Random Rants

By Jeffrey Page

Something that really annoys me is not being taken seriously. Such as when I write a polite letter of complaint to an official of a corporation or to a public servant, and receive a response – or no response at all – suggesting that no one gives a damn about my protest and that I’ve been dismissed with a patient smile and a chuckle.

As I wrote here last May, I sent a letter to Rex W. Tillerson, the chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil, explaining that I was tearing up my Exxon Mobil gas card and switching brands because I disapproved of the company’s shareholders rejecting – for the 14th year in a row – a proposal to extend formal anti-discrimination policies to gay men and lesbian employees of the company. I included with the letter the shreds of two Exxon gas cards.

Exxon’s answer? There was no answer until the last few weeks. First, Exxon announced that as of Oct. 1 it would extend health insurance benefits to both spouses in same-sex marriages. Then, a few days ago, I opened the mail and found three brand new Exxon Mobil credit cards and some promotional information. Was Exxon waiting for me to say “Good job” by sending those cards?

But as far as I’m concerned, Tillerson stepped in a bucket, first with gay employees who were forced to wait so long for benefits, and then with me. I accept the fact that he doesn’t spend his workday in the Exxon complaint department, but I would think that when a cardholder sends him two cut-up credit cards and letter of explanation, he would direct someone to send my name via interoffice mail to the appropriate department with the directive: “Cancel this guy.”

I haven’t bought Exxon products since May and will have to think long and hard about becoming a customer again.

Am I now supposed to run out and pledge allegiance to Exxon for doing what it should have done at least 14 years ago? In the name of decency and fairness, I don’t think the answer comes that quickly.

                                                                      * * *

The phone rang a couple of days ago.

“Mr. Page,” a woman said and without even waiting for me to say “Yes?” went on to explain why my chimney needs a sweeping. How she would know this is beyond me. Anyway, I said I wasn’t interested and at that moment heard her using the words “serious,” “danger,” and “fire.”

I said thanks and again told her I wasn’t interested, and as I walked over to the phone’s cradle to hang up, I heard her use “fire” and “danger” again.

It seems that I get a call from various chimney sweeps every time the season changes – even as spring turns to summer. The reasoning presumably is that you can’t be too careful.

A while back, after reading an article about telephone sales tactics, I specifically asked not to be called again. I thought telemarketers were prohibited from calling if you request not to be called. But chimney sweeps are a persistent lot.

I also noted that they call you by name but you don’t know their names. So I asked a caller for his name. And abracadabra, the guy hung up on me.

All you have to do is wander from the prepared script they have in front of them, and the balance of power shifts back to you.

* * *

I bought a few items at Staples and the cashier handed me a slip from the cash register that said in part:

10% off

any one item

on your next purchase

Valid in store only.

Even with the promotion’s brief three-week duration it sounded like a good deal. But when I got home and read the details, I understood – yet again – that when it comes to retailing, there are two English languages.

In our version of English, “10% off any one item” means “10% off any one item.”

But in the retailers’ version “10% off any one item” means “you’ll get 10 percent off any one item when pigs fly.”

Why do I say this?

These are the restrictions on the 10 percent off deal (printed in type so small I had to use a magnifying glass to read them): My future discount on “any one item” is not valid on Back to School Savings Pass, ink and toner savings pass, desktop or laptop computers, tablets, netbooks, Apple products, Bose products, Amazon Kindle, Nook, HP ink and toner, Epson ink and toner, custom printing orders placed online, gift cards, mobile phones and mobile phone services, Staples Easy Tech professional-grade and on-site services, depot repair and parts, phone cards or postage stamps.

What this signifies, I imagine, is that I can get a few pennies off my next purchase of paper clips.

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One Response to “Random Rants”

  1. Geoff Howard Says:

    Instead of ranting, try this: 1) a deep breath, 2) “Screw it!” or possibly something stronger, but said gently, with resigned acceptance instead of anger, and 3) focusing on something close to home and positive – like a grandchild. Much better use of your psychic energy.

    Now Boehner and the Tea Party, that’s another story altogether … don’t get me started!

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