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Could I have a little service, please! - Ed Brock

What has happened to me simply shouldn't happen.

I bought a digital video camera at a greatly reduced cost from a store that was going out of business, but part of the deal was that the camera had no battery. That shouldn't be a problem, I thought at the time, since it's a fairly new camera and there are plenty of companies that sell such merchandise. And you would think that you could trust those companies to provide adequate service, preferably with a good attitude.

I can do without the niceness, but damn it I expect to get what I pay for. That's the basis of the economy that drives this country.

Well, I called one of those companies, one to which the guy who sold me the camera referred me. I'm not allowed to name this company, but here's a hint.

A bird that tweets is a what? A tweeter.

Fill in the blanks, because they should be avoided.

I gave the operator the proper model number for my camera and she assured me that they had a battery for me for just over $30. I eagerly waited for five days for the package to arrive, dying to make use of my new toy.

I came home and found a box. It was Christmas in July! I went inside and opened the box.

Wrong battery. Not even close.

OK, well, things happen. I called the company and expressed my severe disapproval of this failure on their part, only to receive and apology and an offer to send the right battery, for which I would pay full price plus shipping.

Fine, I said, just send it.

Another four or five days go by as my camera gathers dust. Another box comes.

Again, not the right battery. It was a different battery, but nothing resembling the battery I needed.

That right there is inexcusable. It just shouldn't happen. No reasonably competent company that does business should do this. Needless to say, I terminated my relationship with these doofuses.

And I still had to remind them to send the e-mail for the Fed Ex labels I needed to send these two disappointing deliveries back to the imbeciles who sent them. Also, I had to go to the Fed Ex center near the airport on a busy day in order to make sure those losers got the tracking number so I could get my refund on both batteries at a reasonable time.

But it gets worse, because at this point any company with any business sense would offer me more than tepid apologies. A manager should have called me back immediately to offer me a deal, half price on the right battery with free shipping, something like that.

I have not received such an offer. Thus I write this column.

Sadly, I'm not alone in this kind of experience, and American consumers must continue to fight back against the sloppy service we receive every day. It shouldn't be like this, people.

You shouldn't walk into a fast food restaurant or a store and have to put up with surly employees who don't want to do their jobs. In Japan you walk into a McDonalds and everybody behind the counter shouts a greeting. In America the kid taking your order looks at you with boredom or contempt.

Corporations are talking a good talk about customer service, apparently realizing that we are growing tired of the trend. But let's remember that we are the workers as well as the consumers. As a society we need to change our basically selfish attitudes and think a little more about doing what's right for the society in which we live.

And we need to give people what they pay for.

Ed Brock covers public safety and municipal governments for the News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 254 or at ebrock@news-daily.com .