His lips are moving: In order to serve you better

Raymond Chen

Q: How do you know when a lawyer is lying? A: His lips are moving. This is of course a completely unfair and discriminatory joke. Many lawyers are women. Anyway, today I’m going to rant about the phrase “In order to serve you better.” Whenever you hear this phrase, you are pretty much guaranteed that whatever follows will in fact not serve you better at all. When I bought tickets to see Real Madrid play against some Americans, the online ticket service gave me multiple options for receiving my tickets. I could have them mailed to me, or I could have the tickets sent to me electronically. And for some reason, there was a “convenience fee” for receiving electronic tickets, even though sending me electronic tickets costs them approximately one gazillionth of a penny†, whereas paper tickets cost them paper, handling, and postage. They are inviting me to pay more so they can save money. To maximize their revenues, they also put “(Recommended)” next to the electronic ticketing option and selected it by default. I can’t believe they get away with this. It used to be that when you looked up somebody’s office number in the address book at Microsoft, you got something like “9S/1044”, which means “Room 1044 in the South wing of Building 9.” These buildings are big, and knowing which half to start in can save you a lot of walking, especially in some buildings where the two wings are not always connected! For example, in Building 26 the north and south wings are connected only on the first two floors. If you want to get from the north wing of the third floor to the south wing, you have to go down a flight of stairs, then across, then up. But several years ago, they removed the wing designation from the address book. That same office is now listed as simply “9/1044”. When I asked why they removed the wing designations, I was told, “We did this in order to serve you better. Many people were confused by it.” I have yet to find any of those people who are being served better. Every single person I asked wanted the wing designations restored, too. Nitpicker’s corner

†A gazillion is not an actual number.


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