September 28, 2012

Books and the U.N.
     Don’t you hate incompetence?
    I had a recent go-round with that purveyor of books named after a river in South America.  I put it this way to avoid being sued; but in thinking about it further, since each staff member makes unsuccessful use of two hands and a flashlight on a minute-by-minute basis, there are obviously no fingers left over for dialing a lawyer—so I probably have no worries in that regard.
     At any rate, I was irritated that an order I placed nearly one month ago had not yet arrived.  Being the thoroughly modern Millie that I am, I hopped on the internet to deal with the problem.
     I’m so silly sometimes.
     The website is a paean to the morass of useless information organized in an idiotic fashion that we in this county call, “marketing.”  The opening page is a downright assault, and according to these people, I now have a “plog” and I don’t even know what the hell a “plog” is!
     Remember those heady days when Amazon used to be just a bookseller and buying reading material from them was efficient and uncomplicated?  Remember when the milkman delivered milk?  Remember when … er, yes, well …those days are gone and they aren’t coming back anytime soon, let me tell you.
     Now you can purchase pretty much anything you can think of at Amazon.   It has become an internet mall, I’m sorry to say.
     And, of course, with huge growth you get huge headaches, and when things go wrong, they go horribly wrong.
     For example:  my book order.  Remember my book order?
     After I pried the home page from by throat, I ran a gimlet eye over the large colorful headings and finally found “Help” off in a corner in a type size usually reserved for disclaimers.
     I clicked on it, optimist that I am.
   Another assault.  There was so much information on this page that the idea of reading War and Peace suddenly gave me a warm fuzzy feeling.
    Doggedly, I slogged on.  I am nothing if not dogged.
    About halfway through this mess, they had the nerve to place the following announcement:
           “You can find help quickly using the self-service tools
             and information in Help.”
    Well no, you can’t, either.  I needed a phone number.  I wanted to talk to a person.  I studied the entire page for contact information, then came across this little gem:
           “If you still have questions, you can contact Customer
            Service from any Help page.”
     I’m ON the fucking “Help” page!  There is NOTHING labeled, “Contact Us.”
     After the paramedics left, I aimlessly clicked on links on that page, just for something to do until the Valium drip kicked in, and lo and behold (I always wanted to write that), I FOUND CUSTOMER SERVICE CONTACT NUMBERS!
     The cloudy skies parted and a beam of pure sunlight came through my window, bathing my computer in a warm, white glow.  Seraphim sang.  A beautiful chord played.  I finally had the information I needed and snatched up my phone.
    This is kind of a neat concept—you type in your phone number and they call you.  I typed in my number.  In less than ten seconds, my cell phone rang.
    “Hello, miss madam.  This is Mr. Jagdish Banergee of a small but tiny town in India, you see.  And how my I be of assist … excuse me, please … Karti get that goat out of the living room … now what I can I do for you today, miss?”
    “I’m calling about my book order that I placed one month ago and still have not received.”
    “And how would you describe these books you say you ordered, miss?”
    “Six inches tall, blond hair, blue eyes, and one of them walks with a limp and wears an eye patch.  Are you kidding me?”
    “I still need a description of these alleged books, miss.”
    “Will my order number do?”  I gave him the number and there was a pause while he keyed it into his Radio Shack TRS-80.  Six other children were admonished about various household offenses involving kerosene and two cobras were evicted from the premises before the information he had requested arrived.  But finally, it did.
    “Oh, yes, yes, dear, dear, dear, me, miss.  Those books will not be available until they are available, you must understand.”
    “But the website said that every one of these books was in stock when I ordered.  In stock!”
    “In StockHOLM, perhaps, miss; but not here to be sent to you in your insignificant barbaric village that consumes beef by the bargeload.  No, no, no, miss.  Not until they are available.”
     “Well, why does the website say that they are in stock when they aren’t?”
     “That is only an estimate, my dear miss.”
     “How can it be an estimate?  You either have them or you don’t!”
     “This is not the case, miss, oh my goodness, no.  And … excuse me again, miss … Surresh, the cow does not belong in the kitchen—take it back to its bedroom, please … now, miss, how can I help you through this unfortunate time of trial?”
      “You can send me my books!”
      “Ha ha ha ha ha, miss; you are a very amusing person of the female persuasion.  You will receive your books the minute they are available to you and no sooner.  Now, though this conversation has been most enjoyable, I must now attend to other aspects of survival.  Have a most pleasant whatever time of day it is in your world.”
       I called again.  I figured I’d roll the dice once more and maybe I’d be connected with someone who was at least on the same continent to help me.  I punched in my phone number and again, in less than ten seconds, it rang.
     “HaRO, hon’able buyer-san!”

           Anyone know where the nearest Barnes & Noble is?



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