I sat through the menu options and recorded announcements, including the now ubiquitous ‘We are currently receiving a higher than average volume of calls, so you might want to call back later.’ (It’s a euphemism which means ‘we don’t have the staff to deal with enquiries promptly these days. Government cutbacks, you understand.’) I didn’t want to call back later because I knew I would get the same message, so I hung on through more menu options and waited.
Eventually I made contact with a so-called advisor. I remained patient while she asked an excessive number of security questions, all the time aware that I was paying for the call because they don’t use freephone numbers any more. (Government cutbacks, you understand.) Eventually I was free to ask her why I hadn’t received my notification.
‘We sent you a letter on 30th January,’ she said smugly.
‘I never received any letter,’ I replied tetchily, ‘would you send me a copy.’
‘Not yet. You’ll have to call again next week.’
‘Because we can’t send out copy letters until after the 11th.’
‘It’s the system.’
‘It just is.’
There was silence while I considered whether there was any point in pursuing the matter until after the 11th. The eventual presumption being in the negative, I rang off.
If only she’d taken the opportunity to recite the usual bottom line:
‘Is there anything else I can help you with?’
It would at least have given me the compensation of a wry smile.