The Joys of Customer Service!

Posted on December 13, 2011

I was writing a blog on Friday when, inexplicably, my phone line and consequently my broadband abruptly stopped working….times are tough as we all know, but I do pay my bills. I rang Sky BSB who I pay my bills to and of course they in turn had to ring BT who own the phone lines. Dealing direct with BT is a lottery, so going through a third party is just about as hopeless and dejected as you can feel, especially as you can’t get angry with someone who is not the real reason behind the balls up/disconnection. This really saddened me because if there is one thing that I really enjoy as I get older, it is completely losing my rag with inept utility services who insist on playing classical music when I am on hold and spelling my surname wrong at any given opportunity, Lethargy and Lemmonby being two of my all time favourites to go along with being called Robot Let-Hab-Bee by someone at an HSBC Mumbai call centre. I don’t say my name any more when asked, I just spell it out loud and slowly L-E-T-H-A-B-Y…they still don’t listen.

As is their want BT called without warning a day early, but in fairness and almost disappointingly, they fixed the issue without fuss, leaving me nothing to rant about other than a visit to a well known joinery trade centre that I will not name through fear of being stabbed in the throat by the miserable, aggressive and hopeless counter salesman. Lets call it NetMag. As I walked in the store to purchase plasterboard, chipboard and a work top for a refurbishment at our cricket club house, I was greeted…….well I say greeted, by a guy who’s only words were “Fucking computer…fucking shit……for fucks sake…I’m going to fucking smash it in.” He totally failed to acknowledge my existence or even make eye contact, which left me thinking that if I dared interrupt his outburst, I might well have ended up in Basingstoke Accident and Emergency having shards of a computer screen being removed from my anus. I left the building empty handed, but with my anus intact and NetMag had lost another customer.

This sort of service is not unusual in the UK, go to any trade centre or retail park and you witness the same breed of monkeys in each and every one of them, it is like a production line of retards. They avoid work, they lack customer care and they know fuck all about the products you have the audacity to enquire about. Why is that? Why do large organisations assume that the customer is a piece of shit, a hindrance, rather than an individual or business that can enhance their annual turnover? I ordered a tin of paint recently from a colour card in a DIY Superstore (Super?..are they taking the piss?) and when I eventually found someone to mix it up on a machine, they got the colour wrong and disappeared behind some rubber doors. As I left the building, once again, empty handed, I kid you not, I saw the guy riding off on a push bike. Was it his dinner break or had the pressure of using a Dulux colour mixing machine driven him to his resignation? It is a question I will never know the answer to, but it was as a bizarre encounter that I have ever experienced. Perhaps his boss had said “Mix one more colour wrong and you’re fired.” As useless as he was, I hope I didn’t bang the final nail in to his coffin, not that I would have been able to find anywhere to buy the right nails to do it with….I would have ended up doing it drawing pins.

The best trade counter experience I ever witnessed however, was an electrical wholesaler that had a coffee machine and a toaster on it’s counter. When I arrived at about 10.00am I was greeted by several electrical contractors slagging off their bosses and tut tutting at the cowboys who had rewired the building before they had heroically gone in to sort it out. As they munched away on toast, rubbishing just about everyone except themselves, I meandered haplessly around, desperate for at least a bit of attention as the counter staff gave me that cursory “Why don’t you fuck off to B&Q” look, just because I happened to be wearing a collared shirt, trousers and shoes. This time, after about twenty minutes, I got served by a chap who must have mistaken me for someone who raped his grandmother before I left them all in peace to chat about dubious sexual conquests with randy housewives and how they had driven to Southampton in fifteen minutes. My job is recruiting electrical contractors,  I have a database of about a gazillion, and twenty odd who I can send to clients without fear of disaster or the stench of bullshit, but even the very worst of them are tame compared to trade counter staff.

So, as a socialist, all these people are slapping me in the face, as whenever I put up an argument for the working man, there are so many examples of ineptitude that leave me gob smacked and give ammunition to the Basingstoke Tory sympathisers. I can’t really work out where the blame lies, is it British culture, is it lack of training, or is it just that way the world over, be it Britain, Australia, America, Eastern Europe, Africa or Asia. Certainly when I visited India a few years back they had not yet learnt the western art off assuming the customer is in fact always wrong and an utter pain in the arse who has to be dealt with contempt. Actually they were quite the contrary, they would have licked my testicles clean if it meant me buying a pair of cotton trousers for ten pence. Perhaps the introduction of western greed will help them wise up, but for the moment they are booming as the west collapses. I don’t know where the answer lies, but unless it changes “those fackin eastern Europeans” will continue to be the employers choice for semi-skilled or blue collared workers. There is a reason that bars restaurants and cafes are full of Polish staff and it is not purely down to cheap labour…….employers and agencies cannot, as far as I know, pay anyone in the EU below the minimum wage.

On a plus note, I have had a plumber arrive at my house today exactly when he said he would, removing my old bathroom suite with ruthless efficiency in time for the arrival of the tilers tomorrow. It’s the guys like that I feel for, they get a bad name by association. I rang two others who didn’t even return my call, and one who even gave me a time and date when he would visit, leaving me stood around like a spare penis in a brothel when I had a thousand and one better things to do, such as slamming my forehead against a brick wall.

All of a sudden BT seem like the bastion of good service, bugger me, I never thought I would live to say that!

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