Certifiably Bad Service

, , , , , | Working | November 29, 2017

(My car insurance is due for renewal, and I’ve received a letter that tells me that not only will it be £200 more than last year, but they’ve taken the business coverage off, which I need occasionally to drive to meetings, etc, for work. I double-check last year’s documents, then call the renewals helpline. I get through to a customer service representative who confirms my details, then asks how she can help.)

Me: “I need to add business coverage back on, and I’m wondering why the premium has increased so much, particularly as I have an extra year of No Claims Bonus now.”

Representative: “I’m looking at your account now, sir, and you didn’t have business coverage last year; that’s why we haven’t quoted for it this year.”

Me: “Yes, I did. I’ve got last year’s policy documents in front of me. It’s on there.”

Representative: “No, your policy didn’t have that coverage last year.”

Me: “It did. I have the certificate here.”

Representative: “I can see your policy from last year, sir, and it’s not on there.”

Me: “Well, it is, because I have the certificate. Can you see the certificate?”

Representative: “I can see on my system that you didn’t have it.”

Me: “Can you look at the certificate, please? It’s definitely on there.”

Representative: “I don’t know what to tell you, sir; you didn’t have that coverage.”

Me: “So, you can’t see my current certificate on your system? The one that’s still valid until the fifth?”

Representative: “Sir, arguing with me isn’t going to help if it wasn’t on there.”

Me: “This is ridiculous. Do you want me to send you a picture of the certificate I have here?”

Representative: “That won’t be necessary; I can see it on my system.”

Me: “OH, MY GOD!”

Representative: “Oh, yes, I can see that it shows you had business coverage last year.”

Me: “I know.”

Representative: “That’s weird, because it’s not on the system.”

Me: “So, can you add it to my coverage for next year?”

Representative: “No. The underwriter doesn’t offer business insurance any more.”

Me: “OH, MY GOD!”

Representative: “Is there anything else I can help you with, sir?”

Me: “No, I guess I’ll go with the quote I got online that was half the price you were quoting, then.”

Representative: “Would it be okay if I put you through to an automated survey where you can rate your satisfaction with my service today, please?”

Me: “I don’t think you want to do that.”

Needs A Recruiter Rebooter

, , , , , , , | Working | November 22, 2017

I am looking for a new job, having been made redundant at short notice from my previous company. I have a really good interview with a company on a Thursday morning, but I feel the job isn’t right for me. I feed this back to the recruiter on Thursday afternoon. I hear from a different recruiter on Friday afternoon that they’ve got a temp job for me starting Monday, so I go along to that on Monday morning. It’s not brilliant, but I know how to do it, and it is only for a couple of weeks, with no notice period, so I’m happy to stay there until something more permanent comes up.

At lunchtime I look at my personal phone for the first time since I arrived at 8:30 am. There are three missed calls from a number I don’t recognise, two missed calls from the first recruiter’s number, and two voicemails.

The first voicemail is the person who interviewed me on Thursday, asking very nicely if the recruiter actually let me know what time to start, etc.

The second voicemail is an angry tirade from the recruiter’s manager, asking why I hadn’t turned up.

I phone back to explain I hadn’t actually taken the job. The recruiter is off on holiday for two weeks, so I am put through to the angry manager. It appears the company told the recruiter to offer me the job before I’d told him that I didn’t want it. He’d accepted it on my behalf, and to meet his bonus target before the end of the month, hadn’t told them I didn’t want it. He’d actually gone to the trouble of filling out all my details on the paperwork I was supposed to do on that Friday. His boss is not happy when I tell him I haven’t done it.

About a month later when the temp job comes to an end, I apply for another role with the original recruitment company, which I eventually take. I ask what happened to the original recruiter.

“Oh, he left,” I am told. “What happened?” I ask, feigning ignorance. “Well, he got back from holiday, there was a lot of shouting in our manager’s office, and he walked out.”

I explain what happen to me.

“Oh, he did that to you, as well? Yeah, that was one of his tricks. I guess he tried it too many times.”

A Chip Of Politeness

, , , , , , | Hopeless | November 5, 2017

(Our gas has been temporarily disconnected, as we’re getting a new boiler installed, so I pop to the fish and chip shop to get dinner for our family. I’ve not been in there before.)

Me: “Hi, can I have a standard cod and chips, please, a battered sausage and chips, and two fishcakes?”

Employee: “Of course, love. Any sauces?”

Me: “Oh, yes. Curry sauce, please.”

Employee: “Okay, coming right up.”

(She then scoops out the two standard portions of chips.)

Employee: “Salt and vinegar on these ones, love?”

Me: “Oh, yes, please, both on that one. Thanks.”

(I notice at this point that she puts another scoop of chips in the bag.)

Employee: “And the cod wrapped together?”

Me: “Yes, please.”

(She adds another scoop of chips, and wraps them up.)

Employee: “And on the second chips, salt and vinegar?”

Me: “Just salt please.”

(She adds another scoop of chips to this lot, as well. I think I can see what’s happening here.)

Employee: “And the battered sausage wrapped with these, fishcakes separate?”

Me: “Yes, please.”

(Another scoop of chips. She repeats my order back to me while wrapping the fishcakes and curry sauce cup.)

Employee: “Anything else for you tonight, love?”

Me: “No, thanks; that looks great. Thank you.”

(Another massive scoop of chips. She confirms what I suspected.)

Employee: “Just in case you’re wondering, every time someone says ‘please’ or ‘thank you,’ I give them another scoop of chips. The clever people like you work that out. Although I think you were brought up right; you say your ‘pleases’ and ‘thank-yous’ to everyone, I bet.”

Me: “What a great idea! It’s a shame that you have to reward people for what should be a common courtesy, but I’m glad it works for you. Goodnight, and thanks for all the chips!”

(Of course, I now had more chips than a family of four could possibly eat, but they did us until we got our gas turned back on the next day!)

The Power Of A Potato

, , , , , , | Hopeless | October 16, 2017

I’m sharing this, not to show off about how generous I am, but how broken the system is, and how easily well-meaning people can fall through the cracks. This is a message to encourage people to keep an eye out and try to be helpful where you can.

Recently, my wife was admitted to a National Health Service hospital with pneumonia. She’s also eight months pregnant, so it’s all a bit stressful, and we’re hoping the baby hasn’t been affected in any way by the pneumonia, or by its treatment. I visit her after work to take her a few items from home and to speak to her doctor. She’s going to be in for a few days, at least. We also discuss whether she should transfer to a private hospital, as we have private medical insurance.

By the time we decide on what’s happening, it’s nearly 9:00 pm, and I’ve not eaten since midday. My wife sends me down to the cafeteria to get some dinner before they close. In the line behind me is a boy of no more than 11, wearing the uniform of a local primary school, who is doing the same thing. He chooses a cheap sandwich, and looks enviously at my jacket potato with chicken curry. I pay, and move to sit down, but hear behind me that the card the boy is trying to pay with has been declined. It’s at this point I notice there’s only one other table occupied in the cafeteria, by a group of off-duty nurses. This kid is on his own.

He reaches into his pocket to look for change. He has about fifteen pence. By the time he goes to find his parents and comes back, the cafeteria will be shut. Of course, I offer to pay. The poor kid is crying, trying to refuse. The lady running the cafeteria only cares about closing up. I ask if there’s any chance of a cheap jacket potato for the lad, as they’re only going to be thrown out anyway.

“The prices are up there,” she says, pointing at the menu board.

“Fine,” I say to the lady. I turn to the boy and ask, “Chicken curry, or beans and cheese?”

“Beans and cheese, I guess,” he mumbles, tears clearing.

Of course, he’s wary of strangers, as he should be, but I ask him to sit with me. I guess I’m feeling helpless, not being able to do anything for my wife and unborn child, so I’m trying to help in any way I can. After a few bites of potato and a gulp of soda, he tells me that his mum is in the hospital for a second night in a row. None of the family that were supposed to help look after him have turned up, so he’ll be sleeping in the chair by her bed again, and going to school in a dirty uniform again. And of course, he’s worried sick about his mum. This is ridiculous.

I go back with the boy to the ward his mother is on. She is worried, as she just sent him down to grab a sandwich, and he’s been gone about half an hour. I explain what happened, and she tries to pay me back, almost ripping her IV cannula out as she stretches around looking for her purse.

“No need, no need, please!” I protest. She eventually relents, and looks drained from the effort. I have no idea what’s wrong with her, and don’t want to ask. Given the ward she’s on, I doubt it’s life-threatening, but it doesn’t look like fun, in any case. I convince her to make social services aware of her son’s predicament, and ask the ward sister why they hadn’t done so already. They blame shift changes, foreign and new staff not knowing procedures etc.

Eventually, they contact the out-of-hours social services, who promise to send someone home with the boy to get a clean uniform, and to chase up the family for somewhere for him to stay. I tried calling to find out what happened, but of course they couldn’t discuss it with me. I hope it all worked out okay for them.

And in case you’re interested, yes, my wife and baby were fine. A beautiful girl, induced a few days later, and a few weeks early, but absolutely perfect.

Time To Give Each Other Some Space

, , , , , , | Friendly | October 9, 2017

My girlfriend and I have just moved into a new flat, where we have an allocated, clearly-marked parking space.

We’re some of the first people in the new building to move in, and it’s clear that the owner of a business across the street has been using our car park to avoid the on-street parking charges while the building wasn’t occupied. She parks her brand new, but bottom of the range, BMW in our space. We leave her notes asking her not to do it again, and eventually as our paths cross, I confront her about it.

“But that space is the biggest, and I don’t want my pride and joy being scratched by parking it on the street,” she protests.

I make it clear that it is my space; I have paid for it, and will get her car towed if she does it again. Of course, she does. I don’t have time to call the management company, as we’re off on holiday, but I park my car directly in front of hers, so there’s no way she can get out.

Two weeks later, we return, and both cars are still there. I have a succession of notes through my front door, ranging from nasty: “If you don’t move your car I’ll SMASH IT WITH A HAMMER!” to pleading: “I’m so sorry; please just let me get my car out and I’ll never do it again.”

We pop out to the shops in our car, and when we return, the woman’s car is gone. We get a lockable post to stop it happening again, and I mention the story to the barber in the shop next to hers, who happens to be our neighbour. “Oh, that was you?!” he says. “This cut’s free. She’s been doing this to everyone round here for ages. For the last two weeks, she’s had to get the bus home. She won’t stop complaining about how someone like her shouldn’t have to ride the bus.”