When did we all become sheep?

I have to admit it, I’m a cranky old man some days. And even I admit sometimes I get myself all riled-up about something for no good reason. But lately, merchants of all stripes are really beginning to tick me off, and all for the same reason – they keep dictating to me what I must do to give them money.

Put that way, it sounds really stupid, doesn’t it?

But really, think about it. How many things have you purchased lately where there was some “procedure” to follow, some “policy” that forced you to waste time and energy cow-towing to the merchant’s demands, just to give them money? From BestBuy’s “greeters” demanding to see your receipt when you walk from the checkout directly to the door, to businesses demanding you call a toll-free number to prove you are who you say you are just to fix a website issue, business lately have wildly confused who needs to be satisfied.

Ok, some of the annoyances are dictated by the government, although the way some places handle such things isn’t…we recently opened a money-market account at a major on-line bank, and as part of the process they need (by government mandate) a signature card. Ok, I get it, and I understand that is an inevitable hoop one needs to jump through. But do they need to hound us with emails constantly, while the forms are on-route from them to us, and again from us to them, and then email that they got the things? (They don’t realize it, but I run my own mail server, so I can turn off email addresses any time I wish..and I create a separate one for each merchant. Ask the morons at Highmark, who mailed me so much unnecessary computer-generated nonsense I never asked for I just shut that one down. Now they keep asking me if there’s something wrong with my email every time I log in to pay the inflated bill. ;)

Or the credit union who, when we went to open a shares account, asked for my employer. When I said, “self,” the employee demanded to know what line of business I was in. Nevermind we had money to give them to open the CU equivalent of a savings account, and that there was no reason they needed to know what I did for a living (wasn’t asking for a loan, where my business and amount I make is a legitimate concern), the whole procedure came to a halt while they wasted time demanding to know what I do. I made something non-descriptive up, the computer form was filled by the employee, and off we went. (Same employee was quite literally astonished when, before I signed that I was provided with and read the policy papers, I asked for a copy to read. “No one does that,” she said. So everyone attests with their signature that they have done something they haven’t? Yipe!)

Or the “big box” store whose website decided to add an additional associate member to my account for no reason I could fathom, raising the payment an additional $45, with no way to remove it from my cart, then instead of fixing their issue demanded I waste my morning telephoning them to prove I was who I said I was before they would fix it. I mean, seriously…why the hell would I have to prove who I say I am to get them to clear the bogus crap they added to my “shopping cart” for no good reason?

What is it that makes merchants today think we will constantly roll over and do what they tell us to do?

It’s us. See, we do it.

I can’t figure out when we became such sheep. When I was young, merchants called my father “Mr. Summers,” where I am constantly getting unwanted spam email from merchants addressing me by my christian name as if we were long-lost buddies. There is seemingly no respect anymore for the customer, instead the merchant believes they are doing the customer a favor by taking their money. And if the customer does push back, well, we can always get another customer.

I decided that, from now on, I’ll walk away from a merchant who gets snotty about what I must do. Understand, I have to make sure I’m not unreasonable…I mean, yes, I need to pay for what I purchase, I need to be polite-but-firm to employees who are just following some faceeless corporation’s policy, and I can’t just be in a bad mood and grump that a checkout line is closing and I have to move over one. But when companies give me a long, involved process just to be their customer, I’m going to start saying, “No, thank you, I’d rather shop elsewhere.”

I doubt that one guy is going to change anything, what with everyone else seeming to drop their heads and doing what they are told, but at least I’ll be able to feel better about the choices I make, and the companies with which I do business.

Too bad I can’t stop doing business with my local township, whose employees epitomize the attitude that, “You work for me, not the reverse.” Maybe I should move?

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