Moving house really brings you up to speed with the state of customer service in modern-day Britain. For the past two weeks I have been waging an almost constant war, via Twitter, email and phone, to get companies to do the simplest things like turn up on time (or even on the right day), deliver the correct item or offer help over the phone in something resembling human. I am fortunate in that I am a very minor celebrity with a healthy amount of Twitter followers. Time and again, the moment I tweeted my grievances the managing director or head of customer care would be in touch within 15 minutes promising to solve the problem. This is brilliant for me, but it's a sad state of affairs that problems that are easily solved can only be dealt with because I once dressed as a large squirrel.
My Twitter page has started to look more like the homepage for Watchdog and I can't wait until normal service is resumed and I can hand back to Anne Robinson. Of all the frustrating incidents with companies over the house move, nothing comes close to the Kafkaesque insanity of dealing with Sky TV.
It started okay. I rang up and made an appointment to get Sky installed in my new place. I gave them my details, agreed on a date and that was that. Then, a week later, my new neighbour brought round a letter for me that had been sent to his address. Both our places share the same name but his is the Cottage and mine is the Farm. Sky had my address as the Cottage. I rang them up so that the installer wouldn't go to the wrong place on the agreed date. All I wanted was that they change the word Cottage to Farm, not a tricky thing, you would imagine, for a company that deals in providing moving pictures from space into your home. You would imagine wrong.
I explained the issue and asked them to change the address. Despite the job being two days away, they could not change these two simple words. It was already "in the system". I told them that I could see the Cottage from my place and that it really wasn't a big deal. They told me otherwise. The installer was only insured for the Cottage and therefore couldn't come to the Farm as it would be too dangerous. They would have to cancel the appointment and rebook another, weeks away. I asked the person at the other end of the line whether he was aware that this was the single most ludicrous conversation I had ever had? He told me he was trying to be professional and that the matter was out of his hands. It was moving day and I was stressed. I believe that I might have suggested where he could shove his professionalism. The Sky person (who was Scottish – they are all Scottish – and I don't mean an Indian in a Mumbai call centre calling himself Jock) told me that I was being aggressive and that he was going to hang up. I started weeping. The phone went dead.
The solution – I have changed the name of my farm to Cottage for one day only. Fingers crossed that it works.