If my call is so im­por­tant to you please an­swer it

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION -

WHAT is it with peo­ple not an­swer­ing phones? Worse, if you do fi­nally con­nect, you have to wade through 25 op­tions be­fore be­ing kept in a queue where you are told re­peat­edly that ‘your call is im­por­tant to us’. Yes, of course it is. I am such a pre­cious com­mod­ity that af­ter a long, ex­pen­sive wait, the ro­bot tells me they are so busy that I should call back later. No way of know­ing how much later, and no chance to leave a mes­sage. Grrr…

I ap­pre­ci­ate that au­to­ma­tion has huge ad­van­tages. When us­ing Ama­zon, do­ing in­ter­net bank­ing or buy­ing theatre tick­ets where you can choose your own seat, there is no need to speak to a real per­son. And in most cases, it’s much eas­ier not to.

But there are times when this may be nec­es­sary, such as when the tech­nol­ogy goes into freefall.

Re­cently I booked a ta­ble for two at a branch of Café Rouge. Won­der­fully easy to do on their web­site. Un­for­tu­nately, a few hours later things changed and I had to can­cel. So, back on the web­site, to call up my book­ing and press the can­cel box. Up popped a mes­sage say­ing it was not pos­si­ble to can­cel at this time, so try again later or phone the res­tau­rant.

Af­ter sev­eral more abortive at­tempts on the Café Rouge web­site I left for my al­ter­na­tive en­gage­ment, but phoned three times dur­ing the evening, in­clud­ing at 7.30pm when I should have been there. Each time it rang, but no-one picked up the phone.

On a busy Fri­day night I would have thought it would be good not to have a ta­ble re­served, with no-one claim­ing it, so the next day I rang to tell them about their sys­tem’s de­fi­cien­cies.

A young woman lis­tened po­litely be­fore say­ing, “Oh all right, I’ll can­cel it for you then.”

I ex­plained again through grit­ted teeth that it was a book­ing for the pre­vi­ous night. “Oh, well, thank you for apol­o­gis­ing” she said …

My grumpi­ness was (al­most) erad­i­cated by an ex­pe­ri­ence at Mon­soon in Uxbridge. Af­ter or­der­ing a dress on the web­site, I won­dered if it had ar­rived at the shop. With dread I di­alled the num­ber, only to be greeted by a friendly voice who con­firmed my or­der had turned up that morn­ing and she was just about to email me. Which – good grief – she promptly did.

Tell me your ex­pe­ri­ences at bmail­bar­bara@gmail.com.

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