Is it just me, or have the businesses of Britain decided that lockdown is the perfect excuse not to talk to anyone? I can’t remember the last time I managed to have a chat with my bank, my energy provider, the company that keeps failing to repair and return my coffee percolator.
No one who lost a holiday last year and tried to get a refund will need this spelling out. How many people shared my experience of finding a number on the company’s website where I could make my claim, only to be told it wasn’t being answered due to high demand? The cruellest cut for me, however, was my joust with HMRC, who, having asked me for a mountain of information to settle a lockdown-related tax query (tax code, universal tax reference, sort code, account number etc), then informed me the number I had to call wasn’t operational “because of lockdown”.
Phone an organisation’s helpline today and you are likely to hear a recorded voice telling you that staff are working from home and operating hours have been reduced (apparently from about 9am to 9.15am). “But there’s good news!” the one-sided conversation will continue. “There’s not a thing you can’t do more quickly and efficiently by just going to our website.”
This, as everyone knows, is not true. You can’t ask a website any questions unless the answers are already programmed into its neat little box of a brain…