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Swimming in the Incompetent Sea

Are we imagining it or are we becoming a nation of incompetents? What makes incompetent behavior so unacceptable is that it could be avoided if people simply admitted they were in over their heads. Here are some of the most egregious examples we've run up against:

"After two long years of waiting for my book to be published, I learned that Globe-Pequot had pulled it and would not go ahead with it. They said I lifted directions and lists from Web sites. I did no such thing. I did interview P.R. folks at places I did not visit and reworked their words. I sent the copy in over a year ago. I was constantly praised at the start from the editor. She even asked me to pen a second book. Then all of a sudden she was unavailable. She wouldn't return calls or e-mails. The manuscript just sat and sat. I finally got the proofs. I reviewed them and sent them back. I was then told that copy was "lifted" and that they wanted me to rewrite passages. While these passages were NOT lifted, I did the rewrites. Then I got an e-mail saying they are not publishing it and that since they paid—a whopping $5,000—I gave up all rights.

"I just became editor of a magazine. The April issue still isn't out. I'm not responsible for that. I was told they want it out before my June issue. I told them I want June to come out at the beginning of June. Stay tuned...

"I asked for photos for an article on mirrors. I got these glossy 8x10s of beautiful mirrors. Only problem—the photographer is featured dead center taking the photo of the mirror. When I called to complain, the person said, "Well, we can't take a photo of a mirror without getting the photographer in it." Now, I have to start all over again.

"I called Upromise, a company I usually give high praise to, to find out about getting dollar points in my account for refinancing my home loan with Washington Mutual. I spoke to two Upromise people who had no idea that Washington Mutual was participating with them. Actually, only four companies are involved and one of them is Washington Mutual. It's on their Web site. Anyway, this person told me that I wasn't the only person with this problem. They gave the wrong info to me—and others—about refinancing and I was told they would not credit my account. I was pissed. The supervisor finally gave in. I tell you I get so worked up at times. It is good that I don't have magical powers; there would be a lot of cars without tires on the road and a lot of havoc!

"Lately, I have no tolerance for stupid people. When I was little, I remember watching Jerry Lewis hosting the Muscular Dystrophy marathon fundraiser. Someone interviewed him and asked him what he liked and what he hated. He said, "I hate dealing with stupid people. I have no time for them and no use for them." As an innocent 9 year-old, I was horrified. I thought everyone should be treated nicely. Well, I've cracked. I've gone over to the dark side. I can't stand dealing with stupid people, either."

—Submitted by Michele C. Hollow

"I was having problems with Verizon. They screwed up my phone line and DSL and lost any record of my bill payment. I got so furious that I told the rep I felt like I was going to go berserk and show up with a submachine gun. The next day a supervisor from Verizon customer service called me back. He was complaining that I'd gotten angry and had threatened employees. I told him that it was amazing how they could lose all my information but had the time to take down all these details regarding my phone demeanor and that at least I can own up to acting like a jerk."

—Submitted by Richard Brafford

"I purchased a pair of used figure skates for my daughter from Play It Again Sports in Carle Place. They were a really good pair of Don Johnson boots and Wilson blades. When you purchase skates at Play It Again, they sharpen the blades for you. We go to the rink, and my daughter says there is something wrong with the skates. A coach takes a look and points out that whoever sharpened them cut off the toe picks (a pointy thing at the front of the blade essential for taking off and landing jumps). I call the store, and the owner tells me she'll let me buy a new pair of blades wholesale for $15. When I complain that these blades aren't nearly as good as the blades they ruined, she tells me what a good bargain I got and am still getting and that she'll be happy to buy the skates back from me and resell them. I get tired of arguing and buy the blades. I bring in the skates, they remove the old blades, put new ones on, resharpen them...and cut off the toe picks again. I demand new blades and tell them they will have to pay for these and I'll have someone else sharpen them. They grudgingly agree, and I leave the skates there for them to put the blades on. They put on the new blades and sharpen them again. Thank goodness this time they sharpened them correctly. Salesperson asks if I want the old blades. I say yes. He goes into the back and comes out and tells me I can't have the old blades because I didn't pay for the new ones. I never even get an apology for all the hassles."

—Submitted by Ela Schwartz



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