Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The economics of rudeness.

Last night I had to send my Sony Vaio back to Sony for repair. Their middleman in this process is FedEx-Kinkos. I was told to drop by with a service number and the FedEx people would take care of the rest. Uh huh.

FedEx, who forged its early image of efficiency by NOT being the Post Office has become the Post Office. The lines, which were long and meandered like Dick Cheney's colon, were disorderly. They were out of supplies (like envelopes)and no one knew what I was talking about when I said I was there for a Sony repair.

Finally, one FedEx guy came to my aid. He found the appropriate box, had me pack it and then processed the order and charged me $10.84 for the box. He seemed the very model of a modern retail worker. Except he did everything wrong. Finally his boss came and reprocessed the whole thing, which took an additional twenty minutes not counting ten more minutes to refund my $10.84.

My question is this. What are the economics of hiring low-wage workers, offering them no advancement path, no training, no management so they deliver nothing more than lousy service and high-turnover? This "hire the cheapest" philosophy infects every business--T-mobile, Delta Rapelines, supermarkets, drug stores, FedEx-Kinkos. Can someone explain this? Does it make sense to alienate customers and tarnish your brand to, maybe save a few dollars an hour? I say maybe save because I can't even imagine the hourly wage savings compensate for the high-rate of turnover these businesses suffer.

If you know an MBA, an economist or a Ayn Randian crypto-fascist, will you please ask them? I would like to know.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Ever try to send a fax at Fed Ed? They send you to a machine that doesn't work. Then you get frustrated and go to Staples, who believe it or not, are slightly better in the rudeness index. (But not much)