Trying so hard to do good

A well-meaning environmental organization has some of the best publicity it’s had for ages. At the point of publicizing, it trumpets its email newsletters and gives out its website address.

On inspection, the website is broken. The newsletter link leads to an error. The contact-us link leads to a web form and a land-line telephone number. If you ring the land line, you are always put through to the voicemail, giving you a mobile number.

At the other end of the mobile number is your first contact with a real human being since the publicity drive. He explains that a new website is under construction. This is his excuse for the current website being in a parlous state, despite there being no mention of it on the current website.

Finally he reveals what’s been needed all along: an email address. The fellow on the phone suggests you email it and ask to be subscribed to the newsletter. He rubbishes the form you’ve filled in as, good heavens, no, that won’t work! That’ll have just disappeared.

You suggest to him that he should put the email address on the site. You mention that this was your fourth attempt at contacting them, and that other people might be discouraged by the difficulty in getting in touch. That they might assume that the contact form did what it actually said it did, and they were being ignored. He reacts as though you’ve just suggested a revolutionary, novel yet vaguely enticing way of life that might just be the key to sustaining human life on earth. He wouldn’t appreciate the irony.

… Twenty-four hours later, there is still no reply to your email enquiry. Maybe the address is broken. Maybe they’re having technical difficulties. Maybe, yet again, your attempts to contact them have been frustrated, and the communication has just… disappeared. Who knows? Time to ring the mobile again? Or time to just give up?

It doesn’t have to be this difficult to do what’s right, of course. But why is it always so?

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4 Responses to Trying so hard to do good

  1. K says:

    If you define “doing good” as “battling the powerful forces of individual selfishness, State indifference and the military/industrial complex’s lust for destruction”, you have an answer of sorts. It’s difficult pretty much by definition.

    But doing bad things isn’t easy either. Some people don’t seem to have grasped this, judging by the number of outraged blog posts from people who decided to use an ill-reputed multinational and then are surprised that the product and/or customer service isn’t up to scratch.

    “Customer service put me on hold for TEN MINUTES! That’s long enough to induce a miscarriage in a pregnant worker!”

    “If they can kill wildlife with their waste water, why can’t they send round a repairman?”


  2. looby says:

    I agree with everything you’ve said about teh charity, but…more importantly…this just looks great jps, and of course, there’s a comments facility – hurrah!

    A new beginning. It must have been a lot of work, but it looks really well-organised and attractive.

  3. sbalb says:

    K – the ignorance of these matters still stuns me, though: that a co-worker can offer me a Nestlé Kit-Kat, or ask “who’s George Monbiot?”

    Thanks for the compliments, Looby. I’d like to think I’m looking really well-organised and attractive too, but I don’t think tatty blue dressing-gowns convey that sort of detail.

  4. K says:

    offer me a Nestlé Kit-Kat, or ask “who’s George Monbiot?

    I see your Kit-Kat, and I raise you a co-worker discussion about whether an interview candidate would be able to do the job, since she had moral objections to car use. One member of the panel turned to me and asked in a stage whisper: “So what’s wrong with cars, then?”

    Sheer ignorance can be shocking, but it’s better than knowing about a company’s global ASBO and still expecting to get sympathy when they don’t deliver your sodding fridge on time. I’m pretty sure that people who do this are the same people who claim that gangsters are kind to their muvvers.

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