Finweek English Edition - - BUSINESS TRENDS CALL CENTRES - BRUCE WHIT­FIELD brucew@fin­

IF YOU’RE A FAN of end­less rep­e­ti­tions of Eight­ies crooner Chris de Burgh’s most fa­mous line “Lady in Reeeeeed”, dial 0800 001 669.

The above-men­tioned num­ber is listed on the en­ve­lope of doc­u­ments handed to you once you’ve hired a car as “Avis Care­line”. The ra­dio in the car was on the blink, so I phoned the num­ber and “the voice” an­swered: “If you have had a break­down or you have an emer­gency, press 1. For other queries phone 0861 021 111.”

Not hav­ing a ra­dio is ir­ri­tat­ing, but not an emer­gency. So I du­ti­fully phoned the new num­ber.” The call was swiftly an­swered and I was ad­vised to take the car to my near­est Avis. I in­sisted on a re­place­ment car be­ing made avail­able, as I doubted the agents would be able to re­pair the fault. Ex­as­per­ated, the call cen­tre op­er­a­tor re­ferred me to 0800 001 669. I re­sponded in­cred­u­lously: “But that’s for emer­gen­cies”. He replied stonily: “We’re reser­va­tions.” Nice.

So it was back to “Lady in Reeeeeed”. The op­er­a­tor, when she did an­swer, ad­vised where I could ex­change the ve­hi­cle at an agreed time. Prob­lem solved. The in­te­rior of the re­place­ment looked as if some­one had had a sneez­ing fit. At least the ra­dio works.

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