In a world of automated telephone services and foreign call centres it is easy to forget the compassion of a human voice. This week I made an online purchase, of itself this is not news as, believe it or not, I am quite proficient at this interweb thing. There were some difficulties with the purchase, in the main these revolved around delivery schedules. I wanted the product delivered to my home address on Saturday or, if Royal Mail was involved, then Friday. Eventually I tracked down a retailer that had a sensible price and could meet my schedule by means of a 48 hour parcel force delivery ordered on Wednesday, I know that parcel force don’t make my end until afternoon so I would be home for them.
Entering all of my credit card details I received a message telling me that the payment had failed, odd because the same credit card had been used that very morning with no problems. Emboldened by the “no money has been charged” message I tried again and a third time but the same stubborn message greeted me each time. I telephoned the retailer who told me that since he used the same system it must be my card so I should call the bank, my protestations that it had worked earlier fell on death ears. Having gone through the 300 options to reach the security people at the credit card they confirmed that they had multiple fraud alerts against the retailer. I was told not to worry that this was normally a result of the retailer “being a victim” because buying things online with a stolen credit card is a favoured means of converting the card to cash.
The security person lifted the bar and I put the transaction through successfully only to receive a call from the retailer requesting that I called the bank and obtained an authorisation code. The reason that they gave for this unusual step was that because I had made three unsuccessful attempts it triggered their fraud alert! Protesting that the credit card company had a fraud alert on the retailer which was what had cause the whole issue met the same death ears as my earlier protestations so I complied.
On calling back with the authorisation code I was told all was well and “we’ll get that out for tomorrow” oh no, said I, I’ve selected the 48 hour option so it will arrive on Friday. Having confirmed this I was still a little dubious and asked for a tracking number “no problem sir, I will email it to you tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon. I didn’t realise that I had not received a tracking number until after business hours on Thursday so I called today and was both relived and a little surprised to get a tracking number. Apparently there was an issue with the parcel force website so they didn’t dispatch until Thursday “No worries I didn’t expect it until today” said I and ended the call.
Entering the tracking details I wondered briefly if they would have had the sense to put it back to next day but quickly discounted it, of course they would. You may be ahead of me now but just in case, a check revealed that it was on 48 hour delivery so would be with me on Monday. I called parcel force and after pressing 3 or 4 options was greeted by an English, human voice, I had met my light at the end of the tunnel, well one of them. A quick check on his side revealed that I would not see my parcel today, I enquired as to whether I could upgrade it to a Saturday delivery “oh yes sir but there is a charge”. It transpired that I needed to speak to the local depot who would take my payment details for the £12 fee but only charge it when the product was sent out for delivery. This all seemed rather fair and my human friend put me through, or he tried to there was no answer. Not a problem for this super customer service man, he would call them and get them to call me back, I was so taken aback by good service that I may have overdone the thanks.
After a couple of hours with no call back I called again and a helpful young lady gave me not only the number for the North Essex depot but the secret code to avoid the automated questions. The phone was answered promptly and I recounted my issue “I would rather wait and see if it comes down to us overnight sir otherwise I may charge you and then find out it didn’t get here”. I explained that she should take my details and charge when/if the item went out “oh no I’ve never heard of that, who told you that?” I explained that it was the first person that I had spoken to. By this stage I was beginning to think that I had imagined the earlier helpful person, maybe a dream sequence back to many years ago, could I hold while she spoke to someone? of course.
When she came back on the line we had a deal that I thought was no longer possible in a world where Microsoft has consumed our souls. She would advise the night man to put my parcel out for delivery tomorrow if it arrived overnight but she wouldn’t take any payment details from me now. I gave my phone number and she explained that she would call me on Monday when she came in, if the parcel had been delivered. No security, no bond, no signing over my first-born as a deposit just a simple call to collect. I was so astounded I got my telephone number wrong and had to correct myself. I didn’t realise that there were any humans available on 0844 prefix numbers after the great call centre slaughter. I have an image of these two people scurrying through dark service corridors taking a call when and where they can and avoiding the thought police that seem to run the call centres. Surviving on biscuits they fight to maintain the proud traditions of customer service, god bless them one and all. Let’s see if tomorrow’s posts are happy ones.
In other news I have to report an objection to a piece of electronics which seems to have been designed by a blind Liberace. The object in question is my freesat box which sits rather naturally, under the television. The problem that I have with this innocuous piece of equipment is the blinding blue searchlight that advises me that it is operating. I am not exaggerating this thing lights up the room as if some mad beardy weirdy is trying to save the environment by burning my retina to punish me for daring to use the thing. The red standby light is bright, the blue ‘not in standby’ light can be seen from the ocean and when you actually select a channel it steps up in brightness, I am seriously concerned that the coast guard are going to complain.
Whilst it is true that the box enables me to receive lots of channels they are all bathed in blue which is rather disconcerting. I imagine that this is what it would be like to try to watch the TV in a store window whilst the police break up a riot behind you.The interweb has confirmed that there is a modification that resolves this problem, black tape. I am afraid that this is not for me and the box will survive only until I can obtain a replacement.
I would also like to share something from one of our
morons MPs who stated today, when talking about the elderly, that loneliness has the same effect on a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. This is one of the pack of expense guzzling idiots that leads our country, has he ever read anything about smoking?. You do not get cancer from being lonely, if you are alone and don’t smoke then there is, statistically, very little risk that you will accidentally set fire to your bed and burn to death. What an idiotic comparison what’s next? “driving at 20 MPH over the limit is as dangerous as unprotected sex with a Somali hooker” perhaps? or “drinking alcohol is the equivalent of falling out of a fifth floor window one a month”? Anyway we are talking about the elderly who, by their very nature, are at higher risk of getting ill and dying than younger people so can somebody get hold of the MP and get him to make a similar comparison for those that are not alone. My guess is that it will be “still being married at 70 has the same effect on your health as using a Black and Decker to clean your ears!”.
Today’s number is 17076