignored or told to wait his turn. But for some reason, a ringing phone carries with it a sense of unspoken urgency that implies the voice on the other end has needs more important than those of us patiently waiting in line.
We are a nation of multi-taskers—I get it. But even in the spirit of doing two things at once we still need to prioritize. My advice? Let’s give priority to those who deserve it – the ones paying $4 a gallon to drive to the salon or store or restaurant. The people who had to hunt for parking and, if in the city, likely had to pay for it. And when you answer the phone just tell the person on the other end of the line that you’re helping another customer and ask them to please hold. I’m sure they’ll understand. I know I would.
photo by sparkfun / flickr