Dilbert Gets a New Pair of Shoes

It’s time for the last installment in my fictitious series involving our hero Dilbert and his view on the state of the Republic. If you haven’t seen them already, the previous stories are here, here, and here.

Our buddy Dilbert had a family wedding coming up, and he realized he didn’t have shoes that he could wear to match his new suit. He needed black shoes, but all his shoes were brown. So he calls Right Wear, his favorite shoe store where he has shopped many times, and orders a pair of black dress shoes. All goes well, the package arrives in a few days and the wedding is a couple of weeks away, so he’s happy and puts the box in the closet.

The wedding day rolls around, and Dilbert gets dressed all nice and snappy, and he gets his new shoes out of the closet. He opens the box and discovers the shoes are brown instead of black! This makes him very unhappy, because he realizes he should have checked when he first received the shoes, but he had trusted Right Wear to always get his order right so he hadn’t bothered. At this point he has no choice but to go to the wedding with shoes that don’t match his suit, which makes everyone laugh at him (but he’s used to that so it doesn’t bother him much). What does bother him is that his trusty shoe company made such a glaring mistake.

So on Monday morning he calls Right Wear and explains that they made a mistake, and that he got the wrong color shoes. The cheerful person on the other end of the phone looks up his order information and comes back and says “Oh, no there is no mistake, we decided to ship you brown shoes instead of black.” This doesn’t seem right to Dilbert, so he says, “What do you mean, you decided? I ordered black.” “Well,” came the reply, “We looked at your ordering history and you always order brown shoes. So we naturally assumed you would want brown shoes this time too, so we changed your order and shipped you the right color.” “That’s absurd,” says Dilbert. “If you thought I was ordering the wrong shoes, why didn’t you just call me and confirm it?” She responds that they have a new computer that looks at a customer’s ordering history and figures out what they really want when they order something, and it changes their order to what they really want. Further, she explains that no humans are involved in this decision (you know, to be fair), and so there was no way for someone to call him to ask to verify the change. “Well that’s ridiculous, why would you treat long-standing customers that way?” he asks. “I’ve been ordering from Right Wear for a long time but this makes me think you just don’t care about your customers the way you used to.” “Oh,” the customer service rep responds, “we do care very much about our customers. That’s why we staffed up the Complaint Department.” “Complaint Department?” asks Dilbert. “Yes,” she answers, “we figure that a few customers might want to complain that we changed their order, so we are making sure that there are helpful people in the Complain Department ready to help them return the merchandise they didn’t want, and get the right merchandise.” Confused, Dilbert asks the obvious question. “Why wouldn’t you just call and confirm the correct product before shipping it, instead of making the customer go through the Complaint Department? Or better yet, just let the customer order what they want and not use a computer to second-guess them in the first place?”

“Well,” she says, “We did a survey and we found that most customers don’t know what color shoes to buy, and they would prefer that we make the decision for them. You see, we care about our customers so much that we send them the right color shoes even if they order the wrong one, and we figure the vast majority of them will thank us for overriding their decision.”

At this point Dilbert is just at a loss for words. While it is true that he doesn’t often make his own decisions about clothing styles and colors, that’s because his wife does the deciding for him, not some faceless computer at the shoe store. “OK,” he finally says. “Just connect me to the Complaint Department.” Dilbert wonders what is happening to the world he lives in. First his favorite restaurant opens a new place and abandons the old one, and now his favorite shoe store seems to have gone a little bonkers. He starts thinking maybe he should start over and look at what other companies are out there. He used to buy his shoes from Victory Horizons, but he left them because their prices were too high and he had to buy more and more shoes for his growing family. But now their prices have come down quite a bit, and their quality has always been the best available. He decides maybe it’s time to go to a Victory Horizons shoe store and see what they have available these days.

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I love these stories. I wasn’t aware that Right Wear had telephone-based support, however. I thought it was all e-mail, e-forms, and chat rooms.

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Dear Dilbert,

We know what is best for you.

Regards,

Big Brother

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I’ll bet you could have purchased your shoes for a better price from someone else and just bought the laces from Right Wear…but, how were you supposed to know??? The good news is…you can still keep your shoes and just get different laces that suit your needs from just about anyone you want!! Seems like Right Wear had the best intentions…but just didn’t use their giant computers brain.

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@matthewc

Your statement “It’s time for the last installment in my fictitious series” troubles me deeply … surely you’re not contemplating a move or departure without providing us your Dilberts take on how the advances of ‘DWIM’ programming has enhanced his life?

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Contemplating is indeed what Dilbert is doing. The pressures from his family, along with the move toward leveling of prices across the providers, is driving him to seriously consider what else is out there. He saw a deal at Victory Horizons the other day that he and his family are finding very hard to resist. Where Dilbert lives, you ain’t nothing unless you are sporting shoes from Victory Horizons. That never mattered to Dilbert, but it does to his kids.

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Oh you’ve heard of Right Wear? When Dilbert mentions them, he just gets strange looks.

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My kids aren’t of the age yet where shoes are a priority (we stick to sneakers), nor are they getting them anytime soon if I can help it. I can certainly imagine the pressure you are going through however. I know many kids have these shoes made by a company called Red Delicious…and all the kids want shoes from them and sadly Right Wear doesn’t sell or support Red Delicious.

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Yep … and not only do they gotta have Red Delicious shoes, they gotta buy them at Victory Horizons, not some outlet store.

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Not only can you keep the shoes and get laces elsewhere, you can also go somewhere else where they are so desparate to have you as a customer (and where their pockets are so deep), that they will give you a few new pairs of shoes to start out with. You just have to buy the laces, which aren’t priced too bad when you’re buying four pairs. Then, you can just sell your old shoes, which are still pretty valuable.

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I’m wondering if Dilbert was able to successfully return the wrong shoes for a refund, or if Right Wear, upon receipt of the returned pair, claimed there were signs of excessive wear (even though they were never used) and missing their laces, refusing to return Dilbert’s money while keeping the returned shoes to sell to some other customer.

Actually they are sending Dilbert a can of black spray paint. For free! But the problem is, it’s too late because the wedding already happened.

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