Small Should Not Connote Irresponsible Service
by Larry Turner

In a previous issue I wrote how I can relieve my angst about a particular social or political issue by writing about it.  Well, not this time. Small businesses continue to amaze me with their indifferent approach to customers to the point that one can easily conclude that they don’t really care about serving the public or making money for themselves. That mindset will eventually lead to the collapse of this important segment of our society.

A few examples will help focus on the problem. I purposely don’t provide enough information to be able to identify the small business involved for obvious reasons:

I am a former banker and since leaving that profession have banked with the same financial institution for decades. A few weeks ago I went to one of its branches to cash a check. After going through the drive-through and having my pneumatic tube containing my check returned to me without any cash, I went inside the lobby to inquire about my cash. I was beyond shocked to be advised that there was no one in the bank at that time authorized to cash a check! My pithy email to headquarters about the situation brought an apology but that did little to assuage my disbelief at such treatment.
I have dealt with the same equipment maintenance company for several months, as have other family members. During the past few months I called the office three or four times to get service on a situation they had already worked on and, each time, was advised that the technician in charge of my problem would call me. To date, no call and no resolution of my problem. How long can a customer accept being ignored?
I went to my favorite gasoline station to fill my tank the other day but the pump would not respond to my credit card or my instructions. The operator came to help and announced that my credit card must be damaged. Well, everyone else trying to pump gas those few minutes was experiencing the same result, so all our cards must have been disabled at the same time. Or, the pump wasn’t functioning for some reason and required repairs. But, of course, that would never be acknowledged.
One of my favorite stories happened several years ago when a contractor making repairs to the inside of our house was asked when he anticipated having the job completed. He was on our speaker phone and, to our shock, apparently could not cope with pressure he felt overall and responded by saying that he didn’t care whether our house burned to the ground! His truck has not been seen in our driveway since.

What bothers me about these instances is not that each one occurred, but rather that they all happened, which shows the state of our small business population in general. If this attitude of not being concerned about providing responsible service remains the cornerstone of these businesses, larger companies will enter the picture, provide the required services and, of course, charge higher prices. You think we have inflation now; just wait!