Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Kudos to Canon (and Christ!)

Canon PIXMA MP640 Wireless Inkjet Photo All-In-One Printer (3748B002) Not long ago our faithful Canon iP3000 gave up the ghost.We loved it (as we have loved all our previous Canon printers) because it was cheap to feed. (OK, it helps being in the printer supplies business!)

In searching for a replacement, we eventually settled on an iP4700 and found a brand new one on eBay for just $70 including delivery.  We picked it partly because it uses cartridges almost as inexpensive as our old printer.

When we got the printer, we had some difficulty getting it to accept the print head, and a little plastic piece broke off the machine.  (They don't make printers like they used to!)

So Dad called Canon for support.  Eventually he got the print head working and figured out that the plastic piece was for a feature we never use anyways.

But about a week later, we got a call from polite woman with Canon support who spoke perfect English and called from Virginia, not Mumbai!  I told her everything was working fine now, and that the broken piece wasn't anything important.  She said, "If you don't mind, I'd like to send you an upgraded printer as a replacement!"  Shocked, I checked to see what cartridges the "upgrade" printer (an MP640) used.  They were the same as the iP4700.  I'm not the brightest light in the world, but this sounded like a good deal to me.  The MP640 had two features that the iP4700 doesn't: network connectivity and a scanner/copier.

Canon was as good as their word; the new printer arrived in a week, including a prepaid label to return our iP4700.

Now that's customer service.

Now, let me contrast the customer service of Canon with the customer service in China.  Of course, China is a big country and it's wrong to make a blanket statement about their business ethics.  I will say though that in China, abysmal customer service is far more common than it is here.  I've found some fascinating articles giving specific, overwhelming examples of this.  Take a look and I think you will be shocked:




Now I don't mean to denigrate the Chinese people.  I have many wonderful Chinese friends.  And if Americans found themselves suddenly living in Chinese society, my guess is that most of them would quickly stoop to equally scandalous ethics to protect themselves.

My question though, is this: knowing that human hearts are equally depraved everywhere in the world, why is China such a "dog eat dog" culture, while our American culture is still relatively trusting?  Why is it that in America, Canon will send me a better printer up front and trust me to return the first one without even a contract to compel me?  Such an exchange would never take place within today's China, because neither party would be willing to put themselves at risk of being robbed by the other party.

What created this cultural difference between China and America?


Huh?  What does religion have to do with it?

Simply this: our country still has the ethics of Christianity as the basic fabric of social interaction.  Christian ethics start with the fundamental concept that God gives gifts even to us, who have rebelled and flaunted Him.  The sun rises and the rain falls on the just and the unjust.  Talk about taking a risk.  This was not a risk, this was a certainty.  We would misuse God's gifts, and God knew it.  We worship the gifts and reject the Giver.  We deserved no trust and God gave to us anyways.  God took human flesh in the person of Jesus, making Himself even more vulnerable to harm.  True to our wicked character, we nailed Him to a tree.  And yet God planned even this act of barbarity as the very means by which He would offer us redemption from our wickedness.  And even this offer of kindness is abused by us.

So Christianity starts with the idea that God gives to the untrustworthy, and ends with the idea that we should do the same thing.

This philosophy made possible the culture of trust that we have in America.  But it is, dangerously, no longer at the foundation of our culture.  Nowadays most people are trusting because most people do not abuse their trust.  But when the immediate benefit of abusing trust begins to outweigh the long term price of losing trust, whenever it becomes more attractive to steal, the fabric of our society will quickly become Chinese.

And it will then be only the true followers of Christ who continue to give to the wicked.

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