Some things just aren't as much fun as they used to be. Shopping can be frustrating when you can't find a human being to listen to you. Traveling can be a drag when there are fewer flights to choose from and your luggage gets lost.
A recent Harris Poll set out to find the things that set consumers off the most. It turns out a lot of them have to do with air travel.
Once upon a time stand-up comedians made jokes about the poor quality of airline food – but that was when airlines actually provided meals to passengers in coach. Today it's a lot more common to hear people complain about a la carte costs and fees airlines charge for just about everything – including the food.
Hogging the overhead bins
But what qualifies as the most annoying things about air travel? Two-thirds of those questioned say travelers who misuse the overhead bins – by putting all their items overhead or using a bin in a different section of the plane, for example -- annoy them the most, while about 35% are most annoyed with travelers who recline their seats in the cramped coach cabin.
When we looked over complaints about air travel consumers posted on ConsumerAffairs, customer service deficiencies seemed to be a common theme. Rebeca, of New Albany, Ind., was upset that when she booked a US Airways flight for her honeymoon and found her seat was not with her new husband.
Rebeca said she sent a number of emails to the airline, requesting help in being assigned a new seat. The emails, she says, received no reply.
“I finally gave up today and purchased, for an additional $59 per ticket, that pleasure,” she wrote. “In summary, I paid an extra $112 to have a guaranteed seat next to my new husband.”
Consumers also tend to get annoyed on the road. In the survey respondents are split on whether tailgaters or slow drivers who stay in the passing lane are the more grievous offenders, with the tailgaters taking the annoyance crown by a slim 53% to 47% margin.
Kim, of Newark, Del., was highly annoyed when she used Priceline to book a hotel room. After making a reservation for a stay, she says she remembered she needed an extra room, so returned to the site where she booked the second room.
“When we got to the hotel I found out I was booked for three rooms,” Kim wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post. “I said I only needed two and to cancel one. They said I had to do it through Priceline. When I tried to cancel one room with them they said it was too late and they marked me as a no-show for one of the rooms.”
Consumers are also increasingly annoyed by technology. James, of Beaumaris, Australia, writes that he purchased a new Microsoft Surface Pro 2 tablet in December.
In March, the machine wouldn't turn on,” James tells ConsumerAffairs. “After three weeks of waiting, Microsoft finally replaced the machine. All of my data and my applications were lost. It took an entire day to reconstruct everything on the new machine. Yesterday it happened again. The machine won't turn on.”
Mobile devices also increasingly get on consumers' nerves. The Harris Poll finds nearly everyone is annoyed by people carrying on cell phone conversations in a restaurant.
But 35% of those questioned are also annoyed by people who check their smartphones for new email while carrying on a face-to-face conversation. And speaking of email, 60% of us get annoyed by people who write emails in all caps.
Nearly as annoying, say consumers, are people who use “reply all” on all emails and those who simply don't reply to a message.