A once well known company has gone through three different names and made their products worth less and less by a misplaced emphasis on cost cutting. I'm talking about a company that rents tuxedos. When I need a tuxedo, I rent one even though I wind up paying a third to a half of the purchase price each time. I do this because I see myself as just a regular guy and therefore not someone who needs to own a tuxedo (although I've been renting a tux at least twice a year for a while now).
And the other thing I do when I need a tux is I procrastinate (I've known I needed a tux to go to an event this weekend for over a month). So finally on Thursday afternoon I get around to it. I call up the tuxedo rental place I've been using for the last twenty years and found that service there has gone from bad to absurd. The person I talked to spent more time telling me what couldn't be done than asking about I wanted. And every time something couldn't be done, the excuses I got were always the same; they were some version of "the computer system won't let me do that".
There was once a company whose name was practically synonymous with renting a tux. They had a funny name that I could never remember how to pronounce correctly, but they had lots of stores and they were the formal wear company I always went to. Over the years they got my measurements and my choice of style (I picked my style because it seemed like something James Bond would wear) and they kept my information in their computer system. When I needed a tux I'd call and say I wanted the same style and size I rented last time; they'd ask for my credit card number and they'd take care of it.
Then one day a few years ago I called my trusty local tux store (thinking this time I'd remember how they pronounced their name) and someone answered the phone with a new name - let's call it "Swanky Dude Formal Wear". The guy on the phone explained that Swanky Dude had bought the old company and changed the name (what a waste of a well known brand name I thought). Well, I said, just set me up with my usual order. He said he couldn't do that. When I asked why, he said Swanky Dude's new computer system didn't have my data (Why not? How hard could it be to move over some customer data files to a new system?). I had to come in and get measured before placing my order.
After getting measured, I asked if they could keep my data on file and the guy at the store said they couldn't do that. He said the company didn't want to keep such data on their system; with all the customers it would take up a lot of storage space and be too expensive to maintain (who told him that?). He also explained that Swanky Dude carried a smaller line of tuxedos and my style was no longer an option, but the good news was I could save a few bucks on the rental price. Being a creature of habit and not wanting to look for a new tux place, I accepted this and selected a different style (it seemed like something Dean Martin would wear). After that, I kept my measurements as a text message on my mobile phone and read them off when I called in.
On Thursday afternoon when I called the number I always called, the phone was answered with a quickly blurted out, long, rambling name that I couldn't understand. I asked what place this was and the lady on the phone repeated the name - let's call it "Joe's Tux and Discount Warehouse". I told her I always rented my tuxes there and I needed one for an event on Sunday. In an officious tone of voice, sounding like a clerk at a local government office that issues permits and licenses, she informed me I had only another hour and a half to get my order into their system because after that the system wouldn't accept any more orders.
When I said I wanted to give her my tux measurements; she cut me off and said they'd need a deposit first. I said I'd give her my credit card number and she informed me they couldn't take credit card numbers over the phone. I paused, stunned, no words came to mind. I repeated this to make sure I had heard her correctly. She informed me I had to come down in person to the store and either pay cash or else they would take an imprint of my card on a paper receipt machine... more silence from me.
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