The customer is not always right. I know this. As someone who has worked in customer service, waited tables, and tended bar for years, I know first hand a lot of customers are just plain wrong ("No you can't bring in outside food to our restaurant, where we literally sell food").
However, it's never okay to tell a customer they simply don't matter -- because while they might not be right, they are important. Without customers there is no business. Yet, in today's fat-cat corporate dominated world it seems we've spiraled back into a time of David versus Goliath, except David no longer wins.
Recently, as the title suggests, I called Disneyland to complain. As season pass holders my boyfriend and I were frustrated after spending hundreds -- nay thousands -- of dollars simply to be met with a laundry list of difficulties when it came to actually using said passes. Including a plethora of blackout dates, no parking discounts, early and differing closing times, months (like October) where special events prevented us from using the pass without paying extra, and administrative difficulties every time we tried to enter the park. (Somehow his pass never worked, he was accused of not paying for it and it always required a trip to customer service to argue our case.) Sorry, that's just not what we signed up for.
So when we called one Tuesday -- literally on the way to the park -- to ask about closing times (the website was unclear) and were put on hold for 40 minutes, a ridiculous wait time, our question turned to a complaint. We were fed up.
I am not sure what we were expecting -- it's not like the park would change its closing hours for us, or rethink blackout dates, but perhaps if enough people complained these policies might change in the future? Or maybe we just wanted a sympathetic ear, someone to understand our frustrations and offer a simple "I'm sorry how can we make it better?"
But that's not what we got. When we told Sally* (our "cast member" helper in charge of these sorts of complaints) this is what she said:
"Well you must be the only ones who feel that way because we're still selling tickets. In fact tickets sell out." In other words, go f**k yourself.
At that moment we went from frustrated to flabbergasted. Of course they sell out Sally -- Disneyland as I recall is a pretty successful enterprise. People travel all over the world to pay the cost of a college education to visit Goofy and shoot aliens with Buzz Light Year. But why does their massive success give them the right to simply not give a shit when someone has a valid complaint?
I understand that the $379 we each spent on a season pass doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of Disney's world -- but it mattered to us. It matters to people who fly cross-country to have a vacation and end up in tears. Or scrape together hard-earned money just to have their happiest place on earth dreams shattered -- and it's this type of big business mentality that is ruining America. (Yes, I just said Disneyland is ruining America, feel free to comment below.)
Don't get me wrong, it's not just Disneyland, it's the fact that corporations run the world now and individuals no longer matter. It's the mentality that your voice as a regular, non-famous, non-one-percenter, non-lobbyist human being means nothing when it comes to big, branded companies. You are helpless because these business giants have lost sight of what got them there in the first place: single customers.
Ever tried complaining to a credit card company after charging fees they weren't supposed to? Buckle up, because it will take 45 minutes just to get someone on the phone, simply to have them transfer you.
Ever tried to cancel or change a flight because a loved one was sick? Or complained to a cable company about their less-than-stellar service? Ever had a dispute with a doctor's office for double billing? Most of these battles are met with unhelpful responses, poor customer service and companies that don't care. You're just one person after all.
But that's not how it should be. We shouldn't be bullied simply because we don't have the funds, or the time or the energy to fight back.
When we called Disneyland we were considered nothing more than the dirt under their diamond tipped shoes. As the woman told us, people are still buying tickets so we can take a hike for all she cares. We did, thanks.
Obviously losing one customer won't affect the machine that is Disney. Perhaps however, the way network streaming is now fighting cable, there's a way around corporate bullies. Perhaps if enough people complained one voice could become a million. I love Disneyland -- I still do -- I guess all I wanted is for them to care as much about me as I do about them.
*Names have been changed.