Customer service isn't always a struggle

By Fr Michael Commane - The Way I See It

Published 27/10/2015 | 00:00

Technology is transforming our lives. It's great, that is, when it works. When it doesn't work it is the worst of all pains. The frustration, the annoyance, the taut nerves. Rage, bad language. Everything. Last week I experienced a small dose of it. It ended up that I was rude to an innocent young woman. I did go back and apologise. But technology cock-ups can also be a source of great fun. That is, when it happens to someone else and they see the lighter side to it all.

Some months ago a colleague bought a new smartphone. One of these super-duper machines that tell you everything. Nearly. It's slim and it looks so chic. However it happened, she doesn't know, but the phone stopped charging. You know those tiny little apertures, it looked as if it was damaged and she was unable to plug in the charger. A new phone would cost a fortune, so she began to shop around. Eventually she found one of these 'huckster' shops that sell all sorts of gadgets for phones and computers.

She came back to the office with a smile on her face. She had managed to buy an external charger for the phone battery. Things were looking up. Or so she thought. After a day-long of charging the battery remained as dead as a dodo.

What next? Would she go back with the external charger and give them a piece of her mind? No. She decided to cut her losses and buy a spanking new phone.

Another magnificent machine in her hand. She was delighted. She got it for 'free' and she would only have to pay so much a month. The dream phone. Or was it? We chatted about it and slowly but surely she realised that this was all going to work out quite expensive. The 'free' phone was a whopping €60 a month. She was having second thoughts about her gleaming new purchase.

What now? Off she goes, back to where she bought the spanking new phone. 'Oh, Michael, when I went to buy it they were all over me and so nice, full of smiles but when I went back asking them to change it, it was another story. All those wonderful smiles had disappeared. It's not as if I had used it. The salesperson was now so snappy and unhelpful just 60 minutes after he waved me off. When I returned with the phone he was like a bulldog chewing wasps,' she smiles. But actually, they did take it back. Good on them.

She goes back to the 'huckster' shop to explain that the external battery did not work. The man behind the counter agreed, went to the back of the shop and brought out a brand-new made-in-China charger. The green light on the side of the charger began flashing. The battery is charging. It works. Magic. She can breathe again. Phone is working. She can live again. Life is back on an even keel.

When I was her age, we had a phone at home and every small village in Ireland was crying for a public phone on the main street. When last did you step inside a public phone box? But a phone was a phone. Never a way of life. It sure is a funny old world.

What made the phone story so funny was the attitude of my work colleague. She is simply a funny woman with a great attitude, and to add to all that, she has one of those Northern accents that simply makes you weak at the knees.

Wexford People

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