Award Winning Blog

Friday, July 14, 2023

Blog Catharsis

     Even recognizing that few people will ever come across my blog, some degree of catharsis and validation accrues.  I am glad to get something "off my chest," no matter how ineffectual.

    Toward that end, I have decided to share some of the minor and sometimes major irritants that result from living in a digital, mediated, ecosystem.  Here's a starting list of digital artifacts that drive me crazy:

1)    Comcast's customer service bot includes background typing sounds ostensibly to make subscribers assume the bot is thinking and working hard at customer care.

2)    Verizon's PagePlus reseller, uses low paid, off shore customer service reps who do nothing more than read from scripts.  They have no ability to solve most problems and lie to subscribers that someone more qualified will call back within the hour.  PagePlus also lies in emails to subscribers about how a rep  tried to call, but no one answered.  I have an answering machine and only once got a recorded message from Pageplus.

3)    Mastercard refused a credit card application based on my lack of "credit experience."  Apparently, I have not been in debt enough times.

4)    On line orders for a new magazine subscription may take 4-6 weeks for "processing."

5)    Toll free calls to various customer service reps often get cut off.  Lately an algorithm predicts the likely holding time. Is 90 minutes too long?

To be continued.

Vanguard Saves Millions By Requiring Most Clients to Print Out Statements

 The money crunchers at Vanguard Investments recently changed their rules to make their mailing of hard copy documents an expensive option.  Previously, one could avoid a $25 fee for each account (I have four) by investing over $1 million, until VG raised the figure to $5 million.

This change in customer care has nothing to do about the environment. VG really, really wants to avoid the substantial cost in printing and mailing documents.  Just unbundle that task from the concept of service and, tah dah, VG saves millions.  In doing so, they also tick off just about every one of their customers. 

VG obviously has no clue about the expense and hassle in home-based document printing.  As a retiree, I have no convenient way to print lengthy documents at the expense of an employer.  My HP inkjet printer guzzles ink, and HP makes every effort--including likely illegal ones--to prevent the use of reused cartridges.

Contrast VG's sneaky and ham-handed environmentalism, with what Fidelity and T. Rowe Price do. They gladly send statements pre-punched for easy insertion into a loose leaf binder.  

This process may seem old school, but maybe Fidelity and T. Rowe Price know something about investor behavior that VG wants to ignore: investors like hard copies of their statements and they also like to compare performance by referencing different monthly statements.

Try toggling monthly statements on line and you might see the benefit in having hard copies.  

Vanguard has increased my printing duties substantially.  Would it be over reacting to take my business elsewhere?