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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

December 16, 2005

charlatans, thieves, frauds

Yesterday, I thought I'd phone my insurance company, make sure they had all the paperwork etc. they needed, and that they weren't sitting on my claim waiting for some information that they hadn't bothered to ask me for. You know what these people are like.

First time I phoned, I got a message saying they were experiencing a "high volume of calls", and if it was a "non-urgent" matter, please try later. I decided to do that, because I had things to get on with, but then I got the same message when I tried later and realised that the same message goes out, regardless of time of day and volume of calls.

The truth is that the cheapskate bastards don't employ enough people to cope with the volume of calls, and they use that mechanism to discourage people from contacting them.

Once they've got your money, that is. Because I bet if you phone the quote line, you get a fairly swift answer, even if it then takes half an hour to establish the spelling of your surname and your post code.

So when I phoned again, I ignored that message and waited. 25 minutes.

During that 25 minutes, I probably heard the "Your call is important to us and thank you for your patience" message - well, 25 times. At the best of times, that kind of message is irritating. Irritating because it's meaningless, and because it's insincere. But I defy anyone who has heard it 25 times (and I know 25 minutes is only an average length of time to be on hold) not to be enraged to the point of apoplexy by it. So, not only meaningless and insincere, but counterproductive and stress-inducing.

So I finally got through, and said I was just calling to check whether they had everything in hand. Did I have a claim reference number? No, because I haven't heard anything from you since I made my claim. After we established who I was, she saw that they'd been notified - initially - by the AA, which I knew. And I asked if they'd received the actual form I'd completed, with all the exhausting detail asked for (much more than I gave the AA). No, she said, but really they preferred to do everything by phone.

Oh, really? Is that why you make me hold on for 25 minutes until someone answers?

Anyway, she said she'd check that the form had been received (I sent it on Tuesday the 6th, so 10 days ago) and phone me back to confirm.

Even as I put the phone down, I knew I wasn't going to hear anything. I'd been well and truly fobbed off. See, my worry is that organisations like insurance companies rely on a system of inertia. Like estate agents and conveyancers, they do precisely nothing until you phone them up to give them a nudge. If you don't phone, they assume you don't care enough, and don't ever bother with it. And if you wait too long to phone, your paperwork will be lost and you will have to start again.

And yet, we increasingly live in a culture in which the person who complains is treated as a criminal. I knew, for example, if I expressed my extreme annoyance at the standard-operational-bullshit of being kept waiting for 25 minutes, that I would be addressed as some kind of freak or nutter.

You'd make a note of it, not to ever have dealings with this company again, except they all fucking merge with each other and become one huge edifice which you're obliged to deal with by law, and which has one central call centre with one part-time operator at the end of a labyrinthine voicemail system.



  • Oh, how I sympathise. On Thursday I spent an hour on the phone to broadband support as they took me through all the different things I might have done that might have caused my broadband to break down again, even though I told them that my broadband breaks down all the time and we go through this procedure each time and it's never anything to do with me. At the end of the hour, the guy on the phone said, "Oh well it seems that there is actually something wrong with your broadband connection." Yes, that's what I've been spending the past hour telling you. "In that case, I'll have to get an engineer to fix it." Oh, so I'm talking to someone who can't fix it? I ask when this is likely to happen. "I have no idea." Can you give me even some kind of guess as to when it might happen? "No."

    Somehow, my £10 a month broadband seems less of a bargain when you factor in the approx £15 I've spent on phone calls to their support line since I hooked up a few months ago.

    By Blogger Marie, at 8:40 am  

  • Yeah, those people are lovely. You can't get through to them on the phone service they sold you. Cancel your direct debit and they'll just have you credit blacklisted.

    By Blogger bot37363838, at 3:53 am  

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