Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Phone our helpline; it only takes a minute, girl

Readers, I have been driven mad by a telecommunications company. Last Friday night, I decided to try for the millionth time to sort out my phone and broadband connection. Now, you may wonder why I chose a Friday night. I didn’t; it chose me. I found myself alone with the obligatory bottle of Pinot Grigio and thought that I would at least do something useful.

I have been battling for an eternity with the company in question. I am surprised that they haven’t put caller recognition on every one of their phones in every single call centre (which are mostly, it seems, in Scotland) to avoid me. Some people connect with the outside world through social networking sites; I spend my time being passed from one department to another during 20-minute phone calls which never, ever come to anything.

I drank another glass and reached for the handset. I always find that squiffyness aids these situations so I dialled with jaunty confidence and waited. And waited. And waited a bit longer. Ah, here we go: “Key 2 on your keypad to talk to one of our customer service advisers.” Righty-ho. I press ‘2’. And it rings, it rings and ...Ah, ‘Sharon’ answers.

I psyche myself up; I know the ropes by now. I ask Sharon to send me the paper form again. “It says here that it was sent to you on the 9th.”

“Yes, I know but I haven’t received it, so I need you to send another one.”

“I can’t give any account details over the phone as you need to send the form back.”

“I am aware of that fact – that’s why I need another form.”

“Well, as we don’t have the form back I am not able to process anything on your account.”

“Err, well I would have sent the form back, had I received it. I need another form, so will you send one?”

“Let me put you through to my colleague in ‘Account Services’.”

Dear God; please let me get through this.

So, Sharon puts me on hold. We run through various jaunty ditties written by some two-bit composer on his Yamaha to pay his bills (probably his phone and broadband bill). I neck another glass. How long can this possibly go on for? Still, it’s on a loop so I’ll be able to hum along in a bit. The loop stops and a crackle, at last – I am going to talk to someone.

No, the music has just changed to Christina Aguilera, now Spandau Ballet and of course, kings of the ‘on hold’ music scene; Take That. It Only Takes a Minute, Girl is blaring through the phone. Seriously, does someone somewhere get paid to choose this music? And, if so, they are obviously someone with an incredibly ironic sense of humour as I have now been on the phone for 22 minutes. And counting.

“Hello, Miss Saffery?”


“I’m afraid ‘Account Services’ have all gone home for the evening – you’ll have to call again in the morning.”

My eye flits over to the remaining Pinot Grigio as I say “Thanks Sharon, do you realise you have me trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare? Is that the company’s intention?”

“I’m sorry Miss Saffery, you need to call Account Services in the morning to release your form”.

Release my form? I need to be released, for pity’s sake. My hand reaches for the bottle as I hang up on ‘Sharon’ and slowly sink to the floor. Read more by Naomi.