Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Reliable service??

OK, here goes a rant! Himself and I are fed up, and also frankly bemused, by the number of people who are supposed to be there to provide a service, or are in business and (one would have thought) trying to secure work for themselves - and simply let us down. Is it just us? I don't think so, judging by the sympathetic nods of agreement I get whenever I moan about this to friends and acquaintances.

Take this morning for example. Someone from a carpet company who had arranged to come and measure our spare bedroom between 9 am and 10 am failed to arrive, and when Himself (sighing with irritation) phoned him to find out whether he was running late - he calmly said 'Oh, was it supposed to be today?'  Needless to say, he was told to forget it, and we went elsewhere.

Just the other day I was promised a call back by a restaurant where I was hoping to book a Christmas meal for at least a dozen people. Nobody called me back, meaning I had to call again. I'm now waiting for an email I was promised from them. Somehow it won't surprise me in the slightest if I have to chase that up too.

That's the most dispiriting thing about this: the fact that it doesn't even surprise us anymore. We recently had both our kitchen and bathroom refitted. Quite a big, not to say expensive, job, so we did the sensible thing and shopped around for the best prices. Of the local kitchen and bathroom specialists we approached, there were two who came along, measured up, made notes, and each spent over an hour of their time talking us through the work required and even giving us some useful ideas (thanks, guys!) ... and then never came back to us with a price. Two of them!  The first one, we gave the benefit of the doubt, gave him a call to ask how he was getting on with our quote, and were given an excuse about a child being ill and then a family holiday ... we didn't bother to call again. When the second one failed to get back to us, we decided not to bother chasing him up at all. Why should we need to? If he was that unreliable, we didn't really want him for the job. We've never heard from either of those guys again. And furthermore, even one of the big national DIY stores, who did at least produce a plan and an initial price for us, never got back to us again when we asked for some changes.

What is it with these people?!

Contrary to anything you might think, we are not hard to contact. We have, between us, one home phone, two email addresses, two mobile phone numbers, and a postal address. We're not even out at work during the day. We're reasonable people who don't (without good reason) complain, moan or expect the earth - we just want people to respond to us when they say they will, to turn up when they say they will and do what they've offered to do - or at the very least, to contact us and let us know if they have to be late/not turn up/let us down in some way.  How do people like this stay in business? Isn't everyone supposed to be desperate for work these days?

We were shocked, on a recent holiday in the USA, to find that the bad service epidemic seems to have spread over there too. Once again, we asked ourselves: Is it us?!  We had gone there expecting to find extreme efficiency and top-dollar customer service. Sadly, our experience in the hotels we stayed at was the opposite. In none of them was there enough staff to cope with the number of tourists staying there (we were part of a coach party) - so that there were horrendously long queues for breakfast, with tables not being cleared, food running out, hot drinks not being offered - it was really poor. For an evening dinner at one hotel we were asked to wait, standing up, in a reception area until a table became available. The staff were struggling to cope and seemed too demoralised to care.  We don't look for luxury when we stay in hotels - just basic comfort, good food and good manners!  Fortunately, apart from this the holiday was great! - but the hotel service was certainly a sad and surprising let-down.

As someone who is frequently on the receiving end of reviews (Amazon in my case - and fortunately the majority are usually good!), I know how important they are, and how much they can hurt if they seem unfair. I've made it a personal rule to only post reviews on sites like Amazon and Trip Advisor if I've really been pleased with something.  I was taught early in my life: 'If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all!'  So I don't post negative reviews, and I will spare the tradesmen and hotels mentioned above from being named and shamed, even if they do deserve it! 

We've since phoned another carpet company, whose representative came round within hours, at the time promised, measured up, treated us with extreme courtesy and helpfulness when we visited the showroom, and they're going to fit the carpet next week on the day we wanted. We're feeling delighted about it. But surely ... it should just be the norm, shouldn't it? Or ... is it just us?!

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