Should We Always Expect the WORST in Products and Services?

A Week of Fails

Photo by Maria Gloss on

For every service we purchase, every ticket we buy, every item and every interaction, we should now expect less. I find myself having to reset my expectations every single day on the quality of goods and services purchased. Global companies are politicians making promises they simply don’t keep. The mission, vision and value statements are just words on an ever changing webpage. I suppose part of the reason is the focus on immediate revenue generation vs long term gains. My personal experience isn’t unique and the consistency across companies makes my shitty experience so common that we have come to just accept it. The only way to get the attention of service providers is to call them out with either the backing of a public influencer or be highly persistent in chasing them. I’ll give you a few short examples here.

  1. Citibank has a protections for purchases. If something goes wrong with a transaction or there is fraud, they are supposed to help you and potentially reimburse you. We had a few transactions over the past year including a purchase where we literally received a piece of cardboard. Citibank promised to help and reimburse us and it didn’t happen. In fact, after over 10 phone calls we just let it go because it wasn’t worth our time any more. The people we spoke with on the phone promised us over and again that it was taken care of. The only thing that was taken care of was our friends in China who took the money and sent us a literal piece of garbage in the mail.
  2. SIxFlags had been rolling tickets that were unused to the next year for people that couldn’t go to the parks due to Covid. In a quick turn, they changed their policy. We have 5 tickets that we sought to move. Their answer to us was “sorry, we aren’t doing that anymore.” I guess it will be a “Great Adventure” to find another park to go to because we aren’t ever going back to a SixFlags park again.
  3. ServiceTech local appliance company came to my house to look at a broken refrigerator. The guy put his ear on the door, told me it’s working and left. That cost me $90.00. His service call was good for 30 days, where he’d come back and offset the cost of any services if required. I called the next day as the freezer was at 30 degrees. He said “50/50 chance the fridge is done, you can buy a starter online, I don’t have any.” After hours of research, and a call to another local appliance store, I found a bunch of options and I was told by a local story owner that service companies make these calls, take the money and don’t do the work. It makes sense, after all, appliances are all electronics now. The local appliance store owner told me he is “getting out of the business” as it isn’t what it used to be. In a world where you can’t repair anything, we are doomed to create more garbage. What a shame.
  4. Following the bad service call, we went to Lowes. Many stores don’t have appliances because they are log jammed between here and China. It could take 4 – 6 months to get something. In fact, if you tried to buy a generator right now from Lowes or one of the other large stores, you may not see one until March or April. Luckily, they had one refrigerator in the store and we were all set for delivery. We waited in the delivery window, never got a call, never got a product. When we called the store the phone rang out and there was no voice mail. Called the store back and there was no store manager available. Finally got a hold of someone and he blamed XPO logistics. They gave me a number and XPO didn’t have any idea what I was talking about and sent me to another company called Last Mile. The number they gave me was not in service. Called back to Lowes and found out that the order was never placed for delivery. Called Lowes corporate and they told me someone would call me within 24 hours. Well, 48 hours came and went and we never got a call.
  5. Western Digital My Cloud devices were hacked. They WD, didn’t update their firmware and invest in updates for security on their devices. These days, if you want an update, you need to pay for a subscription even though the code was written with agile methods. This means they deliver software garbage out the door and fix it over time. WD offered in the kindness of their hearts an opportunity to buy a discounted newer version of their product. Firstly, the newer version doesn’t even compare to the functions of the old one and the quality is poor. To make things easy, I shipped them my old device (at my expense) and bought the new device. After 30 days, it stopped working. I setup a return with WD and shipped it back to them for an exchange which I paid for. It’s almost 90 days later and I have no device and when I call them it takes me through an endless loop of prompts. What I should have done was go to a box store and buy the product and return it but I did it the right way. I am asking myself why I didn’t just do it.

Unfortunately, when I speak to other people the story is the same with company after company. We are possibly past a point of no return. The only way to get help is to expose companies and that’s more work than most of us want to put in.

Photo by burak kostak on

This year I have had to repair or replace almost everything myself. I had to service my own equipment and fix things that service people damaged. We live in a time where we are worried about climate change and global warming but throwing things away at an unprecedented rate. Today, it cheaper to replace a computer vs repairing it. It is the same with many things. The quality of products and services are going down. While some of the names on products remain the same, these are being acquired and absorbed into the great abyss of large business.

I’m not asking for anything at this point but I’m calling it out. If this is how it is, then at least we know what game we are playing.

What do you think? I’d like to know.

Posted in KM.

3 thoughts on “Should We Always Expect the WORST in Products and Services?

  1. I have had similar experiences so you are probably right…it is an universal problem. Americans and most of the world have sacrificed quality for low cost. But that is not necessarily a true statement as quality usually reduces cost especially over time. Maybe the problem is the wealthy countries are saturated with met needs and companies are creating new wants to stay viable. That means not focusing on new markets of needs but enticing wealth to buy throw always instead.

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  2. I also had a similar situation! I called a small LOCAL company (that has a great reputation in the area) to check out our Water Heater which seemed to be backing up at the value site and leaking from the overflow pipe. The guy comes out for $225 and turns the unit off, flips a breaker and drains the tank. He tells us we need to replace the entire water heater as he was “suspicious” it was leaking from the bottom. He saw a tiny bit of rust on the circumference of the tank . We decided since the unit was over 13 yrs old, we will replace it. We chose a model, handed over a deposit and the guy leaves. A few cold showers later we find ourselves cleaning up ANOTHER flood because the valve that he “turned off” wasn’t stopping the water from returning to the unit, hitting the overflow value and leaking once again. Now, knowing a little more, we try to resolve the problem. We have a $20 expandable hose for our yard and it seemed like it was going to take ALL DAY for the tank to drain so we ran out to purchase a real “proper” hose! That tank was full to the brim once again!!
    Several coupons are sent out regarding discounts on products AND service. Of course, the service man wasn’t able to honor the coupon that clearly says ANY SERVICE and denied us the $50 break. Feeling desperate, we paid the full amount for the first “emergency” visit.
    The day of delivery, they show up with a different model/unit and tell us it’s pretty much the same as the one we chose. They didn’t have our original choice in the warehouse due to covid and never made a call to see if we would accept this new unit. We should have turned them away. Actually considering when they said they would be to the house in the a.m. and showed up almost 4 o’clock pm with no call was an indication of poor communication.
    They installed the dumb unit. Sounds like there’s an airplane is in my entire townhouse and everywhere there’s a water pipe! They didn’t deduct the service call from
    The total purchase, they didn’t honor any coupon AND I haven’t received a bill for the final payment. The guys that came to install said they don’t furnish the rest of the bill we had to call homebase for that which we did.
    Everything about this is ridiculous!! Shame on us for accepting it and not knowing what unit was being installed before the original one was taken apart. Btw… it was never leaking on the bottom! It was the valve the whole time.
    I don’t mind spending money but the products are just crap today! This hot water heater cost us $1,800 plus. I’m still looking for a rebate..I see Home Depot offering up lots of rebates on these things…When you go on the actual website for the company they don’t offer a rebate for this particular model because it’s not sold in a big box store!
    As for Lowe’s… I won’t even tell you the whole story but we bought an oven a few months ago. It took months to purchase because of back orders! Again… thanks to the pandemic! They deliver and install the unit but won’t install the safety feature on the oven and tell us that they don’t do that. None of this makes any sense!!
    Now I’m pissed all over again!!

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  3. It’s unfortunate, but totally predictable. Companies are continually cutting costs to improve margins and to push out competitors. A consequence is that they’re willing to keep cutting until service suffers and they alienate customers. Because everyone is doing it, there isn’t any real downside for them. “We don’t need to be perfect, just ‘as good’ as the other guys”.

    Cell providers were notorious for this over the past decades. They were deliberately set up to support the 90% and to basically jettison the outliers that required and/or consumed too many support hours or dollars. If the customer left, they’d be someone else’s problem and it would stop any bleed. Of course, you’d see that pool of “power users” (or, as they see them; “Problem Users”) churning between providers.

    In a way, we have ourselves to blame. People complain about quality and customer service, but, as a group, we tend to buy cheap and take our chances. The downside is that the lowest bidder ends up putting the “quality” companies out of business. Then those same low bidders buy out the “quality” logos and start pumping out the same “good enough” product and poor customer service under the previously reliable brand name.

    Honestly, it’s not even worth taking a stand anymore. There aren’t enough people who are willing to fight to make a difference. If a company steps up and makes a commitment to quality, they either get driven out by competition or they’re successful and some investor or VC group acquires them. Then the descent into mediocrity begins as they try to pump up that multiple for a quick profit.


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