This is a post about the indifference of everyday consumers and how this leads eventually to the lack of progress on a societal level. I want to share one apparently uninteresting story of what happened to me recently as a customer of a giant merchant. This is not about how big or small is the problem, but the way we treat it and more often than not, dismiss it. I want to tell you my story and why I consider that Taking action is the only way for improvement.
We are raised to work like robots and to act like zombies. And when the flaws and incompetence of the systems sparkle, we are told that other customers have it worse than us. Like that is something to settle with or that is normal. It’s not.
What am I talking about?
Consumerism. Fashion is one of the largest industries on the globe. But there is more to that. They set the trend and then make their profits. And the fashion industry doesn’t sell clothes like they used to. They sell trends.
Something new is added to their online store every week, if not every day. The robot I was listening to for 20 minutes made it very clear and that’s how it stuck in my mind. I was calling customer service.
I don’t usually buy stuff. I said it before and I will repeat it forever: I save my money to travel and I encourage everyone I meet to do the same. Some understand and others give a weird look. Clearly, it’s a matter of priorities. I wrote about this before: Travel doesn’t require loads of money.
I want to tell you about the stuff that I buy. I rarely buy clothes. That’s because I wear the same things for years and when I finally decide to give up on something, it’s because I’ve worn them out. I am that girl who still has clothes from when she was in high school. This is another reason to buy only what I really love.
But that doesn’t mean I am a weirdo, living under a rock, with no clue about what’s happening in the fashion industry. Or let’s say business, as it is more appropriate.
I have to admit I used to like shopping malls when I was a teenager. It was a new thing for us. We used to be communists until I was born. That was one lucky coincidence, for me. Yey! So back to the mall.
I used to like that. But then again, there were no online shops back then. There was no facebook and blogs were barely a thing.
Now I recently realized I hate them. It takes forever to get there, to walk around and to buy something. Not to mention everything looks the same in all shops. So why bother?!
But I was keen on a pair of summer sandals/ shoes and I decided that it should be something a bit fancy but also comfortable. I am always looking for comfort. Travelling means walking a lot so I need comfortable shoes.
And that’s how I came to place my first online order. Even my mom ordered clothes off the internet before I did.
So I ordered a nice, kinda shiny pair of shoes from HM. I figured that I have to try it once and stop wasting time going out to get stuff. The delivery wasn’t bad either. I took 4 working days but it was free and I was not in a hurry.
I wasn’t planning on wearing them anytime soon, and I still haven’t. That’s the whole point of this post.
When I finally got them, I opeend the package and I was surprized by their nice colour. I was excited. And I couldn’t wait for an ocasion to wear them.
It took a while, I was saving them for a special first time out. I decided to wear them at an Instagram event in Bucharest. I did my makeup, put my dress on, and finally took the shoes from the shelf. I cut the price tag, sat them on the floor. Gently, I put my feet to try them one. I realized I look nice after checking with the wall mirror from my living room.
And then after 1 more step, something snapped. My foot was loose and as I looked down, I realized my brand new shoes had broken.
Needless to say, I got angry. And then I stopped and asked myself: “Why am I angry?” and “Who am I angry with?”.
Because all we do in out day to day life is to try to find someone to blame for our smaller or bigger failures. The brain has a hard time accepting the consequences of its own actions. The universal, most used solution is to blame it on something or someone else. It’s like a drug we take. And it doesn’t really change the situation, does it?!
But, then I realized I was angry at myself. I was angry because I have wasted time with this pair of shoes, choosing them online, waiting for the delivery, and not to mention money, which for me also means the trade of time.
Why was I angry?
I was angry because when small things go wrong, we are encouraged to say, “it’s ok” and to just let it go.
But looking at the bigger picture, and considering that there were a lot of customers calling customer service the next day, made me realize that even if we all have small issues, together, when we sum it up, it reveals to be a really big one.
Hours and days wasted for the incompetence of poorly paid people, and for the greed of the companies.
Calling Customer Service
You know you it’s a bad sign when the robot tells you that the waiting estimating time is 5 minutes and you end up waiting for 20. It translates to a large number of unsatisfied customers.
When I travel and look for accommodation only, I always look for the bad reviews. I want to know what’s wrong. That makes the difference, and so far I have not been disappointed. You know what you get and you don’t get your expectations too high.
The same should go here. Judging by the number of minutes I listed to the robot, which was trying to brainwash me with the weekly new trends from their online shop, there must be a lot of bad reviews. But they are not public. And so we are living in a self set rat race.
As I was explaining what happened with my still new pair of HM shoes, the operator listening in silence, and found it hard to understand. This tells me that their trainings are poorly made. Or that he hated his job.
I concluded that I can return the product only because it’s been less than 30 days since I bought them, not because they have a manufacturing flaw. Apparently, this is something that “happens from time to time”.
This was the moment I realize we oblige to follow their policies the moment we buy from them. I spent my hard earned money to buy a product from a company whose only purpose is to get rich and make my life even harder.
I am the girl who wanted a pair of new shoes and paid for it, in advance, and now I was responsible for making all the arrangements for returning the faulty product.
That’s at least a couple of hours right there, not to mention the time I have to wait at home for the delivery company to come and pick it up.
That energy and that time they are stealing from me are what made me angry.
Selling is the easiest thing on this planet. Making things right is one of the hardest things.
And that is an understandable explanation for why some people give up and don’t bother. Let’s face it! Most of us do that. Because they consider this to a “small thing”.
But that also leads to ignorance and I believe that ignorance kills progress and people on the inside.
And I will not have that. We are totally responsible for our lifestyle and for how others (companies or people) treat us. They will always treat us the way we let them to. The way we show them, or the way we treat ourselves.
Conclusion: Taking action is the only way for improvement
Let’s share more everyday stories because progress is only achieved when things don’t happen the way we want them to happen. And such stories are not only a way to lament ourselves but a new perspective for improvement.
Bad things will never stop happening and that’s ok, because failing and learning from failures, help us as individuals and as communities to evolve and better prepare for next time.
But I can change the way I interact with them, with others, the way I think about them, and ultimately the way the world functions. Indifference kills innovation. And our souls.
I believe we live extraordinary times, regarding technology and achievements. Just one generation ago, people won’t have believed that what happens today will be one day possible. And yet, here we are.
Coming from a former communist country, this strikes even more and urges me to take action. Taking action can also be in the wrong way, but not taking any action at all is as bad as giving up!
Also, I will make it my personal goal to stop buying stuff from HM and Inditex (Zara, Pull&Bear, Bershka, Massimo Dutti, Stradivarius, Oysho). They are already rich. And they don’t care about their customers and the quality and labour conditions are horrid. Take them out!
Ps. Make sure to read the Power of travelling and how to can help your personal growth.
So, what’s your story?