Friday, 4 March 2011

The Dreaded Call Center

Me and money have a strange relationship Like a seven pinter at the end of a drunken night which seems a good idea at the time, it betrays me, like my good judgement on a regular basis. I get it and its gone. Ive had some great experiences with it down the years, the Midland giving me a cheque book and a £100 cheque guarantee card at 16, earning £35 a week working full-time. It was great I was writing cheque's like they were going out of fashion and didn't understand the consequences, which resulted in a bail out by the parents and a visit to the bank manager, to the fact that I cant refuse my kids anything when I get paid if they ask me.

It seems like they have a radar, or more probably they look at a calender and work out when I get paid and then ask me for loads of stuff, mainly Moshi Monster cards or sweets, and like a kid in a sweet shop I spend it on them thus leaving myself with about £40 to nurse through to the next pay day. Don't get me wrong I love spending it on them, its great fun.

I have bills to pay, like everyone does, and due to a huge cock-up by Santander, who I have been with since the Midland incident, I don't have direct debits unless I absolutely have too. I remember the days when Santander was Abbey, the people under the umbrella, they looked really romantic to me, but now they are a nightmare. I wont go into the fraud on my account a few years ago which saw them pay out three quarters of my wages to a Portuguese poker site and then spent 3 months proving I was not in Portugal at the time, but suffice to say I hate them with a passion.

I could change my bank but with the mortgage and other essentials coming out its too difficult and I cant be arsed. Anyway on to the point of this blog. Call centers. I hate them as much as the bank to be honest. I go through this ritual every month where I spend a few hours ringing them up to pay them. A simple enough task you would think wouldn't you? Oh no it isn't.

Take today for example. I ring up Barclaycard to pay the bill. I ring an 0844 number and then spend 5 minutes entering all my details including the inside leg measurement of an ant. I then get put on hold as the call is transferred to Bombay. I hate this part the most. Purely for the reason that these poor sods on the other end of the phone are a reading a script. The call went like this:

"Good Morning Mr Hodgson can I take your card number please?"


"I'm sorry Mr Hodgson can I take your card number please?"


"I'm sorry Mr Hodgson can I take your card number please?"

"Okay hold on a minute Ive just entered my card number, date of birth, expiry date and postcode too get through to you, why do you need it now?"

"Its for security sir"

"But Ive just entered it on a premium phone number which Ive been on for 5 minutes why do you need it again?"

"Mr Hodgson that number is in London, we need you to answer the questions here this end"


"Mr Hodgson, can I call you Anthony?, it is for security"

So it went on and on. In the end I gave in. Why? Well partly because I was losing the will to live but also because she wouldn't deviate from the script in front of her. Its not her fault this is the way she is told to do the job. I'm not blaming her I work in retail, I'm a store manager, and the amount of people that come into the shop have to go through this. I get asked the same question time and time again.

"Surely you must have a direct number you work for them?"

"No madam I don't, I'm sorry, I can put you through on my phone if you wish to use that?"

"But you must have?" They demand voice raising and temper fraying

"Yes Madam I do I decided when I got up this morning that I was going to come to work just to piss you off by not giving you a direct number so as you can stand here for the next 20 minutes ranting at me because, and its important you understand this, I have nothing better to do with my day"

Why oh why do big company's think that its okay to have call centres with premium rate numbers, 15 different options to get through to someone, when us, the staff in the shops have to put up with people irate that we cant deal with them. Its a stupid crazy system that has got worse and worse. With all the people unemployed in this country why cant they move the call centers back over here?

Then we can go back to the good old days where you went into a shop and they did it all for you. Or how about this for a brain stormer of an idea, you ring a local number and someone picks up the bloody phone and
answers your call then they help you?. Crazy idea isn't it? Customer service that doesn't annoy the hell out of you by doing what it says on the tin. Wow that idea is well out there isn't it?

I know I am probably my own worst enemy by not doing most of it on-line, or setting up direct debits, its just after the fraud on my account I do not trust it. What I want as a manager in a shop is to be able to call a number and help the people who pay my wages, the customer. To deliver a level of service that seems almost unfashionable nowadays, to go back to the level of service that would make us the market leader in dealing with people.

What I do not want is the system we have now, where I have to call a number the same as the customer, which is pressing buttons until I get put on hold as much as they do. It needs to change, will it? No chance the big companies now do not care about you, you are a statistic who they tie into the longest contracts possible.

It has to change and it has to change now. Good old fashioned customer service. Wheres Jamie Oliver when you need him?..

No comments:

Post a Comment