My electric company lied to me. Last week we had a power outage just as I was about to watch one of the quarterfinal games in the CONCACAF soccer tournament. Although I pined for the game, it was actually nice. We grilled dinner on the deck, listened to the neighborhood, and watched the sunset. Then I called the electric company, using my cell phone because of course, the phones were out.
A recorded voice said thank you for your call is very important to us, asked me if I wanted to buy more services, then informed me that someday the outage would be fixed. If I had a life-threatening emergency I could press another number.
If I really was having a life-threatening emergency I would have died because there is no way I would have made it thru voice mail hell. On a cell phone no less.( I did go ask my fragile neighbor if SHE was having an emergency. This was part of altruism and part selfishness because I wanted to see what would happen if we pressed the number in the Interactive Voice Response Unit to indicate danger. Maybe my power would get fixed faster along with hers…..but alas, she was fine).
My call was obviously not the tiniest bit important to the power company. This mismatch between what people who take my money SAY and what they actually DO is called cognitive dissonance and I believe it is really lying and that lying costs money.
I would much rather the electric company say something like:
“You, the citizenry, have deregulated us to the point where competition is so fierce that we do not choose to spend our meager profits on serving you by phone. We repeat: you will get no service. Instead, all of our resources are going to actually fix the outage. If a wire is down, or you have a life-threatening emergency, call the police.”
At least they would earn my respect. In the world of money, the most competitively distinctive product wins. The same is true of improv. The more each troupe defines and sticks to its own unique deal, the more interesting they are to watch.
In money and in improv, we want to get what we pay for and know what we’re buying. This means everything about the product:
- what it’s called
- where it’s sold (or presented)
- how much it costs
- all the bells and whistles
- how we pay
- when we pay
have to match the point of the product in the first place.
And no lies! Sorry you don’t have cash, but we need a deposit. “Thankyouforyourcallyourcallisveryimportanttous“. Offer me peanuts when you’ve delayed the flight three times and I’ve missed my son’s soccer game. Tell me your show is all made up and play the same characters over and over again from show to show. The list goes on.
Send me your best example of the worst lies, and, if you’re up to it, what the company should do instead. At worst, it will make a great stand-up schtick!