On 22nd December my landline died. I tried to report the fault online but when the system of the telecoms company, who shall remain nameless, informed me it couldn’t recognise my number, alarm bells stared to ring. After spending ages on their website hunting for a contact number (they clearly don’t want customers calling them, so hide their contact details), I got through on my mobile.

Only to be told that a) my landline number did not exist, b) the account number that appeared on my bill was not valid and c) they had no record of my name. So, given that they could not identify me, the advisor said she was not authorised to talk to me and therefore couldn’t deal with my faulty phone. Hey ho, here we go….

There followed a “discussion” which involved my suggestion that since my account didn’t exist, perhaps they would care to refund my payments of about £300 per quarter that I have been making faithfully for past 3 years? This resulted in a long period of being put on hold.

After 25 minutes, I noticed that my mobile battery was alarmingly low so I had to plug it in to recharge. This tied me to the wall by an electric umbilical cord. After 55 minutes, my bladder reminded me of the tea I had enjoyed over breakfast. Dilemma! Do I dash off for a comfort break during which time, sods law, the agent will come back and find me gone and so hang up, or do I take the mobile with me to the loo, risking being cut off as the battery dies? Either way, I found myself in not-such-a-good place.

But the most irksome thing was that, while on hold, I was obliged to listen to their canned music which consisted of 3 Christmas jingles played over and over in an eternal loop. After 1 hour and 25 minutes, I calculated that I had listened to each of these jingles no less than 31 times and my Christmas good cheer had a half-life of about 40 seconds. Surely there’s something in the Geneva Convention about this form of torture?

Then after 1 hour and 35 minutes, a second advisor came on the line and explained all had been resolved. The good news was they knew who I was and had located the account number so they didn’t need to refund me. The bad news: they couldn’t fix my fault for 6 days. I was so desperate at that stage, I didn’t argue. Three days later I got an email requesting a customer satisfaction survey. Hey ho, here we go…

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