Magazine article The Spectator

Standing Room

Magazine article The Spectator

Standing Room

Article excerpt

I live in fear of that peculiar sharp intake of breath I seem to hear whenever I ask service men actually to service anything I own that doesn't work.

It's not a promising sound. Dishwashers that stop washing dishes, internet servers that fail to serve, waste disposals that spew sewage wrist-deep back up into the sink, cars that make curious grinding noises - all these are problems I want dealt with speedily and with total confidence. I also want the person in charge of mending them to have a far superior knowledge of the buggered piece of machinery than I do. That is their job; their specialist field.

Not mine. I only want to be greeted with perky 'seen-it-all-before' optimism. I want service men that self-medicate themselves with happy pills. And when I telephone for help I never, ever want to be put on hold, transferred, or patronised and told 'all our customers are important to us' when patently we're not. Or not nearly important enough. I want results. And when I don't get the bend-over-backwards immediate service I'm after, I'm afraid I lose all sense of reason. I become the customer from hell.

My car recently flooded. For two days I just ignored the unpleasant squelch. I put the perpetual quarter-inch of water lapping at my feet down to a spilt bottle of Evian I'd left rolling around the floor and merrily put towels down to absorb the moisture.

After four days of driving about in a swamp I got bored of asking my passengers to sit with their feet perched on the dashboard.

I was also slightly disconcerted to discover the towels had begun to sprout a fine green pelt; the sort of health food Daylesford Organics flogs to hardcore vegans. …

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