Bloomin’ call waiting systems and idiots

Is it me?
I am sick and tired of calling Britain’s biggest insurers, telecoms companies, retailers – and being re-directed to a series of taped messages that ask me to make multiple, multiple choices before I can speak to a real person – who is then equipped with the customer service and technical ability ability of a Neanderthal (and I apologize to all Neanderthal lovers out there for my lack of prehistoric political correctness).

That, of course, is why I employ Julie (Miss Moneypenny), my personal lifestyle manager – so that she can try to communicate with these idiots.

Today I got roped in twice.

First time I decided to buy a 3G datacard for my laptop, so that British hotels would no longer have the opportunity to steal my money for slow internet access.

To save time (ha) I rang directory inquiries and asked to be put through to the Vodaphone shop in Altrincham – you see I was going to call them to make sure they had the card in stock before I walked over there.

They connected me to Hal, the Vodaphone computer, who spent 3 minutes asking me multiple choice questions before I reached the “girl in the shop” – where do they find them?

She works in the Vodaphone shop 8 hours a day, 5 days a week – its a small shop – about the size of a bedroom, with a limited number of products on display.

Pleasantly I asked, “do you have any 3G datacards in stock?”

“Oh – just hold on a minute I’ll have to ask the Manager.”

Another 2 minutes of cardiac arrest on my part.

Why does she have to ask?

Does she have the brain of a goldfish and cannot remember the stock that was in the shop yesterday.

Is the term “3G datacard” only released to managers in case the staff get a little giddy?

Has the manager hidden them as part of a team-building game that week dreamed up by a business coach?

No – she is just as thick as a plank – that’s why she works in a Vodaphone shop. Oh yeah.

My second encounter of the day (after returning with a 3G datacard that will not work now I’m home) was with the claims department of Norwich Union – clearly relocated from Norwich to somewhere East of Iraq – no doubt a call centre in Shangri-La.

They have left repeated messages on my voice mail to follow through on a motor claim form I submitted in June 2004. My car was scratched in a car park and the “perp” kindly left his card and details (what a nice man).

I took the car in for a repair estimate 10 months ago.

The claims team in Afghanistan have finally gotten around to processing the paperwork.

They asked me to call.

I called.

They asked me what I was calling for.

I told them I was returning their call.

They kept me on hold for 10 minutes while they traced their file.

Then they told me that the repairs hadn’t been carried out yet.

I calmly pointed out that I knew that.

They asked me what i wanted them to do next.

“Repair my car” I said, feeling my will to live evaporate.

“OK”, they said, “we will get back to you.”

I want to grow my hair long, wear a thong and retire to a beach hut somewhere nice.


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Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.