by Stephen Tall on September 8, 2009
Well, almost. But those were the two words which leaped out from the screen when I saw this headline on the Mail’s website:
Here’s the story:
Calls to all customer service numbers should be free with the option of speaking to a real person rather than a computer under a new universal service code.
The plan has been devised by the Lib-Dems who are calling for a change to the balance of power between the public and the government, councils and big corporations.
The Universal Service code would put obligations on companies and organisations, including banks, power and water companies, that provide a service to the public.
The key measures include making one of the first options in their telephone response system the chance to speak to a human being.
These bodies would also be required to provide a free customer service phone number from both landlines and mobile phones.
There would also be a guarantee to make all household visits to, for example, fix a power supply or make a delivery within a one hour time window.
Staff should also be trained to deal quickly and effectively with customer enquiries, whether the call centre is based in the UK or somewhere like India.
There’s even a chunky quote from John Thurso, the Lib Dems’ shadow business secretary:
Too often, customers find their relationships with companies and public bodies skewed against them. So many commonplace practices are infuriating for customers who just want to be treated fairly and honestly.
When they have a problem or an enquiry about a service they have paid for, it is reasonable that they should be able to talk to a person and not a machine about it. Customers must have the power to make fair and informed choices without the fear of being taken for a ride and bewildered by mindless bureaucracy.”
The party has said the code would apply to all public sector organisations – government departments, local councils, hospitals and others – while all organisations biddng for major contracts with or franchises from government would also be obliged to sign-up. Private businesses would be encouraged to comply, but not compelled.