Yesterday, I had to make One Of Those phone calls.
You know damn well what I mean by One Of Those. We all have to make ‘em from time to time, and they are probably the single biggest cause of nervous breakdowns on the planet. Yes, that type of phone call.
It started a few weeks ago when I remembered I hadn’t booked an hotel for one night in France. We get chucked out of our accommodation on a Saturday, whereas the ferry doesn’t sail until Sunday, so this means we have to have somewhere to stay on the Saturday night.
Booking the hotel was no problem. They have a nifty on-line booking system as it went very smoothly. However my real troubles started last week. I wanted to make a small amendment to my booking so I went into the site to see if I could change it there. I couldn’t. On the site they did give an email address, so I shot them off a mail with my changed requirements. So far so good.
Late on Friday I got a reply. It thanked me very nicely for my mail but they had a problem. Apparently their computer system was fucked, or words to that effect so they knew I had sent a mail but couldn’t read it. They gave me a number to phone. FUCK!
Yesterday afternoon, I swallowed a fistful of Prozac and took the plunge. My worst fears were confirmed – an automated system. I got the usual shit about how they valued my call, so much so that they were going to record it for “training purposes”. They then asked me to tap in my reservation number. It’s a fucking long number but I did it anyway. To my immense surprise, I was put straight through to “an agent”.
My first hurdle had been crossed and I was now talking to flesh and blood instead of a fucking machine. Unfortunately I was back in Slumdog Millionaire territory so communication was a wee bit strained. I explained my situation and my revised requirements in words of one syllable and he finally grasped what I wanted. He said that he would have to phone the hotel directly to change my reservation, and could I please hold. He proceeded to stick me on hold and I was treated to their muzak.
The muzak they fob you off with on phone systems is pretty dire at best. At it’s worst it’s a cross between Jedward singing to the accompaniment of Greenslevees played on an ice-cream van. Their Muzak was even worse than that. It consisted of about twenty bars of a cheap and nasty jingle that grated on my nerves before the first fifteen seconds were up. It had a very abrupt ending which kept raising my hopes that the “agent” was back, but no – it was just taking a breather before starting all over again.
After ten minutes of this, I was a nervous wreck. I had finished my bottle of Prozac and was ready to confess to any crime you would care to mention. Then the “agent” took me off hold…..
and hung up on me.
Half an hour later, my nerves were beginning to settle a little so I phoned back. I went through the process of entering my booking number all over again. I got through to another Slumdog. He sounded identical to the first, but gave a different name. Before I could tell him what I wanted he cut across me and said that their computer system was fucked. Or words to that effect. He asked me to ring back later.
Once more I waded through my booking number and got onto yet another Slumdog. Again he sounded exactly like the first two but gave yet another name, so either they do all sound identical or maybe it’s just the one bloke with one hell of a fucking identity crisis.
I explained to Slumdog my predicament and he politely informed me that their computer system was fucked. Or words to that effect. However, he said he would phone the hotel. I pleaded with him not to put me on hold, or at least to put be on silent hold. He did the latter, bless his little cotton socks.
Five minutes later he was back, sounding all breathless. For a fleeting moment I wondered if he had run all the way from India to France and back. Leastwise the change has been made.
The whole experience left me quite shattered and demoralised.
I need a holiday.