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That’s just the way it is? Really?

Take a moment and decide if the following phrase seems familiar, “That’s just the way it is.” If you have heard that at some point I can safely assume that it was a frustrating thing to hear. It is primarily used as a way to shoo off annoying or difficult questions (used mostly with five year olds constantly asking why). Lately, however, I have noticed a trend where this way of thinking has become acceptable in dealing with customers.
In the past couple months I have come across this, “that’s just the way it is” excuse twice, once implied and once explicit. The first time came after my less than a year old laptop computer stopped working. After having a professional look at it I was told the computer had overheated and fried the hard drive. My entire accumulated digital life was on that hard drive, now lost to me forever because Toshibas, apparently, have a tendency to overheat. When I asked why this would happen I was told, “These things happen.” (By the way, “These things happen” is “That’s just the way it is” in disguise) On a side note I was also told that I should have bought an external hard drive (an extra $150) because these things happen.
The second time was just a few days ago. After numerous failed attempts to access the Internet on my phone I finally called the company to find out what was wrong. After slogging through an innumerable amount of automated menus I was eventually told that the phone company had upgraded their system and my phone was no longer compatible. When I asked why I was not informed of this I was told, say it with me now, “That’s just the way it is.” I would have to buy a new phone ($100) just to access the same features I was getting on the one I had now.
When did this become a reasonable response to a customer’s inquiry of why their product, of which they spent their hard earned money on, was defective? Can you imagine if this trend seeped into other fields?
“Well, sir, you have cancer.”
“Oh my God! How? Why?”
“These things happen.”
How did this happen? How have we as a society fallen so far as to let this be acceptable? A couple generations ago this never would have flown. My grandparents didn’t have to put up with shoddy workmanship and cheap material. Your parents probably called a company to complain about a defective product or brought it back to the store and demanded a refund. However, the young generation seems to be fine with glitchy games and faulty products. Oh, we complain, of course… on Facebook and Twitter.
Maybe that is the problem? Could it be that immediate venues for our frustration like Facebook and Twitter have shielded companies from our wrath? Or maybe we think that since we complained on the Internet eventually the company will see it and respond? It is impossible to know. What is known is that it is a worrisome problem.
You are probably wondering why I am bothering with this. I assure you I am not some crotchety old man complaining about the “youth of America these days!” I am concerned because the younger generation is the shaper of our country’s future. There is something fundamentally wrong when the most powerful group of people in our country, the young people, seems fine with the status quo. They are the ones who elect our future presidents and decide how great this country will be. I for one am sick of living in a “That’s just the way it is” kind of country.
But hey maybe there is nothing we can do and that’s just…well, you know.

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