Customer service

Customer service in the UK is supremely shit, and I am not looking forward to this side of life back on the east side of the Atlantic.

This morning, I popped into our Chambers Street branch of HSBC to arrange our change of address back to the UK. The young lady was very polite, proficient and wished me luck with our impending move. It wasn’t a throw-away comment; she appeared to genuinely mean it. I left the bank with a spring in my step to tick off a few more errands.

A few days back, I called British Gas to inform them of our impending move into our UK property. The guy seemed to be half asleep. When I told him of our move date, he basically questioned why I was calling so early.

Today, I called Lambeth Council to arrange the suspension of a couple of parking bays for our furniture delivery next week, and was distinctly reminded of Little Britain’s Computer Says No sketch.

There are exceptions to the rule: surprisingly, NTL was rather efficient with my requests yesterday, despite its being renowned for dreadful customer service.

With very few exceptions my experience with US providers has been a joy to behold. Homewares stores, medical insurance companies, cable and utility providers, they all seem happy to speak to me, and willing to deal with my requests or issues in the best way they know how.

There also seems to be less segregation, in that a single person can help you in many different ways. In the UK, you seem to spend half of your time being transferred from one department to another, while paying your phone service provider for the pleasure.

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