Thursday, March 30, 2006

Phun with fonetics...

I've spent a considerable amount of my working life in a customer service related role and as a result I like to think that I can maintain a little more patience than most, in sympathy for the poor soul at the other end of the line.

Case in point; I have been trying to register with the internet banking service that one of my credit card companies keeps pestering me about. For several months. Without success. And although I'm clearly no webmaster, I'm hardly a technophobe either. So I swallowed my pride and rang the company in question for some help. Unsurprisingly, the voice that answered was more reminiscent of a sunnier eastern location than the city 2 hours away where the bank's head offices are located.

Me: I seem to be having a problem registering for your online service
Call centre person: Sorry, I can't help with that but I'll put you through to our web support help centre. Can I help you with anything else?
Me: Actually yes, you don't seem to have my new address. I have now moved to [gave him my address]

At this point he proceeded to repeat my new address back to me using the phonetic alphabet. Now I'm not here to criticise the chap personally; indeed, his grasp of my native language was clearly much greater than mine will be of his and it is commendable that they had been taught the phonetic alphabet for such telephone confirmations, but they had obviously not been trained on how to use it.

For example, I would expect "Main Road" to be confirmed back to me as "Main - mike, alpha, indigo, november; Road - romeo, oscar, alpha, delta" and not "m as in mike, a as in alpha, i as in indigo," etc. You think I'm being petty? Even if I were to say that there are 36 characters of this I had to listen to? Back to the call:

CCP: OK we'll update that for you, is there anything else before I transfer your call?
Me: No thanks.
CCP: The line appears to be busy. While you're waiting can I tell you about our latest offers on balance transfers?
Me: No thanks, I just want to sort out the internet banking
CCP: It still appears to be busy, can I interest you in some of our insurance offers?
Me: No thanks, really, I just wanted so sort out my online registration
CCP: Still busy. Did I mention we have a low rate offer on cash advances at the moment.
Me: No, you didn't and I'm sorry but I'd rather you didn't persist with trying to sell me services whilst I'm paying for this call
CCP: No problem Sir. Oh the line appears to be free now
Me: [thinks] Well there's a surprise...
Web Support Person: I understand you have a problem signing into our internet service
Me: You see the problem is that you sent me a 16 digit number I have to enter on your screen, then a username, then a password, then a 6 digit login key, but it always throws me back out again. I answer the secret question with a response that I am 100% certain is correct after which I'm told there's another 16 digit number in the post because all online activity for the account has now been de-activated. Is there anyway we can go through this over the phone?
WSP: Well that should have worked. Are you sure you have the correct details?
Me: Yes, although I'm not 100% sure about the login key
WSP: Oh, you don't get to choose that, we generate that randomly
Me: So how do I find out what it is?
WSP: Well you need to log in first
Me: With all due respect, that appears to be where things are going wrong. If I could log on, we would not be having this conversation
WSP: Actually, its says on my screen here that your online account has been de-activated. We'll send you a new 16 digit number in the post then you can sign on again.
Me: I've had about five of these 16 digit numbers sent to me now and without wanting to sound arrogant, I don't think the problem is at this end
WSP: Well I'm afraid there's nothing you can do until your new number arrives
Me: [Beginning to think I'm talking to a loop tape and losing the will to live] OK maybe I'll try and contact you again when it arrives...

What a useless bunch of tango whisky alpha tangos...

No comments: