Desperate tactics backfire, and beware the feedback loop
Two days before my car was to be picked up by my local Honda dealer, I got a phone call. The caller wasn't from the service department, people I'd dealt with before and trusted, so far. This guy was from sales, which was obvious the moment he started talking.
He said that while I was waiting for my car, he'd be happy to take me around the showroom. Oh, and by the way, he'd be happy to get my car appraised so that if I liked what I saw, he could give me a number to apply to my handy-dandy brand-new purchase.
Those of you familiar with Robin Williams might recall the opening scene in Cadillac Man:
I've trained sales for some of America's largest corporations. And I've been subjected to the worst of sales sleaze from car dealerships, as have we all. Assuming we've been in the market for a vehicle, that is.
I was furious at this breach. Not only was I not coming to the dealership -the service department was picking up my car because I can't drive right now- but having lost my company last year, there was no way I could afford a new one. My service manager is well aware of this.
I told that idiot that I LOVE my car, which is why I was having it serviced, and that his phone call was completely, utterly inappropriate.
Completely and utterly INAPPROPRIATE.
I said it with some force. Not shouting. Just being clear.
Clarity is power.
After my car was serviced and delivered today, I called the service manager with a slew of compliments for his crew and their work. And I told him about this call.
I told him that given the economic situation so many of us are in, such a phone call is pure trespass.
If I want a new car I will bloody well make that move myself.
Last summer I put my house up for sale. My real estate agent is a friend. She's got my complete loyalty, and nobody but nobody else will sell my house, when and if I ever sell it. Before I made the recent decision that I would take it off the market for good for the time being, I got a series of similar calls.
We'd taken my house off the market temporarily because back in November, I had foot surgery. No way I could sweep the leaves off my deck, clean the house up and blow out for a few hours for a viewing with a knee on a scooter, so the house has just sat, with the for-sale sign out front.
Paula was still listed as the agent.
I got three separate phone calls, all of them underhanded attempts to take the listing away from Paula.
The first one, I didn't realize what was happening. I reported it to Paula. Her partner teaches new agents what they legally can and cannot do, and the guy who called me had been in his class. What he was doing was neither legal nor ethical.
We were all furious. That young man got a phone call he won't forget from the very guy who taught him never to do precisely what he was doing.
Now, armed with that information, I handled the next two calls very differently. I put the fear of God into both of them, reported them to Paula and to the proper authorities.
I am very loyal to my friends. And I do NOT appreciate underhanded attempts to cherry-pick clients away from an agent that I have committed to already.
While I recognize that people are out trying to make a sale, using underhanded techniques and resorting to sleazeball tactics won't make friends. It does make enemies. Those of us who care will report those tactics and give feedback to the people whose livelihoods are being affected.
Two days ago, at the end of a very long day of appointments, long rides, long waits and one more to go, I was picked up at my house by Oregon Taxi. Oregon Taxi has a contract with Lane Transportation District to pick up ADA clients when the bus isn't available.
I was in considerable pain, because when you're out and about it's not a good idea to take pain meds. You have to have your wits about you and be able to safely maneuver your medical device (scooter, wheelchair, whatever) in and out of buses and cars. So, I was compos mentis, but in considerable pain. By day's end, with one more trip to go, I was seriously tired.
The guy showed up, and I asked him for help with my scooter in the back of his van.
He got out of the car, furious.
"PLEASE." He stood staring at me, clearly angry.
He was demanding that I say please. I was taken aback by the force of his anger.
He took my scooter, shoved it in the back, then slammed the door down repeatedly on it when the door wouldn't close.
I don't own that scooter. If it's damaged, that's $300 out of my pocket.
Finally when he got in, I offered my ticket for payment, which he refused.
As we drove off, as is my custom, I tried to make conversation. I asked him how his day was going.
He nearly spat at me.
"How's my DAY going? People order me to put their scooter in the back of my car and they don't say please. You don't say please I will leave you in the driveway and I will leave you there."
That's an interesting threat from a guy that clients need to count on. Not just any clients, either.
This man has a certification from the city to drive people like me, and those who are homeless, some of whom are severely autistic, who may or may not be able to say please or anything else for that matter.
He is willing to leave those people stranded if they don't say please.
He has no damned business being in a customer-facing activity, and he has no damned business working a job where he has to transport people who are ill, disabled, mentally ill and in a thousand ways, possibly unable to do what he demands. His certification needs to be rescinded.
The clients aren't the problem in this situation.
HE is. He was trained to deal with the 40% of the clientele which Oregon Taxi is tasked with moving around Eugene, who are known to be mentally ill or challenged. How do I know this? Because the next LTD bus driver who picked me up after my last appointment that day, Brian, used to work for Oregon Taxi. He filled me in. Helluva nice guy.
Not like the angry driver with a dangerous chip on his shoulder.
I reported his sorry ass.
LTD's Ride Source knows who he is. And if he shows up on my driveway again I am refusing the ride, for cause. I didn't feel safe.
I reported him along with endless, happy, and well-deserved compliments for all the many courtesies and kindnesses that the bus drivers like Brian and Liz and Kerry and trainees have offered me these last two weeks of having to count on their services to get around.
I work hard to get to know my drivers, remember their names, know their stories, and make them laugh. That way they look forward to picking me up and helping me out. My feedback about them gives them well-deserved kudos.
My feedback about trespass is not just about me. And here's the point.
For every jackass out there who steps over the line and tries to take advantage of me and I cut them off at the pass, there are too many others who do get hurt.
For every rider who pushes back against bad behavior by a driver at Oregon Taxi (which by the way is flooded with complaints), too many of them are abused by a driver who is unsafe or rude.
As a military veteran I am driven by the greater good. If I am getting affected by this, what about the thousands of others who have no clue how to fight back? Set boundaries? Call and complain? Fill out the feedback forms coherently so that they are taken seriously?
Too many can't, or won't.
And so should you and anyone else who has the wherewithal to set boundaries. Stop bad practices in the bud. Say no.
See or experience something like this? Report it. Please. Because if enough of us do, then the problem might be addressed. If we leave it to The Other Guy, it won't be addressed at all.
Even more importantly, report what works. Compliment good service. Make sure that those folks who do a good job know about it. Hear about it. I still write personal letters for people who go above and beyond, and deliver them in a sealed envelope.
I guarantee you that such letters are treasured, shared around the team, and pinned on the wall.
Guaran-damn-tee you they are. And when you come in for service again, you are guaran-damn-teed to get great service.
Set boundaries. Report bad behavior. Reward good behavior. Stand up against racism, any -ism, when it happens in front of you. Small but terribly important ways to make the world a better place for you, me, and thousands of folks who cannot fight for themselves.
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