Becky says things about … customer service

So, Listener. You’ve popped along to my blog expecting to hear me say things. Is that right? Well do you know what? Why don’t you just get the hell out of my face and never darken my door again. I just cannot be bothered to say anything, and what’s more, you mean nothing to me. NOTHING I TELL YOU. In fact, I would go so far as to say I DESPISE YOU AND EVERYTHING THAT YOU STAND FOR. Now GET OUT.

That, Listener, was an example of extremely poor customer service. It wasn’t very nice, was it? No. Do I feel bad for saying those terrible things? Of course I do. I hate myself. I shall go without peanut butter for a month to punish myself. Please accept these flowers by way of apology.

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But, as we all know, modern life can vomit up the most abominable examples of poor customer service, and I have a magnificent example for you. Observe.

You may have noticed that I have not said a lot of things recently (if you hadn’t noticed, that’s fine. We’ll overlook it just this once. Next time there will be hellish consequences). This is because my phoneline died a very sudden and inconvenient death, and thus my Internet connection vanished.

I was peeved, Listener. However, I was confident that together, O2 and BT, the multi-multi-multi million pound companies that provide my phone line and Internet connection, would sort it out in no time.

I rang O2.

I spoke to someone. They immediately asked me for my home phone  number. I did not know my home phone number because I do not use my home phone, I only use the Internet connection. I was assured they could go no further with my query without a home phone number.

I hung up. I spent an hour looking for my home phone number. I found my home phone number.

I rang O2.

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I spoke to a 2nd person. I offered my home phone number. ‘Oh, we don’t need that, don’t worry.’ I was a little nettled, Listener, I don’t mind admitting – but it was no big deal.

The 2nd person went on to tell me to unscrew the front of my phone socket.

‘Seriously?’

‘Yes. I need you to see who provides your phoneline.’

‘I know who provides my phoneline. BT provides my phoneline.’

‘I still need you unscrew the front of the phone socket.’

‘I’ll need a screwdriver for that. I don’t have a screwdriver to hand. I have to find a screwdriver.’

I hung up. I found a screwdriver. I unscrewed the front of my phone socket.

By this time, I was muttering rather irately to myself.

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I rang O2.

I spoke to a 3rd person. I offered them my home phone number. ‘Oh, we don’t need that, don’t worry.’ I told them I had unscrewed the front of my phone socket. ‘Oh, really? What does it say underneath?’ I told them it said BT. ‘In that case, BT provides your phoneline.’

‘I know BT provides my phoneline. I have known this all along. It says BT on the front of the phone socket. Are you telling me I have removed the front of my phone socket unnecessarily?’

‘Can you attach a phone to the socket?’

‘There is a phone attached to the socket.’

‘And there’s no dial tone?’

‘That is correct.’

‘Your line seems to be dead.’

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‘I know my line is dead. That is literally the point of my call. My phoneline is dead.’

‘Looks like you have a fault, then. We’ll get on to BT. It should be fixed within three working days. Would you rather they contact you on your home phone or mobile phone?’

‘…My home phone is dead. We have ascertained this. Again, that is the point of my call.’

‘Right, yes. Your mobile then?’

‘That would be best, yes.’

So I got on with my life. My Internetless life. Every day I received a text from O2 assuring me they were diligently working on my home phone fault. My confidence in an army of people frantically working on my home phone fault at the telephone exchange remained steadfast. I imagined it to be like in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when Mr Salt has a factory full of hundreds of workers furiously searching for a golden ticket in thousands of chocolate bars.

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It got to day four. My phoneline was still dead.

I rang O2.

I spoke to a 4th person.

‘You have a fault with your BT phoneline.’

‘Yes. I know.’

I was put on hold.

‘There are no notes on the system. I’m sure they’re working on it at the exchange. Give it another 24 hours and if you don’t hear from us, ring us back.’

I gave it another 24 hours. I didn’t hear from them.

I rang O2.

I spoke to a 5th person.

‘You have a fault with your BT phoneline.’

‘Yes. I know.’

I was put on hold.

‘A BT engineer needs to come to the property to fix the fault. The next appointment in your area is 3,405,064 light years from now and they will turn up between the hours of 9am on a Wednesday and 11pm the following Monday.’

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So the Thursday six days later, after six days of receiving texts reminding me of the impending appointment and the fact that I would be charged £50 if I wasn’t at home when the BT engineer turned up between the hours of 8am and 1pm, I booked the hours of 8am to 1pm off work and waited to be connected to the world again.

I waited. I was alert and sniffing the air, like a coked-up meerkat. I couldn’t concentrate, Listener. Every sound, every car engine, every footstep from outside made me bolt to the window like an excitable terrier.

By 12.45pm I was becoming sweaty, violent, and desperate.

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At 1pm on the dot, I rang O2.

I spoke to a 6th person. I told them I had lost half a day’s work and the BT engineer had NOT turned up, and did he propose to give me the £50 that I would’ve had to pay him if the BT engineer had turned up and I hadn’t been there?

I was put on hold.

‘Right, I’m looking at your notes and the engineer’s at the exchange now, fixing your problem from there. He’ll give you a call in half an hour.’

He promised me a goodwill gesture, money off my next bill, a dinner and dance, the stars, the moon, a holiday in Vegas, and Llama.

I hung up. I waited a further two hours. No one came to fix my phone line.

By this time, I was nearing a point that could be considered dangerous.

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I rang O2.

I spoke to a 7th person. I told her what the 6th person had said. She went to find him to confirm. I was put on hold. I pulled my thumb off with some pliers.

The 7th person came back and said ‘Yeah, my colleague didn’t say categorically that the BT engineer was fixing your fault from the exchange and would call you within half an hour – my colleague was just conjecturing.’

I injected some heroin into my eyeball.

‘Okay, your colleague definitely said it categorically. He said ‘The BT engineer is at the exchange and will call me within half an hour.’ He was quite categorical about it. A conjecture should have been prefixed with ‘I think‘ or ‘I conjecture that the BT engineer is at the exchange’. He did not say that. He said he looked at my notes.’

‘Well there are no notes here. I’m sorry if you misinterpreted what my colleague said. I can’t tell you why the BT engineer didn’t turn up, I don’t know where he is and there’s no way of contacting him. You’ll receive a call from us tomorrow to sort it out.’

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I was so inhumanely furious I ate an entire sharing bag of Malteasers and had a bath.

The next day, the Friday, I received a call from O2. I spoke to an 8th person. She rebooked the BT engineer appointment for the following Monday. I was assured he would definitely turn up.

The following day, I received a call from O2. I spoke to a 9th person. I was informed that when the 8th person had booked my appointment the day before, there had been a fault in their system, and there was in fact no appointment booked for Monday, and the earliest appointment was Thursday.

I shut my head in the oven door.

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For the next couple of days I received texts from O2 telling me not to forget that a BT engineer was coming to my property on Thursday to fix my home phone fault, and I checked into an asylum.

On Tuesday morning – that’s Tuesday morning, Listener, Tuesday, I cannot emphasise this enough – I received a call whilst I was at work.

‘Hi, I’m a BT engineer, I’m outside your property and I need access to fix your home phone fault.’

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I took a sedative, pictured turquoise waves rippling over my toes, and asked my colleague to remove all sharp objects from within an arm’s reach.

‘What are you doing outside my property? I was not expecting you until Thursday. I expected you last Thursday, then I was expecting you this Thursday, and now it’s the Tuesday in between and you are at my property and I am not there because you are not supposed to be there.

‘Oh, right. Well, yeah, this fault’s been sitting on our fault list for a while, so we thought we’d get on and do it.’

‘That’s extraordinarily nice of you.’ You know, to do your job.

‘You can wait until Thursday when we can come back, or…’

‘NO. No. Stay exactly where you are.’

Fortunately, fathers always manage to save the day. My father was at hand. He let them in. The fault was sorted in ten minutes. I ate two doughnuts and begged my boss to be allowed to go for a gin. He said no. So I lay under my desk for a few hours and tenderly cuddled a stapler.

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I have the Internet again, Listener. It’s not so bad, is it? It only took nearly three weeks to fix. That’s not so bad, is it?

Well, actually, yes. It ruddy well is. This is customer service at its most abysmal. Imagine if every business operated with this level of disorganisation, miscommunication and whimsy, and treated their customers like funny little toys they can muck around with.

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Sadly, more often than not we have no choice but to just suck it up and get on with it.

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I am yet to contact O2 to ask what they will give me to compensate for this ludicrous situation. I don’t quite feel emotionally ready for that.

I am still getting texts from O2 reminding me that a BT engineer is coming to fix my home phone fault on Thursday.

Becky says things about … monstrous things about working in an office

Fairest and most magnificent Listeners, I salute you.

Do you work in an office? Yes? No? Not sure? (If you’re not sure I suggest you rethink your suitability to the workplace in general.)

If you work in an office, as I have done for the last five years, then you will understand that it holds many joys. To name but a few:

  •  office banter (only yesterday I mused out loud ‘What’s my password?’ and my boss replied ‘ ‘I’m a fuckwit’?’);
  • office pranks (who doesn’t enjoy covering every single item on their colleague’s desk with pictures of David Hasselhoff?);
  • office cakes (raspberry lamington from Jean in Finance, anyone?);
  • office insults (tip: insert any office or stationary item before the word ‘wanker’ i.e. ‘hole-punch wanker’ or ‘spreadsheet wanker’ (isn’t it fun? (okay, thank The Inbetweeners for that one)));
  • unbridled access to lots and lots of stationary.

Yep, working in an office can be an absolute joy.

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HOWEVER.

There are some truly monstrous things about working in an office. Things that make you question the very nature of human existence and contemplate the annihilation thereof. Take a deep breath, oh trusting Listener, and dare to face, in no particular order,

MONSTROUS THINGS ABOUT WORKING IN AN OFFICE

1. The Toilets

Forget the ‘in no particular order’ thing, this is definitely the number 1 most monstrous thing.

Now, I can’t speak for you blokes. I do not frequent the men’s toilets and therefore can’t make legitimately scathing remarks about your sanitation habits. However, I am extremely qualified to be scathing about the women’s toilets. Picture this: you have been on the phone for an hour. The person on the other end will not shut up and you are about to suffer an MBM (Mortifying Bladder Malfunction). You finally get off the phone, sprint to the toilets, barge through a cubicle door, and are faced with this:

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That’s right. The woman who used this toilet before you deemed it appropriate – necessary, even – to defy social convention and wee on the toilet instead of in the toilet. Yes, menfolk, it’s not just you who suffer the odd wayward wee. The sight you see above happens ALL.THE.TIME.

And I know who the culprits are. They are The Crouchers. The women who cannot bear to have their precious behinds touch the odious filth of the toilet seat.

I have three things to say to The Crouchers:

a) The toilet seat was not odiously filthy before you crouched over it to avoid touching its odious filthiness. It was odiously filthy after you crouched over it to avoid touching its odious filthiness, thus making it odiously filthy. Do not crouch. Your wee will go wayward. You are odiously filthy.

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b) Unless you are odiously filthy yourself, you would never, ever, be fine with leaving your own toilet in your own home in that it odious state. That is how The Plague started. If you must crouch, clean it up. For the love of God. Clean it up.

c) Your wee is always, without fail, always, this colour:

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You are not drinking enough water.  Drink some water.

2. When People Don’t Respond

Imagine you meet your friend at the pub. You’ve got a lot to chat about. You sit down in front of her and the following occurs:

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Aside from being a very unsuccessful night out, there may be a number of reasons why she is not responding to you:

  1. She has taken a vow of silence.
  2. She can’t be bothered.
  3. She is in a bad mood and just doesn’t want to talk.
  4. She is abominably rude.
  5. She hasn’t noticed you are there.
  6. She is dead.

Whatever the reason, it will exasperate, peeve, and infuriate you. That’s what it’s like when people don’t respond to emails. It makes you want to send an email along these lines:

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They still won’t respond.

3. When You Don’t Respond

So you got on your high horse about people not responding to your emails. You curse their incompetence and their appalling rudeness. You would never do such a crass and unprofessional thing. Then you receive the following email:

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Realising you are not perfect is a harsh cross to bear. A harsh cross.

4. Food Smells

You understand that people need to eat at certain times of the day. You yourself have a lovely ham and cheese sandwich in the fridge that you are very much looking forward to. But some of your colleagues are insistent that they must feast on the smelliest of foods for their lunch and think nothing of inflicting these pungent aromas on the rest of the office. Is last night’s curry necessary? Mexican? Smoked mackerel? Chinese cabbage? A chilli so spicy that it causes the rest of the office workers’ eyes to fall out?

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This is monstrous.

5. Colleagues who provide a running commentary on their daily activities 

You know the sort I mean. The colleagues who lack an interior monologue. Who tell you everything. I mean everything, from how many emails they have in their inbox, to how they have responded to said emails, to which documents they have just printed, to their intention to rise from their chair to collect said document from the printer, to how they have just inserted a formula into a spreadsheet, to how they are waiting for someone to respond to an email and how they are going to heat up last night’s curry for lunch.

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It is unnecessary. Unnecessary and monstrous.

6. The Fire Alarm Test

Despite the fact it happens every week, on the same day, at the same time, it will still take a year off your life and give you a small heart attack.

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7. People who leave long voicemails

We’ve all had them. The ones that begin: ‘Hi, it’s Barry – just after a quick catch-up on mousemat situation…..’

THREE HOURS PASS

‘…. anyway, give me a buzz when you’re back and we’ll chat about it.’

Please, Barry.

‘Hi it’s Barry, give me a call back when you can’ will suffice. Listen to me, Barry. Life’s too short.

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8. Technology

Our world is very high-tech. Isn’t it great? Of course it is. We don’t need to use pens anymore, we can send messages across the world at the click of a button, we can do anything, ANYTHING.

Except that we can’t.

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9. People who have in-depth conversations in inappropriate places

Namely: by the sinks or fridge in the kitchen or in the toilets. How many times have you been frightened to retrieve your salad from the fridge because these people are standing right in front of the fridge?

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Perhaps more monstrously, why do people choose to reveal their deepest, darkest secrets in the toilets? Toilet conversations are best left for nightclubs, where you can cry, shout, or throw up in the sink to your heart’s content, and everyone else is too drunk to notice or care. I appreciate that you may be concerned about your son’s marijuana habit – although you should be grateful it’s not heroin or sheep (terrible thing, a sheep habit) – but when I go to the toilet I do not want to hear your conversation, just like you do not want to hear my tinkling. I’d like to tinkle in private thank you very much. Hearing about your son’s marijuana habit a foot away from me as I sit on the toilet gives me stage fright and I’ll just have to sit there not weeing until you leave.

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Yes, I know. It’s been a painful journey of monstrous situations, many of which you may have experienced only today. And you will experience them again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

But keep smiling. It’s Friday tomorrow.