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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

I don't know if Ebay have started selling voodoo dolls of the Gardner family, but yesterday was not a good day. So much for this being the honeymoon period.

It started badly when I woke up to find that my prostatitis had come back from a month long holiday and unpacked itself in my pelvis. Like any good junkie, I keep a secret stash of pills, but my antibiotics take at least 24 hours to kick in, so as a result I felt like death warmed up all day.

But I struggled into work anyway. And then struggled to log on to our computer system. After half an hour on the phone to the I.T. helpdesk, during which the chap told me that this was officially "a weird one", he eventually solved the problem. Although he couldn't tell me what had caused it. I told him I suspect voodoo.

Having spent the morning in the office, I headed out into the field after lunch, before realising that we don't hold clinics in fields, and entering the hospital instead. I successfully logged in, sat down, called my first patient... and then discovered that the camera wouldn't work. The next twenty minutes progressed in a similar vein to the morning, but with the role of the I.T. helpdesk played by my team leader.

Having decided that it was, in fact, another "weird one", we discovered that the camera would work if I was logged in as my colleague. So I did the rest of the clinic as her. Only fatter and less pretty.

By the time I got home (late, and in the rain), I felt rougher than I'd felt all day, and was looking forward to a cheerful smile from the missus. I didn't get one. It turned out she'd had an even worse day than I'd had.

After a morning of stressful potty training, Lisa had left Amelie with her Mum, and headed into town to change her name to Gardner at the bank. She duly queued up, showed them our marriage certificate, offered them her banking details, and was promptly told that they won't change her name without an appointment. She was so annoyed, she left without making one.

But if that conversation was frustrating, it was nothing compared to the hour she then spent on the phone to British Telecom. When Lisa's Mum moved into sheltered housing back in June, we got BT to connect the phone line for her. She'd previously been with the Post Office, and after a couple of weeks in her new flat, she decided she'd like to go back to them for her phone service.

Lisa applied to have it changed, at which point BT told her there'd be a £60 cancellation charge if she left them so soon. My mother-in-law didn't want to pay that, so we cancelled the transfer, and she stuck with BT.

There was a slight complication when the Post Office attempted to bill her for three months line rental in advance, but having realised we hadn't gone through with the switch, they cancelled the bill, and all was well.

Until yesterday, that is, when Lisa's Mum received a bill for £60 from BT in respect of her cancellation. Lisa called them on her Mum's phone, thus proving that it hadn't been cancelled, but apparently that wasn't good enough. They said she must be phoning on a Post Office line.

To cut a long and frustrating story short, Lisa spent half the afternoon on a BT line to BT, trying to convince them that she hadn't been cut off. Some of the finest call centre operatives in both India and the UK insisted she had, and continued to demand money.

Eventually, after much arguing, they agreed to waive the £60 cancellation fee.

And then told her she'd have to pay £129 to be reconnected. She asked to speak to someone in charge. The woman refused.

To cut an even longer and more frustrating story slightly shorter, Lisa insisted that she wouldn't pay to be reconnected to a service she'd never been disconnected from, and they eventually offered to knock a hundred quid off the price. After an hour on the phone, and with her blood pressure through the roof, Lisa ended up agreeing before she went clinically insane. They're sending an engineer around next week to reconnect the phone line. That's going to be one of his quicker jobs of the day.

Obviously, with hindsight, the sensible thing would have been to politely decline the reconnection and carry on using the phone. After all, the Post Office are happy that it's not theirs, and having argued with Lisa for most of the afternoon that her Mum doesn't have a BT line, British Telecom can hardly start charging her for the calls. But with her mother threatening to throw herself off Beachy Head, Lisa felt she had to give in.

Fortunately the Gardners have a coping mechanism to deal with days like that. After putting Amelie to bed, Lisa and I sat down, took stock of the situation, and ate a whole banoffee pie between us.


Phil's Mum said...

Aaaah!  That's all so sad.  I do hope Lisa doesn't think its anything to do with becoming 'Mrs. Gardner'!

Peter Chapman said...

A big bowl of Smash (lazy people's mashed potato) with lots of grated cheese melted into it is my 'go to' food on stressful days.

Dave said...

Mentioning telephones, I was looking at my address book last night, and realised you haven't given me your new address (and 'phone number, if it's changed) which explains why you haven't receoeved any of the cards I may or may not have sent.

Anonymous said...

No wonder BT has the reputation it has. I'd be writing a letter to the Chief Exec (forget customer services) bullet pointing the conversation and ensuring the part about refusing to connect you to someone in charge is highlighted. It worked with another phone company and we've not had any problems since. :)

Phil said...

Don't, you're making me hungry. 

Phil said...

Don't worry Dave, I may or may not e-mail it to you.  :-D

Phil said...

We wondered about doing that. Personally I'm looking forward to hearing what the engineer says when he turns up to reconnect the phone line...