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Monday, 22 November 2010

"When a man speaks of his honour and a woman of her virtue, avoid the former and cultivate the latter." - John Wilkes

Do you like that? I'm not sure it was John Wilkes who said it, but it certainly was someone in the late 18th century.

Anyhow, have you noticed the remarkable discrepancy between what people say they do and how they behave - especially in business.

Dan who did this cartoon makes the point pretty well. I met him in Florida when I was getting my award for not having been stuck in gaol yet.

He tells me:

I Googled the phrase "We value your business" and got 191,000,000 hits from the search. Even for Google, this is a large number.

He comments:

When you actually do get a human on the line, it's like the company has serious Attention Deficit and Disorder issues, which is why the ginormous phone company pictured in the cartoon is called ad&d - note that any resemblance to a real phone company is purely coincidental.

And it's not just the phone companies. Take the credit card companies. When I call them, they ask me to enter my sixteen digit account number. Then, minutes later, when a human picks up the phone, what is the first thing they ask me? They say, "please tell me your sixteen digit account number."

What happened to the one I just keyed into the phone? Apparently the phone system ate it.

Not long ago I bought a house and called a major phone company (let's just say their name rhymed with ad&d) to get phone service. I wasn't asking for anything fancy, just a plain old land line

They told me that they really preferred not to actually set up the service themselves (although they would for about $128) and that I should call their outsourced company called White Picket Fence or something like that if I wanted to actually get a phone installed at a lesser rate.

Amazing! This was the phone company telling me they preferred to not set up phone service
- and they wanted to fob me off to some other company with a meaningless name.

I wasn't doing a home improvement project, I just wanted a plain old land line attached to a plain old black desk phone (with the curly cord that gets all snagged and bunched up). And, they wouldn't even transfer me. They gave me the phone number to dial myself.

Awesome customer service, don't you think. Anyhow, I did actually call White Picket Fence and the whole transaction went downhill from there - but I'll spare you at this point.

If you like the cartoon, Dan's site is www.TheWoodChips.com.

Another website called http://funny-about-money.com, ran a piece headed "Reaching a person at a company that doesn’t want to be reached". This calls for immense reserves of persistence and effort, but if you want to punish a few of these fat idle complacent corporate bastards, have a go, and God bless you.

Don't you think technology is used to excuse or even prevent people from doing a good job far too often?

The Chelsea Library of which I am an avid patron, went high-tech/big cock-up about a year ago.

For reasons only a lunatic would comprehend they put in a machine that's supposed to open the doors when you come in instead of you pushing them open in the normal way. At a time when we're supposed to be saving energy what sense does this make? Have people's hands dropped off? Anyhow, it has not worked for a single day as far as I can make out.

At the same time they installed computers for checking books in and out. They have NEVER worked successfully for more than a few days. So staff who I assume the computers were brought in to replace - why? - have to do what the computers don't besides apologising for what's wrong with the wretched machines.

Incidentally, whatever mysterious machine controls this blog keeps changing the type face at random. Never confuse change with progress.

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