The funny thing about a service economy, writes Peggy Noonan at the Wall Street Journal, is that it’s created a world where people who interact with the public are deliberately trained to be rude and compassionless. She thinks it’s partly because we threw out manners right as we reached a cultural moment where we interact with strangers more than ever. But that’s only part of it–she also notes that clerks are trained to get in your face and aggressively push for higher sales, and that the dreaded “Dead Face”–that stony look that’s used to shut down any communication at all–is probably taught by consultants as an efficient way to handle people.
Maybe the Fonz didn’t know what he was doing, because researchers have found that being the coolest cat in the room doesn’t always do you favors, while a flash of fury might just help tip the balance in your favor.
If you buy your devil juice from Pennsylvania, you might notice a difference in the way you’re treated starting later this month. Pennsylvania is spending $173,000 to train employees of its state-owned liquor and wine stores to be more polite, reports PhillyBurbs.com: “The board wants to make sure clerks are saying ‘hello,’ ‘thank you’ and ‘come again’ to customers coming in for wine and liquor.”
Yes, our pro-consumer bias has its limits. For instance, when a customer service representative tries to help you, don’t respond by telling them to “go back to school,” or by mentioning that your fourth-grade class can “spell better.” Of the tens of thousands of tips you have sent us, this is one of the worst. Do not be this guy.
Reader Tim tried to pay for his Subway meal with a debit card today but was foiled by a technical snafu with the card reader. He didn’t have cash on him, but there was an ATM machine in the store, so he withdrew the funds and paid the old-fashioned way. The trouble was, he was now stuck with a $2 ATM fee for a $12 purchase.