Simple respect is all I ask

Brenda Cannon HenleyBy Brenda Cannon HenleyOne of the definitions of respect is “a due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, of traditions of others.” Synonyms for respect provide a deeper reflection on what one might mean when they use the word. Among them are “consideration, thoughtfulness, attentiveness, courtesy, civility, and deference.” The Bible says, in Philippians 2:3, “…Let each esteem others better than themselves.” I have always loved the verse found in Romans 12:10, which says, “Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another.”

And we haven’t even talked about respect in families, employment situations, communities, churches schools, and in business relationships. Customer service with regard to respect has taken a huge hit in the past few years and I am not being a Negative Nelly without reason.

Let me also add here a practical disclaimer. I truly appreciate kind, helpful, well-trained customer service representatives who care about their job and the people with whom they interact. Anyone that has moved several states away can, I believe, appreciate my circus with getting all new utilities, transferring all those that could be, and getting monthly billing established for recurring accounts.

I had electrical service established in my new home on December 9, a few days after the closing of the property. Everything went well. The representative was cordial, and we went through the process with no hiccups. Two days later, my daughter reported the power was on and the workers could begin to do the tasks she had assigned. Everything was on track. I had signed up for automatic deduction for the account and my first bill was for some $35. I was thrilled and noted when it came out of my bank account. I received additional email notifications and noted that they were paid. In early March, I saw that that my monthly charge was $225 plus change. I wasn’t alarmed. After all, this is Florida, we have warm weather, and we had several workmen in and out. The bill was due to be deducted on April 4. All was good.

Only four days later, I got a paper bill in the mail, which I had not agreed to, for $380 and marked due on April 15, and to be deducted from my account. Address was correct and they seemed confident they would collect.

I called and spoke with a nice young lady who saw the problem, but could not rectify it in her department. She advised me she was referring me to corporate. And, here is where the absolute lack of respect showed up in all its glory. The woman who answered was rude from the get go. She spoke sharply to me, interrupted my questions without allowing me to complete a sentence, and acted as though she was very put out to have to help me solve their problem. I bit my tongue and realized that we do have many older residents and she had probably dealt with her fair share of snowbirds over the years. Cutting me off again, she said, “Here is the problem. You had your power cut off for some reason on March 19, and then you had it cut back on again.” I assured her that I had not and no bill had ever been late in payment because it was automatically deducted.

She then said, “Oh, no, you called in and had it disconnected.” I assured her I did not and that I had enjoyed my power throughout the month. There was not a time when I had not had service, and in fact, had been entertaining company at that time. She never accepted what I said and made no effort to hide her disdain for what she apparently thought was an aged new snowbird that might be somewhat impaired. She then told me I had a brand new account and would have to log back on and recreate my profile. Never, did she ever offer help, acknowledge my concerns, hear my questions, or treat me with any respect. I so wanted to lash out and tell her that I probably had more sense that she did and I knew what I was saying, and that this was not over by a long shot. But I didn’t, because I was trying to be respectful. I simply hung up and called back later and found out what had happened. A new neighbor called in and gave the incorrect address and I got a good reminder for a article.

Folks, just because someone chooses to live in a nice retirement community, is apparently of a certain age, has a problem that needs solving, it does not make them impaired, dumb, or problematic. Remember, respect is good at any age, and if you are blessed of God, you just might be on the receiving end of needing it at some stage.

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788, or


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