Wednesday, May 04, 2011

changing times

I suppose. With all the job-hunting and soul searching that has been going on as of late, I've been thinking a lot about courtesy, service and expectations. I am quite aware that I have HIGH expectations for most everything. I'm sure it exasperates some people I know and I may even be whispered about in not-too-kindly manners but here's the thing, I don't care. I've been told I was high strung, emotional, unbending, etc and in some ways I am but really, I'm not. I just believe in quality interactions and am a bit like Horton. I meant what I said and I said what I meant and all that jazz.

I never understood the act of saying one thing while meaning another or um, LYING. I'm not a fan of insincerity and have stupidly high values when it comes to moral judgment. If you don't have anything nice to say...It doesn't mean I think I don't make mistakes, if anything I am hyper-critical of myself which is very annoying for me and for those who have to listen to me when I am tearing myself up (thank you YOU, you and YOU!) I am keenly aware of my faults (save for those I don't know I have...heehee) and the moment I'm away from a situation say a job interview, party or conversation with a friend, the deconstruction begins and I panic that I talked too much (I always do) or said too much or didn't say enough or was too negative or too positive or...or...or? Frankly it makes me wonder why anyone would put up with me (and I so appreciate those of you who do, I really do).

And I'm rambling but there is a sort of point or maybe a reminder to myself. I had a job interview last week that was sorely disappointing in the lack of respect and professionalism on the part of the interviewer.  I came home to vent about it left and right and it made wonder if it had been so long I forgot how to interview but here's the thing, I used to hire people. I used to hold interviews. I know how to interview. I know how to be interviewed. It's enough to make me wonder if it had been so long that the process had changed or is it that technology has changed us? A friend mentioned that there is a lack of face to face interactions these days and maybe that was the case and in some ways I believe she is right. With younger people perhaps this would be true but can Facebook, twitter and all the rest change us that much in such a short period of time? Wait, I know that answer. Strike it, reverse it. Sigh.

And to toss another stick onto the fire, yesterday I left feedback for an Amazon seller that was FAIR. Sure we got the item in time and it was what they said it was. All in all it was a fair transaction. This morning I receive an email from the seller asking me to remove my NEGATIVE feedback and for a moment I felt really bad and wondered if I had done something wrong but after thinking of it I know I didn't. See, it was a fair transaction. Not good and not bad. If we all continue to leave GOOD or EXCELLENT feedback because we were delighted to receive our items in the time alotted we're doing everyone a disfavor. Purchases should arrive on time, don't you think?

I'm really feeling like an old fuddy-duddy but I refuse to lower my expectations. Keeping them high will weed out the riff-raff and keep me connected to making sure that I, in return, offer only the best of myself to my family, my friends, customers, readers and even those random interactions in job interviews or while walking around town. Some of my best is even letting you see me at my worst for what am I without being me, warts and all?


  1. Stick to your guns, Jek, especially regarding the Amazon feedback. There's way too much mediocrity and lackluster service lately; I will give repeat business to those who go above and beyond, not those who did "just enough." Damn right, weed 'em out (especially in this ecocnomy.)

    And listen, although I've never met you, you strike me as a top-notch person, someone who gives a damn. As the saying goes,"The cream always rises to the top."

  2. Thank you Gail.

    Mediocrity, yes! I'm stumped at this and more saddened that people think I'm the one with the problem.

    And, yer pretty top-notch yerself. Thank you again!

  3. Anonymous9:44 AM

    I too believe we have "settled" for mediocrity. If it's just okay, then it's excellent. NO. Excellence is above and beyond. I always taught my students to not just get by, but to go above and beyond. Many of those former students now lament the demise of good service and good manners. So, it's probably not an age thing, but rather a certain sense of what is right, good, and fair. We know what it looks like and we want more of it.

  4. dkzody-yes! right, good and fair! exactly. i was amazed at how not any of those things were portrayed when I worked in management. I was the only one sounding off and calling out the unfair behavior of my co-workers. It doesn't matter if you do not like a person personally if they are doing their job. and doing it well. so often people confuse friendships with other relationships and I don't understand. I don't care if I don't like you, if you rock at your work, you rock at your work.and vice-versa, if yer my friend and you suck at it, yer not keeping the job.

  5. Anonymous7:45 PM

    i have left many many comments over the years to you, without so much as a word back from you! so maybe just maybe the interviewer wasn't feeling it that day when you interveiwed with him/her... maybe the same way you haven't felt it to respond to me! sorry, but you can throw off some elitest vibes!

  6. dear anonymous,

    I can understand where you are coming from, I really can. I do find it offsetting to respond to people who will not share who they are. This is an issue I have. I do my best to respond to all my comments in some manner, whether it is a direct comment here on the blog, in a follow up post or actual email when I have an email address.

    Since I have received a fair few Anonymous comments I have no way of knowing if they are all yours or more than one person. That said, I apologize for my lack of response and agree with you, sometimes I can be an utter snob (usually relates to Sweet Vallley High theory or Oingo Boingo songs).

  7. Anonymous11:10 AM

    Overall, I completely agree with your sentiments. However, as an Amazon and ebay seller, leaving a 'fair' feedback when the item was exactly as it was described and arrived on time does in fact actually hurt the seller. In fact, the account can be permanently suspended for too many such designations. The problem here is perhaps with the Amazon and ebay systems (maybe they shouldn't allow an assesment at all, but simply ticking boxes as it pertains to 'accurately described,' 'arrived on time,' etc). So in effect, honest, accurate sellers become penalized just like sellers who don't fulfill commitments- is that fair?

    Amazon and ebay are not etsy, by and large not boutique sellers. You can choose not to order again from a seller that doesn't create an experience for you or to go above and beyond by making things crafty or pretty. In my case, I'm just trying to make ends meet by selling off my book and music collections while job hunting due to a layoff. I am just not able to go above and beyond, although I would love to do so. At best, I try to get things out next day so they arrive early, but even that's not always possible (and would that have made a difference to you?) It's bad enough that I am selling all my favorite stuff for PENNIES when I purchased full price. So no, I don't think it's 'fair' for a seller to be penalized (as mentioned, which is what a 'fair' rating does) for an honest, straighforward transaction.

  8. Dear Anonymous 2

    Are you the same or a new person? You've written out a most articulate argument and you are correct, in my opinion regarding the state of the feedback system. There is a lot of room for improvement in that area.

    I'm still in a quibble over applauding someone for doing what should be done though it probably isn't applause at all. i think people have become accustomed to more is better in a sense.

    I do use my etsy shop to make ends meet and do my very best to build a relationship with my customers. This may be a gap of sorts in relation to handmade versus hard product. I have received my fair share of neutral feedback in the past and was grateful for the accompanying comments that allowed me to grow in my service.

    Regarding Amazon and the like, I naively assumed that the general ticking off of the appropriate boxes would speak for themselves. Does a "fair" rating keep others from purchasing or lower the average? I do feel poorly if my fair feedback would lower their score. I think that I will contact Amazon in regards to this manner. not that my comment would change anything but maybe I won't be the first.

    Thank you for your time and honest reflections.

  9. Anonymous2:33 PM

    This is Gemma- different person. Thank you for your thought provoking post and thoughtful response.

    I am also an etsy seller- and I do think that is an entirely different scenario. The intent and culture of etsy is that of an online boutique. The spirit is entrepreneurial and art-driven. When we put love and care into creating something specifically to sell or curate a vintage collection and style to sell, every step of the way is an art form- and I think there is a real demarcation between lackluster customer service and the continuation of an experience. The value of a handmade/artisan item is, and should be, higher. On Etsy, I have a wealth of aesthetic opportunities to stand apart from another seller offering the exact same milkglass vase or vintage pyrex. On Amazon, there is no real way up front to differentiate from someone else selling the same item other than to sell for less- it is a cut price business model.

    The way I see it, etsy is to Amazon like an independently owned boutique is to, say, Target - and likewise to ebay like an indie boutique to a thrift store/junk store.

    I feel particularly strongly because my ebay account of 8 years and more than 500 stars was closed down specifically because more than THREE people in a SIX MONTH period selected the circle that said our shipping was 'too high.' All our feedback was positive, all rating in other categories top notch. Despite clearly knowing before making the purchase exactly how much it would cost, coupled with the fact that our rate was at most .51 above the hard costs of shipping +padded envelope (which we felt was fair to cover our incidentals: time, tape, sharpies, driving to UPS, etc). Our items were brand new shirts, from a variety of poplar brands- but 'past season.' Not rare or particularly collectible, but had a retail value of $20+, Most sold for .99 cents; our UPS shipping rate was $5.99 (UPS charges a flat rate for anything under 1lb). Shipping via USPS was unfortunately not an option for us. Apparently, we were supposed to lose money by selling items on ebay.

    Every day I try to differentiate between 'artisan' and 'commercial,' between one person selling something at a fair price and a corporation (from walmart to LVMH) ultimately reaping a huge profit at the cost of everyone but the top execs and shareholders.

    Thanks for being so engaging!