THE fat kid has had a problem ever since she moved into a relatively new house in Shoeburyness. The story goes like this...
Whenever she tries to get things delivered to the house, or tries to take out some kind of HP agreement on a purchase, the assistant sorting out the order tells her that her house doesn't exist. Strange really, because I've stayed there every week for a year and I am sure it is not a figment of my imagination.
However much she insists that the address is a real one, the person serving her will reply in the time honoured fashion "computer says no".
The situation reached a critical level this week because the Fat Kid has sold her car and is eager to replace it with a newer one, a sparkly VW Beetle, but may need finance to complete her purchase. The trouble is as her house doesn't exist, no one will provide her with the loan she requires.
I decided I would try to sort the problem out today, and my first port of call was the Royal Mail website. Fine, there is a form to fill out if your house isn't recognised and I sent that off straight away, but as yet have had no reply.
Next option, then, was to ring and actually try to speak to a person. And here, dear reader, is where my normal placid demeanour was somewhat shaken.
Having rung the number for personal inquiries on the website I was presented with four options, the first one being to press 1 if I had a query involving the address.
This I did, and was then given another two options, neither of which involved speaking to a Customer Services Adviser.
Retracing my steps I then listened to the full list of options available to me and, again, none of them involved speaking to an adviser.
Finally in frustration I threw the phone down and ranted at it for a few seconds, bringing a number of wry comments from my colleagues.
Never mind, there was another option on the website. It was to consult Sarah, the online assistant, who, I was assured, could handle any query I might have.
So I typed my question into the window. "Why, when I ring the help line, am I unable to speak to a PERSON?" I asked.
And very promptly online assistant Sarah responded.
"Do you mean: Can you tell me more about ordinary Second Class mail?" she said.
Followed by: "My answer is: Second Class mail is normally delivered 2/3 working days after posting, to any address in the country."
Well, thanks Sarah, that certainly clears it up.
I took a different tack.
"How do I speak to a customer service adviser?" I requested.
She replied: "Do you mean: I have a problem with my Online Business Account. What should I do?"
I swore rather loudly at the screen. "No, no, no!"
By this stage I had totally lost it. I wondered what other completely unrelated answers I might get if I tried some rather more obscure questions.
So I asked Sarah: "Do you wear frilly panties?"
To which she replied: "Do you mean: What's the minimum I need to spend with my postage account?"
Of course, THAT'S what I meant. I had obviously just phrased the questions badly.
My God, I thought the Royal Mail was supposed to be at the hub of our communications network. It appears lack of communication is more their bag.
I love listening to audio books to help me wile away the time on my journey back from the smoke.
Imagine my frustration last Saturday when I realised the discs I had brought with me were ones I had already heard.
There was no option than to stop at the nearest service station and forked out my hard earned £15 for a replacement.
Getting back to the car I opened the box in eager anticipation of listening to the latest thriller from Sam Bourne.
To find? Nothing. It was empty.
I stormed back to the WH Smith's counter and explained to the shop assistant: "You've just sold me an empty box for 15 bloody quid!"
I think it was her first day. She hadn't realised that once the box was brought to the counter she actually had to fill it with the cd's you were purchasing.
It could have been worse, though. I might have been just outside Newbury by the time I discovered the error. Phew!