Please Hold, Your Call is Important to Us

As most people who know me will confirm, I am an optimist, albeit a more cynical one nowadays. I am, therefore, reluctant to blog pessimistically. However, even my optimism can be sorely put to the test these days. So, in an effort to redress the balance and, perhaps, to acknowledge that the world is not always as good as I would like to believe it is, here is today’s blog. Two days earlier than usual.

Now I am aware that the world that I was brought up in is long gone. In addition, it was not always all “Open all Hours”, free school milk, GP’s who came out for home visits and footballers in long shorts; if you can have such contradictory items of clothing. However, today’s casual disregard for customers alongside a recorded message that tells you that the company staff “are all very busy but that your call is very important so please hold” is particularly annoying. Being based, as it is, on not really giving a toss about you. So just a few experiences of my own over the past few months.

The postal service was privatised earlier in the year and it didn’t take too long for the famed “private is better than public” to be shown up for the reality that is “profit before service”. Now we have three recycling bins alongside the access to our flat and I’ve built an enclosure to house these. If you pass these, at our front gate we’ve put a small mail box to save the postman (why no women?) the effort of going through the gate to our front door. Are you with me so far? Well, every morning I take stuff out to put it in the recycling bins. On this particular morning, what did I find when I opened one of the bins? Only that morning’s post, including one large envelope from our GP marked “Private and Confidential”. It seems that the postman can’t tell the difference between a small, black, metal mail box and a tall, green plastic recycling bin. Perhaps glasses or a little training are required. Or perhaps a work schedule that doesn’t require the postman to hurry quite so much.

Now today I needed to check an annual bill that we have to pay and it’s a good job that I work from home and don’t waste my employer’s time in all that this involves. It being quite alright, of course, for those self same employers to expect me to waste my time doing their job for them. I went onto the internet to get access to the company website. This required me to select from a number of categories in order to get the particular telephone number that I needed. So I rang only to be told that they couldn’t do anything without the reference number that was on any correspondence. Fortunately I managed to find this and rang back.

The person I spoke to couldn’t find any reference to my renewal and asked for my postcode and name to be able to get access to the system. Something the previous member of staff didn’t seem to have been told was an option. Unfortunately, however, this was now dealt with by another office, the number of which I was given. I rang said number. Unfortunately, they couldn’t deal with this as the matter is now handled by a call centre in Manchester. Whereupon I was given another number. It’s a good job I’m known for my perseverance. I again dialled said number to have three options offered to me. I chose the appropriate one only to be told that all their systems were down and “could I ring back this afternoon?” The delicious irony in all this is that in their recorded message, they asked if I’d like to provide feedback on the quality of their service. It is I have to say, quite difficult to give feedback on something that has been so completely lacking. And don’t tell me that the free market rules and that I can take my custom elsewhere. In this particular case, I can’t. I’ve tried.

Lastly e mails. Now much of my work involves contacting other people which I now do either by phone or e mail. And don’t you find it isn’t a coincidence that a telephone number can be harder to find on websites than an e mail address? But what happens when you do use that address? Well, it’s my experience that this, virtually, instantaneous means of communication also seem to have a built in “I won’t bother to respond” response.  If you contact me, however, I do respond. Isn’t that just common courtesy? Even if the response is “Sod off, I can’t be bothered”.

So, is your call important to them? Is it hell as like.

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