Friday, December 14, 2007

Driving me crazy

Urgh I just had to deal with Hotsons Eurodrive minibus company on the phone. My rock-hugging addiction to mountains and far away crags sadly means I frequently need to use such services, but do they really have to make it so painful?

I've had my fair share of part-time jobs in the past and would definitely not have earnt my fiver an hour if I'd adopted Hotsons' idea of customer service. I was kept waiting on the phone while they discussed whether they wanted to talk to me; apparently unaware that hold buttons exist for such purposes. When someone finally came on the line again, she (or he? Hard to tell when they're just grunting at me) let me get through my whole explanation of what I wanted again before telling me I was speaking to the same person and that I'd have to call back next week. Next week?! What if I wanted to hire something tomorrow? Why can't they take my details or give me an email address?

It's times like this I wish I had a more authoritative Indiana Jones type voice. A tone that says 'no nonsense - I've just fought off a tiger, don't tell me to come back next week'. Instead, I just mumble and stutter an 'er...okay' and sit fuming to myself.

It brings back a flood of memories of other places with awful customer service: the guy at the ice cream counter in the Milton Keynes Cineworld. I don't care if he's eaten all the sold-out flavours, I just want my ice cream as it's advertised and not shoved aggressively in my face as if I'd just told him to castrate himself. Similarly, I don't care if the Hurrah Henry behind the counter in the Jericho Cafe has a polo logo carefully embroidered on his Jack Wills shirt. It doesn't really bother me how carefully tousled his hair is; I just want my toastie and drink, not a sigh and a 'Is anyone else in the queue going to want a hot drink?' as if it's the most outrageous demand in the world. If you're working in such industries, you're there to serve, whether you like it or not. Imagine if the 999 operator answered the phone with a grunt then told you to call back next week; or a firefighter stood, arms crossed, before a burning building, rolled his eyes and asked if anyone else would want rescuing today.

I'm going to stick to nice, happy places with smiling people this month. Whether they're genuine or not, it's still nice to have bubbly waitresses like at The Big Bang or the irrepressibly cheerful ladies who work at Lush. Smiles are infectious and spread quickly, as do bad reputations. Companies like Eurodrive would do well to bear that in mind.

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