Twitter followers will be familiar with this story that seems to have turned into a saga.

We ordered some slate but, because our kitchen project was behind by a couple of weeks, we had to delay delivery. We’d already paid the deposit but the OH called up on Tuesday to pay the balance and arrange delivery, which he did for yesterday.

No slate arrived yesterday.

So we phoned up and spoke to the person who had dealt with the order all along but it was 4pm and he was obviously keen to leave the office so he span us a tale about our slate having been delivered and signed for on the 9th July. Our garden is small and currently so bare that very little could escape our attention, let along 140 sq metres of black riven slate suddenly arriving in it out of nowhere. And no-one had signed for it. Not even Oscar who, though intelligent, has no opposable thumbs to enable him to hold a pen.

We decided we would settle the matter today so, first having carefully prepared my morning coffee to ease myself into a Margo Leadbetter frame of mind, I dialled the number.

I spoke to an initially quite polite and very well spoken young man who repeated several times that he knew nothing about my order but that he would look through his colleagues’ things to see if anyone had made any notes. This was not an impressive start. Several thousand pounds worth of slate had gone missing, potentially sold on. If it could not be found, we would have had to wait for a new consignment to arrive from Brazil. I told him what I thought of that state of unprofessional malarky and eventually he agreed to try and sort out the problem.

I’m boring myself now so goodness knows what effect this is having on you, dear reader, but I had to chase the young man who initially sent an email to the wrong address because he did not listen when I spelt out my awkward-to-understand name. He had made an assumption that my initial was J instead of the G that I had spelled out. He thought it looked funny, apparently. When we eventually corrected this error, this is what he sent me:

Dear customer,

Delivery is confirmed for Monday,

Rock Unique.

So here is the email I sent him in reply:

Dear Young Man

I am glad to have received this email from you. I sympathise with you, having had to field calls from an irate customer whilst left on your own on a Saturday morning when your colleagues knew yesterday that a situation was about to develop and still left you with no information whatsoever to deal with it. I am grateful that you managed to track down the responsible person and rectify their mistake.

However, for future reference you might like to consider the following points:

My name is Mrs Beecroft
My address is 23 xxx, xxxxx
The order is for £xxxxxx of black riven slate, of two different kinds, and includes transportation costs to our house. The full amount was paid over the ‘phone by my husband, Mr xxxxx last Tuesday 21/7/15 and delivery was agreed for yesterday. That it did not arrive was not our fault. We had agreed it.

If you had been listening during our initial conversation, you would have written down my email address correctly the first time I spelt it out to you and also the details that I wished to be confirmed, rather than waiting for me to call you again to chase for this confirmation which, by the way contains none of the details I requested and would probably be useless if I were to pursue a claim in law. For your convenience I have listed the requisite details above.

So I shall expect delivery of the complete order on Monday 27th July 2015 to the above address.

Please contact me if any of the above is unclear


Mrs G Beecroft


You might be thinking: Gita, isn’t it a bit nasty to put this email on your blog? Has the young man not suffered enough already at the tip of your razor sharp tongue?

I’d reply that I have pointed out how he had been placed in an awkward situation by his colleagues but that customer service does actually involve listening to the customer. I hope he’ll learn from today’s exchange but I bear him no malice whatsoever. The way I see it, it’s a training requirement – for the whole company. As our very professional builder might remark, “With an attitude like that towards their customers, it’s a wonder they have a business at all.” I’m afraid to say that this is not the first time I’ve heard this particular piece of wisdom from him.

Getting anything at all done seems to be fraught with unnecessary difficulties because people seem to trust their own erroneous assumptions rather than actually listening to the client. If you’re a woman they tend  talk over you and you have to wait patiently until they might arrive at your conclusion after about 5 minutes.

People don’t check essential details like names, dates, addresses and then no-one can work out what has gone wrong or how to fix it. The shoddy and slapdash has become the norm and it’s so frustrating. No wonder the economic productivity of our country is so low: people don’t check for mistakes then obfuscate rather than correcting them. Ugh. I can feel my dander rising as I type.

What is wrong with people, that they can’t be bothered to write things down, or check dates and times? The man who had handled our order all along gave some feeble excuse that we had not paid the full amount and therefore our delivery had not been arranged but he must have known that this was a blatant untruth as he uttered those very words. It’s just a face-saving exercise. If the slate does not arrive on Monday as planned, I shall focus the remainder of my ire solely on him.