Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hello, how may I help you?

If doctors are baffled by the wave of stress-related illnesses, hypertension, heart failure, apoplectic seizures and suicides gripping the country, the answer is easy. Forget binge drinking, the obesity epidemic and the credit crunch. If there's anything that should be labelled with a H.M Govt. Serious Health Warning, it's:

Call centres.

Despite all previous experience, I rang one this afternoon and I'm only now able to write after half a bottle of vodka and a lie down in a darkened room. So... last week I opened an online bank account with a new provider, see - and today, they sent me my 5 digit PIN. And in the letter, it said, "We recently sent you your new 8 digit Customer ID and with it, you'll be able to manage your accounts round the clock." What could possibly be simpler?

Well, I've never had the ID, so I rang the Helpline; the one that says, if you haven't heard from us ring this number.

First question: "What's your ID?"
Me: "Ah, that's what I'm ringing about, I haven't got one."
Help: "I can't do anything without the ID"
Me: "Well, can you get me a new one?"
Help: "Not without the old one"
Me: "But how can I give you that, if I haven't got it?"
Help: "It was in your Welcome Pack"
Me: "I didn't get a Welcome Pack, that's why I'm ringing"
Help: "Was it on your email?"
Me: "No"
Help: "What does it say on your email?"
Me: "It says to ring you if I have a problem"
Help: "I can only help you if you give me your ID"

So we went round this ever-decreasing circle a few times until I asked for the supervisor. "Can't put you through without your ID, he won't speak to you".

I don't believe him. I think he's just too thick to look at B(2) on his tick-list when the answer to A is negative, that's all. Naturally, eventually, he cut me off when my frustration descended into head-banging anger. Maybe he's in Bangalore and only understands me by way of being familiarised with Britain through a few brief episodes of Eastenders and Footballers' Wives. Or for all I know, the poor sod's in Balsall Heath and has a degree from Wolverhampton Poly. Either way, he's at the sharp end of a £multi-billion corporation and losing it business. Their problem, not his. His is being in a dead-end job where he hasn't brains enough even to make it tolerable by relating to customers' needs.

Ah well. Financial products are throwaway; frothy insubstantial things; novelty notions; little more than a marketing whore's profit-concept. They aren't cuddly, funky, spunky, feminine, caring, cute, sexy, posh, cheeky or any other hyped-up phony brand-characteristic that clever admen ascribe to them - they just either do the job or they don't. Plenty more where that one came from.


Glamourpuss said...

"They aren't cuddly, funky, spunky, feminine, caring, cute, sexy, posh, cheeky or any other hyped-up phony brand-characteristic that clever admen ascribe to them"

I think I might need to nick that for my online dating site profile - should I ever sign up to one.

Financial services companies are all cocks. Their call centres drive everyone to distraction but as we're all in debt with them, we take it. Sigh.

As an aside, I'm with First Direct and they are lovely.


Selena Dreamy said...

Yep, familiar procedure!

One piece of advice,though. Don't ever ask for the supervisor. It's unprofessional. Somehow, the sheer moral force of your presence must suffice: "I've got your number, matey. I know where you work. Keep looking behind you, your time is up, pal...!"


All Shook Up said...

Puss: Ah but are they First and are they Direct? Sounds like another concept-bank to me.

Dreamy: Yep, noted. On the basis that they're all only there to mess up your day, though. I think I might as well dish the abuse early and get to the cut-off point as soon as poss in future.