“We’re experiencing high customer demand…”

There’s nothing so annoying, for a customer, as being blamed by an organisation for its failure to deliver a sevice.  When telephoning, and this applies especially to banks, more and more often I get a looped recorded message saying something like “We are sorry for the delay in answering.  You are moving forward in the queue (of unspecified length or time by the way)”. “We are experiencing high call volumes” or “We are experiencing high customer demand”.  What they mean is there aren’t enough staff to deal with customers trying to reach them.  And why is it there is so much demand?  Could it be there are an increasing number of customers unhappy with the service they are getting, trying to correct a mistake or complain?

I recently received an e-mail from my bank inviting me to join a debit card-use loyalty programme.  I didn’t want to join but there was only an ‘opt out’ link, not an ‘opt in’ – so I chose to opt out.  This took me to a second page which clearly implied that I was already joined to the programme and asking for my card details.  Now this had all the classic signs of a phishing scam so I rang the bank.  15 minutes of recorded crocodile tear apologies later I embarked on a conversation that lasted a further 10 minutes, I succeded in getting myself removed from the system.  25 minutes on the ‘phone at a premium rate.  Within a week we had two more e-mails, so the complaint appears to have fallen on deaf ears. It’s time to change banks.


Despite all, including having now switched banks, we are still getting both e-mails and text messages from Royal Bank of Scotland exhorting us to take advantage of their “Debit Card Cash Back – our way of saying thank you” promotion.  Is it any wonder that RBS is in such a mess?


We recently visited a local town, and our business crossed over  a bank holiday Saturday lunchtime.  The economic centre of this town basically consists of a single high street, with alleyways off, where there are several places to eat.  We chose a high street wine bar where bistro-style food is available but 40 minutes after giving our order for two Panini we were still waiting and, concerned about expiry of our car park ticket, we enquired about progress: “it hasn’t started yet”.  We left, but not before the staff had the monumental cheek to say “All these people came in and we work in strict rotation in the kitchen”.  Well….there are a fixed number of covers, it’s a bank holliday weekend, the food we wanted wasn’t high end.  Either they are prepared for the customers or they are not.  If they haven’t the staff to cope when at full capacity they need to either get more staff  for predictable peak times or close off some of the covers and, whatever, tell customers when they order that there will be a delay.  It isn’t the customers’ fault for having the temerity to turn up. Hospitality industry, service industry, tourism, flatlining economy…join the dots.


“It wasn’t me, gov” Part 2

I believe in the need for a right of the accused to get a fair hearing in front of a jury of their peers: this is fundamental to the delivery and function of a safe legal system and of democracy itself.  What I cannot understand is the use of such rights by an accused, who appears to have been caught “red handed”, to frustrate justice or to provide a platform for publicising some ideology, and at public expense. I write here about the case of two men who were alleged to have hacked to death an off-duty soldier in London, with knives and a butcher’s meat cleaver, having first run him down with a car, and all in broad daylight.  They were put on trial and pleaded “Not Guilty” despite having admitted the offence, on camera, at the scene.

Subsequently, before the inevitable verdict of guilty, the two killers took the opportunity to justify their heinous crime as “an act of war” against a “legitimate target” – a serving British soldier doing nothing more violent than go to the gym.  Disregarding the fact that ‘correct’ Islam does not advocate violence, nor endorse or promote extremism, they were allowed, by the mechanism of simply pleading ‘not guilty’, to propagate their chillingly insane rationale while, at the same time, subjecting the poor bereaved family to horrendous detail, including film, of the butchery of their loved one.

I simply ask how is it possible, how does it serve the ends of justice or democracy, to permit this distortion of due process?




Christmas Sentiment

Have you noticed that, especially at this time of year, there are many more charity advertisements plucking at our heart strings?  Only £2 or £3 a month will secure a free conscience.  Competing for our conscience pounds are cuddly animals, not so cuddly animals and even less cuddly people.  We can adopt a dog, cat, old person, homeless person, snow leopard, African child with terrible eye disease and so on.  Why not cut out the middle man and, for example, send the donkeys off to feed the snow leopards and use the saved money to eradicate eye disease?  Donkey burger anyone?

Seriously, though, I find it incredible that we are asked to support thousands of donkeys in so-called “sanctuaries” all over the place when, at the same time, our compassion is tested by The Salvation Army and homeless charities like Shelter.  It ought to be no contest, really, and yet the Donkey Sanctuary is a multi-million pound business employing hundreds of people in the UK alone.  Not only that, but the charity owns and, as far as I understand it, continues to buy many hundreds of acres of productive farm land on which to let these beasts gambol and frolic.  Don’t get me wrong, I love animals, and abhor cruelty and ill-treatment – but surely people come first?

Something wrong somewhere, or am I Donkey Hotay and tilting at windmills?