Health Care Sniffles

Even though this video of Glen Beck attacking Michael Moore's movie is only four minutes long, it is one of the most painful things to watch. I'm pretty sure that Mr. Beck doesn't make any actual arguments in this rant. He points out Michael Moore's weight several times... he makes arbitrary assertions about Cuba that are obviously not backed up by any fact... and honestly, I think this little tirade actually makes Michael Moore look more legitimate (on a relative basis).

If you made it to the end of the video, Glen Beck asks: "What i don't know is how anybody can dispute America has the highest quality of health care this planet has ever known?" Well, about two minutes of due diligence told me that the World Health Organization thinks there are 36 countries that have a higher quality of health care than the US. It's too bad that Beck didn't spend two minutes on Google before he taped this segment; he might have saved himself a lot of humiliation.

Last Ditch Effort

On Monday the board members of Dow Jones and Company will decide whether or not to sell journalism's last gem to the sleaziest man in media - Rupert Murdoch. The outcome of this story will finally answer the age old question, does everyone have a price?

Of course, I'm hoping Dow Jones doesn't sell out because I think the paper is good for journalism. As for the op-ed page... its never been quite as highly regarded. This comic really makes me laugh:

Global Politics Summary

This was published in the most recent issue of The Economist. Not especially shocking but still highly disturbing...

On Monday, Sprint Nextel kicked its 1000 most annoying customers off of its network. While it's no surprise cell phone companies have the most complaints filed against them at the BBB, it's also not surprising to find out that "professional complainers" are trying to take them to the cleaners. According to sources, these customers made 50 times as many complaint calls to Sprint help-lines as the average customer. I applaud Sprint Nextel for doing what every company dreams of doing but rarely does. I fact, I give Sprint a standing ovation.

Having worked in customer service for many years I know how these professional complainers operate: they complain that there are too many pepperonis on their pizza; they complain because the volume at the movies is too loud; they complain that the lines are too long at the grocery store; and they want to be comped for everything. These people have a flawed perception of reality and believe that the world is perfect, and anything less than perfection is somehow a hindrance to them. They believe the they're holding the cards, because, after all, you wouldn't want to lose their business.

Sprint has figured out something important: they do want to lose their business, because these professional complainers cost the company time and money. What good is it to have your customer support team spending hours on the phone with these people and neglecting the honest customers? What good is it to comp the complainers when they don't intend to pay for anything anyways? Don't get me wrong, I think good customer service is critical to these types of businesses. But what Sprint is doing isn't poor customer service, quite the opposite, actually! Professional complainers will never be satisfied; now Sprint can devote more of its resources to helping the honest customers looking for honest help.

This isn't even the first time I've heard about something like this being done. In a book about my favorite company, Southwest Airlines, there is a story about a woman who was a professional complainer. She literally complained about everything she could think of: she didn't like the boarding process, she didn't like the casual uniforms the employees wore, she didn't like the fact that Southwest didn't offer first class. Southwest, being the best airline in the business, responded to this woman every time, explaining the reason for these policies: unassigned seats made for quicker boarding, many customers felt relaxed with the casual uniforms, and not offering first class allows the company to offer low cost tickets to everyone. Nevertheless, this woman was relentless, yet always flew on Southwest (quite a divergence in my opinion). Eventually the CEO at the time, Herb Kelleher, personally wrote this woman and said something to the effect of: "We're sorry that Southwest cannot suit all of your needs, we hope you find what you are looking for at another airline." - Thank you, Herb!

The funny thing about professional complainers is that they somehow believe that being a huge jerk and making big empty threats will somehow motivate a business to give them better service. I think anyone who has ever worked in customer service will agree with me here - the bigger of a jerk you are as a customer, the worse your service will be. I guarantee professional complainers have had their food spat in far more than your average customer.

Woefully Ill-Informed

In April I blogged about a Pew Research study which showed that viewers of the Daily Show and Colbert Report and significantly more up to date on current events that viewers of Fox News. Now Wired is using that same research to make another interesting point: even though the internet provides us with more information than we could ever dream of, Americans are still less informed about current events now than they were in 1989. Sad.