Some readers of this blog will know that I volunteer as an Assistant Cub Scout Leader. Some locals to the Twyford area will know that there has been a lot of roadworks going on lately. Whilst these are an annoyance in many, many ways, they are very necessary.
My problem is not with the roadworks.
Last night, going to help lead the Tuesday night Scouts session, there was road resurfacing going on on London Road. The actual work started just north of Loddon Hall Road, where the Scout HQ is. However, the road was blocked off both at the crossroads, and just south of Loddon Hall Road. It appeared, to a casual glance, as if the Scout HQ is inaccessible.
My problem is not even the sinage.
Today I thought it would be wise to email parents of Cubs attending tonight’s session to tell them that the HQ is accessible. I also thought that it would be wise to check first that it will be accessible. So I called Wokingham Borough Council. I started as number 3 in the queue, and waited about 10 minutes with some of the most godawful hold music in the world before the phone was answered.
My problem is not the hold music.
Part way through explaining the situation and the information I wanted, the woman at the customer service desk hung up on me. Hung up on me. I was a little mystified. I hadn’t been belligerent, or unreasonable, or even critical. I was just explaining the situation, and what it was I was looking for. I have no idea precisely how long I was talking to myself for. I then tried to call back, to be greeted by the same hold music, as well as:
“You are currently number five in the queue“
My problem is this terrible standard of customer service.
I’ve listen to residents complain before about the way the council treats them when they make contact with it. As for myself, this was my first cause to call them — excluding one occasion when I reported a fallen tree blocking a road, when I recall they were more difficult than the situation called for, too — so I had expected it was just the stress of complaining about difficult situations.
But being hung up on mid-flow is just rude. I’m always at pains to be polite and reasonable when talking to someone on the phone, so I expect the same in return as simple common courtesy. To be blown off so radically by a taxpayer-funded organisation is mind-boggling.
Our councillors go on about the need to keep the tax burden on residents to a minimum. Maybe they should look at spending the tax they do take a little more wisely.
And for any Cub parents who may be reading this: Cubs is going ahead tonight. Loddon Hall Road and the Scout HQ may be accessible. If you want to make certain, you might want to call the council to check.
But I wouldn’t advise it.