Monday, 12 July 2010

Glimpses of Humanity

It's not often you see real generosity and kindness in corporations. When ringing a call centre or customer services, you expect scripted apologies, unhelpful solutions and a lot of waiting. Beethoven's third gets played straight into eardrums a lot these days.

In a world filled with irritating malfunctions and robots on the helpdesk, it's easy to forget that the well-rehearsed sentences on the other end of the line are actually being formed by a real human mouth, stuck to a real-life person. Sometimes, these people are kind, helpful and empathetic. I want to tell you about the man I spoke to this evening.

I am poor. This is no secret, I have been poor for most of my life. Sometimes it's difficult for people like me to keep on an even keel when it comes to finances, and when the unexpected happens, it can often lead to total bank balance disaster. It shakes me up when I get bank charges. I can rarely afford to pay them off. Today was no exception - I logged in to my account to find out how much money I owed, and it turned out money that should have been credited did not materialise at all. Distraught, I called the bank to find out how much my charges would be at the end of the month, while opening another tab to see how to apply for a job at MacDonald's.

The man on the other end of the line was a gent. He kept me calm, and assured me in no uncertain terms, that he totally understood my predicament - as a recent graduate from last years' influx of finishing students, he had spent nearly a year looking for a job himself, finding a bank call centre the only employment he could find. "We're all in the same boat", he said. "Don't worry. We can work it out."

We spent a good half an hour reshuffling my finances, until he had an idea. "Can you hold a sec?" he asked. I could of course, being a jobless waster on the sole of society. After 5 minutes he came back with a solution to my main issue - the bank charges. "We can't do this often, but you've got a good case. We'll sort this."

And so it was, my bank account rescued from the clammy grasp of death, all thanks to a man who's made it his job not to be a Customer Service Adviser, but a person who's job is simply to help as much as he possibly can.


Be nice to your advisers, one day you might come across my magical, soft-spoken Geordie, and he'll solve all your problems. The one drawback being that you'll want to marry him.

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