Your COVID Excuses Are Wearing Thin
Opinion|Sep 27, 2021

Your COVID Excuses Are Wearing Thin

What's With COVID Being Used As A Blanket Excuse? Asks Caroline Di Russo.
Caroline Di Russo

Life before COVID-19 feels like a world away. A universe, even. And when COVID-19 hit, and everything was thrown out of kilter, we all did our bit to keep the show on the road. That’s the human condition: we change, adapt, innovate and keep going. And for a long time, we knew we’d have to accept various levels of compromise across all aspects of our lives; but 18 months down the track, COVID-19 adaption has gone from the great push to innovate and manage the virus to the catch-all for excuses. 

How many times have you been told that something can’t be ‘because of COVID-19’ without even the tiniest thread of connection? 

I’ve gone from just accepting it, to getting a little miffed.

And I’m not talking about settling for takeaway fine dining; I can live with the celeriac puree being splashed onto the asparagus foam, and the souffle being a little forlorn and a little less fluffy than usual. Those businesses are doing everything they can to survive, and they are usually the most heavily and directly impacted by restrictions. We should all do what we can to help them get through this nightmare run.

No argument from me. I’m talking about the public being expected to pay full tote odds for reduced services, while service staff blithely wave off objectives with quips of ‘but it’s because of COVID-19’. There are many examples where COVID-19 has become the catch all excuse for the clipping, diluting and lessening, often with COVID-19 having, at best, the most tenuous relevance. 

We can see 50 feet in bad light when someone is using COVID-19 as their armour against accountability and performance

The most obvious one is school fees. Why are parents, in lockdown, still paying full school fees when they are the ones homeschooling their own kids? I’m not suggesting they pay no fees, after all teachers still need to be employed and paid. But much of the everyday cost of running schools is now borne by the parents helping their kids make a diorama or do science experiments at home. If kids aren’t physically at school, then less cleaning is required and less electricity is used, as are other inputs required to run a school. So why are the fees still the same? Why are parents paying someone else to educate their children when they wind up having to do the bulk of the work themselves anyway?

My personal gripe, though, is with Australia Post which no longer gives a next-day guarantee for Express Post but charges the same price and, in fact, as of 8 September 2021, it is increasing prices on ‘all services’. Well, it’s increasing the prices and using the word ‘services’ generously. I run an online business and I have not infrequently, had Express Post parcels either fail to launch or do a Tour de Australie on the way to their final destination. And if you need help, good luck trying to get a human on the phone.  We understand there are less cargo flights but adjust the  price accordingly and pick up the phone.

Speaking of flights, let’s talk about Qantas. Now, airlines have had a rough trot over the past 18 months so I will give them plenty of slack when it comes to reduced frequency of flights, cancellations and the like. But offering a ‘modified’ business class service while they charge the same price is taking the proverbial. Why does COVID-19 prevent crew from providing a drink before takeoff, reducing the menu or leaving crumbs on the floor? Yes, it’s a first world problem, and by all means adjust the service but adjust the price and the expectation.

People have been, rightly, willing to compromise. But it’s time to start pushing back on those laying it on thick. We can see 50 feet in bad light when someone is using COVID-19 as their armour against accountability and performance. 

And we should object; there have been enough victims of COVID-19, we don’t want to add customer service to the list.