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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Why am I doing all the work?

Over the years we’ve become accustomed to pumping our own gas, bagging our groceries, and other self checkout situations. But a couple recent situations became the proverbial straw.  Why am I, the customer, doing the work of the service provider for the same price?

Having telephone issues, issues meaning no dial tone, which translates into a true triple play of also no Internet or cable, the problem was reported. Rather than fight the system and try to talk to a person I decide to play along with the online troubleshooting. After a half hour on the floor performing several technical tasks to determine the nature of the problem, the online assistant determined that there was something wrong with the incoming line and repairs were needed. Wise decision. I do admit that following the system and performing the checks wasn’t that difficult. After the troubleshooting I was even guided through the repair appointment process. Although given that all of our communications were out, the process could not have be completed without a Smartphone.

Not so long ago, a repair technician would have come out and completed the whole process. Which in this case they still had to do. The point being, I did the repair troubleshooting. Did I get a stipend or bill discount for performing the tech work?

The second instance was noticed while checking in for a flight. You can already check in and print boarding passes from the comfort of home or directly to your phone. Then if you have bags to check, you report to the airline agent who checks your paperwork, weighs your bag, prints and attaches your luggage claim tags and takes your bags. This flight introduced us to a new system for our convenience. Once at the airport we were shuttled to a kiosk where we checked our bags, printed our luggage claim tags, attached the tags, and then handed them to an agent, who put them on the conveyor. Which was the only step performed by the airline. Didn’t see any payment for that days work either.

As technology improves more and more services are being pushed onto the consumer. Companies cut personnel because the customer is now performing those jobs, but prices stay the same. Companies explain this away by saying that they are able to keep their prices low by adding the new “self serve” features. Keep prices low? How about lowER?

Yes, it is more convenient and sometimes quicker to just do things for yourself.  Eventually there will be no human interaction at all. Just scan your phone and off you go. Oh yeah…that’s happening now.

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