Just plain bad telephone sales service

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Saturday 30 July 1664

Wrote many letters by the post to ease my mind of business and to clear my paper of minutes, as I did lately oblige myself to clear every thing against the end of the month. So at night with my mind quiet and contented to bed. This day I sent a side of venison and six bottles of wine to Kate Joyce.

There is no doubt that there is a sense of completion when dealing with important matters that are on your mind; I think it’s somewhat of a purgative of worry. They also say that you should never go to sleep with an unresolved difference with your partner. My method of calming myself  down is to write a list of what I need to do and when I need to do it.

Today I received an amazing offer to go to Morocco for a 15 day journey including a weeks coach tour, seven nights bed-and-breakfast in a hotel in Marrakesh, flights, for the grand sum of £359 a person. I received the offer because I am a subscriber to This Week, a journal which theoretically save you the trouble of ploughing through all the newspapers. I have subscribed to it now for three years and thoroughly look forward to Friday when it arrives.

I’m getting used to sales people who work from a script, and the delights of dealing with an Indian call centre but this one took a lot of beating.

I wish people realised how much information they give when they say even to words on the phone. As I’m going to spend some money, my antenna of waving in the breeze. This may sound racist but it was clear this was an African-American person. Right from the start he was clearly reading from a script and I could get no contact with him at all. I should have put the phone down and indeed I asked to speak to the person with whom I had a good rapport but he was busy.

So we struggled. I had to repeat my very simple e-mail address twice, I have to spell my name slowly and clearly and that of my partner. It was clear that the sales agent was not tuned to the English language. He could not hear what I was saying. I had to talk as if to an idiot sorry to say this but that’s what I had to do. He then repeated what he sought my birth year was which was 40 years out from the real thing. He then asked me for the 16 digit number on my credit card and by the time I reached digit 12 he asked me for the three letter number on the back. I started to get really angry at this point. He kept on blaming his technology that I could tell that he was not trained  to the extent that he could listen to the customer and deal with his technology at the same time.

Every time I corrected him he said “no problem” but I was not reassured and became depressed by the whole thing.  He finally told me when I was to get the tickets but is it so fast that I had to ring up again and talk to someone else and get them to say at a slower speed.

Anyway I did finally succeed in making a booking. Strangely they take the money from the bookings in a cycle of seven days which seems to me completely crazy but maybe I’m out of touch with how people do things these days. After finishing the booking I felt depressed. I guess we are seeing the fruits of people sitting on their mobile phones year after year not really being able to communicate with other actual human beings. The guy finished the conversation by saying ‘have a really good rest of your day and have a lovely holiday’. How empty and shallow these words seem. And I’m really wondering if is it not possible to train these people,  is the starting point so abject then you cannot get a minimal degree of enthusiasm. Having said that though if I had to be on the phone for eight hours a day I think I’d be a complete wreck at the end of that time so I must not be too sanctimonious.

Anyway I must not grumble to them too much because the holiday is exceedingly good value. 25 quid a day per person including bed-and-breakfast for 14 nights plus a flight plus a week-long coach tour is not to be sniffed at so I don’t want to queer my own pitch.

I was contacted by a lady called Amanda who it turns out is an ex-lawyer. I might have guessed from her machine-gun speed of delivery. She does part time gardening for people over 80. This started when her mother was ripped off by a ‘gardener’ who did very little and charged £300 for the privilege. She finds, like I do, that half her work is social, and sometimes her customers like to follow her around while she is working and chat to her.

The problem of loneliness should never be underestimated. The death rate from men who worked in the mines is very high so there are many widows who are bright active and socially minded and being single makes it just that bit harder.

 

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