Is it my imagination or has service gone the way of the dodo bird, tax breaks for small cars, and an 8-hour workday? Here's my proof: Within one 24 hour period, I thought I had landed on a strange planet, spoke no English, and furthermore, was penalized for wanted to (gasp!) spend money with a business. First - there's the voice mail roulette. How many times have we slammed down a phone in dismay because not ONE option was what we wanted? But this call was even more absurd. The scenario: the digital avatar's voice saying, "Let me get some information first." You know you're in for a bad time when you say "no", and the digital sweetie says, "I'm sorry. I do not understand that word." It was one of my choices, for Pete's sake! How many different languages does it take to say NO!!!! Second deal breaker: I keep trying to get an operator. I press "o". "I'm sorry," says the avatar. "That is not an option." I start screaming "operator". "I'm sorry," says the avatar. "That is not an option." Don't ask me how I finally broke through to a human but when I did, I was informed that the response which would have gotten me immediately to a human was "agent." Now gang, I was not calling the airlines - though it is hard to believe. It was a phone company. Since when do they have "agents"? Final straw: I am now trying to get an 800 number. Another digital voice says, "I'm sorry. Our office hours are from 8 - 5:00pm EST. Please call back." Excuuuuuuuse me.! That means that those of us in the other time zones are non-customers. So,gang, this is going to make "the competitive edge" really simple. Answer your phone. And if you can do it right away - get back within a 24 hour or less period. LISTEN to people when they call. Return every phone call. And make yourself available when the customer needs you. (Heck - on the West Coast, I take calls at 6:00am. I'm not a hero - but it IS 9:00am in Boston.) Simple. Doable. And not rocket science.