A single mom friend recently found herself at her wits’ end when she had to take half a day off of her project management job to sit home, twiddle her unmanicured thumbs, and wait for the FedEx guy to show up — 45 minutes after the 4-hour time window.
“These businesses are set up to serve families where there is a stay-at-home mom,” she griped. “I don’t know of one family that is set up to get their cable connected — or get their IKEA furniture delivered, the sink unplugged, or get my cable hooked up for that matter.”
It’s a sad fact that we blindly accept that if we want to receive an important package or get our over-priced cable hooked up, one must either:
a) Take a day off work to wait around the 4-hour delivery window courier services allot during workdays to receive it.
b) Arrange for a friend/neighbor/building super to receive it
c) Hit up CraigsList for a professional stranger to wait around in your home to accommodate these services
d) Be a housewife
Needless to say, this model is unreasonable for single people. But it is downright sexist when applied to families, as it assumes that one person (the wife/mother) is at home, canning heirloom tomatoes and waiting for her Amazon order to appear. I don’t need to tell you: That reality applies to very few U.S. families.
It’s remarkable that we waste so much precious work time waiting for the cable guy, since cable came on the market in the 1980s — far after it was assumed that most women would be working outside the home! FedEx and UPS have had their boom years post-feminist revolution, too. These antiquated policies of providing home services during the hours most Americans work does more than tick off bloggers.
A story in CNN.com (owned by the same company as TimeWarner Cable, fwiw) reported the financial fallout of all this waiting: “Time spent waiting for in-home services and appointments cost American workers $37.7 billion in 2011, according to an IBOPE Zogby poll of more than 1,000 adults conducted on behalf of cloud-computing software company TOA Technologies.”
Businesses take note: “About 70% of respondents said they would recommend a company simply because a representative was on time. But only 43% would recommend a company if they have to wait an extra 15 minutes for someone to show up.”
It seems the message is getting through. In May, TimeWarner announced its new 1-hour service windows in the New York City metro area, following decades of complaints, and FedEx customers can pay an extra fee to narrow its wait window to 2-hours. Small steps. Yay!
As an armchair logistics consultant I suggest this fix: Reroute cable technicians and delivery services to businesses during office hours, and to private homes during the hours of 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. And then, be on time.
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