THE BLOG

Holding the Line - Time You Don't Get Back

29/07/2014 15:12 BST | Updated 27/09/2014 10:59 BST

Don't get me wrong - I love my phone and never leave the house without it, but currently I feel like throwing it in the bin. Over the last few weeks and months, as a result of several personal issues, not least dealing with the affairs of my recently deceased father, I have had occasion to spend an inordinate amount of my time 'holding the line' as I wait to speak to various customer service representatives; from banks, local and central government, retailers, insurers, credit card companies and so on. The list is endless and it has very nearly sent me over the edge.

I have spoken to some lovely helpful people during this time; the sort that can't do enough to help and are completely supportive because of the situation. However, I have also had the misfortune to deal with some very unpleasant and unhelpful individuals, the type that make you wonder why they do the job if it makes them so unhappy! Now I am not the most patient person in the world, ask my husband... but I do try to be polite and see the situation from both sides, and the total lack of empathy and understanding that I have experienced from staff at some of the largest organisations in the UK simply boggles the mind. Particularly when you consider that many of these are staff working on bespoke probate and bereavement call lines!

The biggest issue for me is the amount of time it has taken. I have spent the equivalent of several days on the phone in total, trying to resolve problems with these individuals, often having to call back multiple times because the first one or two or ten operators didn't take the details down correctly, or misinterpreted the problem. That level of incompetence is guaranteed to raise my blood pressure and I have on the rare occasion actually been reduced to tears with the frustration of it all; rather than the loss of my darling Daddy.

In fact in one case, a large high street bank has ended up paying some compensation for the amount of my time it has wasted; losing paperwork, sending out inaccurate and sometimes inappropriate and poorly worded letters that require attention (automated computer generated ones are the type that really wind me up) and a whole host of other witless occurrences. It ended up being quite a tidy sum and I did think about giving it to charity, but instead I decided to take my mother out for a very nice dinner on the strength of it.

I have a friend who often speaks about the 'time he won't get back', I used to laugh at his homilies but the last few months have made me far less sanguine about the whole wasted time thing. If I chose to 'waste time' sitting looking at reflections on water, or reading a trashy novel, watching something ludicrous on TV or sleeping in on a weekend, that is my choice. Having my time wasted for me by inefficiencies in 'the system' or pointless individuals, whilst at the same time having my heart rate raised to dangerous levels, is not my choice and I would really like it to stop now!

Well, I'm glad that I have got that off my chest; I'm off to sit by a fountain and meditate for a while in the sunshine. Now that's what I call a sensible use of my time.