According to another of those polls, the facet of modern life that most pisses off people is being held in a telephone queue before being able to speak to a human being.
Yes, I agree, but what drives me completely bonkers is when I do get through and hear … “Thanrrrrrrrrrrcallrrrrrrrrmyrrrrrrrrrdetrrrrrrrrhelpyou?” … or some such gibberish, which often comes complete with a thick ‘Geordie’, ‘Scouse’ or ‘Brummie’ accent.
Now there is nothing wrong with having a regional accent, but not when it comes at you at five hundred miles an hour ’spouting’ some meaningless greeting delivered by some ‘bored out of their skull’ call centre automaton.
These days I find that I spend most of my time when making these calls, trying to ‘translate’ what young little Miss ”How may I help you ?” is saying, after asking her to spell her name and slow down for the tenth time.
Having established that I am speaking to Bernadette from Belfast or Sangeeta from Smethwick, I then have to interpret my slightly ‘Cockney’ version of ‘The Queen’s English’ for her, while trying not to inject any humour into the conversation: for I have found that the simplest of jokes normally brings complete silence from the other end of the line. This is especially true if that line ‘ends’ in Manila or Mumbai.
With the influx of workers from the newest members of the European Union, I suppose that I will soon be asked for my mother’s maiden name by Boris from Bulgaria or Slobodan from Slovenia. I think I’ve already been ‘helped’ on one ‘Help Line’ by the not very helpful Helga from Hungary.
However, not all strange accents lead to communication problems, for there is one number that I call regularly, and the girl who answers is always polite, never has to ask for my name or address, instantly understands what I want, and sees to it that it is delivered to my door within half an hour …
… and she’s bloody Chinese.