Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘embarrassing

A Fundamental Problem At The BBC

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I am very close to being the BBC’s biggest fan.  It is a remarkable and entirely unique institution.  Somehow it occupies a place between the state and the people which I can find no comparison for.  It would be easy to define it as some sort of socialist idea but it is genuinely independent from the state.  I do, however, have some concerns about its accountability.  I am very concerned about the way it handles complaints.

No Complaints Accepted Here

I have grown up with the BBC and I trust it.  In fact, I think that it’s done a better job of maintaining Britishness and values of integrity, tolerance, fairness and justice than any UK government of any political complexion.  That’s why the curmudgeons in all political parties turn against it.  I think Jeremy Hunt’s recent attacks and comments were particularly poorly judged.  He hasn’t a had a good start in government at all has he?

I made a complaint to the BBC recently and I am very, very unhappy about the way it has been handled.   The subject is not relevant here.  I shall write about it in future but for now it would distract from my point.  I am horrified to discover that the BBC does not handle complaints itself.   They are outsourced to Capita in Belfast which describes itself as “the UK’s leading outsourcing company…at the leading edge of redefining and transforming services to the public.”  For me that needs a huge pinch of salt, a mountain in fact and even then I’m choking on it.

Handling complaints should be at the very heart of an organisation.  It is the essence of your brand.  There is no more important management function.  Contracting them out is an abdication of responsibility.  More than that, it is a complete failure of integrity, a massive mistake.   If an organisation is truly committed to meeting its customers’ needs it must be as close to them as possible.  This irresponsibility strikes at the very heart of everything I value about the BBC.  I am deeply disillusioned.

If this disastrous decision had resulted in a well administered service then that might be some consolation but not a bit of it.  It is dreadful.  Every bit as bad as any horror story you’ve heard about British Gas, BT or yes, even a bank.  This is the British consumer experience at its very worst.

Not What It Used To Be

In sharp contrast to the rest of the BBC’s websites, try making a complaint online.  It’s like something from the very early days of the internet with clumsy, badly aligned fields and an archaic feel.  I almost expect to hear a modem whistling away in the background.  From a complainant’s point of view it’s quite useless.  You don’t get any option to save a copy of your complaint or email it to yourself.  You don’t even get an acknowledgement once you’ve completed it so you’re left with a completely unsatisfactory feeling of uncertainty.  Did they get it or not?  Will I get a reply?  When?

It gets worse.  Complaints are lost.  They don’t get answered at all.  They certainly don’t get answered within the 10 working days promised.  One answer I received was just laughable in its anodyne, crass simplicity.  It was nothing more than an patronising acknowledgement of what I was “unhappy about”.

Useless

I could go on even further but I won’t.  It does get even worse and it becomes embarrassingly so when Capita start to trot out the oldest excuse of all about “system problems”.  It is an excruciatingly bad, defining example of appalling customer service.  I’d say it takes the biscuit.

All this is the inevitable result of outsourcing your complaints procedure.  That aspect of business that should be one of your most important tools.  What’s worse is that Capita are absolutely useless at doing the job.

It is no exaggeration to say that, for me, this rocks the very foundations of everything I believed about the BBC to the very core.  It is not the organisation I thought it was.  I feel betrayed.  I am “disgusted of Tunbridge Wells”.   In fact,  I am very, very, very disgusted of Weymouth, Dorset.

Sex And The City

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I Don't Think Much Of Yours

The sight of these four pitifully deluded women on the sofa today promoting their new film…..eurrghh!  It has to be one of the most embarrassing things I have seen.  I saw the much-more-gorgeous-than-them Susanna Reid interviewing these hags on BBC Breakfast this morning.  I had to switch over urgently it was so excruciating.

The expression “mutton dressed as lamb” isn’t quite right.  It’s more like “sad fifty-something dressed as bad taste hooker”.  In fact, I thought the Bradford hookers also being interviewed today were much better looking.

How can these four preposterous women display themselves in such gaudy, tacky, cringeworthy fashion – fashion?  Do they think those ridiculous shoes, those absurd hairdos, those undignified dresses have any appeal at all?

This is about as far away from sexy as you can get.  It’s almost enough to make me start looking at boys!

Under Pressure

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About four months ago I embarked on a course of medication for high blood pressure.  For some time I’d been warned that I was marginal with a reading of 140/90 so I decided it was time to start looking after myself.  I was a heavy smoker and drinker.  My only redeeming factor was that I walk with my dogs every day for about an hour – and that’s vigorous walking, up and down steep hills.

I was started on a calcium antagonist and within a few days I had virtually lost the will to live.  I had no energy at all.  I’d lost all motivation.  In the most degrading epsiode of all, one morning I found myself prostrate on the sofa watching “Homes Under the Hammer”.  That’s when I knew it was serious.

I took myself straight off that poison and went back to see my GP.   My blood pressure reading was now 168/100.  He advised a change to a thiazide diuretic.  Being the not so patient patient that I am, I insisted on a full explanation as far as my “O” level science was capable of understanding.

This time it was more subtle.  My energy, motivation and enthusiasm was sapped gradually.  As my positive life signs went down my thirst rocketed to absurd proportions.  After a month or so I was regularly up six times a night with a raging thirst and a full bladder.  When I cleaned out the space behind the passenger seat in my car I had two carrier bags full of empty drink bottles.

In the meantime, I gave up smoking.  I give the pharmaceutical industry credit for this.  A month of patches and a nicotine inhaler weaned me off the evil weed easily.  About this I am both pleased and proud.  I have at least one  “cigarette moment” every day but I am not going back to it.  Although I can recognise no physiological benefit at all (if anything I seem to get more breathless now), I am much richer and everything around me is cleaner as a result.

The next visit to my GP saw my pressure reduced to 150/95.  Better but not good enough.  He advised me to start taking an ACE inhibitor as well as the diuretic.

I researched ACE inhibitors and was horrified at the range of side effects and contraindications.  Then, suddenly, coming fast up behind and undertaking me before I knew what was happening (forgive my blushes) I discovered I was impotent.  One embarrassing date and then a dawning realisation that nothing was happening, even involuntarily.  No more waking up with a big itch!

I’m not ready to give up my sex life just yet.  The one and only criticism I have of my GP is that he never warned me of this side effect.  I have also cut my drinking by a huge proportion.  From a half bottle of whisky upwards a day I am now comfortable with a single glass of wine or a small beer.  In the last few weeks my motivation has gone again.  I can’t be bothered with long walks with the dogs anymore.  Just half an hour out in the mornings and I’m exhausted.  I’m not interested in anything.   My occasional lunchtime nap has become a necessity.  Sometimes, even before midday I feel so exhausted, I just can’t wait to go back to bed.

Four days ago I stopped the diuretic and yesterday I felt like I had got my life back.  I have so much more energy.  I’m enthusiastic as I can’t remember for months.  I fair romped up the hill with the dogs this morning.  My thirst is calming down and I was only up twice last night.  My mojo isn’t back yet but I can feel a little twitch developing.  Come Christmas time I advise you to lock up your daughters once again.

The punch line? My blood pressure is now 170/110.  I may be heading for a massive stroke or heart attack any minute but at least I’ll die happy.  Despite giving up smoking and decimating my alcohol consumption, my blood pressure is much worse than when I started.  So what does that tell me?

I have no idea at all but at least now I have a smile on my face!