Thursday, May 05, 2011

"Your Call Is Important To Us"



No it's not.

It has replaced the American platitude "Have a nice day" and the call centre mantra "Is There Anything Else I Can Do For You Today?" (because I haven't managed to do anything for you so far) as the most hollow, hated phrase of modern life.

On voicemails which used to play a tinkling version of Greensleeves to drive you mad ("I'm paying for the call, f*cking answer!") we now have our music interrupted by a synthesised voice telling us how valued we are, not to hang up - just because we don't employ enough people to take our calls without the wait - and that while you are a V.I.P. it's just that we're going to keep you hanging on for a little while longer, just a little while, possibly until that watched pot boils, or possibly long enough for you to have spent god knows what on our 0845 number that you're going to slam the phone down.

And then dial again.

The worst version of "Can I Do Anything Else For You Today" was an anonymous car hire company (clue : Avis) who shut their Las Vegas office early one day and left me stranded. They were unable to get me a car, left me in the middle of nowhere, but ended the call, "Now, is there anything else.....etc" But that's old hat now.

Today I'm an important VIP according to my mobile phone provider, Nomi Mobile.
Never heard of them? Few people have. They're a service provider who for the past few years have managed to undercut every mobile phone producer in the UK on cost. They're based in Madeira but don't let that put you off. Madeira's a nice place and Funchal a nice town. In fact if I had a cricket bat I'd be round there now. Or a baseball bat. Or a brick.

Nomi have been letting me down of late. The network keeps falling off the end of something. Calls go unanswered. You dial, there's silence. People call me and don't get through. I get exasperated voicemails "where you been? I've been calling you for ages" when all the time I've been sitting at my desk and the phone hasn't rung.

But I accept that I may have to have a reduced quality service to make the savings. They must be buying up line time or whatever it is they do, to make it so cheap. But as a service provider in the UK they have to maintain standards according to OFTEL, the industry regulator.

But the last two weeks have been exceptional. The service wouldn't work at all while I was abroad. I came home furious, emailed and called. I was told that my call was very important etc and eventually I got an apologetic email. A short one.

Then it happened again last week. This time I couldn't send texts but unbeknown to me every "failed" text was being sent - in triplicate - and I was driving people mad. I called and emailed again. This time, despite being told that my call was important I didn't get a reply. I didn't get an email.

Yesterday the whole network ceased to work. I called. I was told how important I was then suddenly a real person came on the line.
"It's a temporary network condition" I was told.
"What's that?" I asked.
"It's a temporary network condition"
"You just said that. What is it?"
"I am only allowed to tell you it's a temporary network condition" she repeated.
"But I don't know what that is" I replied.
"It will be fixed in two to three hours" she said.
"The Temporary Network Condition?"
"Yes".

It wasn't fixed. And today there is no human. There is simply a voice - for hours and hours - telling me how important my call is.

The truth is harsh. My call is not important. And to Nomi Mobile, who may even have gone bust today, it never was.

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