Chuck it aaaart

downloadMrs Gnomepants: So we might get our lovely period bath re-enamelled rather than buy a new one. Its a lovely original cast iron bath.
Ma Gnomepants: Why would you want to do that? Oh buy a new one instead.

and

Mother-in-law – Why have you made your own cake? You’d have been better off buying a shop bought one.
A bit later..
Sister-in-law phwarr this cake’s lovely
stegzy Oh yes. Its delightful. Really chocolatey and moist. I’ll have another slice there should be plenty seen as your mum would prefer a shop bought one.

Ma Gnomepants Get yourself a new vacuum cleaner
stegzy Why? Whats wrong with the one I’ve got? I’ve only had it for 4 years
Ma Gnomepants It doesn’t suck right. I think it’s broken
stegzy Mum…Its either full or the pipe is blocked. Bit of poking about Ah yes. Look a big ball of cat hair and paper blocking one of the pipes. And look, it sucks….Thats saved me £100

My mum and the wifes mum are part of what I call the “Throw away” generation. The throw away generation tend to be aged between 50 and 80. If something breaks, whereas their parents would have endeavoured to fix or mend the broken item themselves or have the item repaired by someone else, the “Throw Away” Generation simply chuck it out and buy a new one.

junkMy Dad was born on the cusp of the arrival of this generation. If a hole appeared in one of his socks he used to darn the sock and prolong its life by a further 2 years. Similarly if something mechanically simple breaks, my dad will take it apart and have a look to see if he can repair the thing. This attitude saved me loads of cash as a kid when my over used joysticks for my Commodore 64 would break. A simple twist of the screws and a blob of solder would often fix the problem. Likewise with bicycles, bits of furniture, plumbing, general repairs or whatever, if a simple patch and repair could be affected it would. My mum however, is the opposite. Even the slightest tear of fabric in something and it must be thrown out and a new one bought. Note I said thrown out. Rarely are such items given away to anyone other than family and even then prolonged usage would receive comments such as “Why don’t you buy yourself a new one?” or “I see John Lewis have a sale on “.

I suppose the post war years and the post rationing years promised that generation exciting and disposable things. Instant Car! Just add water! or Our sofas are made of 100% cheap and nasty non-biodegradable polymer based materials. SO cheap! Why buy one? Buy four! If one breaks…chuck it out! Hurrah!!. Their rationed parents and grandparents looking on in bewilderment. “Hey wow look Ethel! Dorothy has bought yet another labour saving device! Gosh do you remember when you had to spend all day Wednesday working on the mangle?”.

So we come full circle again.

Things break
I’ll have a look at the thing.
Assess if I can fix it.
Ask my dad if he can fix it.
Buy a new one but keep the old one for spares.
Get bollocked by the wife for keeping shite that I’ll never get round to fixing
Dispose of thing in recognised place of refuse disposal.

Even when in our house where we have separate bins for recyclables and compostables. After the olds have visited we tend to find things in the wrong bin. I think if Liverpool council hadn’t had a “If you don’t compost we’ll frown at you” campaign, the olds would still be chucking out plastics and glass to landfill. Although to be fair my dad has always separated his bottles and papers, but mum just puts anything resembling rubbish into the bin. I think my dad separates the bottles because when he was young he could take bottles back to the shop for the penny deposit and newspapers were always useful for a variety of purposes. Whereas my mum sees that as a bit lower class and although my mum comes from the roughest arse end of Garston, she sees herself as having worked her way up to near the top and is quite proud.

The wife’s mum tends to just lump everything into the same bin despite constantly being told by her daughters that there are greener ways to do things. Though to give her her due she does switch everything off at the wall when she has finished. Not something I can hold my hand up and say I do religiously and she doesn’t drive a car (my dad drives a petrol guzzling Ford Focus) so I suppose that off sets some of her carbon foot print slightly.

I read this…..Is it right? Are your olds part of the throw away generation? How about you?

How to be a good customer

Introduction

People often moan about customer service. “It’s shite” they say. “I’ve been waiting on this phone for 3 hours” say others. “They were a right miserable sod” say more still. The world we live in today is bulging with customer care helplines, complaints offices and faceless customer-vendor relationships, which, psychologists might say, is a detriment to our social development and often leaves the customer feeling isolated, singled out and victimised. Indeed, on the flip-side, customer service operatives will tell you equal amounts of stories about rude and sometimes apparently stupid customers. Furthermore, people that work in the customer service environment undergo rigorous training on how to pander and placate angry and awkward customers which, more often than not, can sometimes fan the flames of discontent. So, in an effort to redress the balance I intend to give you, a customer, a simple several part guide on how to be a better customer and get the service you deserve.

 

 Part 1 – Face to Face situations

1Dealing with customer service people in a face to face situation is increasingly rarer these days. This is because it is cheaper for companies to pay for faceless people cooped up in a giant warehouse connected to a telephone system than it is to have people man offices on high streets. Of course this is bad practice as the company never redistributes the savings it makes from such a system back to the customer but because a small group of people have been surveyed on your behalf and have said they prefer to deal with people over the telephone, this is obviously what YOU want too. Of course it rarely is, so if enough people demand a return to high street offices maybe the high street offices will return. But I wouldn’t hold your breath.

If you are fortunate to be in a face to face customer service situation there are nine key things to remember:

31. Smile – Nothing is more disarming than a smile. Even if the person serving you is that horrid woman from number 46 who murdered your cat and called your mother a bad name, smile. They will be more unnerved than you. Keep smiling. You are there to give them money. They want your service. Not only for company profits but also so they still have a job. If you keep smiling you will keep them on their toes. Even if they are rude, unpleasant or it seems like they don’t want to be there. Smile. It wins.

42. Be polite – Rudeness gets you nowhere. Put yourself in their shoes. They’ve had a shit day doing shit work probably for shit pay. They probably don’t want to be there and probably would prefer to be sat at home watching Homes Under the Hammer or playing Guitar Hero. If you’re rude to them they’ll be rude or vindictive back. Plus they’ll think you are a twat. So be nice. Be polite. Don’t demand this or demand that. Ask nicely. With a smile. If they still refuse to provide the service you expect then that’s fine. Just ask their name and walk away. If they refuse to provide you with a name then walk away. Politely. Nothing unnerves an arsey sod more than asking for their name and as for walking away smiling and cheery….well that just gives them the willies.

53. Be prepared to walk away – If something is not going as you feel it should, perhaps there is fault in either their or your communication skills. In such a case, feel free to walk away. Keep smiling though. This tactic works with used car sales people and it works elsewhere too. If you are not happy with the service you are given then simply…go elsewhere. Yes it is a ball ache but if you go elsewhere they will be getting your business and the others will not. Indeed, you will find that if the same product or service is cheaper in your original choice, the competition may sometimes, try to match your original choices price.

 

24. Dash dash gnash gnash – If you are in a rush; don’t stand there flapping. Things take time. All things. It takes 3 minutes to boil an egg. Take it out of the pan too soon, you might die. Leave it in, you have hard white and yellow shit. Likewise, any bit of administration, filing, setting up of an account or procession of sale takes time. If you stand there flapping it won’t make people hurry up. Far from it. It can run the risk of them drawing things out. Plus the person serving you will think you are a twat. If you are in a rush to get something sorted. Wait until you have more time. If that is not practical, face up to the fact that you have procrastinated and it is you that is at fault, not the rest of the world. Accept your failings like the adult you should be. Alternatively, stamp your feet and cry like the spoilt brat that you are.

 

65. First Hour is free – Four words guaranteed to rile any customer service person “I Don’t Have time” because here you are. Stood in front of them. This is especially annoying to the customer service person if they’re already busting a ball sack to help you out in the first place. If you don’t have time, make time. If time is a premium to you, charge for it. If you do, you’ll soon find people will think you are a twat and your children, parents and friends probably loathe you too. If you genuinely do not have time, give the first hour for free. Then charge. Missing the start of Eastenders is not going to cause you mental distress.

 

6. Understand – If you are seeking advice, make sure you understand that advice before you leave. Nothing riles a CS rep more than a customer or client that does not listen and ends up coming back again and again with the same question. If you still don’t understand ask them politely for a demonstration or for them to write it down for you. If they refuse, go elsewhere if you can. If not…well….

7. Take it higher – If changing provider or vendor is not possible or impractical, take your displeasure else where. Remember, you should still be polite and smiley with no whiff of arse about you. Ask politely to speak to a manager. If they refuse, ask for the address of the head office. If they refuse still, calmly walk away smiling and look it up yourself. The Internet is like a huge answer page, you just have to know which puzzle you are doing before you can cheat. A good tactic to employ is to approach the manager’s manager. Often you will find that arsey staff are a result of an arsey or shite manager. Think and assess your situation. If the manager looks like a loafer, he probably is. If the manager is bronze and covered in bling, he’s a twat. Take your complaint to the next level by bypassing the manager if possible. Independent organisations, such as restaurants and shops tend to be managed by the owner. In this case, if you are unhappy, go elsewhere but ensure that you tell everyone you know of the poor service you have received. Indeed, if you find that you have received poor service in an independent place, another good tactic is to tell another customer, calmly and politely, how bad the service you have received has been. This can also work if you take a friend in with you who can pretend to be that customer. If you are dealing with a multinational, then addressing a letter to the CEO or to the Head of department can sometimes come up trumps. But instead of complaining about the poor serf that dealt with you, complain about the management rather than the CS staff. Because it is nearly always the management that are at fault.

8. Good for good – I’ve said this before a long time ago, if you have had good service – tell the company. Tell the person who dealt with you that you are pleased. Nothing pleases a CSR more than a compliment. If you have had good service write, in the first instance, to the management and, if possible, CC to the CEO because nothing pleases a CSR more than compliments from high up.

9. Don’t be a twat – Before you launch into a tirade about this that and the other, ask yourself, do you come across as being a bit or all of a twat? If the answer to that is yes, then congratulations! The first steps to rehabilitation is recognition. If you are comfortable with people you don’t know thinking you are a twat, then perhaps the best course of action is for you to go away and never interact with a single soul again. You twat. Everyone hates you. Even your cat. Perhaps if you weren’t such a twat things would go well for you. If you are uncomfortable with the thought that people might think of you as a twat, then it is simple….DON’T BE A TWAT. Easy! Was Jesus a twat? No! Was Mohammed? No! Was Buddha? No! Nice people get nice things, twats get all they deserve.

Be nice, smile, be polite and complementitive (yes I just made that word up).

Open the doors to a shiny new world where things go right most of the time. Sure things will go wrong sometimes. But that’s why we have CSRs and complaint departments.


This post originally appeared on Livejournal and Blogspot in September 2009 where it received little attention. As yet – Part 2: Telephone Customer Service  has not surfaced.  Some editing and sweary word removal has been undertaken.

Disclaimer: The majority of pictures used in this post were obtained via searches on Google images. Apologies if credits not given.

For every season

Ah food. My favourite subject. I took a trip to Barnsley Market on Tuesday and was amazed at the colourful displays of fruit and veg at the greengrocer stalls. Such diversity at such a wide rane of prices. That got me thinking about how the culture of now fueled by the supermarket’s thoughtlessness on providing what the customer wants regardless of the cost to the environment has made us forget to think responsibly about food. Sure I like a banana all year round, but some things, such as strawberries and apples, just don’t taste the same out of season. Soft fruit especially, as this becomes flavourless and generally pants out of season. Then I thought, how much do you know about the seasonal availability of fruit and veg in your part of the world. These days we tend to forget that fruit and veg are seasonal and we just nip down the shops for some imported veg like we might nip down to the electrical store for some imported electrical goods.

It is worth noting, however, that I do “try” to buy seasonal British produce wherever possible, but as supermarkets are able to import huge sacks of fruit and veg from anywhere in the world, it can be hard to find such produce in them (except, it seems, at small scale greengrocers surprisingly) even though I try to check the country of origin for fruits and veggies.