Reduced to three letters

Jan 8th, 2010 | By | Category: Ireland

God be with the days of card indexes and single black telephones on desks.

Given things as they are, the church oil tank being one-quarter full seemed time to phone the suppliers.

Once a simple matter: a nice girl would answer the phone in a local office and check how much we wanted and would apologize if there was not next day delivery.  There was never a need for an account number, or a delivery reference, or anything other than the church name: Matthiases are not very common.  Then the local firm was absorbed into a big firm and now there is a ‘1850’ telephone number giving no indication of where the firm might be.

‘Murgatroyd Oil, how can I help you?’

There is the temptation to be facetious and ask what an oil company might offer, other than oil, maybe a No 47 with fried rice?  “I would like to order oil for our church, please’.

‘That should be no problem, sir.  I’ll put you through to our commercial department”.

There is a click and then silence and then a voice from the bottom of a well.  “Helloooo!”

“Hello, can you hear me?”

“Helloooo,” says the voice in the well, “Hold on, I’ll phone you back”.

The phone rings again. “Apologies, our stupid system.  What can I do for you?”

“I wanted to order some oil’.

“What is the account name?”

Every possible permutation is gone through.  We try the church name, the address, the parish name, the Rector’s name, the treasurer’s name, various telephone numbers, possible misspellings of any of the names: each time the computer produces no result.

“When you ordered last time, what name did you use?”

“Saint Matthias’ Church – the same name that is always used”.

There is frantic tapping of the keyboard and muttering.

After fifteen minutes he apologizes profusely. “I’m sorry, I can find no record of you here.  Can I phone you back?”

Five minutes later, he calls back.  “I found your account sir.  You are down as ST M and I found the person who put you down as ST M”.

“Saint M? I think it might have taken a while to suggest that you tried Saint M”.

“It will be next Thursday before a delivery is possible, but it will be the regular driver, so he knows where to go”.

He apologizes again and rings off.

Who persuaded the oil company they needed a centralised telephone system when for years it was a simple matter to phone the local office?  Who decided to computerise everything when the local office could turn up all the information in a few seconds?

Why is more and more money spent on everything becoming less and less efficient?

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  1. I entirely agree Ian, I get the same…………Its some beancounters inspired way of saving money…centralise everything to a drone in a headset who doesn’t have a clue who they are talking to where you are in the country or what they are supplying come to that…Gone is that local personal service……..I get the same with the company I work for….a group deal struck with a company say in Yorkshire for instance..and the young girl you have to talk too denies all knowledge of ever hearing of Redrow Homes let alone receiving an order for £10,000+ worth of materials!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I sometimes think I am living in a parallel universe……..Now was your tank one quarter full or three quarters empty?????????

  2. You should have tried RRH – they might have found you!

  3. Don’t get me started. I tried to ring my insurance company yesterday to cancel a policy that I no longer need and since I only have a mobile phone, it took me 20 minutes to finally get to someone who told me to write a letter or send a fax! Nearly spent this month’s premium on the call! Very frustrating. God help me if I have to ring the Tax office!

  4. Hells, you’re the expert on office culture – how did we get to where we are?

  5. There is no personal service anymore (that’s possibly why as much as I try to phase out my customers keep on ordering!!)
    Anyway, my parents insure their home (building & contents) with Churchill (oh yes!) and they received the renewal last year, after not making any claims during the year it had increased 30%, I suggested they try one of those “comparison websites” so feeling a little like a telephone sales rep I tapped in all their details onto the gocompare website while I had them on the phone. It turned up about 100 insurance quotes about half of them from reputable companies like allstate and AA and a few other household names, there were 20 quotes on the list cheaper than Churchill and even Churchill’s comparison quote was almost half the price on the renewal bill.
    My parents were a little reluctant to book online, they had been used to “Paul” who came for a cuppa and a fresh cream cake every Friday at 4 oclock to collect the premium, Paul has long gone, but they still couldn’t get their head around buying such an important purchase online, they preferred to phone the Churchill office the next day (or maybe they just didn’t trust their daughter’s typing skills!)
    So they got in touch with the insurance company and told them what had occurred and asked for a reduction in the quote. “Oh no, they were told, that price is only for NEW customers, there’s isn’t any discount available for you because you’ve been a customer now for twelve years.”
    It is said that “Crime doesn’t Pay” I guess in this case, neither does loyalty!

  6. Do you think if we all shouted loud enough, things would change?

  7. The new systems are arranged for their convenience, not ours. Automated cold calling where you pick up the ringing phone to find there’s no-one there, is a case in point.
    They must be sabotaged and subverted at every opportunity.

  8. Blackwater…..become ignorant like me( so my long-suffering wife tells me I am) ignore the phone when it rings like I do…….As I tell my wife if its a friend ringing for a chat they’ll leave a message, if its an emergency a message will be left and I’ll ring straight back, if its a cold calling drone……. they dont speak to ansaphones….result…

  9. So Saint Murgatroyd’s is frozen then?

    Will I cheer you up with an obscene Anglican limerick?

    No. Perhaps not.

  10. Maria,you should pick a quote that covers exactly the same from a comparison site then ring your parents regular insurer and tell them what you have been ‘offered’ My experience was that my insurer (prudential) immediately offered me just the same deal.

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