I know that many technological advances in recent years, especially medical ones, have greatly advantaged the human race but there are times I wish we could go back to 'the good old days'.
A case in point are these 13 or 1300 numbers we now have to contend with when telephoning a business establishment of any type. First of all local calls from our landline cost us 18 cents but these 13 and 1300 calls cost us 30 cents each. I find this extraordinary and it is not really to our advantage at all. You are answered by a recording giving you sometimes up to 6 different choices depending on what you wish to talk about. There is not always a clear choice and occasionally you are fortunate enough to actually be allowed to speak to a consultant if there is a button for that but sometimes there is not so you take pot luck.
After you make your sometimes quite dubious choice you are then put on hold and quite often are told how important your call is to them (doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy? not) and bombarded with lots of voice over advertisements or a terrible choice of recorded so-called music. I must admit though the other day when on hold I did listen to some beautiful piano music and was a little disappointed when I was finally answered. That was a bit tongue in cheek but it was nice music!!
There are other pitfalls with these 13 and 1300 number though and here is a case in point. Last Tuesday MOH took my car (well it's our car but it's in my name) to the RAC for it's regular service. He unfortunately was held up in traffic getting there so just missed the shuttle bus they use to drive people to their homes so had to walk a distance to wait for a bus and then a fairly long walk home from our local bus stop.
That of course has nothing to do with the telephone problem but I just mentioned it as poor MOH was a trifle worn out when he arrived home. The point is am making is the fact that by about 4.15pm we had heard nothing from the RAC about them collecting MOH to take him to the service centre to collect our car.
We telephoned their 1300 number and asked to be put through to the service centre in Myaree. For some reason we weren't but through so the waste of a call. 30 cents down the drain. The second time we were put through but the service centre was engaged and then the line just went dead. 60 cents now down the drain. We rang a third time and this time a very nice lass said she'd do her best to put us through but then came back and said she couldn't get through but took the name and number and said she'd have the service centre ring us back. We received no return call so now 90 cents down the drain.
By this time it was well after 4.30pm and as the centre closes at 5pm MOH and I decided a taxi was the way to go as we needed the car early the next morning. Fortunately the taxi arrived in good time and cost MOH $20 (that included a generous tip of $1.70...well in other words MOH didn't bother waiting for the change from the $18.30 fare). When he walked in he was told the car wasn't quite ready but oh, yes they would have sent the bus to pick him up from home!!! How on earth were we supposed to know that when we'd not heard anything from them all day nor been able to access them by telephone.
To make it even worse when they emailed me on 31 August to set up the service for the car they offered a $35 discount of the account if I booked it in for service before 31 October, on top of the usual 10% discount for RAC members. When MOH paid the bill the chap behind the counter said he knew nothing about that offer so no extra $35 discount.
I decided this wasn't good enough so thought I'd ring and hope to sort it out. I eventually found a direct number to the service centre but twice telephoned and didn't get through. I was given two choices: to book for a car service or enquire about a service. As neither were really applicable I chose the second choice. The phone rang and rang but there was no answer. Eventually it was a Telstra recording that said "The number you are calling is not responding. Please check the number and call again". Now how on earth did that happen. I did that a second time and exactly the same thing happened. 36 cent down the drain this time.
Next step was to ring the 1300 number again and I spoke to a most helpful lady and when I explained about not being given the $35 discount she said that was just not on and she tried to get through to the Myaree service centre but they didn't answer her either!!!! She took my name and membership number and said she would have somebody ring me next week to sort this out for me. She couldn't have been nicer or more helpful but once again no answer from that service centre even from the RAC themselves. We were now a total of $1.56 out of pocket. That may sound a small amount to most but when you are on an age pension you have to watch the cents as well as the dollars and when none of that expense is your fault it rankles somewhat, plus no results except, hopefully, from the final call.
There are a few (not nearly enough) organisations where you can use 1800 numbers which are free to call. One would think that really big businesses could afford to use the 1800 number rather than the 13 and 1300 numbers which the majority use. It would not only make it cheaper for customers to telephone them but would also make their clients/callers think much more kindly of them.
I know I've gone on just a wee bit about this but it was such a frustrating time and I wonder if others too are disgruntled about using those 13 and 1300 numbers and also constantly having to make sometimes ridiculous choices about what they want to talk about and then the waiting to get through. Maybe it's just 'cos I am old and remember the days when you spoke to a switchboard operator (a real human being) whom the firm she worked for told her she was the first callers had to do with the firm or department so she had to always be polite and on the ball. How wonderful it was back then. I know 'cos for 7 years I worked a switchboard (among other duties) of a quite busy firm. The boss actually told me that on several occasions his callers had complimented him on his switchboard operator. I felt proud that I spoke to people politely and helpfully which was a good introduction to the firm I worked for.