It is perhaps appropriate that on the day the boss of the Royal Mail jumps ship to ITV with the job only half done that I should experience some truly appalling customer service at my local Post Office to mark the occasion. I know he didn’t run the Post Office but for the purposes of this blog, he’ll do.
I am convinced your approach to filling in passport renewal forms mirrors your personality. Sloppy and carefree and it’s cruelly rejected; orderly and methodical and your form is accepted. That’s the way it is.
The forms are horrible. I have always been confused by them and have to give them my undivided attention. I have to really concentrate. Even the basic details such as spelling my own name bring me out in a cold sweat so anxious am I not to cross a line (literally) resulting in another 10 mile round trip to get another form.
The whole process began at the weekend when I took the youngest to get his passport photos taken in the booth at The Asda. I am saddened to report that the days of four individual photos (most with the chair at the wrong height creating an unsettling profile suggesting dwarfism) and the inevitable ten minute wait outside the whiffy booth in a railway station for the slimy and smelly set of prints after much clunking and gurgling- are over.
Nowadays electronic gizmos ensure your eyes are at the right level; there’s no choice of curtains and when you’re happy you press a button and that’s it. The lens clicks. Just once. And even then if you’re not happy you can have another go. And the wait for prints is less than a minute. Marvellous.
Then came the form filling. Spurning alcohol and in a quiet room upstairs I filled in all the sections relatively quickly (apart from having to nip to the family filing system to remind me the date of my marriage) and then dashed off to get it countersigned by a prominent local. My Doctor friend assured me she had completed hundreds over the years and within a few minutes had done the necessary and signed the back of the photo. Job done.
And so to the Post Office. Joining a queue with as much personality and charisma as the collection area at Argos I was soon at the grille where the charmless operative scoured my form (remember I was paying for this ‘extra’). I was so confident of success I was writing out the cheque. But then a commotion behind the scenes. A hushed conversation. The form was passed back with the delightfully helpful “nope, won’t do” from the mouth of the charmless one. There was no light in her eyes. I switched to full flirt mode in the hope of rescuing the occasion but it was a lost cause. There would be no compromise….or customer service for that matter.
It turns out that My Doctor friend had committed the cardinal sin of one of the letters she’d written crossing a line. And there it was. A ten mile journey, parking charges, petrol, hassle, standing next to a smelly couple in a queue …all for nothing.
And so I have to do it all again tomorrow.
I love this country and all its mad ways and I wish few people ill. But I hope something terrible happens to her. Perhaps winged by a bus outside Wilkos. Does this make me a bad person?