Torn

This time of year tests the cheerfulness of even the nicest shop assistant, forced to wear Santa hats and apologise to every crabby customer for the wait in line whilst also suffering

again and again from listening to the same old background Christmas songs that have been on repeat play in store since July.

I’m amazed these people don’t let off steam every few minutes by putting on a Grinch mask and shouting “Rudolph is a drunk” or “Santa’s going to throw up on your carpet”.

With the High Street going crazy just now, these customer helpers are doing a great job and, if I’m in a store that has as feedback button, I’ll always give it a punch with a smile that says “Happy With The Service”.

But now this “service comment thing” is spreading everywhere. Call up any company with a query and you’ll find that Customer Service people have sneakily become the best emotional blackmailers in the world.

Yesterday I had a problem with my mobile ‘phone, so I called Orange. The service agent was very helpful and resolved my query but, just as I was thanking him, he said “you will receive a text asking to rate me for my help today. I hope you will give me full marks as that would help me a lot in return”. Of course I should have said something like, “I’ll be the judge of that”, but instead I summoned up all my reserves of courage and strength and meekly said “Of course. No problem.”

This is not the first time this has happened to me. In fact it’s the fourth time in just a couple of weeks.

We had a new gas boiler installed by British Gas and, as he left, the engineer told me I would receive a questionnaire asking how he had done. He informed me he would be most grateful if I gave him full marks as it affects his Christmas bonus. Again I said I would help out, but inwardly I began to wonder what the point of these things is. If all of us are asked to give top marks then it’s a bit redundant, isn’t it? Why don’t they save time and effort and just let the engineer fill it in himself?

We also bought a new car a few weeks ago and I must confess the dealer was very helpful and kept us informed throughout. “In the next few days you will get a call asking how we did”, he told me. “Can I presume you’ll give us five out of five?”. Frankly, you can assume whatever you want but I’m going to give you zero just for presuming I thought, but when the call came I rolled over and had my tummy tickled, then gave him five. I only hope he’s getting his Christmas bonus too.

Perhaps all this charity I’m dispensing means I don’t have to tip the bin men, the postman or the paper girl this year. I’ll just pop in to my local council, post office and newsagent and tell them I’m giving their staff five out of five, and no need to come round my house for a tip and, by the way, a very Happy Christmas to one and all. Think it might work?

 Last week my technical problem of the week was with my internet provider so, one chat with a call centre in India later, I was back on track with my problem solved. “Please stay on the line Paul as you will be asked a question about my service” said my new Indian buddy. “I would appreciate you giving me full marks.” Again, I did exactly as he asked so I think I’ve managed, indirectly, to give a Christmas tip in the Far East. Happy Diwali to you all over there.

But enough is enough. I don’t mind this nonsense in December – good will to all mankind and all that – but come January the gloves are off. Anyone who asks for feedback is going to get it in a string of words last put together by a freezing docker hanging naked from a frozen drainpipe when his girlfriend’s husband came home unexpectedly. I’ve had enough. My new year resolution will be that I’m not going to be bullied any more. You want feedback mister, you’re going to get it, big time.

I do hope you enjoyed the blog this week. The guy who looks after my internet site will be calling you tomorrow to give me a rating out of five. I assume you’ll give me full marks? Thank you.