You Can’t (Annual) Leave Me!

, , , , , | Right | September 12, 2018

(I work for a pensions company in the transfers department. My job is to process people switching from their current pension company to us or from our company to another. I have been dealing with this particular customer for almost a month; there was an issue that was delaying the transfer because the company he was moving from was really dragging their feet. Throughout all this, the customer has been wonderfully understanding, and because of his good nature I have been going above and beyond, chasing the other company at every turn, keeping the customer informed. Unfortunately, we’re still waiting on a few last important details from the old company, but I am due to go on annual leave. I have spoken to a colleague who I know will keep up the same level of work. I call the customer to give him to latest update.)

Me: “Hello, Mr. [Customer]. It’s [My Name]. How are you today?”

Customer: “Oh, hello, [My Name]. Has [Other Company] pulled their finger out yet?”

Me: “I just chased them up; they promised to get the paperwork we need with us by Monday. Unfortunately, I am not going to be in the office for a few weeks, so I am handing your case over to a colleague to deal with it. He has promised—”

Customer: “What? Where are you going?”

Me: “I have some annual leave that has been booked for some time.”

Customer: “But I don’t want to deal with anyone but you.”

Me: “Don’t worry; I’ve fully briefed my colleague, and he has worked for [Company] for twenty years. If anything, he knows more than I do, so you’re in safe hands. He has promised to chase up [Other Company] and keep you in the loop at every turn.”

Customer: “No, no. This is not good enough. You’re going to have to cancel your holiday. This is important. I don’t want to deal with anyone else but you!”

(I’m a little surprised at this point, because this customer has been nothing but congenial and reasonable the whole time. It takes me a moment to respond.)

Me: “I’m unable to reschedule my annual leave, but I promise you that my colleague is more than capable. Besides that, once your pension has been transferred, somebody else will be dealing with your account. I only deal with transfers. Eventually you’ll have to trust somebody else with your account.”

Customer: “I understand that, but I need you to stay in the office. You can’t go on holiday. I won’t let you!”

Me: “I’m terribly sorry, sir, but you don’t have any say in whether I take annual leave or not. This is leave I am required by law to take, and it was booked a long time ago. I understand you are a little nervous, but again, I can assure you that my colleague will take excellent care of you.”

Customer: “Of course I have a say in when you go on holiday! My taxes pay for your holiday!”

Me: *slight pause* “I’m sorry?”

Customer: “My taxes pay for your holidays!”

Me: “I’m not sure I understand. My employer pays me my annual leave. Your taxes have nothing to do with it. In any case, that’s irrelevant. I’m very sorry, but again, I’ve left you with the most competent employee in the department with decades of experience.”

Customer: “Well, that isn’t good enough! This is terrible customer service! In fact, I’m thinking of cancelling the entire transfer if this is how badly you treat your customers!”

Me: “I’m sorry you feel that way. If you want to cancel the transfer, that’s your decision.”

Customer: “Well, fine! I will!”

(The customer hung up. I sat, flabbergasted. I was a little bit flattered, but also very annoyed that after all my efforts of going above and beyond my job description that the customer felt he had the right the dictate when I took my annual leave and that he found this to be terrible service. It didn’t matter, though; when I got back from annual leave, I came back to an apology letter from the customer and my colleague said he had been fine with him. It turns out that he was just having a bad day. He even wrote me a letter of commendation, thanking me for all my efforts, which won me an award at work for going above and beyond the call of duty.)

 

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