I've always thought, since they were available of course, that computers are not especially useful in many areas of business.
Take this example… needing a new pair of windscreen wipers, and being in Ringwood, I popped into a motorists shop.
I looked around the shelves and eventually spotted windscreen wipers but these were behind the desk so not really accessible to browsing customers.
Fortunately an unoccupied sales executive was present. I don't wish to denigrate his official position so I'll call him that.
"I'm after some wiper blades for my car", I said.
"What sort of car is it", he responded, to which I replied, "a Lexus IS200".
Instead of consulting a dangling reference book (there wasn't one), he turned to a computer and started typing away at the keyboard, muttering about it being slow today.
Then he said.. "what year is it?"
"It's 2002"…. he peered at the screen again and asked the registration number, which I duly provided.
By now a queue was forming and I was asked to move aside to the second till as one of the card readers wasn't working.
The sales executive finally looked up and rummaged along the row of wiper blades. "Which one do you need", he asked.
"The driver and passenger sides", I replied wondering if he'd forgotten my original enquiry which included the word "some"…
"Not the rear one then ?", he asked.
"It doesn't have a rear wiper", I said and he looked puzzled.
He picked out a 22" wiper blade whose make I didn't recognise… "What about those Bosch ones?", I said pointing to an array to the left of the one he'd picked out.
At this point the sales executive's manager arrived and asked why I didn't want a super new all rubber wiper?
"I tried one and didn't think it was as good because they don't follow the curve of the screen", I said.
Finally, I was presented with a package containing what I wanted.
"How much is it", I asked… already spotting a price on a faded label stating £14.99.
"Hold on", he said, and went back to his keyboard.
"Why haven't you got a printed list of prices?", I enquired…
"We don't any more", he said, eventually rising from behind the computer… saying "£12.99".
As that seemed to be reasonable and £2 less than the marking on the ticket, I checked the package to see if the wipers had the correct fitting for my car…
"Hold on", I said… "There's only one wiper blade in the package and I need two".
The lurking manager popped over and said they couldn't be expected to hold sets of blades as lots of cars had different sized blades.
"So, how much for a pair for my car?", I asked.
"That will be two 22" blades and so twice £12.99" was the reply…
By now the pair of blades was getting mighty expensive, so I said that was too dear.
"Is that the best price you can do then… about £26 for the two", to which was the response from the manager…"That's the price".
"I'll leave it then", I said.. "They're too dear".
What should have been a few minutes looking at a printed card, identifying the correct blades and checking price labels had turned into 15 minutes of wasted time.

Returning home I looked on the Internet.
Indeed, I needed a 22 inch blade for the driver's side, but surprise.. a 19 inch blade for the passengers side… so two 22" blades would have necessitated a return journey to Ringwood to swap one.. that's if they actually had a 19 inch type.…

What about the price?
I found the correct Bosch blade. I then discovered they supplied pairs of blades also. Checking further Bosch make a blade with an attachment to prevent lifting at speed. This is more expensive of course.
After a few minutes I found a supplier with a pair of correct blades, complete with the special attachment, for £11.99 including postage. I placed an order and an hour or two later was advised the blades had been posted to me.

Why had I been in Ringwood? Well, I'd attended my 6 month dental check. All clear and coughed up about £19 to cover 5 minutes of the dentist's time. I thought the National Health Service was free at the point of delivery. Not dentists… and oddly, pensioners in receipt of pensions pay more. In fact, when I last inquired about "going private" I was informed I wouldn't save anything so just stick with the NHS…

Checking out, including paying took ages. In fact a lot longer than the dental check. It seems a new software build (running on Windows 10) was giving them a problem logging on. The young lady apologised and said everyone had the same trouble. "Why don't you just use pencil and paper? I asked… this was a silly question because how would you then keep three receptionists busy not to mention the IT guy and the bespoke system analysts and programmers? Then I wondered about the rest of the NHS…
Low productivity costs loads of money.


 Having returned from holiday and extracted the postman's red failure to deliver card from the ginormous heap of junk mail I found the email option was absent and I could either scan in a weird "OR" code or ring a number 03456 021 021. I don't know what an OR code is so I rang the number and discovered a new automated feature. "What can go wrong", I thought? A voice told me to press numbers which I did and I was surprised to find everything went smoothly. It took ages because the voice read all the details on the card. I didn't need to hear these because I'd already read them twice before ringing the redelivery number.

Right at the end, having established the new delivery date and the delivery address, all read back to me at a leisurely pace, the voice asked how I was addressed or somesuch similar term, giving Mr or Mrs as an example. I said Mr but the voice didn't recognise this so asked again.... and again and again until it gave up and said I'd have to wait for an advisor. The voice got this back-to-front really because I didn't need an advisor, the voice did.

After waiting for another 5 minutes a nice Scotsman asked how he could help and said their new system was having teething troubles. What was the name on the parcel he asked... I don't know because I haven't seen it yet and that line on the card wasn't filled in.

Anyway, it took only a couple more minutes and my parcel should now be on its way. It's a pity the email system isn't still in use because that would give me one day's wait whereas the computer appears to need a minimum of two days. I suggested that I should have used a Scottish accent and the nice Scotsman said, "there's no way that would have worked".

It turned out, when I read the label the next day, the parcel was addressed to "Low Cost Repairs", not me so I suppose I should have told the voice "Low" not "Mr"?

listen to more grumbles

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