Customer Service Is Going Downhill

, , , , , , | Working | March 30, 2021

I am at University in the 1980s, living in a shared house at the top of a long hill. Although money is tight, I am just about able to afford to own and run an old car. I even manage to get enough money together to get basic car breakdown coverage.

One morning, I find my car will not start, so I call the breakdown service. After giving my membership number and current location, there is a pause, and then the telephone representative comes back to me, very apologetic.

Representative #1: “I’m sorry, sir, but it seems your car is currently located at your home address and you do not have the optional ‘home start’ coverage.”

Me: “So, how far from home do I need to be for my basic coverage to kick in?”

Representative #1: “At least a mile, sir.”

Me: “Thank you.”

I hung up, went back into the house, and rounded up my housemates, who helped me push the car onto the road and face it down the hill.

Ten minutes later, I phoned the breakdown service again.

Representative #2: “And where is your car currently located, sir?”

Me: “At the bottom of [Road], about one and a quarter miles from my home.”

The breakdown service arrived fifteen minutes later and my car was started.


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They May Take Our Time, But They Will Never Take OUR FREEDOM!

, , , , , , | Legal | March 17, 2021

I keep an old pay-as-you-go mobile phone at home which I use to maintain a social media tool and for banking, because my bank, like most, sells telephone numbers to marketing lists for profit because they’re scum. Nobody that I care for uses that number, so I know that whenever it rings, the caller is a salesperson or a scammer.

My phone rings and, out of boredom, I pick up and answer in a very frail, old person’s voice.

Me: “Helloooooo… [Fake First and Surname] speaking.”

Scammer: “Good day, Mr. [Fake Surname], this is John Smith from the Internal Revenue Service. Were you aware that you have a significant amount of unpaid taxes?”

Me: “Pardon me… Who did you want to talk to? I’m not sure that they’re here.”

Scammer: “I wanted to talk to you, Mr. [Fake Surname], about your unpaid taxes. Now, really, sir, you need to sort this out or you could go to prison! You’re in very serious trouble.”

Me: “Oh, no, no… There’s—” *shifty voice* “—no Mr. [Fake Surname] here. You must have the wrong number.”

Scammer: “Sir, you answered the phone with your name. This is childish; you are definitely you. Now, this is a serious matter and you need to address it.”

Me: *In a harsh voice* “Well, you got me, you b*****d. You found me out! Well, you’ll never take me alive! COME GET ME, YOU PIGS! COME GET ME! FREEDOM! FREEDOM! FREEEEEEEEEEEEEDOMMMMM!”

Scammer: “Sir, sir, stop shouting at me! We’re coming to get you! You’re going to jail! This call is being recorded and will be used as evidence against you! NOW, BEHAVE AND SETTLE YOUR ACCOUNTS, OR ELSE!”

Me: “I’m armed! I AM ARMED AND DANGEROUS! YOU’LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE!!!”

This goes on for a while until, finally, the scammer hangs up. With a raw throat, I put down the phone with a happy sigh, only to hear a wheezing noise behind me.

Wife: “What the actual f*** was that about?”

The scammer never called back. Not that it matters. I’m not allowed to answer the phone anymore.


This story is part of our Best Of March 2021 roundup!

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The Joys Of Renting

, , , , , | Working | December 28, 2020

I moved out on my own when I was twenty-one, scoring a fantastic little new build flat in the city centre. In nine years, I only moved to a different block so I could have a bigger place. Eventually, though, the area got worse: there was vandalism, my car was broken into twice — in the underground “secure” car park that had easily broken gates — a pub on my road was closed after a guy was killed there, drugs, gangs, you name it.

I decided enough was enough; I wanted out of the city and to somewhere quieter. I was delighted to find a ground floor flat that looked great on the visit, close to my parents. The rent was the same as I was currently paying and the lease was for twelve months. Perfect.

Yeah. You know where this is going.

When I move in I actually have to wonder if it is the same place I saw three weeks ago. With the previous tenants’ stuff gone, it is easy to see the chronic damp. Oh, and the kitchen window has dropped so there is a wide, open gap to the outside — not great in the winter… or for security. I have problems with the en suite toilet and shower, as well, during which time the landlord and I have a chat when he is fixing the issues.

Me: “I’m really looking forward to living here. In a year or two, I think I’ll have it redecorated.”

Imagine my surprise when, barely four months later, he tells me I have to leave!

Landlord: “You’ll have to find somewhere else. I can’t afford the flat—”

This is despite me paying rent on it.

Landlord: “—and if you don’t leave, I’ll have to go bankrupt and the bank will take the flat and evict you.”

I should mention here two things. First, in the UK, you cannot breach a rental agreement for that reason. In fact, it is notoriously difficult to evict a renter from a property. Point two, I know this because I work in the real estate industry. I know how this stuff works, I know my rights, and I know I can make his life h***.

But still, it was stressful to have this man message me at least twice a week demanding I find another place, telling me I didn’t need to find somewhere perfect, just to leave his place, that he’d pay me to leave, that he wouldn’t give me a good reference if I was not gone by a certain date, etc.

But I ignored him. I consulted with colleagues who agreed that he had no legal standing, and I talked with the estate agents who had some very choice names for him, but I didn’t stop looking for the perfect place. Moving is expensive and stressful and I hate doing it, so if I was moving now it was to a place to stay a long time… like this was supposed to be.

In the end he came clean. Kind of. He hadn’t realised it was a twelve-month lease, despite the conversations we’d had. He did try and blame the estate agents — they are liars, they tricked him, blah. I figured he screwed the pooch and had someone else lined up to move in.

Thankfully, this has a good ending. I found a house, rather than a flat, still in my ideal area and price, with everything I could want: a garden, a driveway, three bedrooms, and an amazing landlord that I can laugh and joke with.

I don’t hate my ex-landlord any more, and I write this now from my garden, sipping a coffee and reflecting on how lucky I was that my ex-landlord broke the law and kicked me out, how I dodged a bullet, and how fun it was to see him a little while ago when I was visiting the friends I had made at that building… watching him bring his groceries into his — my — flat.

Yeah, he kicked me out so he and his girlfriend could move in. He saw me, I saw him, and I just grinned, with the other residents smiling with me.

I think I won.

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That Crosses A Line

, , , , , , , | Learning | October 9, 2020

My friends and I go to a very conservative religious school. We are huge fans of a comic book series about the survivors of a health crisis — Garth Ennis’ “Crossed” — which causes its victims to develop a cross-shaped rash across their face and act out their most depraved, violent fantasies. One of the characters is a large man who uses part of a horse as a weapon and has a particularly crude battle cry.

Halfway through the term, I fracture my nose playing rugby and have to have it in a cast for eight weeks. As a result, I come in for a lot of ribbing and, when the cast is removed, I have a — you guessed it — distinct cross-shaped rash across my face.

On my first day back at school, [Friend #1] starts laughing so hard he can barely stand.

Friend #1: “Oh, my God, you look like you’ve been crossed!”

[Friend #2] runs up, leaps into the air, and thwacks me on the head.

Friend #2: *Screaming* “Horsec**k!”

That is when we hear somebody clear their throat and turn to see the school’s principal, chaplain, vice-principal, several parents, and a visiting archbishop looking on, aghast.

The archbishop pats me on the shoulder.

Archbishop: “Well, aren’t you a lucky chap, then. I’m sure you’ll make all the girls very happy.”

We all got detention.

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That Had Better Have Been A Really Good Sandwich

, , , , , | Working | September 21, 2020

I go to an international hamburger shop for a late lunch. The shop is basically empty, but after I place my order, it is several minutes before my order is ready, despite being a very simple order.

Rude Worker: *Laying down my tray* “We messed it up.”

She then turns and vanishes into the back before I can say anything. I assume her statement is an explanation for the delay and take my order to the table. However, when I open up my sandwich, I find that they had given me a burger rather than the chicken sandwich I ordered.

I go back to the counter and have to wait for a minute or two before the employee from before wanders out again.

Me: “Excuse me. You gave me the wrong sandwich.”

The rude worker stares blankly at me.

Me: *Holds up my receipt* “I ordered a [Chicken Sandwich] and this is a burger.”

Rude Worker: *Shrugs* “We mixed it up.”

Me: *Expectant pause* “So, can you fix it, please?”

The rude worker rolls her eyes before scooping up my tray, turning, and dumping the entire contents into a large trash can by the counter, and then walking off into the back.

Me: “Hey!”

No response. I wait for a few more minutes, calling out a couple more times, before a different worker walks out, looking a bit confused.

Helpful Worker: “Oh, have you been helped?”

Me: “No. I ordered earlier, but your coworker gave me the wrong item, and when I asked for the right item, she dumped the meal in the trash and ran off into the back.”

I hold out the receipt that I am still holding and point toward the trash can. The worker checks them both, a look of utter bafflement on her face.

Helpful Worker: “Oh. Well, I’ll get this made up for you right away.”

In just over a minute, I have my meal and am headed back to my seat. The rude worker comes back out and apparently decides she needs the last word.

Rude Worker: *Almost shouting* “Are you happy now?!”

Helpful Worker: “[Rude Worker]! What the h***?!”

I ended up just picking up the meal and leaving the restaurant to eat elsewhere.

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