High Marks and Low Expectations

Carol Brown
Finishing up a service call for my washing machine, the Sears repairman asked if I would complete an online survey to rate his service and nearly begged me to give him a five-star rating.

And what, exactly, would five stars be for?

He had showed up (these days that is a plus, I must admit) within the window of time (we are now in small miracle territory), spent approximately five minutes diagnosing the problem, and then determined the problem was not worth fixing.

Last week, I had a similar experience with a request for a rating at my local big box pharmacy. I bought two items. The cashier scanned them. I slid my credit card through the machine, hit all the buttons to complete the transaction, and put the items in my bag. The cashier handed me my receipt, circled a web address on the bottom of it, and asked me to complete the survey to rate her service. She said she hoped I would give her five stars.

Same deal at Office Depot recently.

In all cases, the people seemed a bit desperate, which made me wonder if maintaining job security is increasingly tied to these surveys. Whatever the impetus behind them, as a consumer who has received the service I was promised, I refuse to complete them.

Don't get me wrong. All of these individuals were polite and performed their job functions.    But therein lies the rub. Since when, in America, does performing one's job function with efficiency and reasonably good cheer warrant a special rating (and five stars, no less)? Am I to be impressed by the fact that people are able to perform even the most basic task? Am I supposed to be grateful that cashiers and others are reasonably polite?

It seems we have embraced the spirit of the oft-heard comment from parents telling their children "Good job!" when all their child has done is behave in a civilized and/or developmentally appropriate manner.

To add insult to injury, we now have a generation (or more) of people who seem never to have bumped up against the expression, "You're welcome." Has anybody else noticed this? That when, for example, you engage in a professional transaction and say "thank you," the response you're most likely to get from the employee is, "No problem."

No problem?

Why should it be a problem? It's the person's job.

Which brings me to our president. A recent article featured on Yahoo began:  "As if Barack Obama didn't have enough problems to deal with already..."

Our poor president has so many problems to deal with. Why it's just one problem after another. No catching a break. Apparently, the job description for the President of the United States includes quite a few problems to tackle. Who would have thought, eh?

I guess Barack was counting on "no problem" and a five star rating, to boot.

Finishing up a service call for my washing machine, the Sears repairman asked if I would complete an online survey to rate his service and nearly begged me to give him a five-star rating.

And what, exactly, would five stars be for?

He had showed up (these days that is a plus, I must admit) within the window of time (we are now in small miracle territory), spent approximately five minutes diagnosing the problem, and then determined the problem was not worth fixing.

Last week, I had a similar experience with a request for a rating at my local big box pharmacy. I bought two items. The cashier scanned them. I slid my credit card through the machine, hit all the buttons to complete the transaction, and put the items in my bag. The cashier handed me my receipt, circled a web address on the bottom of it, and asked me to complete the survey to rate her service. She said she hoped I would give her five stars.

Same deal at Office Depot recently.

In all cases, the people seemed a bit desperate, which made me wonder if maintaining job security is increasingly tied to these surveys. Whatever the impetus behind them, as a consumer who has received the service I was promised, I refuse to complete them.

Don't get me wrong. All of these individuals were polite and performed their job functions.    But therein lies the rub. Since when, in America, does performing one's job function with efficiency and reasonably good cheer warrant a special rating (and five stars, no less)? Am I to be impressed by the fact that people are able to perform even the most basic task? Am I supposed to be grateful that cashiers and others are reasonably polite?

It seems we have embraced the spirit of the oft-heard comment from parents telling their children "Good job!" when all their child has done is behave in a civilized and/or developmentally appropriate manner.

To add insult to injury, we now have a generation (or more) of people who seem never to have bumped up against the expression, "You're welcome." Has anybody else noticed this? That when, for example, you engage in a professional transaction and say "thank you," the response you're most likely to get from the employee is, "No problem."

No problem?

Why should it be a problem? It's the person's job.

Which brings me to our president. A recent article featured on Yahoo began:  "As if Barack Obama didn't have enough problems to deal with already..."

Our poor president has so many problems to deal with. Why it's just one problem after another. No catching a break. Apparently, the job description for the President of the United States includes quite a few problems to tackle. Who would have thought, eh?

I guess Barack was counting on "no problem" and a five star rating, to boot.