Mimi Spencer: From their 'hey yous' to their 'wassups', the big phone companies' faux chumminess is making me want to hang up

By Mimi Spencer

Mimi Spencer

I have changed my mobile-phone provider. I know what you’re thinking. Yawn. Like changing your sheets or your socks, right?

How immensely wrong you are! I feel as though I’ve gone through a hideous divorce, complete with angry emails, shouting matches, moody sulks, the silent treatment, wheedling, pleading and, yes, bitter tears.

I reckon I’ve spent the best part of a month listening to a honey-dipped voice recording telling me what my ‘options’ are before playing Emeli Sandé on a loop until I want to scratch out my eyes and stick my head in a bucket of mud.

The thing that has annoyed me the most during this soul-killing process is the faux chumminess that emits from these most impersonal and powerful of companies.

Here, for instance, is the (barely literate) response I eventually got after three solid weeks of attempting to extract a return address for my smartphone:

‘Hello Mimi

Thanks for the message, and WOW what a great day.

Sorry you left us  if you change your mind, I’ll leave light on for you 

you’ll always be welcome back

If you check out this great link it has all the details you need 

I hope this helps and have a great week.

Kind regards.


We missing you already  ’

At first (and still, to be honest), I thought it was a joke. But no. The link exists. The address seems real enough – I Googled it, as you do when you think you’re being taken for a ride, and the photo certainly looks like the customer-service department of EE or Orange or whatever they’re calling themselves now.

The address, since you ask and to save you the toe-gnawing bother, is Doxford Technology Park in Sunderland. There. My revenge! I do wonder what goes on over at Doxford Technology Park.

I imagine a host of bright-yellow smiley-faced people, perhaps upholstered like Pudsey Bear, all endlessly greeting each other, emoting like mad around the water cooler and offering each other home-made flapjacks and a ‘motto for the day’.

Smile and the World Smiles With You! Be the Best You! We Missing You Already! On the plus side, during those long, lonely moments with Emeli (I notice, incidentally, that she was born in Sunderland: coincidence or conspiracy?) I had the time to ponder so many things.

When, for instance, will the Duchess of Cambridge have a haircut? Why is there no space to pack your shopping bags at Lidl? Who has been using my posh shampoo? But mostly I contemplated the curious cartoon world we increasingly inhabit, where everything is sugar-coated, usually in txt-spk and without apostrophes, all in the spurious interest of being down with the kids.

My phone-mare happened to be with EE-slash-Orange, but it might as well have been with any of them. The sweet talkers. The crooners. About as useful as chatting to a profiterole.

What these behemothic companies should know is that most of us don’t want a mate when we try to get our broadband fixed. We want a service. A service with no overfamiliar ‘hey yous’ and ‘wassups’ attached.

Personally, I’ll always rate efficiency over smarm; with technical stuff, I’m not looking for a motto of the day; I’m looking for the approach of a 1950s bank manager, perhaps, or a German car manual. I don’t want a pat on the back or a bonus-points voucher or an operative (sorry, ‘team member’) who understands my pain.

I want a phone that works and a company that doesn’t shut down the local signal ‘cell’ on a whim so I can only have a conversation on my incredibly clever smartphone if I stand with one foot on the last rung of the ladder to the attic.

For over a year now, I have conducted all my calls – business, pleasure and to Orange itself – looking as though I’m just about to pop up to the loft to get some extra pillows. Back in the 1970s, when we all wrote school essays about life in the 21st century, it sure as heck didn’t look like this.


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