THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Taking the Chequ(ck)ered Flag
The future

It's back to life in Britain's #disservice culture. My home phone has developed a fault and - once I fixed my broadband - I registered it with BT and booked an engineer. The earliest appointment is a week from now and of course requires me to be home for half a day.

Meanwhile my EE mobile phone was blocked because of "excessive" roaming fees of - wait for it - £43. OK, their computerised systems produced a stupid result, but the lady at EE made it much worse by telling me arrogantly that, 'as a new customer' my credit line was limited.

I have been with Orange for years. They *forced* me to move to a sister company in order to have 4G. They are new, not me!

She then told me this was "for my own protection" in case I didn't know I was incurring roaming charges (idiotic infant that I am, implied). I pointed out that I bought four £50 data roaming packages from them while I was in the States, so of course I knew. She had no answer to that but to repeat that it was for my protection. Nothing in her head but her script, of course. Half-educated, half-trained and with an inflated sense of her own importance in the Universe.

When I asked if I could speak, not to her manager, but to someone with actual responsibility for implementing this stupid system this "customer service specialist" replied sneeringly 'That's not going to happen.' Is this entire country staffed by customer-hating morons?

I waited while she tried to connect me to her manager, to be told he was busy with another customer and would call me back.Two hours later I have of course had no call. As no-one in any mass market organisation I deal with in Britain has ever called back as promised, I am not holding my breath.

If you are thinking of switching to EE in order to have 4G data, I recommend you wait. It's coming to the other networks soon and being an early adopter will just get you this kind of nonsense. I was going to get a 4G SIM from them for my iPad once I came back to Britain, but they can whistle for my business now.

Oh to be in a humble Hampton Inn, in the American sticks, being told convincingly how much my custom is valued.


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I've also experienced British customer service, which was absolutely shocking for soneone used to living outside of the UK - staff are doing me a favour by trying to rectify their mistake - no knowledge of heir own job - slaves to the script, unable to answer questions...
I demanded to speak to the manager etc. etc.
I don't know what they wrote on my file, but whenever I go into Lloyds bank they look a little scared of me..

Anyway, I was planning to write a massive letter of complaint against he taff member who dealt with me when I realised - this is a low paid worker in a company where the bosses are paid millions for a few months work, the bosses obviously couldn't care less about customer service...
So who is to blame? The poor woman forced to do a mind numbin job fo next to nothing, o the bosses paid millions *by the taxpayer* to design this system?

Peter Whale

Welcome back Tom. The light relief of your journey was most appreciated and of course ordinary people become an extraordinary populace when they become the norm.

Allan Gay

Thank you for sharing your American journey with us.

It was the next best thing to being there.


You are most welcome. I am glad you enjoyed it. I know exactly where you are with your business situation. I have family members who closed their SMEs and retired early because the downside risk was theirs and the upside returns mostly the government's - and its cronies in the big corporations. Lots of jobs lost because the game is not worth the candle. I am deliberately restricting my own work to occasional projects for amusement so as to avoid earning money that would just be stolen. Atlas has shrugged, all over Britain. And the parasites in power don't understand what's happening.

Nick Timms

Thank you for your interesting reports over the last few weeks. They have been a highlight of my day. Fascinating reading.

Britain just seems to get worse by the day. I have been operating my business in Dorset for 10 years and each year the red tape gets worse and the utility companies, banks and especially government departments treat us small businesses in a more off-hand and patronising manner.

Anyway thanks for the journal and pics.


Maybe it does, but "that's not going to happen", any more than her "attitude" at school was ever going to be challenged by her teachers.

The lines are now closed for the day and her manager still hasn't called. I expected nothing different. The nexus between business owner and customer is thoroughly broken, that much is clear.

Even a temporary monopoly of the 4G band has produced such disdain in a new enterprise whose owners no doubt want happy customers. Yet some people still expect institutions with permanent monopolies not to become lethally arrogant.

I am thinking Australia, coast to coast, next year. Speranza does the Nullabor Plain.


And as it turns out, the outcome was the end of Jessops (a company of which I used to be a loyal customer in Nottingham years ago, before scripts were invented).


"That's not going to happen" warrants a P45.

It is good to see you safely home.

Thank you for your interesting and educational journal. Africa next? :D


Demanding adequate (it will never approach good) service in England can only lead to madness, it will never happen.
Repeat the mantra...the customer is always wrong.

I have some sympathy with the cel-phone companies, they are responding to the usual "government must do something" mantra, after inept users ran up excessive costs. However a small apology and a quick response to your request would not be amiss.

Good to see you home and safe, the trip reports were interesting. Too bad about the lousy response from Ferrari regards warranty work that was improperly done, it seems Churchill's maxim about only buying the best no longer applies in England either.


When I worked for Jessops if we didn't follow the script we didn't get a bonus. The outcome was irrelevant.


I have dealt with five American policemen in the last two months, and they were much more polite and (once I checked out) helpful than any British policeman I have ever met. I cleared my car through American Customs - a pretty unusual thing to do - and it went without a hitch. Hampton Inns are a Hilton brand and although usually owned by independent investors, the systems and staff training are standard big corporation stuff. Besides, how hard is it to be polite to a customer? The person I dealt with this morning has probably been through British comprehensive schools where her mediocrity was praised and her 'that's not going to happen' snarkiness tolerated. This was the result.


To be fair to Blighty, have you dealt with American Bureaucracy? It makes ours seem tame. And to compare a multinational company's call-centre with a small-town independent hotel is not exactly an apples-with-apples comparison.

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