Should Companies Pay Us When They Make Mistakes?

Every day, it feels like we are barraged by more and more responsibility for company mistakes while they suffer fewer and fewer consequences. After banks went into bankruptcy in 2009, we bailed them out. Meanwhile, if you have a credit card at 29% and can’t pay it, you are given the choice of bankruptcy and being hobbled financially for 10 years. When I lived in Germany, a country with a generally strong economy whose inhabitants almost never use credit cards, I shared American CC interest rates. 
“Here we would put someone in jail for rates like those,” they said. I could spend a day on the credit situation in this country but that’s for another article. What I want to talk about is the numerous hours each of us spends every year fixing company mistakes. Problem with your phone bill? That’s an hour on the phone. Computer breakdown? Three hours. Gas or internet set up? You might have to take off an entire day of work to be home between the hours of 10 and 6pm when the repair man might or might not come. Is there a reason we aren’t allowed to charge for our time? If I’m a graphic designer at $50 an hour, those three hours fixing my computer just cost me $150. Depending on your salary, these losses could be anywhere from $45 dollars to $600 each time. Why aren’t companies paying us for that time?

Once upon a time, companies used to pay us back when they made a mistake. It was called, credit. Companies seemed to be concerned with making us happy. When problems arose, you spoke with a human being who most often, would give you a refund to pay you for your trouble and inconvenience, A win-win for everyone. In the past decade, with the rise of digital companies who opted for no customer service and no way to reach a human being, other firms followed suit. After all, business is about money and customer service costs money. Since those days, it seems as if today’s business strategies revolve around how much money they can make with the least amount of effort and how much of their responsibility they can shove onto us. Here’s what is fundamentally wrong with that business format. We’re human. Paying someone for their time shows respect. It shows that you value that person’s expertise. By not reimbursing us, companies are in effect demonstrating that we don’t matter. Now on top of taking up our time, they are also taking our private, personal information. And what was the solution to protect our privacy? Use up more of our time. Take the current privacy crisis with social media. What solution did great minds come up with to solve this problem? They decided to set up light boxes that force anyone who wants to protect their privacy to read through pages and pages of legal documents few understand and no one has time for. That might be fine if each of us dealt with only one online company, but we don’t, we deal with hundreds. The other solution? Make us give our personal email and location information in order to have “privacy” with zero assurance we are actually getting it.

I am continually amazed by how kind, thoughtful, generous and nice people are, by how long they are willing to put up with persecution and only stand up to fight back when things have gotten to a point where they can no longer survive. Why are humans so patient in the face of injustice? I for one, say, companies should pay us for our precious time that they waste. Credit card companies should cut us the same breaks they get, our data should be private without having to read a legal forms, and none of us should have to miss work for a day for the repair man.

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