Intrinsicism vs. Customer Service

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Some time after we moved to Florida, the moment the kids were waiting for had come: Their new bunk beds arrived!

Even "manual labor" requires thinking and good communication. (Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images, via Pixabay, license.)
Unfortunately for me, they arrived an hour early on a Saturday morning, while I was driving home from the pub after watching an Arsenal game live from England. Annoyingly, I found myself having to pull over to take or make phone calls with (a) my wife, (b) the delivery driver, and (c) the (useless!) dispatcher. I had chosen the delivery time window in the belief that I could get home in plenty of time to clear out my daughter's old bed before the delivery, so her bunk bed could be assembled. Since the bed was still there and it was against company policy to remove it for us, I ended up telling the driver to leave the boxes for her bed in our hallway: I'd put it together myself. Aside from the waste of an hour, that turned out fine, but I was very annoyed by the assumption -- wrong, but not too unreasonable, I'll grant -- that earlier is better. But the fact is, I chose the time window I did for a reason and I planned the rest of my morning around it.

Yes, probably ninety percent of the time, a customer (myself included) would appreciate getting a delivery out of the way early, but earlier is not necessarily better. Should anyone involved in scheduling engagements with customers happen by, I would ask that they keep in mind that the timing of an appointment happens within two contexts: that of the business and that of the customer. I am sure I would have gotten an apology for a late delivery, but I did not receive one for the early one. Worse, I wasn't even given the courtesy of a warning, much less a choice in the matter, regarding the timing of this delivery -- which was so far out of an already-generous window.

There no such thing as an intrinsically good action, including being early, as this example shows. The standard of virtue absolutely depends on context. Here, the standard would have been: Does this fit in with what the customer has been told to expect?

The inconvenience was not all on my end, although perhaps the deliverymen failed to realize it: One of my morning errands was to withdraw cash for tipping. The delivery was over by the time I made it home.

-- CAV

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