Saturday, 12 July 2014

Serve the Server

There is something uniquely Australian in the way people take criticism one directs at them. Perhaps it is because the people of Australia are generally nice and polite to one another, so much so that they hardly ever have to deal with situations where criticism is directed at them in the first place. They thus develop the perception that they are beyond reproach.
Allow me to provide you with some examples to explain the phenomenon I am talking about.

Between one escapade and another with my son, we had to take him to see a specialist. We were recommended with one that operates near us and thought to ourselves we're in with a winner: a specialist that's both recommended and nearby! Woot!
We called said specialist and were told the first meeting would have to be held at a faraway suburb. However, they should be able to sort things out so that subsequent meetings are near us. We accepted the compromise and went ahead with the first meeting.
A day after that first meeting, we received a call from the specialist's assistant. No, we cannot have our next meetings near us; we'd have to continue travelling afar. Oh, and can we book the next meeting?
We took our time. Later, instead of booking, I complained via email against the fact we were sold a service under a certain premises that changed a day after we paid the specialist.
They messed us about, but eventually we received a letter full of pathetic expressions befitting a child that cannot accept the blame for even the slightest of mistakes. The email concluded with
"In summary we feel it is best for all parties concerned if [your son] were to consult with another [specialist] and we wish [your son] all the best in his future learning."
You get it? A specialist solves their problems not by addressing arguments and dealing with their customers, but rather by politely telling the customer to f-ck off. I can add that they have been ignoring my emails since; my next step would involve Consumer Affairs.

Next up there's the story of us sending Dylan to a special science class intended for kids with strong interest in areas not adequately covered by the regular school system. Cool.
Around the middle of the day I got "the call". That is, the call parents dread the most: come and pick your son up, please, and do it quickly! Usually, one gets the call when the child is too sick to endure school; this time around I received it because he was misbehaving.
Upon arrival I was greeted by a supervisor who gave me the full report on my evil son's escapades. Apparently, I was told, he refused to do what the teacher told him, he answered back loudly, and he was even rude!
Now, I am not justifying what my son did; he deserves punishment. But seriously, are they kidding here or what? A teacher who gets so out of phase because a kid misbehaves should, by my book, seek alternative employment.
But no, that won't be tolerated at these special classes. They are for upper class kids; they will not deal with the muck.

My third example comes from friends of ours. Disappointed with what the state school system has to offer their child, they decided on enlisting him to the ranks of a private Anglican school in our area (read: $20K plus a year). Good luck for them with that.
One would think that if one is supposed to buy their child's school a new car each year then one should expect that school to welcome them in with open arms. Clearly, one is naive, because our friends have been booked for an interview with the school. Not an interview in which they are to assess whether the school is good enough for their son and their $20K+ a year, but rather an interview where the school is to assess whether the parents are good enough for it.
The private school world has gone so crazy as to forget which party is the customer in the transaction.

The three examples I have provided indicate at situations where the party delivering a service thinks so highly of itself it considers itself above the normal proceedings for financial transaction. For them there is no customer on one side and a service provider on the other; there is just them and the privileged position they took upon themselves. Challenge their self assumed status at your own peril.
Clearly, we have ourselves a situation here in desperate need of remedying.

Image by Asbjørn Sørensen Poulsen, Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) licence

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