Knocking on a bit now – I’m old enough to remember the days when George Osborne was just a rich, sneering idiot, destroying peoples’ livelihoods by ransacking their businesses with no regard for their hard work and industry (what???) – I have bits falling off me that only the superglue of medication can stick back together. My surgery has a scheme whereby repeat prescriptions can be ordered online, and collected from the (closer) chemist, hence my appearance at the pharmacy counter of Boots last week.
Boots is a national chain, where cretinous corporate decisions are obviously taken either by people who regularly avail themselves of the vast array of strong drugs they stock, or by people who should be availing themselves of them. For on the Prescriptions counter top there sits a sign:-
THE RESPONSIBLE PHARMACIST TODAY IS ……….
I explained to the red-headed, be-freckled man that I had ordered my medication online several days ago, gave him my name, and proceeded to wait cheerfully for the boxes to be handed over. After that I waited some more. And then, just for the sake of consistency, even longer. The young man looked over and apologized to me: “Sorry, it’s definitely been done, I just need to find it”. Another few hours having passed, with the autumn leaves drifting by the window (which was a little surprising, since I’d entered the place in early spring), I ventured aloud that any longer, and I’d have to start calling him the Irresponsible Pharmacist. This seemed to gee him up a little, and it was soon after (half past summer) that he at last presented me with my goods.
And so I lived another day to experience the ‘Customer Service’ department of a well-known, reasonably-expensive American watch purveyor. (Whose website gleefully proclaims: “Gradually the climate is changing and Spring is coming, along with new trends”. Would those new trends include free tickets to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth (popcorn extra), or do they really mean “the season is changing, let us flog you a new timepiece”? Perhaps you should have waited until you’d mastered the basic elements of speaking English before you fought for independence, eh Yanks?)
Anyway, a watch I’ve had for years (Guess which make it is?) ran out of battery power while I was living in Nice. I took it to three jewellers, two in Nice, one in Cannes, none of whom could remove the back to replace the battery. I relocated to the UK, and subsequently went to three more watch repairers, all of whom had the same problem, one of them – the Responsible Jeweller – telling me the only thing to be done was to send it to the UK HQ of
Guess the unidentified American watch purveyor.
So I called them, explained the situation, and was asked to send the watch in. Which I did, by Recorded Delivery.
Yesterday, the Responsible Postman dropped a letter onto my mat. It was from You Know Who (good Guess!), telling me they would proceed with taking the back off if I sent them the (estimated!) payment of £16.20. I got on the phone.
The ‘Customer Supervisor’ (actually a great title, since she offered very little Customer ‘Service’, and attempted to talk to me as if I was a very naughty customer indeed) was chippy from the off. She told me – to truncate much of the 15 minute conversation – that there was no fault with the watch, a five-year-old could do it, all the watch-repairers in the whole world were morons, none of whom possessed the correct tools, and that her company didn’t replace batteries for nothing, you know.
I told her I hadn’t asked her to replace the battery, and that this wasn’t ‘a repair’, I just want them to make it possible to replace the battery. She told me there was still a charge for doing that. “But this is the first replacement battery it’s needed and the back won’t come off!” I screamed, in a kind and caring way. “Well, it isn’t a fault”, she retorted; something she had torted from the off, and kept on torting for the next 10 minutes. “Why would I bother sending the thing back to you by Recorded Delivery when I could get a new battery locally for half the price you want to charge me?!”
“Imagine you didn’t sell watches, but washing machines”, I put to her. “What if I took delivery of one and the door wouldn’t open for me to put my washing into”. “You should call an engineer”, she told me. “But the machine would be faulty!!!”, I proffered, jumping up and down on her head whilst wearing spiky football boots in a fantasy manoeuvre I keep in reserve for emergencies. “No it wouldn’t!”, she countered.
OK, time for the cavalry.
“Just send the watch back to me”, I sighed. “But I have to tell you I am a journalist and will be writing about this experience”.
“Let me just find your watch and take a look at it”, she purred. (Had a husband once who went from snarling to purring in .6 of a second, most disconcerting).
She fumbled around for a few seconds and came back on the line. She said she’d take the back off while I was on the phone, so easy was it going to be. She was gone for 10 minutes.
Was it my imagination or was she out of breath on her return? She told me it was just as easy as she knew it was going to be (do hope she went straight to A&E at the end of our call) and that she’d replace the battery for free. I said she didn’t have to do that, I just wanted the back taken off. She insisted she’d give me a free battery, and not to hesitate in future if I had any more trouble, and hey, why not call her up first and she’d send me a postage-paid envelope so I wouldn’t have to lay out for any more stamps, along with a Fiat 500 in the colour of my choice (oo, I’ll take the Ivory, thanks!), George Clooney’s number, and a free Parker pen.
It got me thinking though; I mean, we are in recession after all…perhaps the aggressive Customer Supervisor’s got it right? Maybe it’s time to change Not Nice Etoile’s Terms and Conditions…
…so in future, readers, if any of my jokes don’t work, kindly refrain from contacting me – just call an engineer.