Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Prices and Service

These days, we are all scared of losing our jobs. You would think every business would be focusing on offering better prices and services, but you'd be surprised.

I feel sorry that Borders is going out of business. I also feel guilty, given how few books I buy compared to how many I read. Now that they are closing their stores and offering their merchandise at reduced prices, I went on a shopping spree. I bought a  bunch of toys and gadgets for my sisters' kids, a few children books, and a doggie bed. There was one book I actually wanted to for myself, but even at a 30% discount, Amazon had it for less. After seeing that, I am amazed that Borders lasted so long.

Another thing that amazes me is the terrible service at the post office. I'm hearing that USPS revenue is low, and that they will have to close some post offices. Well, sending packages through them is still the cheapest option, and their employees know it. Maybe that is why they are so rude. Not only that, but at my closest post office all the employees are foreigners and their English is horrible. And please don't call me intolerant. I am not a native speaker myself, but Americans understand what I say and I understand them. Previous experience has taught me to arm myself with patience when dealing with mail employees. Yes, there is a country called Austria, it is definitely not Australia, and I did not misspell it. Yes, I already paid for that box, your co-worker made sure of that. Here's the receipt, see? Yes, I already filled out the customs form, you don't have to send me to the back of the line. No, I did not bring packing tape. Oh bummer, do I really have to pay for a full roll? Sure, I guess I'm lucky I get to keep it.

My recent experience was totally different. I went to a UPS store. An employee offered to measure my stack of gifts when she saw me looking at the boxes. She called a coworker (in a different language, see? She was also a foreigner) who got me a box that was just right. While she weighed it, I looked around the store and picked a card. She gave me the rates, and helped another client while I wrote my card. I chose to send my package through regular mail, since I am not in a hurry. The rate is the same I would have paid at the post office. She gave me a customs form to fill out and helped yet another client while I filled it out. Then she printed the labels, let me double check them, and added the box and the card to my total. She threw in some air cushions for free. I did not have to tape the box shut, nor attach the labels. She understood my English, and to my ears, hers was perfect.

Now, was that too hard?

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