'You are important to us, please hang on'Over the past...


March 17, 1996

'You are important to us, please hang on'

Over the past half-century, we have become masters of technology. Although we have devices intended to make our lives simpler, allowing us to complete our tasks using brainpower instead of sweat and sinew, we have become the unwilling slaves of that technology.

Five years ago, if it was necessary to call a company to report a problem, the call was answered by a human being, who noted it and dispatched assistance. Last week, when I dialed to report trees leaning against our phone lines, I was subjected to a half-hour of elevator music and an endless stream of mindless, mechanically reproduced voices assuring me that my call was important and that I would be assisted "shortly." "Shortly" turned into three days of calls and more than two hours of wasted time on "hold." The same problem has occurred the last several times we've had to report power failures and downed electric lines.

The longer the taped voice can hold us prisoner, the longer the business or agency can defer taking action. Not only does this practice waste our time, but when there is a valid emergency, it allows a potentially dangerous situation to continue.

The fastest way to lose business is to rile an already disgruntled customer. No one willingly does business with a company that ignores him and wastes his time. Numerous studies have shown that an unhappy client is 20 times more likely to tell friends about a bad experience as a good one. Corporate decision-makers who are patting themselves on the back for implementing "state of the art" technology while justifying record layoffs and downsizing, won't seem so smug standing at the end of an unemployment line when the public refuses to take it any longer.

Any company that believes it is good business to keep customers waiting is about to learn why so many businesses fail.

If I had my way, when those corporate executives finally reach the front of that unemployment line, they would be greeted by a taped message that says, "You are important to us. Someone will be with you shortly. Thank you for your patience."

J. L. Payton


It's pet owner's fault, not police's

I would like to take this opportunity to respond to a letter written by Tim Hanavan that appeared in the March 3 issue of The Sun for Anne Arundel.

Obviously, Mr. Hanavan has never been the recipient of a bite or attack. I, on the other hand, have been bitten and can attest to the fact that canine attacks can result in serious bodily injury and in some cases death.

Mr. Hanavan failed to mention or perhaps he forgot to read the original article in The Sun, which clearly stated that the police officer in question had retreated all the way to the wall of the house and had nowhere else to run.

Secondly, the writer failed to mention that this was not the first confrontation that this particular dog had had with the Anne Arundel County police. In the first such incident, pepper spray had proved ineffective. What many Monday-morning quarterbacks fail to understand is that pepper spray and mace were designed and engineered with humans in mind and have little, if any, deterrent effect on animals. We ask a great deal of police officers to protect our lives, liberty and uphold our democratic ideals. We should not ask them to risk serious bodily injury and possibly even death simply because of careless and reckless pet owner attitudes. This incident clearly illustrates why we have leash laws in Anne Arundel County and what can happen when owners willfully and wantonly disregard them.

Brian C. Lippert


Publisher's saga not unusual

Michael Olesker's Feb. 27 column, "Police Encounter," was most interesting. It reminded me of the time many years ago when I was tossed in the "tank" for a traffic infraction in Ohio. I see things haven't changed much.

The saga of John J. Oliver Jr., publisher of the Afro-American newspaper, should be a lesson to anyone who has a license to drive. I know only about Mr. Oliver from what Mr. Olesker wrote, but I would venture a guess that the police were following the mandatory procedure, four squad cars notwithstanding.

If you think Baltimore law is stringent, you had better beware in Washington, D.C. There, not only are you handcuffed and transported to central lockup for prior seat-belt warrants, but you go downtown if you had forgotten to carry your driver's license with you in a traffic stop or incident. Fortunately, I know of it from someone else's tribulation.

Joe Shafran


Football season too short for ample return

As a retired senior citizen living in Anne Arundel County on a fixed income, I would like to know why we have not been given any say in the outrageous amount of money being spent to bring a second National Football League team to Maryland.

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