the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Dockers Hates Women (A New Approach to Getting My Ticket)

I’ve thought about this long and hard, and there is only one conclusion to this Docker/JCPenney free-flght mess:  Dockers hates women.

Hear me out.  I’m not a woman.  There is no need for me to go to BlogHer.  I was merely going to San Francisco to help the BlogHer organizers give the conference-goers their money’s worth in eye candy and sex appeal.  It is expensive to attend BlogHer.  It costs more than Disneyland, Legoland, and a meal at Souplantation — combined.  The participants expect a good time.  Sure, the organizers provide you with “speakers (mostly bloggers you can read for free online),” and some lucky bloggers will read from their best posts in a “Community Read,” but let’s be honest — can we really consider that “fun?” 

No male convention is complete with female strippers.  I believe in equality.  Blogher is dullsville without hot-looking men wandering around in their best nehru jackets, telling the female participants how “pretty they look.”  I know 3/4 of those women going to BlogHer have scheduled a salon appointment this week so they don’t look like shit.  They want to resemble that photoshopped photo they have on their profile page — at least in some way.

So, clearly, my role at BlogHer was to be “the professional flatterer,” a modern twist on the guy who is hired to make animal balloons at birthday parties.  I had already completed writing out some individual compliments for some of you, all compiled from information I took off of your own blogs.

To Female Blogger A — “You look like you’ve lost 10 pounds?  Have you been on the Oprah cleanse?”

To Female Blogger B — “The divorce has been good for you.  You look more rested and five years younger.”

To Female Blogger C — “I think a forty year old woman is at her most beautiful.  Here is the key to my hotel room.  Since your always too busy husband isn’t here, we can **** all night.  What happens at BlogHer, stays at BlogHer.”

But now Dockers has ruined it all.  The entire plan.  By refusing to give me the flight that was due to me, I am stuck in New York, spending the weekend with my mother rather than drinking high quality vodka from bloggers’ bra cups. 

But this hurts YOU — the wonderful female bloggers of the world — more than it hurts me.   Dockers is trying to sabatoge BlogHer.  Dockers hate women.  Is there any other conclusion?  Mr. Dockers CEO — weren’t you born to a woman… your own mother?  Don’t you have a wife?  A daughter?  A sister?  Don’t you like Katie Couric?  You are disappointing all of them with your total disregard to the needs of women at BlogHer. 

Dockers, it is up to you to prove this theory wrong and send Neilochka to San Francisco with the free flight he so deserves!


I just received a phone call from Sophia, which isn’t that unusual, but it about my blog, and it HAS been a while since she has taken a real keen interest in my posts.

Why did she call? She took me to task for caving in so easily to Robb’s comment on the TLC Marketing Post.

Robb is a blogger who has lived in India for the last year and a half. Because of this, he has a unique take on Meneul, the TLC Marketing customer service representative from India who was driving me crazy two days ago.

This is what Robb wrote in his comment:

Actually, in rereading this, I think someone should come to Menuel’s defense. In India, call center employees are given scripts they are to stick to, and when the conversation sways from the script, no matter how logical or necessary it may be, they MUST stick to the script or risk being fired. In a country with over a billion people, 1/4 under the poverty level, he has a good job. A job that thousands of others wished they had. What in the west is seen as a crap job, in India gives him a good salary (approx 200-300 dollars a month), maybe insurance, etc.. One posting for a job like this means thousands and thousands of applicants hoping for the chance. I am sure Menuel knew exactly what you were saying, in fact he probably has a university degree, but to give you the service you desired and deserved would have meant swaying from the mandatory script and probably have cost him his job. Here, I have seen managers slap their staff, and I have seen people yelled at and humiliated in front of their co-workers. All things which would be CNN headline news if it happened in the US. Menuel is most likely the sole or primary provider in his family and also probably supports his parents and possibly grandparents as well. He probably works 6 days a week and maybe 10 -12 hour days- all for 200 – 300 dollars a month). I know a lot of guys like him. So yes it can be frustrating, but what you experienced is just a tiny bit of a much larger issue and many young and intelligent Indians are feeling trapped in the world of offshoring and “cheap labour”. Please, the next time soemone is on the phone with someone from India or other developing country and not getting the service they want, please remember, it is not due to the staff on the other end of the phone, it is due to corporate processes and behaviors. Please take it out on the company, not the man or woman doing their job.

I responded by writing:

Robb — thank you. I absolutely agree. I think most people know this. This is exactly what the corporation wants — for us to blame them!

Sophia seemed to think that I was trying to hard to look like the nice liberal rather than being honest. She said it is a bad policy for customers to start worrying about the customer service’s feelings — in the context of customer service. Soon, companies will be hiring children and old woman just so we never complain.

I have to say, Sophia has a point.  I have nothing against Menuel, but do I really want to sit around worrying about his economic conditions?  I wasn’t mean or insulting to him.  But he was hired to be a robot, so it is my job as a customer to combat that.   I wish him well, but I wish I could have kept him on the phone for another hour bugging him, wasting the company’s time.  If enough of us bug the hell out of unresponsive customer service people, the companies themselves will be forced into making some changes.

So, what is the consensus?   Be understanding of the customer service person’s crappy job, or push them until you get what you want?


  1. Black Hockey Jesus

    Neil Kramer is my blog hero.

  2. Memarie Lane

    Excellent points. Personally I have no desire to attend BlogHer. I’d like to meet other bloggers, but why would I meet them to talk about blogs? You don;t get much blog fodder from talking about blogs. An Alan Rickman lookalike walking around in a nehru jacket however, now THAT’S blog fodder.

  3. HeyJoe

    I wish you luck, Neilochka. However, I stand ready to attend as your proxy.

  4. mp

    Yes attending blogher is more expensive than I won’t be attending so that means you won’t miss anything..cause no one can have any fun if I’m not there..right?

  5. formerlyfun

    You are right, Docker’s does hate women the evidence is right here:

    I also think you may want to consider becoming a professional complimenter. We women are a insecure lot and I think you could sell your ego building, self-concept repairing wares for a pretty penny.

  6. Finn

    Formerly Fun’s link goes to a short called the Ball Walker! Yes, I’m 12.

    I think over the weekend we should all just link to this post and see if we can get it to go viral. Maybe it will get on the news that Dockers hates women.

  7. John

    If I were to attend BlogHer wearing Dockers, I don’t believe Compliments A, B, or C would be effective at all, as Dockers (on me, anyway) are the worst fitting pants ever made. I might as well be walking around in a sack. But then, I don’t possess your charm Neil. ; )

  8. Miss Britt


    Ahem. Sorry about that.

  9. Not Fainthearted

    I’m with Finn. Certainly a little link attention here might get the Dockers CEO to call Neil and make the arrangements himself. It would be totally worth it for him to even pay for the flight with his own credit card as then we would all like to Neil’s post about how great the guy was and then we’d all go out and buy more pants for the men in our lives.

    Win win win, right?

  10. ali

    i’m pretty dockers hates men too…because, hello, pleats!

  11. V-Grrrl

    Does this mean you’re available to make balloon animals at my BBQ this weekend?

  12. AnnieH

    I am thinking that you’ll have better luck calling Menuel again. Maybe you guys can bond over your newly acquired Dockersaphobia(and, hello disabilities workers’ excuse) and have a fabulous international blogfest.I’m kinda really starting to crush on Menuel and miss him.

  13. Backpacking Dad

    Ok. I’m going to print out business cards to hand out that say “Neilochka couldn’t come to BlogHer because Dockers hates women, but he wanted me to tell you______________________”

  14. gorillabuns

    I don’t know much about men’s fashion but personally, I think pleats make most men look like they have a pooch.

  15. AnnieH

    About Menuel —

    It’s called a parallel path, Neilochka. Make the effort with Menuel or whoever is on the phone, find out if you can get your problem addressed through this means, if not–get names and numbers, be nice, and move on to where the buck stops. If Menuel doesn’t have them or cannot give them out start researching on the computer and find out who to email, write to, call, boycott, picket, put an ad in the paper about, put a sign on your car about, make up buttons to wear and pass out, print on a Tshirt. Write a letter to the newspaper, call the business editor of your local newspaper, call the I-Team on your local TV news. Raise a ruckus. Be a revolutionary. Or not. You also gotta pick your battles and I don’t know how important this is to you, but it’s always good to keep the skills sharpened. And again, people need a little shake up now and then–keeps the dust off.

  16. Memarie Lane

    The problem is that customer service centers now, wherever in the world they may be, are no longer there to help, to to plant the placebo of help in your mind. To make you feel like you’ve been helped so maybe you’ll go away. You ask for a supervisor. You ask for the supervisor’s supervisor. It makes no freaking difference, they just want you to go away. We had this happen with our cable company recently, after calling 5 different centers (which were all in the US), the final manager we finally got to admitted that the call centers are private companies that sublet their services to whatever company has the highest bid, and they have absolutely no ability to actually help in any way.

    So poor Menuel has a shitty job. Poor Menuel has a shitty life. Too bad for him. He serves as a bumper pad between the customer and the corporation. The only way to get anywhere with the corporation is to circumvent the human punching bags and go straight to the corporation. It takes some digging, but you can find an actual person within the actual corporation that can actually do something. But you can’t find them through Menuel, and you have to make them give a crap.

  17. Izzy

    Seeing that I AM currently 40, I must agree with the following statement as it’s 100% accurate. Oh yes, it is!

    “I think a forty year old woman is at her most beautiful.

    To suggest otherwise would be grounds for something very unpleasant. Don’t make me have to come to your mother’s house, k?

    As for customer service people in India, I don’t feel sorry for them. I’m mean like that.

  18. wendy

    I agree with John…Dockers do nothing for the male butt…and women check out asses too..

    You will be missed.

  19. Neil

    Wendy — you may have a point about Docker’s. Look this guy. He would never get lucky at BlogHer with these pants.

  20. wendy

    you have been featured at my blog..

    PS..Thats you Neil, above..isn’t it?
    confess your fashion crime.

  21. better safe than sorry

    i think those pics are you as well.
    if i have a problem with customer service, i keep pushing, but i wouldn’t waste too much time with someone on the phone. start by getting something in writing. if you don’t hear anything, send another e-mail, maybe two in a day, building up to tons and tons of e-mail, write about it on your blog, start a boycott, start a petition, keep it going.

  22. Caron

    I’m kind of thinking that for Menuel, the joke is on Neil. Chances are good that Menuel has to be fairly well educated to score this kind of job in his country. He knows he’s a robot, and his part of the game is to see how riled he can get people by looping the corporate script.

    He’s on his blog talking about the American suckers who believed that they could get an airline ticket that probably has more value than the $125 for unflattering pants they were duped into buying.

    Had they never heard of the golden rules?

    1. Do unto others…
    2.If it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true
    3. There’s no such thing as a free lunch…or airfare.

  23. Neil

    That isn’t me. There is no way I would ever wear that shirt. And his pants are too short.

  24. Christine

    I feel bad that Menuel was born into those rough circumstances, but not for him doing his job. People have crap jobs all over the world.

    I once dated a physician who kept a notebook full of weird conversations he’d had w/ patients. There were some hilarious things in there; he hoped to one day publish it.

    I wonder if Menuel keeps notes of how people react to the ridiculousness he needs to spout. I’d totally buy that book.

  25. Nat

    Hmmmm… well it’s a bit of column A, a bit from Column B.

    I think we always have to be aware of the fact that the people taking our calls have really really crappy jobs. But we also have to make sure that we are getting good the services we have been promised.

    It means vigilance… and making sure super-hyper-mega corp knows we are onto them. They do it because they can…

  26. Bec

    Having worked in a call centre with the evils of scripting I can tell you that it’s never what we say to you its all in the inflection of the voice.
    Oh, and the supervisors are always getting coffee.
    And we know everythign we say is total crap.
    And our name is never what we say it is. Menuel is probably called Bob.

  27. Rock and Roll Mama

    The hardest part of dealing with customer service is getting through the maze of gatekeepers designed to keep you from getting you to anyone who could actually do anything.
    Some are electronic (Press or say 5 if you just want your ticket already! Sweet fancy moses, Dockers!) and some are Menuels…they all are designed to exhaust and befuddle you until you go away.
    I think the BlogHer ladies should take a bunch of picture of them holding signs that say “BlogHer Hates Dockers” and “Give us Neilochka!” And mail them all with an old-school letter on legal letterhead to Dockers CEO. Heh heh. Good luck, I hope they straighten up and fly right before the 16th. (Oh my god I’ve turned into my Dad.)

  28. Jennifer H

    Damn. You’re on to me re: my profile photo. I thought I was totally under the radar on that one.

    You know what the TLC in TLC Marketing stands for, don’t you?

    Total Load of Crap.

    (Yeah, it’s taken me a whole day.)

  29. Dagny

    Hope you get it all straightened out. You can use my passes for the cocktail parties. Looks like I might not be able to make it after all. *sigh*

  30. kate

    Formerlyfun is right – save the flight for something else and make money for the next BlogHer by selling compliments disguised as comments. We’d fall all over that. And I banned Dockers years ago. Hiding a man’s ass with too much chino material is a crime.

  31. Lisa

    “So, what is the consensus? Be understanding of the customer service person’s crappy job, or push them until you get what you want?”

    Neither. I just boycott the companies that pull this sort of bullshit.

  32. Danny

    I agree with Sophia. No one is saying you should have verbally attacked or demeaned Menuel (which you didn’t) but it’s absurd to think that you should be “okay” with the company fucking with you like that just because you feel sorry for the guy and his miserable job. That attitude is a prescription for a lifetime of codependent misery. On the other hand, I agree that you’re going to get nowhere with their so-called customer service representatives. If I were you, I’d go straight to the top and start writing very strong letters of complaint to every top executive you can find. Dissing the companies here is also a good move but take it to the top as well, then maybe there’s a *chance* you’ll see some results.

  33. adena

    I’ve worked in India for a whole 3 weeks (went over there to train them to take my job. whee.)

    I can imagine that he totally DID have to follow that script, even if he knew it was Asinine. It’s not exactly “progressive” over there.

    One of the girls I know over there is so stressed w/ the fact that she works SO much (they do not get overtime, and there are no labor laws. She worked like 2 weeks straight w/o getting to go home once) that she actually started losing her hair.

    And I can say w/ certainty that his name was not “Menual.” That is not an Indian name. They’re instructed to pick names they think sound more “American.” And a lot of them are being trained in accents. If you get an Indian w/ a vaguely Southern sounding accent, there’s a reason for that.

    The Caste system there makes it hard for people to move up in their job. A lot of the supervisors are complete morons in comparison to the workers, but they’re in higher positions because of their caste. You can have geniuses in lower castes that will NEVER get a chance to prove what they are. It’s ridiculous.

  34. Velma

    I can’t get this out of my head after reading your post:

    “It is happy for you that you possess the talent of flattering with delicacy. May I ask whether these pleasing attentions proceed from the impulse of the moment, or are the result of previous study?”

    Mr. Collins, I presume?

  35. Rob

    I completely agree that you cannot let the idea of someone’s feelings get in the way of getting good customer service. I am a huge advocate of customer service. I spent years working as a rep myself in California. What I was trying to say is that instead of taking it out on someone like Menuel, who can do absolutely nothing at all for you, take it out on the companies that provide that level of service. I have actually ended services I had with companies here due to bad service given because of company policies, not the incompetence of the workers. I have sat across the table from people who so want to help, but aren’t allowed. And these are people working for some of the largest multinational companies in the world (I won’t name names here). I don’t think you should tolerate it at all, just direct the anger and attention where it needs to be.. At the companies that believe this is an acceptable way to treat their customers, the people that spend their money keeping them in business. They want the customers, they want the business but they don’t want the responsibility that comes with it. And as long as people take out their anger on the staff and then keep buying the products and servcies, they have no reason to change.

  36. Jo

    laughing a lot at the blogher stuff

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