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Bad Calls

On March 10th 1876 Alexander Graham Bell made the first phone call in history. I like to think this is what he heard. “We are expecting unusually high call volumes. Your call is important to us ....” You know how it goes. I’m sure you’ve all heard this kind of infuriating recorded message. It’s part of the way in which Covid 19 has been cynically exploited to offer customers appalling service and cover up the fact that companies simply don’t employ enough staff. Having a pandemic to blame for all manner of inefficiency is doubtless very convenient for them, but you might have thought they’d have had time to adapt to things two years down the line.

Frankly, companies really don’t want you to speak to them on the phone at all, hence the fact that contact numbers are often hard to find on websites. Hence the fact that they’d rather direct you to lists of FAQs on those websites or direct you to type messages to a chatbot. If you persevere in getting past a menu system offering various numerical choices (none of which are quite adapted to your needs) and then waiting in a lengthy queue, the likelihood is that you will get to speak to someone called (rather improbably) Roger or Marjorie, whose grasp of your language may be passable but whose impenetrable accent renders them quite incomprehensible. This is further exacerbated by an atrocious line quality that sounds like someone is frying bacon right next to your ear. You might think that companies who ply their trade in telecommunications would have crystal clear phone lines

but they often seem to be the worst offenders.

Ultimately, this is bad business, of course. If companies can offer me the chance to speak to a native speaker of my own language, whose accent is more or less familiar to my ear and do so on a phone line of decent quality I am far more likely to engage with their services. But too often these basic requirements are ignored. Why? Go figure!

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