Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Phone home

Emma was sitting on the table looking bemused, in one hand she held my car keys in the other the deeds to the house. Slowly she was being covered in the clothes I was wearing. Finally, standing totally naked, when everything was gone, I was ready. Black, I said. It came up red.

OK, so this isn’t exactly how I lost my phone in Vegas. It was more of an absent minded packing incident. Apparently when Emma gave the coded signal (“Shall we just check the room before we go?”) I was expected to check that I had my car keys (I did, in the pocket of my jeans at the bottom of my rucksack) and my phone (I didn’t, it was under the bed).

It wasn’t until I got home that I realised it was lost, the fact it was so avoidable was frustrating in the extreme. I could claim it back on the insurance, but having to pay the £50 excess barely made it worth it.

I decided to speculatively contact the hotel, the website only had a phone number for reservations but was spam-bustingly free of email addresses.

I went back to Google, and put in “” perhaps somewhere on the web there was an email address I could use. There was one, deep inside the Luxor website there was an address for their Marketing and Promotions department who look after The Blue Man Group and the Ra topless nightclub. I wrote to them asking for my phone back.

It was a long shot, the hotel has 4,500 rooms, two Imax cinemas, a nightclub, theatre, shops, casino and numerous restaurants and whilst I could isolate the phone to somewhere in room 6016 the size of the hotel meant it was rather like sending an email to the Mayor of Thame to tell him my phone was lost in the sub post office inside Martins the newsagent.

I continued with my insurance application with little urgency or enthusiasm. On Tuesday we were left a card by the postman to say that they’d tried to deliver a package and that it was currently at the sorting office. Maybe it had worked; maybe the phone had been returned. I went to the sorting office and handed the card in…

It was another Brittannia Music Club CD, which they still send me despite endless requests to leave the club. On Wednesday, however, a package arrived from the Luxor, Las Vegas, no note, or complimentary slip, just one carefully packaged Sony Ericsson T310.

Except my phone is a Nokia 465. No, that’s a lie too. It was my phone, how good is that? If that email had arrived in my work inbox it would either have been deleted, or delegated into a black hole where only the lap of the gods would have controlled whether it would have reached a satisfactory conclusion or not.

I think they could teach our company a thing or two about customers. At a recent customer service training day the facilitator asked someone to describe our customers. “Timewasters mostly” responded the women in front of everyone including our Chief Executive. She is most dim-witted person I have ever met, but it’s a view reflected across the whole company.


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