TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Sears and K-Mart

Re: Sears and K-Mart

Lisa Hancock (
22 Nov 2004 08:27:19 -0800

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Yet, they have the temerity to wonder
> 'why customers go postal' sometimes ... and your two reasons given for
> why there are no more (or very few) public offices available any longer
> does not explain how small independent telcos still manage to do it:

I strongly doubt that all independent telcos have a public office in
every town they serve. They may have some offices here and there, but
not necessarily within convenient reach of every customer.

> Making floor space available for chairs and the cost of rent is an
> equal problem for them. And I would suppose theoretically the problem
> of someone 'going postal' is also worth considering. But why do you
> suppose the small, non-Bell telcos don't have those problems, and can
> continue to operate their public facilities?

My feeling is that the concerns and costs are _not_ equal.

The security is not just for someone "going postal", but also for more
conventional crime like holdups or disorderly patrons. Operating such
a center in a big city than a small town has more risks. I remember
the Bell office downtown -- the whole place had heavy locks and walls,
with tellers behind security windows. I think if you wanted to talk
to someone it was like talking to someone through a glass like in
prison. (And this was 30 years ago!) Unfortunately, urban life was
the way it is.

If someone "went off" it wasn't so much they were made at the phone
company (or whereever they happened to be at), rather, they were
frustrated with their miserable own life in general and had to
vent -- sometimes violently. Sadly, a lot of people don't manage their
personal lives very well (like paying bills on time) and their lives
get messed up, so they're angry. They take it out on whoever happens
to be nearby. It only takes one person out of 1,000 visitors to
terrorize a staff. In community service I've seen, usually the most
angry people have been those that have been the most irresponsible.

Also, some major companies become the target of political protest
movements who hold sit-ins. For example, a local Bell office would
get targeted for a forced shutdown because the protesters are angry
that Western Electric had defense contracts; today protesters have a
renewed hatred of business. Eliminating the office eliminates that

Generally, offices in pleasant small towns don't have those security

As to the costs of running an office, the rent in a small town main
street will be much less than in a downtown city. The incremental
cost of providing customer space would be modest.

Further, the office might double has an office for engineers and
contractors who have business with the phone company, so adding a few
POTS customers here and there is no big deal -- in other words, a
receptionist and waiting room are already there. In contrast, a big
phone company in a city could get flooded with customers and would
need much more expensive space.

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