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The customer is always rooked
Poop emojis all around
Got a weird notice when I logged into Twitter the other day:
We’ve temporarily limited some of your account features.
Your account appears to be in violation of Twitter's spam policy. Your ability to follow, like, and Retweet will be limited for the following period of time:
3 days and 0 hours.
I hadn’t spammed anyone, of course. I tweeted about it and found the same thing had happened to a bunch of other people. All of them were able to post (duh) but some reported problems liking or retweeting posts. Me, I seem to retweet OK, but sometimes when I click the heart button on a post I get this message:
This request looks like it might be automated. To protect our users from spam and other malicious activity, we can’t complete this request right now. Please try again later.
Now, the “a bunch of people say they noticed the same thing” metric is of limited utility, and I wondered if tech journalists had learned anything about what was going on. I did find some stories in that press, mostly to the effect of “a bunch of people say they noticed the same thing.” Conor Murray at Forbes tried to get more and — well, look:
Forbes reached out to Twitter for comment, but its email address for media requests now auto-responds with a poop emoji, and neither Twitter nor owner Elon Musk have tweeted about the situation.
Believe it or not, I’m not just airing a grievance here. For one thing, as I said elsewhere on another occasion when Twitter fucked with me, “One day I expect they’ll toss me forever, perhaps for some equally innocuous comment, so if I go quiet there you should look for me, not in instructions behind a rock that has no earthly business in a Maine hayfield, but here at alicublog (or, better still, at REBID – subscribe, cheap!).”
And I still mean it. Not that there isn’t outrage to be had from Elmo’s sabotage of what used to be a pretty useful platform. I cleave to the theory that he resents all the left-leaning voices that got traction on Twitter, especially because they talk back disrespectfully to his fash playmates, so he’s trying his ham-handed best to prune that back by giving a louder voice to bluecheck dipshits and a discouraging user experience to everyone else. I mean, it’s either that or Caligula syndrome. (I’ve written about that too.)
But that’s not so important to me. So many levers of power in this country are weighted in favor of the rich that Elmo fucking Twitter is just another day at the office.
Which is the real issue.
Elmo’s fuckup of Twitter may be more newsworthy than other companies’ customer service issues — and isn’t a customer service issue exactly what it is? — but it’s observably true that most if not all companies that pretend to care about their customers’ “user experience” or whatever fancy name they call it actually do a totally shit job of it.
You hardly need surveys to believe it, but there are plenty — like the American Customer Service Index, which shows customers think that, across a wide variety of industries, service is shit. Something called the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University actually has a “National Customer Rage Survey” and finds that 63% of customers have been enraged by their service and 43%, according to NPR, “yelled or raised their voice to express displeasure.”
Rightwing douches blame the usual suspects — “a tight jobs market,” says Barron’s! — and nearly all reports on the subject suggest that whatever you do, you shouldn’t blame the corporations themselves. But you know and I know different.
We know these companies do everything they can to keep us from reaching a live CS specialist to assist us with products for which we’ve paid good money.
We know they purposefully give us impenetrable phone trees, “support pages” instead of humans who can answer questions, and generally every obstacle they can think of to discourage us from even asking for what, once upon a time, would have been considered as obligatory as a sales receipt — that is, access to actual, knowledgeable company agents who are not only willing and competent but (dare to dream) happy to help you properly operate the thing they sold you.
And they do this, not because we’ve been so discouraged by their willful ineptitude that we’ve given up on wanting or expecting good service (the surveys and your experience show we haven’t), but because they know what we want and expect doesn’t matter.
Because all of them are in on it. If you jump from one shitty customer-server to a competitor they’ll give you equally shitty service, with the same robot voices on endless helpline waits for ill-paid and incompetent agents assuring you that your satisfaction is their #1 priority.
In other words it’s like all the other power relationships between the rich and the un-rich in this fucking country now: You get as little as they can get away with giving you and not a speck more.
Elmo is an apartheid psycho weirdo, but in his confidence that he can make his platform’s user experience utter shit and get away with it, he’s really just par for the course.
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