At 2pm on Bank Holiday Monday I was watching TV and was drawn to an advert for a fantastic new deal for a mobile phone. Having lost mine somewhere during last weeks Marina drinking debacle I found myself picking up the telephone to dial the number shown to order this must have consumer item. I suddenly realised hang on why cant this wait until tomorrow Its a Bank Holiday after all why do I need to do this today
This made me start thinking about TV advertisements for all sorts of things that offer 24hr ordering or services mostly phones, broadband and that very annoying one for a bank – My local shop is openbut my bank is closed! (at this point I usually start shouting at the TV Get a life you Muppet and begin throwing cushions and frothing at the mouth until She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed administers the happy pills). This advert makes not being able to call your bank late at night sound like a huge crisis, but do people really need to order a new mobile phone deal on a bank holiday or call their bank at 11pm to arrange a loan Has society degenerated to the point that we as individuals cant plan ahead a little to avoid the need for this Or wait an extra few hours Or even a day
There are of course many out of hours services that are genuinely needed, such as the Emergency Services, Coastguard, Samaritans, NHS Direct and a few notable others.
Excluding the good folks manning these vital services we now have whole armies of people working unsocial hours or bank holidays absolutely needlessly. They sit in call centres all over Britain until 8pm, 10pm, midnight, or even all night in some cases, to answer calls from Confused of Sunderland about his credit card balance when we know in our hearts that most of these antisocial jobs shouldnt really exist. Thousands of families now have one or more members missing on bank holidays, during evenings or overnight when they should be having a bit of quality time together or at least be getting some sleep!
Of course social conditions mean that some people have to work these hours – if its the only job they can get to help pay the mortgage (dont get me started on our artificially inflated house prices!), or they have irreparable relationship issues, are having an affair or are vampires who cannot venture out in the daytime.
The people doing these jobs are nearly heroes in my view, a lot of them upsetting their family lives to sit in a call centre for us, some of them on a low wage with no shift allowance or extra payment for working a Bank Holiday as their inconsiderate employer gives them a contract that says that these hours are part of their normal shift pattern and so they can be paid the same as those on 9 to 5 (what a con!).
Some companies say that they have call centres performing an antisocial hours function in Britain because of the backlash that is happening from customers who do not wish to speak to staff (who work in even worse conditions) in Bangalore or The Philippines. This is not so – We as customers drive this industry by our out of hours demand.
As a counterpoint to this, there are a few services which currently do not have extended hours support which probably should have them for example how about an Ann Summers 24hr battery delivery service
So the message is – Think before you make that call out of hours – Do I really need this or can it wait until the morning
In solidarity with the brothers and sisters in the call centre industry I have therefore uploaded this blog entry 24 hrs late (well.. thats my story anywayhonestly I wasnt drunk in the pubs of York yesterday you mustve seen my brother etc).