Monday, 27 January 2014

Sycophantism is alive and well

Chateau L recently tried internet grocery shopping for the first time. No I haven't seen any birds. Shut up. Mainly we did this because we would get £15 off our first order, and that's enough to keep the children in bagels for a week, as well as meaning we didn't have to go and brave the scrums. Win win, you would think. Except that when we did it, we didn't get £15 off. Outraged of Wanstead (Mrs) wrote in....

She received possibly the most ingratiating reply I think I have ever seen, and having nothing else to say, I have taken the path of least resistance. Here it is. It is, as I am sure you will agree, wondrous in it's sycophantism and general obsequiousness. 

Dear Mr Lethbridge,
Thank you for your email and your patience in allowing me time to investigate this issue for you.
I’m very sorry to hear of the issue you have experienced on your recent grocery order, I understand when making an amendment to your grocery order the £15.00 off a £60.00 order is no longer showing.
Having looked into this, I have unfortunately been unable to find any reason why your eCoupon is no longer showing and I apologise I’m unable to offer a resolution as to why the voucher has dropped off your order.
However, I will certainly look to escalate this to our Support Team for you and prevent this issue from reoccurring.
As I would not like you to miss out on this promotion, I would be happy to honour this promotion for you. With this in mind, please reply to my email once you have received your grocery order and I will be more than happy to arrange a £15.00 refund for you on this order.
Finally, thank you for bringing this to my attention, giving me the chance to look into this for you. If you have any further queries please don't hesitate to contact us.
Kind regards,

Grocery Customer Service

First of all note the excellent start as customer service addresses my wife. Then thanks for writing, and straight into a nice cringing apology for taking so long to reply (approximately six whole hours). The email suggests that a period of bargaining may have taken place, whereby we came to agreement after prolonged bartering of how long we would give them to respond, but fun though that undoubtedly would have been, it actually that didn't happen so the apology is perhaps overkill. Naturally they are very sorry. Devastated on our behalf I expect, and well over half of the six hour response time has in fact been spent weeping every time they think of our predicament. Then the actual answer. Dunno, internet innit. Sorry. Again. 

Then another period of protracted weeping, followed by the realisation that we need not miss out on this life changing eCoupon at all. Hurrah! I, I Grocery Customer Service Person, intend to honour this eCoupon! My word is my bond! Veritas vos liberabit! More weeping, though tinged with the happy knowledge that they are doing The Right Thing. They will be more than happy to. Frankly this is a let down. More than happy implies what? Thrilled? Ecstatic? Over the moon?! Anyone of these could have improved the letter hugely, an opportunity missed.

More thanking for being so cheap as to demand our fifteen quid, and then even more thanking for the opportunity to investigate it (which as we know, was a complete and utter failure). Mrs L and I actually began weeping at this point, thinking of this kind soul for whom happiness is so easily achieved. The offer of sending more queries to see if we can elicit a similarly unctuous response is one we're considering. The winter evenings are long.

What we are both dying to know is whether this is actually in the training manual. Online Customer Service people are not generally allowed expression of thought, or free will of any kind. So is this response genuinely how large supermarkets think customers like to be addressed? I doubt it, most people, including us, squirm when reading it. It's so fawning as to be uncomfortable. Imagine having to write it?! I'd quit.

Or perhaps, and this is the explanation I prefer, the bored-witless customer service team run weekly competitions to see who can come up with the most appallingly cringe-worthy response to a customer complaint. This came in at "highly commended", but fell short of a podium place due to the lack of genuine feeling implied by merely being happy, rather than completely euphoric.

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