....the title of an old Agatha Christie story from the 1950s whose title embodied the answer to the convoluted detective work that ensued before the obvious question was asked.
It was brought to mind by an expletive riddled email from a new customer passed on to me by an Exetel residential agent. The essence of the email was the agent had suggested that the emailer change from Telstra to Exetel for his ADSL services which the emailer duly did but then "almost nothing worked for the past three days". He called the agent who, being a one man company didn't immediately respond to his phone calls and rather than leave messages he simply hung up in his frustration. When he finally reached him he deluged the agent with abuse about "this tin pot company (Exetel) and their million inadequacies".
When the agent could finally get a word in he apologised for being unavailable and asked the customer if he had called Exetel to which the reply was he didn't know the number and anyway he shouldn't have to call anyone to get a brand new service to work properly (unable to reach some web sites and slow to load web sites that could be reached) because it was obviously a defective service from that "tin pot company" whose network "was obviously two tin cans and a piece of string". The service was so bad she "couldn't even send emails". So the agent got in his car and drove out to analyse the problem and sort out the issues caused by the "tin pot company". As it turned out he didn't have to sort out anything with the "tin pot company" all he had to do was enter Exetel's DNS settings in the emailer's modem instead of Telstra's. No hint of apology or thanks to the agent - just more abuse that "you should have told me to do that before I've been without internet for a week".
Of course not every customer is like this particular one but, to an extent, the 'cargo cult mentality' she displayed is become a more and more frequent characteristic of Australians generally, perhaps in many other countries. Why should an ADSL customer be required to read the set up documentation for a new service? Why should an ADSL customer be required to make a note of the support telephone number? Why should a customer who is seeking support have to follow the resolution procedures the support engineer is asking them to follow? Why shouldn't the person they are speaking to be subjected to abuse and shouting and constant accusations of "you're just not listening to me"?
This instance just illustrates the attitudes and self importance of the nightmare customer that every organisation has to deal with on occasions. But they aren't "customers" they are just egotistic people who make other people's lives unpleasant as a matter of course whenever they come in contact with other people. Australia now seems to have a much higher percentage of such people than when I first came here in the early 1960s. Australians were very different then to the 'Australians' I meet today. They were much more self sufficient and much surer of themselves and 'complained' very little or not at all about trivial issues - or even big issues. Reading any paper or watching any TV news coverage amply demonstrates the high percentage of snarling complaint ridden expositions of Australian's in this period of Australian history. I wonder whether Australians of today have lost their self accountability which was so obvious to me when I first arrived here?
On a more important issue the latest Sensis survey reveals what I, and many other business people have been saying for long time - despite Canberra's claims to the contrary - business is in recession: