Blaming the Milkman

Posted: March 26, 2008 by Kendricke in Everquest 2, Fallacies, SOE, The Gaming Industry

There once was a man who ordered milk each week.  Every week, the man felt there was something wrong with his milk delivery – either the bottle wasn’t full enough, or the delivery was late, or the new bottles weren’t clean enough, or the milk wasn’t fresh enough.  Every week, the man complained loudly to the milkman.  Every week, the milkman said he’d try to do better.  This went on for years.

One day, after hearing the man loudly complain to the milkman once again about the quality of the latest batch of milk, the man’s neighbor walked over.  He asked the man why he kept buying milk from that company every week if he didn’t like the milk.

The man replied indignantly, “What!?  And let them get away with bad service?”

I thought up this story this morning while reading several comments on the official EQ2 forums regarding angry and upset players who were complaining that “they keep taking our money and only give us crap in return”.

However, if we flip the comment on its logical head, aren’t we really saying “I keep giving them money for service I’m unhappy with.”

Think about it.

  1. But if you need milk, and every milkman in town has roughly the same level of service, what are you gonna do but complain?

  2. Kendricke says:

    Sure are a lot of “if’s” in that statement. 😉

    I can try putting it another way. Let’s assume you’re right, that all the milk in town is roughly the same and all the milkman provide roughly the same level of service. Let’s even assume that you “need” milk, and that there’s no other possible substitute available to you.

    What is the goal you’re hoping to achieve through the act of complaining? Presumably, you’re hoping to enact change, correct? Is your current method of action accomplishing that goal?

    By that, I mean that if you loudly complain to the milkman each and every week, is it changing whether or not the dairy farmers are providing better quality milk to you? If it hasn’t so far, why do you think the situation will change next week when you complain in exactly the same way? The week after?

    The current status quo methology is not working. Yet, you keep paying for milk you’re not happy with. You keep forking over your cash to settle for a service you’re not content with.

    Far too often, players like to blame the “milkman” for wasting their money, when we really need to start realizing that it’s our money. If you’re really not happy with the milk, stop blaming the milkman … and certainly stop paying his bill.

  3. Illuminator says:

    When alternatives appear with several key aspects we’re looking for, believe me, you’ll hear the sound of footsteps. In the meantime, it’s not customer vs. milkman as much as it is customer vs. customer for the milkman’s attention. And if there’s a milkman who saves the best milk only for a certain customer and gives everyone else old milk, of course the others are going to want him replaced.

    Complaints do work because people do have limits, even if they don’t reveal to you in plain terms what those limits are.

  4. Xeavn says:

    While I really like your analogy Kendricke, I think it largely misses out on the true staying power of MMO’s. Friends and Guilds. I can continue to enjoy the social aspects of a game long after the content is no longer exciting. I think a good number of players will accept what they consider sub par milk for a long time, so long as thier friends still seem to be happy with it.

  5. michael, St Erroneous says:

    And what if the man really likes the flavour of the milk from a particular dairy? Sure, the delivery schedule may be flakey, and the packaging occasionally flawed, but if he wants that particular golden creamy flavour, there’s only one place to go…

    He could purchase his milk elsewhere, and get treated right, but then he would always remember just how good that stuff tasted in on his breakfast cereal.

  6. Kendricke says:

    All of those are excellent reasons to stay with the milkman, to be sure. However, if you’re still complaining about the same problems to the same milkman week after week and month after month with no discernable results – then are you really going to tell me that your current methodology is working out for you?

    Illuminator states that some customers seem to get better milk than others. Could it be that they figured out a different way to complain that was more effective? Maybe instead of publically yelling at the milkman every week when he shows up, those customers figured out ways to submit their feedback in a less abrasive manner. Maybe they analyze the milk to support their complaints. Maybe they find someone other than the milkman to complain to at the company.

    Or maybe they get the exact same milk you do, and they just happen to overlook the week to week issues you find to be such a hassle, because overall they’re pretty happy with the milk they’re getting. Maybe while you’re seeing how horrible it is that the milk was delivered 5 minutes later, they’re ok with that. Maybe while you’re concentrating on how the milk isn’t as fresh as it could have been, they’re still fine with the taste.

    This idea that “my problems are everyone’s problem” is wrong. Your problems are your problems. Other people might have the same problem as you, but that doesn’t mean everyone does. To two different people, the same glass of milk might taste completely different.

    So, instead of bashing on those other customers for getting better milk, realize that they’re getting the same milk as everyone else – they just happen to not have the same issues with the quality of service as you do.

  7. Grimwell says:

    Don’t worry Kendricke, I just called CS and had them close your account. You don’t have to worry about the milk anymore…


  8. Cyanbane says:

    I have bought a cow, and I am very happy.

  9. saavedra says:

    Sometimes the milkman gives out icecream cones for free, though it’s oft forgotten. That comes with the price of service too.

  10. Rijacki says:

    When someone complains about the same thing one doesn’t like, the complaints are justified. When someone complains about something which one don’t see in the same way or isn’t an issue for the one, the louder the complain the more the one will hear it as whining (i.e. the 5 min late delivery could be okay for the one even though for the someone it means the milk sits on the stoop all day then because that someone has to leave very shortly after the appointed delivery time).

    However, I believe it is in the type of complaints that really gets on nerves. Declaring that so-and-so gets better milk and alleging its because of favouritism (when the only “proof” is rumor and assumptions) is the worst. Demands for the absolute best possible, gold card service when there is no gold card service offered to anyone (just the assumed perception of it) and nothing short of that will do is also annoying.

    Oh.. and I really truly loath the “if my milk account isn’t fixed in X days (or even X minutes), I am going to go to [competition]!”

  11. Kendricke says:

    I guess my point is that I don’t personally care if it’s whining or not. One person’s “whine” is another person’s “legitimate feedback”. I care whether or not such “whining” is an effective means by which change is enacted in the first place.

    If you’ve been complaining about the same thing for X number of weeks/months/years, how likely is it that your style of complaining it effective? if results are the means by which we judge such effectiveness, then it should be fairly evident that whatever method you’re using to complain isn’t working so far.

    I’ve long advocated a general philosophy of “adapt, accept, or move on”. Either adapt what/how you’re doing, accept that which you can’t adapt to, or move on to something different.

    If complaining to the milkman for years on end isn’t working, either adapt how you complain, accept that your milk delivery won’t always be up to the standards you’d prefer, or move on to a different dairy for your milk or even switch to orange juice instead.

  12. Bowin says:

    SOE = Milkman Us = Man who complains

    Point of view by the man.

    I am understanding the story this way. No matter how much the man complains the milkman dont really care. Thats why he says he’ll do better next time. But does he? Nope. He gets his money once a month from the man. So the milkman provides the same services and never changes it for the best.

    This being said now I am going to prove a point. EQ2 came out before World of Warcraft. People rushed into EQ2 and the service was bad. Server crashed alot, chasing shards all over Norrath, and the first Debt system was a bad idea. So alot of people left EQ2 and went to World of Warcraft. EQ2 or SOE lost alot of customers. This is when the changes for the best came in. EQ2 did change for the best and regained some of there customers back.

    I ve also seen this in Corp. America. The companies wont listen untill they start losing money. Then watch them bend over backwards and some forward for your money.

  13. Kendricke says:


    1. I agree that if you’re not happy with the milk and don’t feel the milkman is listening to you that you should switch dairies.

    2. Saying that the Milkman “= SOE” isn’t quite accurate. First off, the milkman can be represenative of any studio. I can assure you that there are tons of World of Warcraft players who keep complaining just as loudly (if not more so) to their milkman every week.

    Secondly, the milkman’s just the guy bringing you the milk. He’s not the entire dairy – just the guy you happen to see wearing the uniform. For all intents on purposes, the milkman is more representative of Community teams or even the official forums (by logical extension). It’s not the milkman’s fault the milk is warm, or packaged incorrectly, and it may not even be his fault that the milk is late (sometimes traffic happens). However, he’s the guy you’re complaining to, and part of his job is to pass your complaints along and to try to keep make sure you understand that you’re being heard.

    However, (and this is important), there’s a big difference between being heard and being right. Just because you feel there’s an issue doesn’t mean there really is one. Yelling at the milkman that you feel the milk this week tastes worse than the milk last week doesn’t necessarily mean the milk actually tastes any different – after all, perception is reality. Besides, if you don’t have any facts to back up all the yelling, all you’re doing is venting on the milkman…for something he’s not even in charge of.

    That’s a big part of the point of this little story, by the way. It’s not how loudly you yell that gets the changes enacted – but how you choose to complain in the first place. Getting angry may be personally satisfying, but if it’s not effective, you need to address your own methods.

  14. Laldail says:

    The biggest problem in this is that the ‘milkman’ no longer serves the consumer directly. The milkman once had direct access to the production, packaging, and distribution decision makers. He is now simply a wholesaler in a system where the actual producers no longer have direct access to the ultimate consumer and vice versa. In fact, direct access is considered detrimental to the overall health of the product and not in the best interests of said consumers. It’s most certainly not in the best interests of the milk producers.

    So we have the supermarket, whose management for the most part has no clue about how to produce milk, as the direct provider of any information about the product to the consumer. This is a good thing for the milk producers because if the milk isn’t the right temperature, or is not fresh, or is not the right type (whole, 2%, 1%, etc) it’s not the producers’ fault. The supermarket has control of all that stuff. The only time the producers of milk care is if there is proven to be an actual honest to goodness problem with the product itself, perhaps some errant bacteria (nasty bugs those), and it can be shown to have been introduced at the source.

    What many customers seem to want is a return to simpler days when the milk producer lived across town, milk drinkers knew them by name, perhaps attended the same institutions in town, and everyone generally knew and trusted everyone. I don’t know about you, but as much as I love raw milk (drank a lot of it while growing up – very tasty) I suspect it will never make a comeback. Too many legal issues.

    Okay, the analogy is probably really broken now but it was fun to write anyway.

  15. Kendricke says:

    You lost me, Laldail.

  16. Laldail says:

    Sorry. I was just saying that the devs do not seem to have the close relationship with players that was prevalent in earlier, simpler times. Too many go-betweens now – CSR, moderators, community managers, etc. Probably necessary given the size of some gaming communities but many players apparently still yearn for and possibly expect the same kind of direct developer connections that used to be the norm but now seem so rare.

    It was just a passing thought. The whole time I was composing that I was seeing visions of Rugdeath catapulting cows at Drusella in Maidens Chamber.

  17. Bowin says:

    Laldail your one deep guy. LoL

    Okay back to the Milkman and the Customer, that is the only two characters in this story. Now the milkman in the story on the top does represent SOE because Kendricke wrote:

    I thought up this story this morning while reading several comments on the official EQ2 forums regarding angry and upset players who were complaining that “they keep taking our money and only give us crap in return”.

    (So who runs EQ2? We aren’t talking about the Blizzard milkman. Why because you stated you were at the EQ2 forums.)

    Kendricke later writes:

    2. Saying that the Milkman “= SOE” isn’t quite accurate.

    (Ummm. Why was this story written?)

    1.There is only the Milkman who I am sure owns the dairy. Is in fact meant to be SOE or EQ2.

    2.The Customer that doesn’t like the Milkmans product .That represents all the SOE customers that complain. Not saying all SOE customers do. But what do you do when you want changes? Run over to a guy and PvP his face in? NO! You complain until you get the right kind of service. You complain in a mature way they understand. If you get sick of complaining. You go somewhere else and hope for better service.

    I just choose to take another point of view in this Milkman story. The man who complains.

    This story started with two characters, but as the thread grew so did the characters and his roll.

    Kendricke wrote:
    The milkman’s just the guy bringing you the milk. He’s not the entire dairy – just the guy you happen to see wearing the uniform.

    So there’s other character involved that we didn’t know about in the main story? The entire dairy. I thought there was only the Milkman whos encharge of the dairy. This story has a lot of holes in it. Stay tune for the next part in the Milkman story board. (Okay, I am poking fun.)

    I do understand that your trying to prove a point and we both do agree on the end points.

    Kendricke wrote:
    I agree that if you’re not happy with the milk and don’t feel the milkman is listening to you that you should switch dairies.

    If you switch dairies the dairy does loose money.

    Bowin wrote:
    The companies won’t listen until they start losing money. Then watch them bend over backwards and some forward for your money.

    Bottom line it’s all about the money and they get the money from the customers.

    I do agree the customer does have the right to complain. Yes there difference between being heard and being right. As Kendricke stated. If you gather the facts look at both sides of the story . Hopfully you will try to make the right choice before complaining. I also agree, do it in a mature fashion. So you dont sound like a Junior High kid who just learned his or her curse words.

    Its funny watching a story that is meant to prove a point, get so twisted around. Because Kendricke choose to use a milkman and a customer instead of the real names in the story.

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