“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.