WE SHOULD all make an effort to be nicer to people who work in customer service.
Infuriating as it is to be held on the phone for half an hour then asked to “confirm” your name and recall exactly how much you spent in Boots a week last Tuesday, it is a fact of modern life.
Maddening as it is to be offered a number for BBC Electronics in Willesden when you are looking for the main BBC switchboard, it is important to remember how awful and confusing it must be for the Chinese directory enquiries person on the other end of the phone.
However, I have my flash points. And one thing I cannot bear is the overuse of the word “obviously”.
So I am afraid this week I yelled at the shop assistant who told me: “Obviously we can’t give you a refund – even though your shoes only lasted a month, cost a hundred quid and you still have the receipt.”
“In what way, exactly, is that obvious?” I roared – to the amusement of my colleagues, who can tell if someone has foolishly slipped a redundant “obviously” into a phone conversation.
I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t shout. But how did the word “obviously” fall into such annoying overuse?
“Obviously” has become a misplaced attempt to soften the message you have no choice but to follow rules and do what you are told.
“Obviously you can’t have a refund.” “Obviously you have to come into the bank in person.” “Obviously you cannot speak to the person in charge.”
“It is not at all obvious,” I yell. Like I used to scream at the friend who would ring and tell me: “I have literally just come through the door.” “There is no other way to come through a door,” I would explode. “If you metaphorically come through a door then you are still outside the house.”
My anathema backfired. That person was so amused by my outbursts he used to do everything “literally” just to annoy me. But sometimes a strategic tantrum works wonders. The shoe shop assistant was so scared by my choleric reaction to the word “Obviously” that she gave me the manager, who arranged a refund. Obviously. Ha!
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
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