Why Spend Money on Manners?

Everyone is looking to cut costs in this failing economy. Everyone from your neighbor to the federal government says the want to save money and eliminate waste. I tend to believe the average citizen before I believe our government. My lack of confidence in big brother was proven yesterday.

By now, you have probably heard about the state of Pennsylvania’s plan to encourage its employees at the state-run liquor stores to be more customer friendly and courteous. Sounds like a great idea. I’m all for sending out  a letter informing the employees about how to treat customers, perhaps going far as giving them flash cards with talking points like “Thank You”, “Come Again” and “Have a Nice Day”.

But no. The state has decided the best way to make their employees friendlier is to train them. Customer service training is set to begin at Liquor Control Board stores all across this state. The price tag? $173,000.

Let me say that again: $173,000.


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( photo courtesy: Associated Press )

The LCB says its all about image, but in this economy, is image really worth $173K if you happen to have no competition and own a virtual monopoly on booze in the Commonwealth? What are they afraid of? State employees being so rude to customers in State College that they are actually going to drive 2 hours south to Maryland in search of booze and a “Thank You”?

In the words of ABC 20/20’s John Stossel, “Give me a break!”.

I’m sure in the grand scheme of things, $173K isn’t going to break the bank or put the state into bankruptcy. However, it look s bad when a state is operating at a deficit and  accepting federal stimulus money while running classes on manners for state employees.

Worst of all, I don’t consider liquor store employees rude. I have been to several different liquor stores in western Pennsylvania ( yes, I enjoy wine and mixed drinks ) and I have yet to have a bad experience with any of the people who work there. When they don’t know something, they are not afraid to ask someone else or just admit they don’t know. I go as far to say that state store employees might be among the most courteous people in the government system. After all their job is to provide a product that actually lifts your spirits.

There are better ways to spend money … and better  things for the state to do than worry about the image of those who sell alcohol. Even if these folks are in a bad mood, they aren’t alone. Seen the economy recently?

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