The dying art of customer service

Everyone knows that people in London are rude and unfriendly because the city’s just too big and crowded but should the same really apply to those working in customer service?

This is a topic that’s very close to my heart at the moment. Between organising a wedding and renovation work on our new flat, as well as the actual purchase of the flat, I averaged about two phone calls to suppliers per day last week. That’s not including several emails that I sent out and one written letter. The standard of response that I received varied wildly. Blackburn Bridal in Blackheath are currently at the top of the hall of shame for not replying to either an email or an answering machine message and then being advertised the next day in a bridal blog that I subscribe to with the suggestion that interested brides should email or phone for an appointment! Only a very short distance behind at number two are MFI. You’d think the fact that I’m planning to spend several thousand pounds on a fitted kitchen would be enough to get me an appointment with a salesperson but two phone calls to their ‘appointments’ line later, still no appointment. Add to this list various kitchen fitters and a snooty assistant at Berketex who tried to tell me that trying on dresses 9 months before my wedding is ‘leaving it a bit late’ and I’m less than impressed.

On the other hand, I’ve also had some fantastic service. Our plumber, as always, has been an absolute star in terms of replying to voicemail messages and putting up with me and the estate agent rearranging appointments left, right and centre. I only hope that his final quote makes me as happy as his service so far. Pantiles Bridal in Tunbridge Wells were also fantastic, replying to an email that I sent faster than I thought was possible. We couldn’t arrange a mutually convenient appointment but that’s my fault rather than theirs.

Finally, a weekend in Scotland went some way towards restoring my faith in the service industry. I can highly recommend Falkirk taxi drivers as friendly and extremely helpful. The reception staff at Airth Castle Hotel (where we were attending a friend’s wedding) were also great. (The waiting staff were a different matter but they were just incompetent rather than rude.)

If not for the great job that our conveyancing solicitors have been doing so far, I’d have had to conclude that good service is only available outside of London.

Anyway, I’m still looking for a reasonably priced, reliable kitchen fitter covering the south-east of London so any recommendations will be gratefully received!

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