I’ve been reading a lot of reviews lately for a variety of different things, from televisions to cable companies to credit cards. See, I know that if I want to be an informed consumer it is my responsibility to inform myself. The sales people in most stores do have a degree of knowledge about the products they sell, but it is their job to convince you to buy from them so I can’t say that I trust them to share what they know in truth about a product. Reading the complaints of others often sheds new light on a potential purchase.

In this research I have noticed a disturbing trend of late. Like any one else, I enjoy a good kvetch, especially when I feel that something has not met my hopes or my standards. And while I might complain to my husband about something I missed in the fine print, I would never dream of complaining to anyone else. That would make me look ugly and frankly, I have enough publicly ugly moments to know enough not to add to the count! Frankly I can’t imagine why anyone would want to complain about something they didn’t like that was their own fault. People, it makes us look like idiots when we do that.

So, imagine my surprise when I read a complaint about a credit card company in which the displeased individual clearly stated that if she had only waited a few hours longer to cancel her card she would’ve received over $200 in accumulated cash back vouchers. Now, her complaint wasn’t that she was disappointed in herself because she had missed such an opportunity. She posted on a forum to complain about the company because they didn’t award the vouchers anyway. On what planet did they owe her anything?

I hear this kind of thing all the time from my students. I remind them often that it is our responsibility to either read the fine print or not enter the agreement. If we choose not to read the fine print, or to assume that a credit card is “kind” and just wants to “give us something nice” that’s our problem not theirs.

We can’t have it all. Low prices and good deals come from big corporations that can lower their prices through impersonal service and outsourcing labor.  Excellent service often comes from smaller local companies who charge more in order to maintain their small size and local customer focus. The world I live in could use a big dose of, “life isn’t fair”, followed by a shot in the arm of, “you can’t have it all”, and a booster shot of, “sharing is important Susie”.

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