Customer Service

A topic oft returned to on the Hedgehog, although even I must admit to being surprised at the litany of frustration aired in the last four years. And not only that, but tail-gating that thought was the even more scary mental scribble that this blog has somehow limped into its’ fifth year. The only thing that sustains me is the knowledge that – collectively – you’ve wasted more time reading it, then I’ve spent violently plunging forehead to keyboard while writing it.  But, really, five years – come on that’s not a bad lifespan for a pet, you’d get four hamsters, a couple of Gerbils and a neurotic rabbit out of that. But enough of my domestic ménage a lot fantasies, and let’s press on.

So we shall – predictably – begin with a complaint. A banker post for those wankers who have heard the phrase mentioned around their job description, yet it continues to pass them blissfully by.  I’ve bought and paid for a collection of bike parts to finally complete the new ST4 project. For this week anyway, and a goodly number of them actually serve a purpose other than the pursuit of cosmic blingery. Yes another Internet transaction easily completed some time ago except for the tiny matter of delivery. ParcelForce’s tracking system appears to have been designed sometime during the first flushes of computer software, so spews out unrecognisable codes and truncated messages instead of actual information.

Reading between the runes, it became apparent that the delivery driver had three times loaded up my parcel, only to decide he really couldn’t be bothered with a 300 yard stretch of road that’s been successfully navigated by fleets of tractors, 4x4s, family cars, small hatchbacks, bicycles, a loon on a motorbike and even an octogenarian white knuckling a beige mini metro*. Being the kind of person who always first thinks of others (assuming there’s something in it for me of course), I spent ten minutes I’ll never get back trapped in the ACD** offering me all sorts of spurious services while not-very-gently redirecting me back to the informationally embarrassed  web site.

Then it caught me out by a human cheerily announcing “Hello this is Susan, how can I help you?”. Two things sat behind a bitten lip; firstly “is it in your power to eat the person responsible for programming the IVR?” and hard on the heels of that was “Why if my local depot is 10 miles away in Hereford am I talking to someone with a fine cut Geordie accent?”. But no, remember I’m here to help, save them a trip, don’t put yourself out, let me collect the package, that kind of thing, so I opened with a pleasant “You can, I’d like to collect a package please

I think Susan – lovely as she was – may have been a frustrated secret agent as she pumped me for information*** specifically around “the contents of my package” (Frankie Howerd had nothing on me at that juncture I can assure you), any secret tracking codes I may have fought some Germans for, and the exact nature of the request urgency. I lied – obviously – and told her I was a heart surgeon and budget cuts meant NHS patients didn’t get a bike courier any more. But since it’d only been there three days, it’d probably be fine. And then the conversation stopped being odd, and started being annoying.

“I’ll call the Gloucester Branch for you and see if that’s okay Dr. Leigh”

“Er, okay but my package/heart/bunch of lies is in Hereford

Oh I know, but” (Showing her inner workings of Royal Mail) “they never answer the phone there, so we’ll try Gloucester”

I may have gone on a bit here pointing out that the alternate approach of setting fire to the staff at the Hereford Depot until one felt compelled to answer the phone would be my preference. After a minute of this, I paused for breath only to realise I was on hold.

“Dr Leigh? Hello, yes I’ve spoken to the depot and there is some good news and some bad news”

“Right, well I’m looking at the patient, and frankly I wouldn’t want what’s going to happen on YOUR conscience if we can’t sort this out”

PAUSE: “Well, you could get it from Hereford normally no problem, but I’m afraid it is too icy for collections”

“I shall be the judge of that as I am in possession of the might X-Trail that laughs in the face of sheet ice”

“Oh no Sir, you don’t understand, it was too icy for THE DEPOT TO BE OPEN. There is no one there, Health and Safety you see  They were afraid there would be falls and bruises”

And I thought “What a bunch of workshy slackers. Scared of falls? Really? They seem to spend 99% of their time on their arses anyway, so already pretty bloody well practised I’d have thought. Can hardly tell the Post Office is still bloody nationalised can you? Because while normal commerce has happily carried on outside our door for a week, the postman’s been sat in the depot drinking tea and wondering whose turn it is to fetch more biscuits. Jesus, how bloody hard is it? When the bloke does turn up, it’ll be sodding hard suffering as he will from the lashing of my tongue followed up with the sledgehammer of unhappiness”

But I didn’t say it even when provoked with a “And they don’t expect to be in tomorrow, or Wednesday. Some hope for Thursday or Friday apparently if the weather improves

Because really it’s not that important. I’ve other bikes to ride and I already have. It’s not Susan’s fault the Hereford Depot doesn’t think we’re worth breaking a leg for, and really there are a load of shit things going on in the world and this isn’t one of them. That’s a train of thought that has me cognisantly derailed though, because I  don’t do reasonable nor do periods of the serene and the sanguine ever visit my much ruffled person.

I thought on and further realised I’d gone a whole week without a drink, and not for some pointless resolution but because my preference was for a nice cup of tea most evenings. Put this together and I find it troubling. Which is what I’ll be doing to the real Medical profession if it continues, specifically the Mental Health department.

It’s all new for 2010. I’m clearly going mad.

* Okay he ended up in the ditch, but that’s hardly statistically significant.

** Automated Call Director in case you were interested. Oh you were? Well actually, that’s a bit of a generalisation as ACD Is primarily for out-dial. What I was dealing with here was nothing more than a bog standard IVR on a closed loop. I know about this stuff, and you could too. No really, it’s terribly interesting, especially to girls.

*** At my age, that’s as good as it gets at 10am on a Monday morning.

2 thoughts on “Customer Service”

  1. Hah that’s what they tell you. According to the bloke on the phone, it was like Ice Station Zebra in Hereford and they’d have to start dropping food parcels.

    What am I doing writing this here, I’ll just go and talk to you. It’s nice to have at least one sane reader. There is my mum of course, but…well… that could go either way 🙂

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