Uni-boy’s Matalan loyalty card arrived this morning. Unfortunately, it’s addressed to, and embossed, "Mr < Firstname > Ab Cd".
Where AB and CD are the letters from our postcode. *sigh* You couldn't make it up.
So I phone them. Because it's Monday morning, and what else have I got to do with my time.
First I get the usual fake-cheerful artificially-mellifluous female voice. Have they ever stopped to consider that half the population would probably rather listen to a soothing and sexy male voice? It was also far too loud, making me jolt the phone away from my ear and miss the first couple of "press x" options.
Then they made me listen to The Four Seasons, played horribly slowly, followed by something else classical and presumably out of copyright. With interruptions every sodding thirty seconds to try to make me believe they’re sorry to keep me holding on. Also too loud, making me jump every time.
And the "sorry" part is the message is so downbeat it sounds exactly like the ones that tell you "we’re too busy talking to other people to bother with you, so fuck off and try again later", and then cut you off. So every thirty seconds I’m also getting that little adrenaline jolt of irritation to go with the smack in the ear from the change in volume.
So in my view it’s ENTIRELY their fault that I’m in a pretty bad mood by the time I actually get through to someone to explain what stupidity they have committed.
First she asks for my name. I tell her my name is completely irrelevant, but I give it anyway, because I've learned that these people simply can't function if you don’t answer their stupid questions. Then she asked "And how are you today?"
Well, that one floored me.
Should I say "I’m annoyed because ... you people are so stupid you can’t even transfer someone’s details from a piece of paper to a computer system without putting the postcode where the name should go"?
Should I say "I’m annoyed because ... your stupid menu system is far too loud and keeps making me jump and besides I don’t believe for one moment that anyone is actually sorry I was kept waiting"?
Should I say "I’m annoyed because ... it’s none of your bloody business how I am today, so can we just cut the cackle and get to the business, which is me phoning to tell you you’re stupid"?
Unfortunately I was too annoyed to think of saying any of these things, so I just left a very obvious silence in the hope that she would hear my surprise and annoyance at being asked such a stupid question, then said "I’m fine" in a tone which I hope conveyed "I’m annoyed, and do not ask me any more stupid irrelevant questions."”
So I finally got to explain the problem. She asked me his proper name, and how it actually appeared on their stupid card, and after all that she asked if he was here.
So I explained that he was away at university and today is his first day of lectures, which obviously I don't want to risk interrupting, which is why I'm doing this. Besides which, the card is here, not seven hours away, and I'm not wasting a stamp on an stupid unusable piece of plastic.
Her: "I’m sorry MADAM but I can’t talk to you about his card without his permission - Data Protection!"
If I wasn't annoyed before, I certainly am now.
 Don’t call me Madam, I fucking hate it! When I worked in a shop you only called customers Madam if they were totally annoying stuck-up shitbags and you wanted to be extremely rude while ensuring that the transcript, if there were a complaint, would look polite.
 I wonder if they actually get special training to put that incredibly smug tone into their voice when they say "Data Protection - so fuck off, nerr!"
Me: "It’s only a loyalty card!"
Her: "I’m sorry but I can’t discuss his card with anyone else without his permission."
Me: "I’m not asking you to discuss it with me. I’m asking you to look at your system, get the correct name, and get a new card sent out with his actual name on it."
Her: "I’m sorry, but I can’t look at his card without his permission. Data Protection."
I can hear the smug satisfied "So fuck off, MADAM" as clearly as if she’d actually said it.
Me: "Data Protection? For a loyalty card? Which obviously hasn’t even been used yet?"
Seriously, I do understand the Data Protection Act, although in everyday life I’d have to say I think it’s caused more problems than it’s solved. And because I understand it, I am always very careful to phrase things so that I am not asking them to tell me anything.
But the kind of people who are the first line of defence on Customer "Service" lines don’t seem to be capable of forming a coherent thought unless it’s on their script, and they certainly don’t understand plain reason.
By this point there was nowhere else to go without shouting, so I just said
"Thank you so much for your help" and put the phone down on her.
Why don't Customer "Service" people get told in training that their job is to PROVIDE A SERVICE? TO CUSTOMERS? Of whom I am one too, for all she knows, but it didn't worry her in the slightest that every sentence she read off her screen was telling me to fuck off and stop wasting her time.