Modern Irritants

I was about to use some of this material to start a blog all of its own but I decided I couldn’t wait. Here’s a brief list of life’s little (or not so little) modern irritants:

  1. Call Centres
    I just got a phone upgrade from 3. And, don’t get me wrong, the phone is actually rather spiffy (Nokia 6220) it’s just the customer service that’s a ballache. When I had my last phone I paid for an unlimited mobile Internet tariff. This made sense as I do tend to use a fair bit of mobile Internet. Anyway, last week the phone gets an upgrade and I walk out of the shop a happy bunny with a nice new phone and start using the Internet. On Saturday morning, 3 send me a warning text message saying, “Hey, you’ve used £10 of internet. Maybe you should upgrade to Internet Max?” Colour me puzzled.

    So, this morning, off I trot to the 3 shop in Scarborough where I bought the phone to sort this out. The guy in store was polite and tried to be helpful, but said (after trying the obvious stuff) thay I probably needed to ring Customer Services because it looked like it was something the branch couldn’t set. It shouldn’t be too much a problem, he said. Ha!

    That’s when the trouble began. I rang 3 Customer Services. Problem number 1 is that the line is crap. I can just about hear something that sounds like a human voice, only it’s difficult to tell because it sounds like the person talking was sitting in a disused toilet in Bangalore. This is because they were. The first person I spoke to just didn’t understand what I wanted and seemed to think I was wanting to add the service. First brick wall hit. So she put me through to the Concerns department, who didn’t have much of a clue either.

    At this point they tried to tell me that the AddOn for unlimited internet wouldn’t get activated until September. I wasn’t happy about this, seeing as I’d already had it for 15 months. Then he suggested I go to the retail outlet. I told him I’d already been there, but this didn’t really seem to register. In fact, he was pretty insistent that’s that what I had to do becasue that’s where I’d bought the phone. At this point I asked him a couple of questions:

    1. What kind of workflow stops the people in customer service seeing data that someone in a retail store has entered. Why can’t they see data they need to see? And what kind of pinhead wrote that software?
    2. In what sense does an upgrade consist of taking service away and crippling a handset when it was a service I already had? It’s not like I was asking for anything I didn’t have before, is it?

    Reaction: blank incomprehension. Result: I rip yer man a new arsehole, put the phone down and resolve to ring the store before I go totally ballistic. Eventually I get through and after 2 minutes or so and a quick chat with a pleasant woman at the other end of the phone it gets sorted. How? She rings around and discovers that the problem is a workflow one. My AddOn was added, but for some reason has conflicted with the old one on my records Result, no Internet Max added. But it didn’t bother to flag anything up for the store, who can’t see that level of the data, apparently.

    My AddOn will be active onWednesday, no thanks to the wonder of outsourced call centres..

  2. “Can We Interest you In One of Our Offers Today?”
    Picture the scene: you walk into WH Smith in Scarborough just after opening time (around 9am, say), dressed for work. You pick up a newspaper and wander over to the counter to pay. At this point, the assistant looks at you and asks,

    “Would you like to try something from our selection today, sir?”

    “Why, yes!”, you think. “After all, seeing as I skipped breakfast this morning, what I’d really like to fill that little hole is a 600 gram bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk from the pile of tat on the counter next to you to stuff down my cakehole, thank you.”

    Or perhaps not.

    Or, you wander into the Pumpkin Café at Scarborough railway station and ask for a small tea to go, only to be asked, “do you want any sandwiches or snacks with that?”.

    If I’d wanted a sandwich or snack with it, don’t you think I’d have fucking asked for one?

    Notice how it only happens in chains, nver in corner shops small businesses. It’s the insistence on offering this blank, faceless, corporatised “customer service” that ensures that what actually happens is that the customer is thoroughly hacked off and wants to murder the poor retail drone who has been ordered to “sell” their wares to you. It is the principal, though not the only, reason why I run away from Starbucks at great speed whenever anyone ever suggests going inside. I got caught once; never again.

  3. The “Polite” Notice
    A minor plague this one, but no less of a ballache. And usually ito be found in the realm of the prissy, tight-arsed control freak. The “polite” notice is generally a thinly veiled peevish imprecation to desist from doing something or other that most normal, well-adjusted people really couldn’t give a flying bollock about.

    The annoying thing is not the notice itself, but the insistence on caling it “polite”.
    Who are they to decide if they’re being polite in asking? Actually, it usually isn’t. It’s more often than not a shrewish little dig or a patronising sneer at any non-right thinking person that crosses their path.

    Anyway, seeing as I’m the recipient, I will decide if your notice is polite, thank you. I don’t need you to tell me whether your bloody notice is polite or not.

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