It’s been a while since I’ve posted due to lots of things going on. Lots of things happening – mostly good.
Work is very busy at the moment. If we’re lucky we get chance to breathe.
A young chap called me today on behalf of his mom. I told him I needed her permission to discuss the details, to which he replied: ‘You can’t speak to her. She doesn’t speak English.’
I said I still needed her permission. He asked me what I wanted to say to her so I explained I just needed her permission to discuss information with him. He repeated all this to his mother in their own language. She then came on the phone and answered my request. All well and good.
The discussion I had with the young chap centred around the boiler. I asked if it had been serviced every year.
‘I don’t know.’ He replied.
‘Can you ask your mom?’
‘Mom. Has the boiler been serviced every year?’ He asked her in English!
I wonder if he had forgotten that she doesn’t speak English!
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When buying a large expensive item it’s common place to do your research and you check out all the details of it before buying. You look at the model and what it’s capable of, it’s capacity, what it’s powered by, etc. Whether it’s a house, a car, a boiler, a washer, a computer, or any other expensive item.
Part of my job is to register new boilers and it’s unbelievable how many people do not know what boiler they have. They have gone out and purchased an item that could have cost a couple of thousand pound and they have no idea what model it is. If this wasn’t bad enough, some of them don’t even know when it was installed in their own home, or what powers it!
So a homeowner has paid a complete stranger for an expensive item that they know nothing about, asking said complete stranger to enter their home on a random date, rip out a major appliance that provides heating and hot water, install an appliance they know nothing about or how it works, and they’ve paid several hundred or a couple of thousand pounds for said stranger to do it. Incredible.
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A customer called up to take boiler cover. I asked the person for their name: ‘It’s Mr Derek A…’ said a very feminine voice. Anyway, who am I to say whether the person on the phone is male or female? I used the name I was given thinking if it’s not correct I’ll soon be put right.
‘What model of boiler is it, Mr A…?’
‘It’s one that fixes on the wall.’
I explained that I needed the model of the boiler and where it could be found. I then heard Mr A… turn to someone else, who sounded male, and ask, ‘What model of boiler is it?’
The male voice responded with, ‘it’s one that does the radiators’.
‘Don’t be stupid. They all do the radiators.’ Snapped Mr A…
Needless to say that I didn’t get the information I needed and sat there for the next few minutes with my hand over my mouth.
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If I didn’t work in a call centre I would find the following very hard to believe. However, the following experiences from myself and my colleagues are, unfortunately, true.
Agent: What model of boiler do you have?
Customer: It’s a shiny white one.
Agent: How would you like to pay?
Customer: You can use the cheque I sent in last year for this years payment as well.
Agent: What model of boiler do you have?
Customer: You should know. Your husband installed it.
Agent: My husband does not install boilers.
Customer: Well, your son then!
Agent (for the 3rd time): Can I have your address please?
Customer: Oh don’t you have it?
Agent (for the 4th time): Can. I. Have. Your. Address. Please?
Names have been changed in the following to protect the guilty.
Agent: Can I take your name please?
Customer: It’s Becky.
Agent: The policy is under a different name could I please speak to that person?
Customer: I’m the policy holder.
Agent: The name on the policy is Miranda Dickson, so if you are the policy holder who is Becky Martin?
Customer: That is my work colleague.
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A recent customer began to tell me that she had got a new boiler installed but she wasn’t at all happy. She was the homeowner, but whether she had purchased the boiler herself or had it installed under a government scheme I do not know.
She told me that she didn’t like the look of this boiler. She said it was working perfectly fine, but she did not like the look of it.
‘I want to speak to someone about this boiler.’ She demanded. ‘It looks horrible. I have a photo of it here.’
Well, firstly I can’t see the photo down the phone. Secondly I’m sure the boiler manufacturer will be overjoyed to hear that someone thinks the boiler looks bad. Thirdly, I’m sure the manufacturer will bend over backwards to cosmetically enhance her boiler for her.
I put her through to the manufacturers. I reckon it would make their day.
I wonder if she wanted gemstones added to it, or a smiley face, or perhaps she thought clothes would make it look better?
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Most if not all appliances have a serial number. It’s a unique code of letters or numbers, or both, that is added to the appliance when it’s manufactured. It helps the producer to track a product for quality control, indicating the model of the appliance, when it was made, and various other details. We often require the serial number to insure an appliance, such as a boiler.
A lady called me a few days ago and offered me the serial number for her boiler. I was expecting to be asked for the model of her boiler, or whether parts were still available. But no. She gave me the serial number expecting me to tell her where the boiler was installed!
As if the manufacture would know where each boiler was going to be installed before they actually sold it. Now that would be something.
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‘Can I take the model of the boiler please?’ I asked the gentleman who called in to register his new appliance.
‘I don’t know the model, but my wife has sent me a photo.’ He told me sincerely.
Well how exactly am I going to register a boiler from a photo held by a customer at the other end of the country? Maybe he thought he could describe a square, white box to me and I would, obviously, know exactly which boiler it just happened to be. Or did he think I could actually see this photo while I was on the phone? I don’t yet know of any call centre that does video calling with customers. That would be interesting.
Not to mention that the model and serial numbers are going to be quite small and so they wouldn’t be seen on a photo.
This man was a member of a professional occupation. Certainly a profession that I would expect to know what they were doing. Anything other that would be extremely frightening in his particular career. In fact it doesn’t bear thinking about.
‘Can you help me with a pain I have in my back?’
‘Send me a photo.’
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I had occasion to speak to another call centre today. I rang them on behalf of one of our customers to get confirmation on a subject for him. I spoke to a very helpful young man, and had a bit of a chat with him too.
The company was a boiler manufacture, and it seems that this call centre has very similar phone calls to the ones that my colleagues and I get every day.
The agent told me that their boilers have stickers on the underside of them, which show the model and the serial number of the boiler. Just like many other appliances that we buy. Well, it seems that many customers don’t like the white colour of this sticker and ring them up asking for a different colour!
Yes, we’re not the only ones that get the weird calls.
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One of my colleagues recounted a call she had from a gentleman wishing to insure his boiler. She began by asking for the details of his boiler: make, model, age, fuel. The customer then became totally confused by this and wanted to know if my colleague was discussing his boiler. As he rang us with the intention of insuring his boiler you’d have thought it was pretty obvious that my colleague wanted the details of his boiler and not ours.
‘Do you mean my boiler?’ He asked. Followed by: ‘Are we talking about my boiler?’
He asked several times before my colleague had even begun to set up the policy. When she did start to set it up she informed the gentleman that she needed to check the eligibility of the property and would be asking him a few questions.
‘Is this a quiz?’ he asked.
‘No. It’s just a couple of questions to make sure the property is eligible for the cover.’ She told him.
‘This is a quiz. I need to get my pen and paper to help me.’ Was his reply.
There are times when we find it very difficult to get through a call!
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We get a lot of wrong numbers coming through at the call centre. Most of them don’t bother us at all. The customer apologises and redials. However, the ones that do annoy us are just like the one I had today.
CUSTOMER: ‘I’m ringing on behalf of Mr…. You installed a boiler in his flat and you’ve left a load of rubbish there. When are you going to move it?’
ME: ‘We don’t install boilers. How did it for you?’
CUSTOMER: ‘… did it.’
ME: ‘Well, why don’t ring that company? You may get an answer if you ask the people who actually did the job.’
CUSTOMER: ‘Why can’t you do it?’
ME: ‘Because we are not…, and we didn’t do the job. May I suggest that you ring the right people.’
Fortunately these type of calls don’t happen that often. Most people are sensible enough to get the number for the company they wish to speak to, and not whatever number that just happens to appear first.
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Gas central heating and boilers seem to be the most singular things that confuse a lot of people. Not everyone – there are those who know exactly what a boiler is, and all the details. It’s very refreshing when these people call in.
Every single day we get a least one person who calls in and the boiler or central heating is completely foreign to them. I always find it surprising that people don’t know whether their boiler is gas, electric or oil. Surely people know what bills they pay? Or do they have so much money that they can pay bills without even looking at them or being bothered what they are for? It must be great to be to be in that state of affairs, where money is no object.
If I had a £1 for the amount of times that I’ve had to ask someone if they have a gas metre on their property I’d be a millionaire now. And the amount of times a customer has said they don’t know – I’d have amassed thousands. How can you not know whether you have a gas metre or not? How can you not know whether or not you pay for oil delivery?
Surely if you own a property you would have some kind of knowledge of how it runs and works? Surely you would know what keeps it warm? Surely you would know what heats the water? Or am I being naïve?
This week at work was no different, except that I had a couple of other memorable calls around the boiler subject.
One person wanted us to go and do the annual service on the boiler. This is not unusual – we do many annual services. It would have been a straight forward request except that she wanted the engineer to turn the boiler on for her, as she didn’t know how to do it. She thought that getting the service done would ensure that the engineer would have to turn the boiler on to check it was working! Why she didn’t just read the booklet that comes with the boiler I really couldn’t answer.
Then there was the guy who wanted to take out a policy for his central heating. I asked if there was anything wrong with the boiler. The answer was a firm no. The boiler was working fine and there was no problem whatsoever. A bit further into the call I began to get suspicious so I asked again.
‘No, there’s nothing wrong with the boiler. I just can’t turn it on.’
I’ve not yet been asked for an electrician to show someone how to switch on a light – change the light bulb, yes – but not switch on the light. Time yet.
Customer called up today asking for boiler cover. Nothing unusual about that. It’s one of our main policies.
‘Is it natural gas from the metre?’ I asked.
‘I don’t know.’
I changed the format of the question. ‘Do you get the gas piped in from the mains? Or is the boiler LPG or oil?’
‘Oh. I don’t know.’
I tried again. ‘Do you have a gas metre on the property?’
‘I don’t know. A man comes to read a metre.’
‘Is it a gas metre?’
‘I really don’t know.’
At this point I lost my patience. ‘Surely you know if you have a gas metre in your own home?’
‘I didn’t realise this was going to be so difficult,’ she said. ‘Just leave it. I’ll phone back another time.’
How can people not know what metres they have in their own home, or what type of boiler they have? Surely this is simple information that a homeowner would find out before moving into a property? Surely people know what type of bills they are paying and what they are for?
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that there are a few people, often women, who allow their partner to deal with everything in the home, utility wise, to such an extent that they have no idea of what’s going on. They are completely ignorant of paying the bills, what kind of insurance they have, where they get the energy from, etc. This is an outlook from the Middle Ages that sometimes raises it’s ugly head in the 21st century.
It’s an extremely outdated view of how a partnership or marriage should work. What happens if the partner is unable to sort things out for whatever reason? The other person is then left struggling without a clue. When will this type of pathetic, bigoted attitude cease? Surely it would be better for everyone to take responsibility in the home, not just one person?
Alternatively, wouldn’t it be so nice to have so much money that you could just pay bills and not care about what they are or how many they are?