This morning I had the most ludicrous telephone conversation I have ever had. Now that I have cooled down I realise that it was actually hilarious and I have decided to share it with you.
This morning I called the largest wines and spirits company in the UK – offices worldwide, 30,000 employees. I wanted to speak to the Chief Information Officer. I am aware that most large companies now have a “no-names” policy; they won’t put a call through without a name so I made a point of finding his name. The conversation went as follows.
Me: Good morning. I’d like to speak to Mr _______ ________ please.
Her: Certainly. I’ll put you through to his P.A…(pause)….I’m sorry. Her phone is not in service.
Me: What does that mean?
Her: Her phone has been disconnected.
Me: Ah. OK. I’d like to speak to Mr _______ _______, please.
Her: I’m sorry. All of his calls are put through to his P.A.
Me: No. They’re not. We’ve already established that she has no phone. Please put me through to Mr __________.
Her: I’m sorry. All his calls….
Me (interrupting): No. She has no phone.
Her: I suggest you send him an email.
Me: I’d rather speak to someone. Your company has contacted me and asked for my help. I’m here to offer it. Please put me through to someone else in his department, someone who has a functioning phone.
Her: I’m sorry. We have a no-names policy. I can’t put you through to anyone unless you have a name.
Me; I’ve just given you a name – the name of the Chief Information Officer of the company. How much larger a name than that do you want? How many names in your information department do you expect me to know?
Her: I’m sorry. We have a no-names policy. I suggest you send him an e-mail.
Me: Alright. I give in. Please give me his e-mail address.
Her: I’m sorry. I can’t give out that information.
Me: I am dissatisfied with the way you are handling this call. I wish to complain to your manager. Please put me through.
Her: I’m sorry. We have a no-names policy.
This is an object lesson in how not to run a company.