Wednesday, 19 September 2012

On the phones today

My head hurts. I've been talking to people on the phone again today.  Not friends, people in call centres representing a business or a government department.  I quite like talking to my friends on the phone.  One of these friends likes to point out that I have a very high standard when it comes to what I expect from people providing a service.  He says that the standard will never be met but that the world would be a better place if it was met!

How funny that the day after such a conversation I would be talking to a logistics company about the delivery of a parcel.

I made a purchase online the other day in spite of my past experience with this particular logistics company.  This morning I was working from home until about 10:30am.  As I walked out of the house, I checked my letterbox and discovered a "sorry we missed you" card.  They had apparently not been able to find me at home at 9am and had left without delivering my parcel, despite the fact I was in my loungeroom and about a metre from the front door.  I now had to call to make alternative arrangements which are designed to incur costs (for me) or require me to travel far and wide to collect my parcel.

During the 25 minute telephone call, I was advised that my property was inaccessible.  It is not.  There is a gate.  With a handle.  Entry is gained by turning the handle and pushing the gate inwards.   It's not locked.  It's not stuck.  You just open the gate.  The gate is right near my letterbox - where the card was left.  So it's not hiding either.

I was then asked if there was a dog.  Not as far as I know.

I asked them to send the parcel to my post office box.  They reacted as though I had handed them a lump of something disgusting.  They can't do that.  They won't do that.

I then said this: "It looks like my only option is to call the company from whom I made the purchase and cancel the order, advising them that the reason I'm doing that is because their delivery partner can't do its job."

The response was: "We can organise to return the parcel to the sender."

It seemed incredible that they could organise that, but couldn't get the parcel to me!

Their next response was better - they are going to deliver the parcel this evening.  I hope.

Next up was the Tax Office.  I don't know anyone who loves calling the Tax Office, but I've generally found my dealings have been pretty good.  Numbers aren't my thing, but I'm not an idiot, and sometimes people who love and understand numbers think you are an idiot if you need to work through the numbers slowly.

Basically I'd made a calculation error on my Business Activity Statement and had to pay some more money.  No problem.  The letter was threatening, yet vague and required a call just to confirm what had happened and what I now needed to do.

I made the call at 3:30pm today.  I finished speaking to the fifth person at 5:45pm!  The fifth person was the complaints department.  The third person in the chain was actually the fourth phone call because of the misdirection to an automated IVR by the second person.  Still following? The second person was one of those people who was very polite and gave the illusion of being helpful, but he was an over-explainer.  After 30 minutes we had not advanced at all.  I had to end the call before I said something better left unsaid.    With the third person I hit a wall when they told me I was not an authorised person to speak about the account.  She was the first person to raise this and I can tell you that my business name is basically my name, so if I'm not authorised who is?  Apparently they can talk to my accountant but not to me.

At this point I was ready to scream or cry.  I could feel my will to live draining out through the soles of my shoes.

I asked to speak to the team leader.  The third person said that she could "hear what I was saying" and "understand where I was coming from" and then she said "BUT".  It killed the mood.  I asked to speak to her team leader again.  She asked me what I wanted to speak to the team leader about. I asked her if she really didn't know.  She put me through.

The team leader was pleasant and helpful and agreed that the experience I'd had this afternoon is not the experience the Tax Office would like people to have.  One can only hope.

After fifteen minutes talking to the complaints department I had all the information and my issue was resolved.  Miraculous!  Why was the only good service provided by the complaints department?  Perhaps the system is self perpetuating.

At the end of the call, I said that the only thing left for me to do was invoice the Tax Office at my usual hourly rate for the two hours I had spent today.  Without blinking, the woman said that it is possible to claim compensation and she referred me to the website.  Of course the first thing on the list of things you can't claim as a loss is "personal time spent resolving an issue".  We could argue about the difference between "personal" and "business" time, but I'm realistic about who would win that.

Now, where's my parcel?

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