Customer Service (A Reflection on Rudeness)

shame on you (
shame on you Chorleywood Post Office (

One of my daughters has inherited her father’s proclivity for losing things. It is way more than appearance that is passed on in a genome. If there is something that is to be lost/misplaced/broken she’s my go to gal.

Last summer, while Carmichael mère and père were sunning ourselves in Puerto Pollenca this daughter was basking in Barcelona (crime capital of Europe)’s blistering heat with old school friends.

Of course I warned her. I suggested she use the pristine silk money belt bought for oldest daughter’s time in Africa but money belts, even silk ones, do not look de rigueur on the beach or in a club or anywhere else for that matter. I know that. Honestly, I do.

Thus it came as no surprise that her iPhone was taken from the back pocket of her shorts half way through the holiday.

She has lost/had stolen/broken more phones than I have ever owned. I know many of you will identify with this from one perspective or the other. And to be fair to her, she is not my only daughter with a penchant for insurance claims. No Sir/Madam, no indeedy.

So and because these things tend to happen to this daughter I suggested she get a Post Office Travel Money Card Plus for her upcoming trip to Ibiza.

My rational went so: if and when the card is lost/stolen your exposure will only be the amount on this card, will not affect your bank account and will stop the need for huge parental bailout money-wise. You know it makes sense.

She got one.

It was pretty.

She registered it and transferred funds of an enough but not over the top amount.

“Leave me all your details and I can top it up for you in the week if/when you need me to,” I offered, preferring this online task to another insurance claim. Yes, I do understand they are not mutually exclusive activities but we play an odds game here in Casa Carmichael.

“Oh and text me each morning to let me know you’re still alive, please. A smiley face will do.”

Between you and me, this also lets me know that the phone is still with the rightful owner. Sneaky, huh?

“Where is the rudeness?” you ask. “Everything appears to be going swimmingly.”

You are right and will continue to be right for just an itty bit longer.

On Thursday last my daughter phoned me (from her iPhone – yea!) to ask me to top up her card. A good time in Ibiza is not cheaply come by. She was having a fabulous time, island life was great and her next few days were going to be even greater with a fiscal infusion.

This was her money after all so I was more than happy to oblige. I found the Post Office document, got login and password intel from said daughter and her bank card out of her wallet.

All went well and I transferred  her money.

‘Your transfer has not been completed as funds cannot be taken from your bank account’

I tried again. Same result.

I phoned and accused my child of not having money in her account. It has been known to happen.

I tried to use my card but her name was hard-wired into the payment details so, of course my card would not work.

I rang the help line. Cheryl was polite and helpful.

“What browser are you using?” she asked. “Oh no, Safari isn’t compatible with our system.”

Infuriating but by involving Mr Carmichael and his Internet Explored pc I could get this done with, go to lunch and Daughter could get on with getting on in the Balearics.

Your transfer has not been completed as funds cannot be taken from your bank account.’

Fearing that all might not go smoothly I had quizzed Helpful Cheryl on the ramifications of Internet Explorer failing to solve the problem.

No, I could not effect a transfer over the phone.

Yes, I was correct in detecting that no other card than the registered card could be used to put funds onto the Post Office Travel Money Card Plus.

Yes, I could go to my local Post Office and put money in but

No, a cash deposit would not go onto her card until the next day and actually I better hurry down there or it might be Monday.

By which time my daughter would be back in Blighty.

rudeness indicator (Googlemaps)
rudeness locator (Googlemaps)

This news popped a frisson into my level of both activity and annoyance. I high tailed it to Chorleywood’s Lower Road and the same P.O. that had provided my child with the card in the first place. I was armed with cash and my Visa Card and her Visa Card and every password necessary and known to man.

The Post Office was busy. It seems to do a good trade in currency now so you would think they might know a bit about their product.

And to be fair, others that work there might but the gentleman who served me, and who I believe owns that franchise, did not know very much about his product, did not want to learn and most certainly did not want to help me learn more about the ins and outs of the Post Office Travel Money Card Plus.

I had checked Daughter’s bank balance on to way in so as not to embarrass myself. That has also been known to happen but she was well in the clear this time.

A woman behind me in the queue wished me luck. Did she know something I was about to find out? Hmmm.

Try as I might I could not discover why it was impossible for me to use the card there and then.

“Use the card to withdraw cash and put it onto the Travel Card,” he said more than once.

I explained that I had cash but did not want to persue this route until all other options were exhausted. I asked him to explain why I couldn’t use her card.

a card, an atlas and a dose of Post Office rudeness (P.O. own website)
a card, an atlas and a dose of Post Office rudeness (P.O. own website)

“She has to be here,” he responded. “Use cash.”

“The cash won’t go in until tomorrow. Cheryl told me. My daughter’s in Ibiza and needs the money today. If she were here she wouldn’t need your card.”

“I don’t know that,” he said. Quite what he didn’t know does beg the question.

“She’s on holiday,” I said slowly. “That’s why she got your Travel Money Card.” I refrained from including the ‘Plus’.

I wasn’t feeling the Plus vibe at this point.

And then I felt it.

Speaking, I feel, more loudly than the plate glass separating us required he brandished a pamphlet on the Post Office Travel Money Card Plus and said, “Here’s a pamphlet. Read this.”

“No,” I said.”I want you to explain to me,”

He interrupted “Can’t you read?”

It doesn’t look so offensive written down, does it?

“Wooh,” I said taking a step backwards. I could feel the queue moving out of my way. “That was rude.”

His female collogue looked to help and did say something to him but there was no apology. In fact he became more belligerent and ever so slightly louder.

“Yes, I can read” I said slowly “and you are a very rude man and I still want you to explain to me” etc etc etc Useless I know but I felt the need to stand my ground.

I put the cash onto her card.

She got it the next day.

She was fine and borrowed some money from a friend.

But that is not the point is it?

I got to thinking. What if I couldn’t read? There are plenty of adults who can’t. Imagine how that might feel. Should customer service with a side of wanton rudeness be allowed to go unchallenged?

50 thoughts on “Customer Service (A Reflection on Rudeness)

  1. YES – HE- WAS – RUDE! I am so pleased that MrsC stood her ground. I think a letter of complaint should be written.

    But don’t get me started about banks and online banking and Safari… mutter, mutter, mutter
    Jude xx

    1. Yes my next moves are letter and always refusing his service when in there (most politely).
      Interestingly I can see the royal mail has read this – I tweeted a link and @ them. Need to know who else to tweet it to.

  2. I’m not in the least surprised. We lost our local post office some time ago. They were polite and would help in any way they could, we have a choice of 3 now, all a drive away and equidistant. Two of them are manned by staff related to the man you met. Even the women are not the sort of whom friends are made. The third is reasonable, but could be better. Frankly, if there was another way to do our PO business I would use it. Don’t trust the online stuff either. Thereby hangs another tale!

    1. No, me thinks this was a one off and classes as a wopping fail.

      What did disappoint me is that not one of the queuers said a word.

      Unfortunately (or fortunately) I know I would have.

  3. Hmmm, after some recent events, I am coming to believe that Customer Service in the 21st century has all too frequently morphed into Customer Disservice….not always, but too often.

    1. Especially in the United kingdom, Sue. It’s never been good here but utter and unacceptable bad manners when serving a CUSTOMER is poor in the extreme.

      Would I use this card again? No.

      Will I go back to my local P.O? You betchya. It’s not me who needs to apologise.

  4. Sounds like a level of incompetence and rudeness that is often displayed by the idiots in bureaucratic jobs. Why do they get so big headed when they’re just low-level bureaucrats??? I don’t understand this attitude of being more elite than the normal folks just because they work in a post office! Please!! You can see I’m angry and this problem is not mine at all. I’ve just experienced similar attitudes too many times! Your rendering is hilarious, as always, mrs. carmichael. 😉

    1. I am now hearing the his pamphlet waving is a regular occurrence.
      I do think suppliers of product or service need a knowledge of their offering especially when commission is being taken.
      I do wonder if he’s as rude to everyone?

  5. As we own the PO, perhaps we could nominate those elements and/or individuals that should be sold off to the private sector and those we should retain. PS have you noticed that parcel prices have almost doubled of late in an attempt to boost short term profits prior to the big sell-off. As the infamous Count might say: Fangs ain’t what they used to be 🙂

  6. Perhaps you could find the twitter addresses of your local newspaper? You could always tweet all the private courier and mail companies – bet they could make good use of the story!

  7. Oh my gosh, rudeness like this enrages me so much. I don’t even know what I would have done if someone had said that to me. And yes, you would think people would have some level of knowledge about the services they provide, but that is so often not the case…I once went to the post office with a simple problem regarding mail forwarding, and after explaining the situation to the man behind the counter about 15 different times, I finally determined I was in the Twilight Zone and just left.

  8. I’m glad to hear it worked out in the end for your daughter. That man, on the other hand, has no business dealing with customers. An act like that is a cause for immediate termination in my book.

    If you are offering a product, you better know how to explain it to your customers. That is customer service 101.

  9. That is very insulting, to say the least… I don’t know there is such a thing call customer service for the post office, not with my experience.

    1. Amy, you are so right. You would think they’d need customers behind them but obviously not. We are not the reason this guy comes to work each day, that’s for sure.

  10. I worked at the Royal Post in Sweden for many years and enjoyed my work with fantastic collegues. When the RP was breaking down and left to ordinary grocery stores and tobacco shops – I left and went for teaching instead.. Today there is only simple education for postal work – if any – and the poor people trying to maintain service are often doing poorly. So sad to hear what happened to you …but I’m not surprised. A similar story could have happened in Sweden…I’m glad it worked out well for you in the end.

    I hope you have sent that letter…

  11. Woah, that is very rude! I do like to read about you standing your ground. I am bad at that sort of thing, and admire others who can do it. Hmmm, definitely a letter but tricky to think where else you could tweet. Interesting to see what ideas other people have.

    1. I’ve ben read @ 15 times from the royal Mail today. have tweeted the National Literacy Unit, The Watford Observer and TNT (a Royal Mail competitor). Any other thoughts most welcome.

  12. I spoke with the vile man and apparently this was all because he did not like the blouse you were wearing. So nice to see such clear logic behind bureaucracy.

      1. Excellent! So glad we got that sorted out. Come to think of it, wearing the bikini to the Post Office might not be a bad idea.

      2. Better take a can of mace with you, just in case.

        All jokes aside, I think you are an admirable example of the lengths a parent will go to for a child. Well done.

  13. Of all the countires I travalled to lately, Britain is very high on my list – it’s the favourite actually. Partly because it is easy for us to communicate there, partly beacause I think that people are generally very polite and helpful. So I tend to see this P.O. guy as an exception.

    But I do not dare to imagine how this guy would have behaved towards a foreigner, and how it would have come over with me.

    Loved reading your account – it was hilarious. And I think the tweets are a great idea. Way to go!

  14. I’m not sure the ‘be kind to unkind people they need it the most’ philosophy could be employed in this situation! I think i would have done the same and made him explain all sorts of complicated things just to show him WHO IS THE BOSS. Living in cuddly Cornwall this is all in the past, everybody is just so darned friendly. When I come back to London I feel e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y s-l-o-w 🙂

    1. I always fly back to London from NZ via my friend in Melbourne which provides the spring board from which I gird my loins and build up to a good fight again.
      And yes, I just wanted to keep him going, saying nothing but didn’t expect what i got.

  15. That was rude! And it doesn’t look any less so in written form.

    I wish I could say I had always had wonderful service from RM, but alas I cannot. When they were not forwarding my post, which I paid for, and I called them on this (to my expense from Hong Kong), they said can you tell us exactly which letters have gone missing and from whom you are not receiving your post? Well, if I had known exactly all the letters I probably would have received them in some form or another as opposed to have had them lost…..

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