Please Hold. Your Call Is Very Unimportant to Us

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Lying isn’t cheap. Ask former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell. Dominion Voting Machines filed a lawsuit against her for $1.3 billion – with a “b” – for defamation.

“Acting in concert with allies and media outlets that were determined to promote a false preconceived narrative about the 2020 election, Powell launched a viral disinformation campaign about Dominion that reached millions of people and caused enormous harm to Dominion,” according to a company statement. Included among the allegations were Powell’s claims that Dominion was created in Venezuela to rig elections for its late president, Hugo Chavez, and that the company bribed officials in Georgia to secure a no-bid contract. Based on those accusations, Dominion’s sales forecast for 2021 just got cloudier.

I’m reminded of the lyrics to Althea by the Grateful Dead:

Play loose with the truth/

Maybe it’s your fire/

Baby I hope you don’t get burned

 

I suspect Powell has already contacted bankers in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands for financial advice.

If you buy into the proclamation that “buyers are better informed than ever in history,” you might think Powell doesn’t need to hide her money. “Informed buyers” aren’t gullible, so how could her far-fetched claims convince them that the company is corrupt? Yet, every day, consumers prove that their acclaimed informational omnipotence is only a myth.

Importantly, “Informed buyer” hype ignores a modern reality: misinformation swirls as abundantly as credible information. So while today’s buyers might be more informed than ever, they’re more misinformed than ever, too.

People like Powell can assert whatever they want and broadcast it online. The earth is flat. Voting machines were hacked. Pizza Restaurant Comet Ping Pong is actually a child sex trafficking operation.

Advertisers: if you’ve got a bogus claim, you can spread it online. Someone will believe it. Gah-ron-teed!

And it’s not getting any better. The mob attack at the US Capitol on January 7th reminds us how misinformation quenches our boundless thirst for self-deception.

The more we experience misinformation, the more inured we become. Even in customer support calls, we’re routinely confronted with three lies, gallingly replayed in a loop throughout our hold time:

  1. “Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed.”
  2. “We are experiencing an unusually high volume of calls.”
  3. “Your call is very important to us.”

Me? I’ve become jaded. I tune out all of these statements, and give little thought to the mendacity.

Some companies have never changed their menu options, but that doesn’t stop them from bombastically admonishing callers to listen, as you would a petulant or obstreperous child.

And no matter which company I call, or when I call them, I’m informed by recorded message that they’re “experiencing an unusually high volume of calls.” A flamboyant contradiction. That this information is imparted on each call any time of day, any day of the week, and any week of the month informs customers that the volume of calls is not unusual, but in fact, quite normal. It just sounds better than admitting “we suck at planning.”

The greatest prevarication is the sentiment, “your call is very important to us,” delivered by recording. What could be more ironic? I’m in queue waiting for my call to be handled – hopefully, competently and expediently – while being endlessly reminded by a recording how important I am.

None of this comports with honest intent, but we press on. Lying and misinformation have become embedded in our daily experience, creating a fecund environment for exploitation.

What happened to the corporate values of honesty and transparency that companies have committed to their stakeholders, and pedaled through their marketing outreach? On support calls, if organizations were true to their word, we’d hear “Your expected wait time is 48 minutes. You can continue to hold, or you can simply hang up! We don’t care. Your call is very unimportant to us.”

At least we’d know where we stand.

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