If there is one slogan that really resonated with Americans in the election, it was this:
“Let’s make America great again.”
Donald Trump was elected because voters don’t feel the pride and confidence in our nation that we once did. Our economy is stagnant at best, our middle class is dwindling, and real wages haven’t improved in decades. Our political leaders in recent years seem to care more about the well-being of people in other nations than our own. We know we can do better, because we’ve done it before. But we can’t expect the President to wave a magic wand and restore our greatness on his own.
A couple of months ago my computer assumed room temperature – dead as a doornail, without so much as a blink or a beep. I am highly dependent on my computer, so I immediately got on Dell’s website, found the system I wanted on sale, and clicked on “add to cart”. The order errored out, igniting an ordeal that consumed the rest of the day on Dell chat screens and phones with a series of Indian customer service people who kept saying “It” won’t let them do this or that.
Finally, an Indian supervisor got my order placed and confirmed by email, to be shipped in seven to ten days.
I will spare you the sordid intermediate details, but after six weeks I got a phone call from another Indian Dell representative who spoke with such a heavy accent that I could barely understand him. He told me “It” says my order had been cancelled and I will have to reorder. “It” can’t tell him what happened. “It” doesn’t know when or whether a new order would be filled. No apology. No alternative. Just start over and hope for better results than last time.
I gave up and ordered a Lenovo with the same specifications. My computer arrived in two days in perfect order and cost about a hundred bucks less.
Because I had tried to buy a Dell computer, I have been receiving a dozen targeted Dell ads every day. Today I commented on a Facebook ad that readers should avoid buying a Dell computer for Christmas, citing the horrible experience I had been through. My post received an immediate response from an Indian Dell employee who wrote in broken English that Dell is so sorry, but they just can’t keep up with the crushing demand for their wonderful products. A flurry of back and forth posts followed. Dell didn’t give a rip about me when I was trying to get my order, but they sure were concerned about me when I posted my bad experience on social media.
There was a time when Dell was a proud, strong American innovator, manufacturer, employer, and retailer. Now it is an international company, manufacturing and selling its products all over the world. But most of its computers are still bought by American companies and consumers.
I’m not so naïve as to think that we can or should suppress global trade. I just hate to see what has happened to our American companies. American consumers are too often reduced to dealing with poorly-trained and inarticulate foreign employees who either work in offshore call-centers or were imported to the USA with H1B visas, whose authority is restricted to what “It” displays on their screens. Meanwhile our own American-born skilled customer service people work two part-time convenience store jobs for $8 an hour. Dell may be bigger than it was, but it is not better. It’s not a better corporate citizen, and it’s not a better sales organization. Dell was once a smart and proud group of high-achieving Americans. Now Dell is an “It”.
Not all American companies have sunk to this level of cold, multi-national mediocrity. In addition to Lenovo, I have received over-the-top customer service recently from the Carolina Panthers, Chamberlain Garage Door group, State Farm Insurance, and many others. But it seems for every Chick-Fil-A there is a Wells Fargo.
Our president-elect promises to protect domestic jobs by welcoming American companies back to our shores with lower corporate tax rates and free repatriation of profits from foreign operations. And he wants to take a fresh look at trade policies that have pushed investment and employment out of our country.
If we are going to “Make America Great Again” we can’t expect our president to do it alone. We citizens will have to step up our games. And our American companies need to get on board.
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
So take these words and sing out loud
‘Cause everyone is forgiven now
‘Cause tonight’s the night the world begins again