I bought some Cola Bottle sweets from Asda. They didn’t taste right. On the back of the pack it said I should contact the customer care phone number if I had any problems. I gave them a ring.
“Asda Customer Care team. You’re speaking to John, how can I help you?”
“Hi John,” I replied. “You did say John, didn’t you?”
“Yes, it’s John. How can I help you?”
“Are you a John with an H, or a Jon without an H?” I asked. I was making notes, and wanted them to be correct.
“It’s just John,” he replied, ignoring my question. (Always reassuring to know you’re being ignored by the customer care team from quite an early point in the conversation.)
“Hi Jon,” I continued, purposely omitting the H and inwardly giggling to myself, “I bought some sweets from my local Asda, but they don’t taste right. They taste off.”
“You need to take them back to the store, and they will exchange them for you.” Jon’s advice seemed logical.
“Oh ok, but the advice on the pack says I should phone you if I have any problems. Can’t you help with my problem?” I wasn’t angry, just curious.
“This is just an advice line,” he explained, “so we cant issue refunds or exchange items over the phone. You’ll need to take them back to the store.”
“Is that all you do? Advise people take things back to the shop?” I jokingly laughed.
Pleasantly, he explained “We can give advice about certain Asda-branded products that Asda sells, but we can’t issue refunds or exchange items over the phone. You have to go into the store for that.”
“I don’t really want advice on sweets, Jon. I already know how to use them. I’m just unhappy that the ones I bought tasted rank.” We laughed. “But out of interest, as your number is on these sweets, what advice WOULD you give about sweets if I were to need some?”
“Erm… If they don’t taste right, take them back to the shop,” he chuckled.
I thought for a moment…
“But…. I imagine your customer care number is on EVERY Asda-branded item, isn’t it? And the majority of things that are Asda-branded are food items like tins, or sweets, or vegetables or frozen meals.”
“Yes,” he confirmed.
“So do the majority of your phonecalls result in you telling people to take it back to the shop?”
“I suppose so!” he laughed.
“So if you can’t be of any help with refunds, and you can’t help with exchanging products, then why doesn’t the customer care message on the pack cut out the middle man and just say In the event of any problems, take this product back to the shop?”
“Well….. then I’d be out of a job,” he laughed. Then he paused, realising how true that actually was.
There followed an awkward, overwhelming deathly silence while Jon seemed to contemplate the insecurity of his job. If Asda were to realise how little help the Customer Care team provide, and changed the wording on packs, Jon and ALL his colleagues would be jobless.
I waited for a few seconds in the awkward silence, then slowly, and in an unnecessary and purely accidental haunted-type voice, said, “…….OK……. Byyyeee, Jooonnnn……..” and I hung up.
I felt bad that I had worried Jon, and then I felt even worse for using a haunted voice to say bye to him.
I thought about phoning back to apologise to him, but I didn’t have time. I had a shop to visit.