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Moving house is stressful, we all know this but I have recently arrived at a startling conclusion of my own.

Most of the companies and institutions you have to tell you are moving home share the same call centre. You know the one where your call is important to them but where they rarely if ever answer the phone because it is experiencing ‘Unusually High Levels’ of customer calls.

My wife has now been holding on for Argos, the catalogue people, for over two hours and may yet smoke herself to death if she doesn't have a heart attack first. An unknown delivery driver having left a cryptic message that he can't find our house she's trying to work out if he was the Argos driver or not because he didn't say. Ironically, it's now 8:30 and she's finally got through to an operator who has told her that customer service closed at 8 O'clock. They just left her holding and went home. How's that for customer relationship management then?

Then there’s the Royal Mail. Dealing with them can be more stressful than divorce, moving home or having the wrong leg amputated in hospital.

This morning it took me five separate calls of which some were multiples of the same number, before I found someone to speak with. The Royal mail has one of those interesting automated answering systems, which can lead you to a dead-end, and a dead line with it.

In my case, there’s a problem with my postcode. I know there is because The AA, my insurance company and numerous others will type it into to their system and come-up with someone else’s address. I then have to explain that this is not my house and that the postcode database is in fact wrong.

Are you sure you don’t live in flat one, number 25”, I’m asked. “Perfectly sure I reply” and then I have to convince the other person to retype their records which can take a little time.

Back to the Royal Mail then. If you have a postcode enquiry, they think it’s just that and want to charge you at premium rates for telling you what a postcode is. My problem is the opposite, I want to tell them what it’s not, which leads me down blind alleys in their system before I finally find the right person to talk with.

She very kindly arranges for the postcode to be corrected on their system but, I ask, “What about the fact that the error has replicated around tens of thousands of CD ROMs that companies are using to check my address against”?

There’s no good answer to that question. I’ll have to wait until the correction replicates through the entire system and until then, my mail may possibly go to number 25 but that’s life.

Finally, rather than being able to securely redirect my mail online, using a digital signature, I have to still turn-up at the post office, collect a form, bring it home for my wife to sign, return it to the post office with two forms of identity and correctly completed and they will, eventually, redirect my mail, to number 25 of course. That’s service for you as I’m sure you’ll agree.


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