Hold the line please…

Nothing is guaranteed to frustrate one more, than sitting at the end of a telephone line, listening to the robotic voice giving one options…
Here am I, wanting to order a few baby clothes for one of my soon to be born grandchildren. I log in to boots.com and am delighted to find that I have quite a lot of points on my Boots Advantage card. I can pay for the entire order using these points. What could be more satisfying?
I load my basket and press: pay with points.
I have done this before; it is relatively simple.
The site goes through the motions and finally, asks me to enter the last three digits of my advantage card. I hunt for the card which is somewhere in my purse. I pull the card out and copy the last three numbers.
“Sorry, those numbers are not recognised,” bleats the site.
I frown at my card, the numbers are printed small, I grab my magnifying glass and they appear just as I believe I have written them. Those 5s cannot be 6s can they? I peer closer. Suitably convinced, I decide I must have mistyped them.
I re-enter them.
“Sorry, those numbers are not recognised, your card will be deactivated if you enter the wrong numbers a third time,” promises the site.
At this point I should give up. I will know that in about an hour’s time. The trouble is, right now, I am convinced the numbers I am entering are right.
Hang on a minute though, if I go to my statement of points (also online) I can see part of the number printed. You will recognise the format, *****12656.
I stare at it. There are no numbers on my advantage card that correspond with any of those shown. Yet, the statement is there, my points earned on previous purchases, my address, my name, my email address. So, where did that number come from then?
I wonder briefly if I had another card once or indeed, if the card I am holding now, is actually a very old one. I study it – hmmm, well used and a bit grubby from its lengthy hibernation at the bottom of my purse but this is the only card I have used in the shop and I have paid using points online on numerous previous occasions. The number niggles me. I have been entering 556, the online number suggests it might be 656 doesn’t it? Yes, in an hour’s time I will know that assumption to have been a vain hope, ridiculous even but right now, as I try to solve the mystery, it seems worth a try.
I type in 656.
“This advantage card has now been deactivated. You will no longer be able to pay with it but you can still earn points with it,” responds the site.
I am a little annoyed, mostly at myself for even thinking putting in a third set of numbers was a good idea but, I am confident that by contacting Boots customer services, all will be sorted. Leaving the goods in my basket, I try to find the contact details.
It is difficult to pin down the number I want; there are several. There is no email link. A helpful page, containing FAQs, pops up but none are relevant to me. I close the link and choose a number to call.
The line is quite bad but I can just about hear the automated voice on the other end,
“Thank you for calling Boots…your call may be recorded for training purposes and you may be required to answer a short survey at the end…please choose one of the following options…”
(This is where it begins)
“Press 1 if you are calling about an order or delivery
Press 2 if you are calling about an Advantage card…”
Well, you get the picture.
I choose option 2– this seems a positive move.
Another robotic voice answers,
“Thank you for calling Boots. Your call may be recorded…” (heard this before?)
“Here are your options…you can say, stolen or damaged, points balance, sign up or more choices,”

I mull these over. I even get the voice to repeat it all, just to be sure.
“More choices,” I say as clearly as I am able.
I wait.
“You choices are: ‘Parenting club’, ‘Over 60’s plan’, ‘Organ donors’ or ‘None of these’,”
Organ donors? Parenting club? Over 60’s? I have a feeling I am in the wrong queue but where did it all go so wrong?
“None of these,” I state.
“Let me connect you to someone,” I am promised.
I wait.
“Thank you for calling Boots…your call may be recorded for training purposes and you may be required to answer a short survey at the end…please choose one of the following options…” (sound familiar?)
“Press 1…
press 2…
You can say…
“none of these…”

And round we go again!
I re-dial (twice)in case I have just been unfortunate and become entangled in a loop but today is not my day.
I am tempted to say, “over 60’s plan,” well, by the time I get through I could be over 60 couldn’t I?
I go back to the site and pay cash online … it’s easier.
In a random twist of fate, I receive an unrelated email from customer services and I reply to it telling them my problem. Amazingly, they respond and are currently looking at my query.
They will respond within 3 days.

I never did get to answer the customer survey…

8 Comments

Filed under Living Between the Lines

8 Responses to Hold the line please…

  1. Love it, superbly written!

  2. hilarymb

    Oh gosh – I’d be spitting … but am glad you got the clothes and that important bit is sorted. I do hate doing things by phone … if it doesn’t work – it doesn’t get done and I do something else, or go another route …

    I’m sure they’ll come back to you … take care and be stress free!! Cheers Hilary

  3. Oh my goodness, how frustrating! I really hate phoning anyone about anything these days when you have to keep pressing this number and that number and all you really want to do is speak to someone. I hope it all gets sorted out xx

  4. Deb

    The reads like a Twilight Zone episode. Only funnier. I hope you’ll finish the story for us later – what really happened about those numbers?

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