Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nil carborundum

I can hardly be alone in finding the automated voice response you get these days from just about any organisation you call as one of the major blood pressure provokers of modern living. When they remind me that the call will be recorded 'for your protection and ours' (who do they think they are kidding?) I just hope the recording starts during the sorry to keep you waiting phase and that they sometimes listen to it afterwards. It's the only chance you get to say what you really think.

Worse even than the 'press one for sales and two for service' type (always ask for sales then sweetly ask to be put through to the right department to save you calling again) are the ones that work on the assumption they can interpret your voice and ask for specific information. They have one of these in a car park in Worcester to rescue those who don't bring enough coins with them. This is on top of the tactic of charging £1.20 an hour, refusing to give change and making you declare your registration number so that you can't pass your remaining time to someone else if you leave early. For those with only paper money they offer the 'quick and easy' option to use your mobile and pay by credit card, with a 20p fine on top of the call charge and parking fee. 

The first few questions were easy: registration, make, colour (of vehicle) and number of hours required. Then the cedit card details, sixteen digits to key in with my phone in one hand, card in the other and glasses in my pocket. By this time a couple had turned up were trying their own luck with the coins. They were also listening in some wonder to my efforts to argue with the automatic voice for I have an obtuse objection to one-sided conversations.

'That number was not accepted. Please try again.'
'I'm paying for this call. How much more of my time are you going to waste?' 
I tried a different card. 'That number is not valid. It did not have enough digits.'
'Of course it didn't you stupid man. I haven't finished entering them yet'. Then I was cut off.

Thinking it was a good thing the voice really was a man's, or I would have been bundled off to the nick on some sex offence charge, I looked around for a Civil Enforcement Officer. This is what they call parking wardens in Worcester these days and of course they are only there when you get back to your car two minutes past the time your ticket expired. Such was the case. In desperation I asked (very politely) the woman who had involuntarily overheard my rant, and who seemed unoffended by it, if she could change a fiver for five ones. Unlike most women in my experience she had other than notes in her purse and equally politely obliged. She is probably dining out on it now.

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