I think today’s customer service is better than it’s ever been (okay well except maybe for Visa when your card is declined for no reason on the face of the earth; all health insurance companies; and many cable companies, apparently). I think for most traditional companies, however, great customer service is emerging out of fear of being recorded and/or excoriated in social media. For new-fangled venture-backed companies I think there’s a general mandate written into their bylaws to act so super-nice-slash-awesome that it becomes part of the actual company valuation.

I guess I own a lot of stuff. And I admit that I have an expectation that those things actually function properly. Most of the time, at least. Or maybe I just need more help than most people and never hesitate to ask for it. Just this week, I engaged with a huge number of customer service reps. Here is a sampling:

Federico from Amex Platinum Travel customer service phone line let me know that even with the penalty charges I might have to pay to change the date, the frequent flier ticket to London that I had purchased directly through an airline was indeed a better deal than the $13,872.00 ticket they could offer me. Even though I don’t think I have ever once found a better deal through this service whose membership costs about the price of a coach ticket to LA, they are always so nice that I feel compelled to pay $450.00 every year and keep trying. Thank you, Amex Platinum!

Also last week, I had to send back a pair of sneakers (that lasted just under a month before disintegrating) to a well-known on-line shoe company. Okay I’ll brag, not everyone is a VIP member of Zappos like me! They are in the category of SUPER-DUPER NICE new-fangled digital-only companies who use the word “awesome,” irony-free. They even sent a message “With Love”:

Whoa, just this very minute, I got an email from Zappos congratulating us on our 8-year anniversary! I am definitely going to renew my vows.

Also this week, a good old fashioned repairman came to fix the freezer. Well, not only was Antonio extremely prompt, he explained exactly what he was going to do and for what price. He single-handedly took out the two fully-loaded freezer baskets. And then stunned me by asking for paper towels and Fantastik. On his hands, knees, back, and sometimes stomach he proceeded to wipe out the many years of frozen gunk, crumbs, dirt, and other whatnot that had collected. Antonio assured me that this was “perfectly normal accumulation.”

I even got a detailed, if non-technical, write-up of services performed (no extra labor fee for the deep-freeze deep-clean):

Antonio got the job done:

  • Shut off ‘service light’
  • Jump-started Ice Maker
  • Water is now filling ice maker

Okay, it took ten days to get an appointment which was annoying, especially because we had to host a cocktail party with no ice. But thanks for the jump-start, Antonio and L&J appliance.

Travel, Shoes, iPhones, and Sub-Zeroes are pretty top-end customer service needs, I guess. But, of all the ways to engage with a customer service representative, of all the industries, I never expected to form a text relationship with Karl from CompostMania.

The entire text conversation became almost existential as we debated “dimensional” and “structural integrity” issues. Emoticons were invoked. Trust me, this is a heavily excerpted snapshot of a muuuuuuuch longer dialog.

Well, as you can see, though our relationship remained strong through the end, Karl and I were ultimately unable to resolve our “dimensional issues.” Thusly, the search for the perfect compost bin begins anew. In the meantime I think CompostMania should change their name to KompostMania in Karl’s honor.

Whooooaaah!! This just in — my friend and fellow curator Jason Hirschorn apparently had a less than stellar customer service experience of his own and coincidentally wrote about it in his newsletter this weekend. This voluble, brilliant fellow is among my favorite human beings on earth. He reminds me of my own runaway id if I had not one shred of superego in site.

If this missive were on paper, surely it would be one of the most compostable Sunday Papers ever. Thank you for making it through, and here’s a semi-guarantee that the next few Sundays will be shorter and likely delivered at strange times due to inter-continental travel and my inability to figure out Mailchimp’s interpretation of “time zones.”

Enjoy the following compost heap of news and topical information about women in business, politics, entrepreneurship, film, tv, music, fashion, literature, sports, and pop culture. The culture spans high to low, with nary an in-between.

The previous SundayPapers are housed in the Archive at

You can send me a note or an item you think I should see here.

Sometimes there’s so much interesting stuff out there I can’t wait ‘til Sunday so I tweet it during the week. Follow me @LZSundayPaper.

Properly ticketed, shoed, iPhoned, frozen, and compostedly yours,


News & Insights

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.