People are astonished to hear that I can conduct entire real estate transactions -- most of them Sacramento short sales -- without ever meeting the parties involved. It's not unusual to communicate solely via email, text, websites or fax. I'm connected almost 24/7 through a variety of communication tools. While this may reduce the number of shoes I need to buy and cut down on my dry cleaning bills, it's still kinda weird. I like to shake hands. If appropriate, I hug.
But I'll tell you who I am not hugging. Google. I'm speaking as a client of Google, not the other way around. I signed up for a spam filtering service through Google about a year ago. It didn't work correctly. For whatever reason. I tried for weeks to get through to support at Google without success. Finally, in my frustration, I canceled my account -- just wiped it out.
Then, in October, I received a "no reply" email warning me that Google was about to charge my VISA $12. I tried to sign in to my account, but of course, it no longer exists. In November, I received another "no reply" email. I went in the back door and submitted a work order, filling in the fields for my name, address, email with a sentence asking for help. Received instead a standard work order template and no phone call. I can't email Google; I can't send a letter to Google, and I can't stop the billing.
I received my VISA statement yesterday reflecting that $12 charge. My card expires next summer. Is it really worth the hassle over $12? I thought about this long and hard because it's very difficult to call the bank that has issued my VISA. There is really no human contact unless you're willing to pay the price.
Paying the price means calling the bank, punching in my credit card number, listening to menu options, choosing the correct options, being forced to listen to a commercial for my bank, waiting on hold, and then being put through to a person who promptly disconnects me. So, I call back and go through the whole rigmarole again. If I am not disconnected, I then have the opportunity to ask to be transferred from India to a supervisor in the United States. Then, of course, after repeating all of the information I had previously submitted, she disconnects me.
By the third time, the voice prompter can no longer understand what I am saying. Do you want to make a payment? No, help, help, help. Do you want to hear your options again? Help, help, help. Do you want to buy a Ferrari? Help, help, help. I'm sorry, goodbye.
I speak English. I enunciate. I was raised in Minnesota, the state where aspiring television newscasters go to learn diction, for crying out loud.
In the interest of efficiency and progress, we've lost a lot of human contact in business. It's not pleasant to be a consumer. And it's only going to get worse as we continue to move to virtual business. We conduct webinars as a natural course of business and almost anything you need you can find online. There is no reason to meet people face-to-face anymore. Not even to sell real estate. You used to be able to walk into a store, speak with a sales rep about a product, touch and feel the product, maybe even test drive it. Not so anymore. In fact, you're lucky if the store even carries the product in stock.
I'm as guilty as anybody else. I'm showing property this weekend, and I'm not leaving the house. I have other commitments, so I am paying an associate to drive around my buyers and show them homes. They most likely will buy a Sacramento short sale. They need me for my analytical, investigative and negotiation skills -- they are relying on my 30-some years in the real estate business and extensive short sale background. I might not even see them at closing. Sending a mobile notary to sign docs is more convenient for a lot of people.
Agents might believe that the days of buying a home online will never happen, but I disagree. It's sad, and it's unfortunate. I still prefer human contact. But I do what the clients want. I let my clients decide. If they want a virtual relationship, I'll give it to them.
Photo: Big Stock Photo
Elizabeth Weintraub is co-partner of Weintraub & Wallace Team of Top Producing Realtors, an author, home buying expert at The Balance, a Land Park resident, and a veteran real estate agent who specializes in older, classic homes in Land Park, Curtis Park, Midtown, Carmichael and East Sacramento, as well as tract homes in Elk Grove, Natomas, Roseville and Lincoln. Call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759. Put our combined 80 years of real estate experience to work for you. Broker-Associate at RE/MAX Gold. DRE License # 00697006.
Photo: Unless otherwise noted in this blog, the photo is copyrighted by Big Stock Photo and used with permission.The views expressed herein are Weintraub's personal views and do not reflect the views of RE/MAX Gold. Disclaimer: If this post contains a listing, information is deemed reliable as of the date it was written. After that date, the listing may be sold, listed by another brokerage, canceled, pending or taken temporarily off the market, and the price could change without notice; it could blow up, explode or vanish. To find out the present status of any listing, please go to elizabethweintraub.com.