Whatever happened to customer service? I’ll tell you on CNBC’s Customer (Dis)service

If there’s any question about whether corporations and consumers are at war, just call up your cellphone provider. Press 1 to talk to a customer service rep about a new line of service. Press 4 to talk to a customer service rep about your existing account. You will get a human in an instant if you press 1, while you can wait for eons, or get lost in a phone-tree subdivision quagmire, if you choose any other. They’ve made their priorities clear: once they have your buck, they don’t give a you-know-what.

And that point is exactly where Customer (Dis)Service, premiering Thursday Jan 5th at 9pm on CNBC, starts (the promo ad for it is above). With humor and without gloss, The deep-dive doc looks at the joke that passes for customer service at most companies. It goes from the farmed-out “Steves” in India, to the schmucks in the aisles of Walmart surprised that the global drive for rockbottom prices has resulted in something less than the neighborhoodly mom and pop service they’ve learned to mythologize. I’m one of the talking heads in the show, and my cornflower blue shirt and I get a good amount of screen time. Dave Carrol, he of “United Breaks Guitars" is interviewed there too, and they even highlight Freya Svensonn, who made an awesome video with herself in a viking helmet and sword to protest Volvo serving her up a lemon. She sliced that up and got all the free repairs she deserved out of it too. We shot this TV program months ago for CBC, Canada’s public television network. It’s the smartest and classiest I’ve been in, and I’m thrilled that a wide American audience is now getting to see it too.