River Wissey Lovell Fuller


February 2002

Customer Service?

The other day I got to thinking just how much progress had been made in my lifetime. This was brought home to me when I had to order a spare part for our oven. As is normal in our household everything that can go wrong does so just before Christmas.

So to set the scene. We were expecting a guest for dinner; my wife had prepared the meal and put it in the oven. I was in the bath, (as my presence went before me!) and my wife had come upstairs to get ready when all the lights went out! Now 'Her indoors' is not good at seeing in the dark, so I had to grab a towel and a torch to discover that the trip-switch had gone. Having turned things off, reset the trip and, one by one, turned the appliances on there appeared to be no problem ; that is, until I was instructed to check if the dinner was cooking alright!

PANIC STATIONS! There's no HEAT in the oven and our guest arrives in half an hour; and WHAT ABOUT THE CHRISTMAS ROAST IN TEN DAYS TIME !!!

Thank goodness for the microwave. The meal was cooked, if a little late, but then that's normal for us, and a very enjoyable evening was had.

Now that's one form of progress in the right direction. But there seems to me, to be progress in the wrong direction too.

So, back to the saga of the oven element. Now our oven is a Smeg, (in more ways than one, but apparently nothing to do with Red Dwarf!). It was one somebody was replacing with a new oven, and "would I like to take the old one out of the way". Which I did. Well of course you do, don't you?

After phoning local spares suppliers I was informed that the part had to be ordered from the manufacturer, I was given their telephone number by a nice young man. (That's what they used to say about me when I was in retail. Ah memories!) But I digress. I dial the number and am informed that I need their Spares Suppliers, which is a different number. So back to the key pad, brrr brrr, (or whatever noise phones make these days) and (yes, you've guessed it.) "If you want such and such press 1, If you want so and so press 2," etc. Having pressed the appropriate number. (Yes, you're ahead of me again.) "You are in a queue and your call will be dealt with as soon as possible. The maximum waiting time will be eight minutes." This was then followed by music. Now it must be said that I'm a lover of most music but not when I'm watching my telephone bill increase 'Minuet by Minuet' so to speak! Twenty minutes later I'm not a happy chappy!!!

I ring the parent company again. "We're very sorry sir, they are very busy. Perhaps you'd like to ring our Customer Services." Another telephone number. Oh bother (or words to that effect) and yet another recorded message. So in resignation, I go back to the Spares number and listen to the music for a further seven or eight minutes until a voice says, "Reception here. Tracy speaking. (The names have been changed to protect the innocent) How may I help you?" Which is another phrase that gets my goat along with things like 'at this moment in time'. What is wrong with straightforward English, such as 'Can I help you?' or 'now'. So we now have Tracy speaking and she informs me that all the engineers are busy so can they phone back? To which I agree, and keep my fingers crossed it will be sometime in the not too distant future.

Now this to me is SSERGORP (IF you don't understand the word use a mirror. Well, you get my drift.) In days of yesteryear one was able to telephone and speak to a human being and get an immediate response. Maybe not always the response you were expecting. But at least you weren't waiting ages to get it!!! Which begs another thought. Who gets the money for these lengthy music sessions? Is this another way for these companies to add to their profits?

To give them their due they did phone back within the next hour. I then sent my cheque off by first class post and received the element with four days to go to Christmas.

The Christmas roast was delicious!


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