Friday, June 16, 2006

Can you give me a call to discuss it?

Friday, June 16, 2006

What is it with people who refuse point blank to reply to emails? No matter how quick and simple your enquiry may be they insist on turning it into a conference. While it's true my dulcet tones can be equated to aural manna, is it really necessary to force me to employ them quite so often?

Compare the two scenarios:

1. At your convenience and only when you have all the pertinent information in front of you, you email a question to someone. They respond to your enquiry once they've dug out whatever paperwork they need to refer to in order to help you whenever it's most convenient for them to do so. You both go on with your lives with minimal fuss. End of story, everyone's a winner.

2. You email someone with a question and they reply with a request to phone them instead, leaving you with a general office number. Grudgingly you dial the number and a secretary or colleague of the person you need to speak to answers. You explain who you are, what you want and who you need to talk to. They sound miffed because you're not calling to speak to them personally and resent forwarding your call. You hear a ringing tone again, but either no-one answers or you're greeted by a robotic recorded message. You either leave a message, in effect kick starting a spiralling game of phone tag, or ring back later.

If they're in their office and pick up the phone, once again you have to go through all the kerfuffle of explaining who you are, why you're calling and worst of all pretend to be interested in the well being of someone who is likely a complete stranger, and will forever remain one after you've hung up. You wait a moment for this information to register and then the person on the other end of the phone goes off to gather any paperwork relating to your enquiry while you hum, twiddle your thumbs and dream up creative ways of torturing e-phobes.

Because they've misheard some of the information you provided they haven't been able to locate the paperwork your query relates to so they return to the phone to ask you to repeat it. You give them the correct details and off they toddle again leaving you dangling on the line for what seems like an aeon or three.

Eventually you resolve the issue, exchange pointless social niceties and go on your way... until the next time he or she - who has clearly learnt nothing from the previous encounter - insists on repeating the process.

There are endless reasons why in many cases it's more practical to use email; confidentiality for one. When I want to ask my fashion guru whether Estee Lauder Pure Pops Berry Twist, Maybelline Water Shine Liquid Diamonds or Dior Kiss Luscious Lip-Plumping lip gloss would better compliment my fuchsia PVC super slinky mini dress I don't want to do it out loud in front of a room full of people. They might get the wrong idea.

Who on earth does all this faffing around on the phone actually benefit? Are these people earning commission from British Telecom? I know poor old BT are in for a rough ride what with Skype beginning to take off, but this is ridiculous. Bash out a quick email and we can both tick it off our to-do lists. Am I right or am I not wrong? It's one of the two.



Well there's several things that pop into my head here..

1) E-phobia as you put it esp among the older generations.
2) Email is almost like proof. If they stuff up or want to evade the phone is considered a much safer bet.
3) In complex back and forth communication email is not as good as the phone.

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