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Opinion Editorials

Companies are using the pandemic as an excuse for their crappy practices

(OPINION EDITORIAL) The pandemic is an excuse for a lot of inconveniences – prices, shipping times, poor quality, but, are these just a cover-up for companies?

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Toilet paper price issue due to companies overcharging in the pandemic.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’re probably aware of the fact that stuff is inherently more expensive now than it was before. You’ve probably also noticed companies having issues with delivery times, product quality, and even the quality of customer service you receive. The reason? Coronavirus, of course. But surely this is a valid excuse, right?

Well, possibly. When all of this is over, though, it’s imperative that we see a paradigm shift back to something resembling normalcy – including realistic prices.

It’s not that I personally mind paying $16 for 6 avocados from Albertsons under the context of a pandemic. Heck, I didn’t even make too much of a fuss when an AC technician read me the riot act while standing in my garage because I asked them a question (“Is the thermostat you were talking about in the house?”) that made them feel like I was telling them how to do their job. I get that this is a stressful time for the economy and individual employees alike.

But with these kinds of actions persisting, they’re becoming substantially less excusable – especially when COVID is invariably used as a continuing excuse.

Call me pessimistic (seriously, you can), but we saw something similar happen with Hurricane Katrina. After the initial spike in goods required for Katrina responses – something that, while inconvenient, is completely understandable – many noticed that the price on those goods never really went back down.

That, in simple terms, is atrocious.

Using any kind of emergency as an excuse to offer subpar service, overpriced items, and other inconvenient aspects of life may be necessary under the conditions of whatever the emergency is – a meat shortage, a hurricane, a global pandemic – but using those conditions to establish a new norm once operating under them is no longer pertinent isn’t appropriate, and consumers should feel comfortable expecting more decorum from the businesses they frequent.

In fact, the only real excuse for “subpar service” is a shortage of employees – something that is completely reasonable to expect under current circumstances. When these circumstances no longer apply, neither does the excuse.

Companies, take note: A global pandemic is not a free pass. Please – from the people who pay for your products – don’t outstay your welcome on this one.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Eric

    March 23, 2021 at 8:54 pm

    There is absolutely no excuse for the decline in service since covid. If you offer a service either preform it correctly or stop pretending to provide it. I just ordered some things from games workshop. They say it might take up to 25 days because of covid. Why? What possible reason can they be suggesting. I work at an RV dealership, weve been open this whole pandemic. I can not simply tell customers oh yea your RV will be 25 days for this repair cause covid. So tired of this BS. Trades workers need to make WAY more money. We still live in the real world where success is based on results. Its just disgusting. If you cant provide the service you exist for. Go out of business or man up. This is disgusting.

  2. Trisha

    April 8, 2021 at 3:49 am

    It’s been a year and Covid is still the excuse in shipping delays, and not being able to contact or get ahold of customer service reps at companies. This excuse is being over played now. No one wants Covid but if us Healthcare workers can’t use Covid as an excuse for anything, why is it ok for this to be used as an excuse after a year by everyone else? I’m over hearing the automated systems saying longer wait times due to Covid, shipping delays due to Covid.

  3. Miles Dyson

    May 6, 2021 at 12:37 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree! What I think some business and many people fail to realize is that you can only milk a crisis for so long. We ALL have had to make sacrifices (less store items/longer delivery times). And with that being said, some still believe that crisis can be a huge emotional gain, whether or not the crisis is valid.

    We have clearly seen this in every single sector of society from unrest, to identity politics, to education. Even religion, which is usually a calming and stable influence in people’s lives has had to endure it’s share of upheaval and naysayers as well. But, despite advances in immunization and treatment the tired and worn out trope remains “Because of….Insert situation of choice here”.

    This embraced mindset has got to be reflected upon, and measured for its validity in the current time. Using Covid as the de facto end all standard of poor performance and behavior is getting tiring and in the long term, will ruin customer relations, job performance, and social interpersonal relationships, and even capitalism itself. It almost feels sometimes as if America was looking for a perfect excuse NOT to be at its best, not to treat others fairly, and to look at ones fellow neighbor as a nefarious purveyor of lies and deceit rather than a person who shares the same fears, the same hopes and dreams.

    We can ill afford to ever look at a crisis again with the same eyes as before. We must look at each crisis, measure it with the best metrics available, and come to a fair and balanced solution. A solution that actually takes into account that there will be greedy and selfish individuals and businesses that will take advantage of Covid or ANY crisis situation.

    Sometimes the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, but sold with deception from people with bad intentions. There is a reason the Preamble of the Constitution specifically says “We the people” not “We the corporations” not “I the individual” WE THE PEOPLE. We are ultimately responsible for all this greed and deception as we should have opened our mouths, and closed our wallets. We should have politely corrected a business for its bad customer service and refused that product or service if it seemed to carry the “Covid Tax” aka the “It’s a bad time and you pay for me taking the risk whether it is a valid concern, or not.

    Please, I urge you out there if you read this. The customer is NOT always right but neither is the company or the individual. It is YOUR money and your patronage that keep America going. Give it to those who really work hard to encourage your business and your loyalty and cast those out who are just using you as an additional fee or a “convenience”.

    • M.M.

      January 30, 2022 at 9:11 am

      I 100% agree with every comment you just said. I’m reading this 2 years into the pandemic and things are getting worse by the day. Part of the problem is that employees now believe that they can tell employers what to do. This will continue to become a problem until we stand up.

  4. Scott F

    June 6, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    I agree, covid is a bs excuse being used by companies as the reason for crappy service. They are using it to take advantage of the consumer. Like not allowing you to try clothes on and then only giving store credit “if” you meet all of their requirements for returning an item. They obviously hope you just don’t bother. I have to return more stuff than I’d like as it is due to poor quality. I certainly don’t need more.

  5. M.M.

    January 30, 2022 at 9:06 am

    I ran across this post by doing a basic Google search, why is customer service so bad in 2022 and know its been awhile since this was written but 100% agree with this article. To make matters worse, now a large portion of our country believes in their mind that they can just tell their employers what to do. The laziness is becoming unacceptable and is unbelievable! I have been a tech sales person and set up computers in businesses for 15 years and I’m at an honest breaking point. When I install the system I have to call the company and get special codes to activate their system and software, only provided by the company that set the equipment up. This has resulted in some of the most pathetic and embarrassing months of my business lifetime. I have heard including but not limited to doors slamming, huge dogs barking in the background so loud i cannot hear the tech support agent, babies crying, televisions blaring, water running (sounded like a damn washing machine) among many others. There was even one call that I was on the phone with a tech agent for 2 hours and 42 minutes for a simple troubleshooting step and I swear he had a pack of what sounded like St. Bernard’s running in the background. He admitted he was walking around in his yard (yes he was ON the clock) and wasn’t even in front of his computer and was trying to troubleshoot a problem by “memory “. I’m so sick of the crappy service that I now refuse to do business with Talech at all because of too many of these types of calls.
    I understand now that people are refusing to work if they have to drive to work now and will only accept a job if they can do it from home so they can halfway do the job. Im sure there is a small percentage that can handle working from home but it is a small percentage. Well, this is the sad future of our country if we allow this to happen and unfortunately we are going to get taught a hard lesson. Good luck! We all need it…

  6. Raymond Stevens

    April 18, 2022 at 7:59 pm

    I’m unsure what we, as customers and consumers, can do about this abuse if everybody is gouging. Where can we go for fair treatment? The only thing we can do is talk with our wallet. Do without unless absolutely necessary. But that is tough to do too. Look at the price of gasoline as one small example of not having a choice except to get gouged and grin and bear it.

    • Lani Rosales, COO + News Director

      April 26, 2022 at 3:07 pm

      Really great points, Raymond, and it’s not clear yet what the overarching answer will be, BUT you’re right to vote with your wallet.

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Opinion Editorials

Shady salary transparency is running rampant: What to look out for

(EDITORIAL) Employees currently have the upper hand in the market. Employers, you must be upfront about salary and approach it correctly.

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Man holding money in the dark representing false salary transparency.

It’s the wild wild west out there when it comes to job applications. Job descriptions often misrepresent remote work opportunities. Applicants have a difficult time telling job scams from real jobs. Job applicants get ghosted by employers, even after a long application process. Following the Great Resignation, many employers are scrambling for workers. Employees have the upper hand in the hiring process, and they’re no longer settling for interviews with employers that aren’t transparent, especially about salary.

Don’t be this employer

User ninetytwoturtles shared a post on Reddit in r/recruitinghell in which the employer listed the salary as $0 to $1,000,000 per year. Go through many listings on most job boards and you’ll find the same kind of tactics – no salary listed or too large of a wide range. In some places, it’s required to post salary information. In 2021, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act went into effect in Colorado. Colorado employers must list salary and benefits to give new hires more information about fair pay. Listing a broad salary range skirts the issue. It’s unfair to applicants, and in today’s climate, employers are going to get called out on it. Your brand will take a hit.

Don’t obfuscate wage information

Every employer likes to think that their employees work because they enjoy the job, but let’s face it, money is the biggest motivator. During the interview process, many a job has been lost over salary negotiations. Bringing up wages too early in the application process can be bad for a job applicant. On the other hand, avoiding the question can lead to disappointment when a job is offered, not to mention wasted time. In the past, employers held all the cards. Currently, it’s a worker’s market. If you want productive, quality workers, your business needs to be honest and transparent about wages.

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Opinion Editorials

3 reasons to motivate yourself to declutter your workspace (and mind)

(EDITORIAL) Making time to declutter saves time and money – all while reducing stress. Need a little boost to start? We all need motivation sometimes.

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Clean work desk representing the need to declutter.

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few years. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

How to identify and minimize ‘invisible’ work in your organization

(EDITORIAL) Often meaningless, invisible tasks get passed down to interns and women. These go without appreciation or promotion. How can we change that?

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Women in a meeting around table, inclusion as a part of stopping gender discrimination representing invisible work.

Invisible work, non-promotable tasks, and “volunteer opportunities” (more often volun-told), are an unfortunate reality in the workforce. There are three things every employer should do in relation to these tasks: minimize them, acknowledge them, and distribute them equitably.

Unfortunately, the reality is pretty far from this ideal. Some estimates state up to 75% or more of these time-sucking, minimally career beneficial activities are typically foisted on women in the workplace and are a leading driver behind burnout in female employees. The sinister thing about this is most people are completely blind to these factors; it’s referred to as invisible work for a reason.

Research from Harvard Business Review* found that 44% more requests are presented to women as compared to men for “non-promotable” or volunteer tasks at work. Non-promotable tasks are activities such as planning holiday events, coordinating workplace social activities, and other ‘office housework’ style activities that benefit the office but typically don’t provide career returns on the time invested. The work of the ‘office mom’ often goes unacknowledged or, if she’s lucky, maybe garners some brief lip service. Don’t be that boss that gives someone a 50hr workload task for a 2-second dose of “oh yeah thanks for doing a bajillion hours of work on this thing I will never acknowledge again and won’t help your career.”  Yes, that’s a thing. Don’t do it. If you do it, don’t be surprised when you have more vacancies than staff. You brought that on yourself.

There is a lot of top-tier talent out there in the market right now. To be competitive, consider implementing some culture renovations so you can have a more equitable, and therefore more attractive, work culture to retain your top talent.

What we want to do:

  1. Identify and minimize invisible work in your organization
  2. Acknowledge the work that can’t be avoided. Get rid of the blind part.
  3. Distribute the work equitably.

Here is a simple example:

Step 1: Set up a way for staff to anonymously bring things to your attention. Perhaps a comment box. Encourage staff to bring unsung heroes in the office to your attention. Things they wish their peers or they themselves received acknowledgment for.

Step 2: Read them and actually take them seriously. Block out some time on your calendar and give it your full attention.

For the sake of demonstration, let’s say someone leaves a note about how Caroline always tidies up the breakroom at the end of the day and cleans the coffee pot with supplies Caroline brings from home. Now that we have identified a task, we are going to acknowledge it, minimize it, and consider the distribution of labor.

Step 3: Thank Caroline at the team meeting for scrubbing yesterday’s burnt coffee out of the bottom of the pot every day. Don’t gloss over it. Make the acknowledgment mean something. Buy her some chips out of the vending machine or something. The smallest gestures can have the biggest impact when coupled with actual change.

Step 4: Remind your staff to clean up after themselves. Caroline isn’t their mom. If you have to, enforce it.

Step 5: Put it in the office budget to provide adequate cleaning supplies for the break room and review your custodial needs. This isn’t part of Caroline’s job description and she could be putting that energy towards something else. Find the why of the situation and address it.

You might be rolling your eyes at me by now, but the toll of this unpaid invisible work has real costs.  According to the 2021 Women in the Workplace Report* the ladies are carrying the team, but getting little to none of the credit. Burnout is real and ringing in at an all-time high across every sector of the economy. To be short, women are sick and tired of getting the raw end of the deal, and after 2 years of pandemic life bringing it into ultra-sharp focus, are doing something about it. In the report, 40% of ladies were considering jumping ship. Data indicates that a lot of them not only manned the lifeboats but landed more lucrative positions than they left. Now is the time to score and then retain top talent. However, it is up to you to make sure you are offering an environment worth working in.

*Note: the studies cited here do not differentiate non-cis-identifying persons. It is usually worse for individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community.

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