Friday, January 26, 2007

Sometimes, I hate the fact that it is 2007.

O.K. I understand the rationale. I understand the logic. It makes a lot of sense having lots of people crowded into one room to answer telephones.

One person writes a script with lots of possible combinations of answers.

Everyone has a computer screen to work from.

Even the numbers are automatically dialled.

It's easy, it's cheap and it's very nearly foolproof.

In fact, if you trained monkeys long enough you could probably use one voice over artist to record the entire script, and then get the trained monkeys to push the right buttons. That would be even cheaper, because instead of a thousand people sitting in a room in outer Mongolia, getting hot and bothered by irate customers that they haven't been trained to deal with properly, it would be a thousand monkeys in London zoo who they wouldn't even have to pay.

This would have many advantages.

Firstly, London Zoo could make it a special attraction for visitors to see the monkeys at work, and could make lots of money from it, which they could give to a nice animal rescue charity or something. Rescuing animals from call centres. That sort of thing.

Secondly, monkeys wouldn't be able to understand that the customers on the other end were irate and wouldn't therefore get upset themselves.

Thirdly, most importantly, it might finally bring the entire call centre system nonsense crashing down.

Yesterday, my sixteen year old daughter received three phone calls from our mobile phone provider, whose name I won't reveal in full, but starts with the letter T and ends in bile. She does have a contract phone with them, but her calls are charged to my bill, and always have been. I set up the contract for her. Have always dealt with them and am the account holder.

The payment was due. A bit overdue really. It's after Christmas and as anyone who reads my blog regularly will know, things are, hopefully temporarily, a bit tight at the moment for a number of reasons.

The company who starts the letter T and ends with bile however don't ring the acount holder for such calls (they clearly have lots of people like me). Instead, they just go by an automated system to dial out to the mobile concerned of any overdue bills. As the account holder, I myself had spoken to them earlier that day to sort out the problem. The system of course wasn't actually as quick as the humans involved on the case, and as such, it automatically dialled my daughter's number to ask for payment.

I was cross.

I was very very very cross.

I rang to tell them. They gave me a full expanation of their very complicated and inadequate computer system, which of course they think is just fine, but no apology. (They just shouted at me to not shout. So I am shouting to you instead.) Now of course, had hubby rang up on my behalf to complain, they wouldn't have spoken to him, because HE is not the acount holder.

Now do remember, that in order to speak to anyone in any call centre you have to give out a hundred security questions which make the word "security" a bit of a nonsense really. I am almost wondering if there is anyone left in England that DOESN'T know my date of birth and my postcode. Maybe next time I'll ask them to guess and then I'll tell them when it's the right one.

NatWest bank it seems have finally cottoned on to the fact that people like people. You can now speak to the branch manager at a moment's notice. We changed bank account last month to them for that reason. What a relief! They are still thieving b**t**s of a bank (I HATE banks), but at least they do it with a smile and some personal contact.

Sadly though, for now at least, NatWest do not provide mobile phones or fridges, or supermarket checkout people.

But perhaps as they have taken the lead in the race against time, to ban the call centre, they will indeed see sense and provide the other things too. One day.

p.s. Momo who comes from Romania, but whose written English is so good that I hadn't realised until her last post, sent a me request to Me Me myself in a different way. The challenge was to identify three of my posts that show my personality. Well, I've given you one those challenges. You know the sort, like that rabbit they hid in the countryside or something, for a rainbow, or a pot of gold. Can't remember the details. Lots of rabbits in the countryside too.

Anyway, the "personality" giver awayers are in this blog as hyperlinks. Go find!

p.p.s. I pass the challenge to Beccy of Minty Tea!


Asha said...

I understand your anger and frustration about the phone calls Sally!
My daughter is going to be 16 in March and she wants a phone too.But if she starts yakking for hrs or get unwanted calls,we got to pay!Not looking forward to it but...

Sally Lomax said...

... But you can't get away from a modern world. Much as I'd like to sometimes!

Thanks Asha!

enid said...

monkey outsourcing - what a good idea. perhaps they could do all the boring stuff around the house too.

sometimes the modern world is too much for enid too, sigh.

john.g. said...

Hi, Sally, go pay as you go and if she runs out, tough. But that wont work with text-happy teenagers will it?
Just a thought.

Ignorminious said...

Lol, if you think they are bad at call centres, you should speak with the providers of my landline. I won't give away their name on the internet, but lets just say they are British (although their call centre staff are not) and they work in telecoms.

I've only ever had to deal with them twice but both times they have screwed up beyond belief and I've not been at all impressed. The first time was when I signed up for an account with them, at which point the woman on the other end spent around 20 minutes arguing with me over whether or not my post code exists. (It turned out she couldn't understand which letters I was saying down the phone, despite the fact that I speak with almost spot on RP.) She then went on to put in totally the wrong surname for me (she got the first and last letters correct, but everything else was complete rubbish) before I eventually hung up.

The next time I spoke to them it was to try and get the account switched from my name to that of my house mate. After the embarrassment of having to say that my name was Mr *insert wrong surname here*, which has now been adopted as my nickname by my housemates, I then hit yet more difficulties. The woman this time clearly lived in a culture where "house mates" don't exist, and where a woman can only live with a man if she is married to him.

As a result, when I got my next bill through, instead of it coming in the name of my house mate, it now was addressed to Mr & Mrs *insert wrong surname here*. The trouble is that I've never managed to speak to a British person at this very British Telecoms company to have the problem corrected, so I suspect it'll run until they account is eventually cancelled.


Beccy said...

Call centres are the worst, Ireland has yet to catch up with the UK on usage of them, thank goodness.

Sally I'm not sure whether to thank you for the tag. I read Momo's post and thought that's a hard one but you did a fantastic post with it, well done. I'll tackle it next week when I'm home.

Sally Lomax said...

Glad you agree Enid!!

I may think about that John - for me too.

That's unbelievable ignorminious, but a very funny tale the way you tell it!!

Oh Beccy, please don't worry. If you feel uncomfortable doing it, then I won't be offended. Really.

Are you having a nice time with your Mum? Wish her happy birthday from me!!


Beccy said...

Oh no Sally I like a challenge, I was very impressed with momo espacially now I know English is not her first language, and yours was so cleverly incorporated. When I get home I shall don my thinking cap!

I'm having a great time here Sally and getting spoilt rotten.

ChrisB said...

Sally its lovely having Beccy here we're having a shop till you drop day tomorrow so as it's gone 1am and I'm the only one up I'd better get some much needed beauty sleep or Iwon't be able to keep up !!

Call centre hate hate hate them with a vengance

Sally Lomax said...

Hi Chris and Beccy!

Hope you had a gret day shopping!!


Momo said...

Hy Sally,

Sorry for giving you a comment that late...I was in a short vacation up in the mountains!
I've discovered your interesting MeMe in your last post: date of birth, I hate banks, fridges, checkout, reason...truly beautiful created!
I read also all your complains about the call centers...You know that most of them are in Romania? There are 2 reasons: young people here can manage to talk very good at least english as a foreign language and because companies don't have to pay that much for the wages!

Sally Lomax said...

Thanks Momo. It's dreadful that call centres use nice Romanian people to do their dirty work for them and underpay them.

Perhaps one day, when normality returns, then that will stop too!