Posted by: Brad | 6 January 2009

I Hope You Are Happy With My Personalised Service

Is it just me, or is customer service these days completely ridiculous?

It seems it’s either one extreme or the other: half the time you call your bank or your phone company or whatever, spend half an hour on hold, only to be put through to someone who sounds as if they’d rather be digging their eyes out of their skull with a rusty spoon instead of actually helping you. On the other hand, there’s the uber helpful let’s be friends style, which seems to be growing in popularity.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind people being friendly. I quite like Virgin’s customer service, for instance, because they tend to be genuinely pleasant and actually helpful.

But sometimes it’s just beyond a joke. Here’s an email I received from the National Australia Bank regarding a loan enquiry I made:

Dear Brad,

Hi, My name is […].

I’ve received your enquiry about applying for a Student loan.  Thank you so
much for taking the time to write to me here at NAB.

I really want you to know that to apply for a Student loan you need to be
in Australia.  The reason is that Student loans can only be completed at
the branch of your choice and my colleagues at the branch need to fill in
all appropriate forms for you and for your guarantor (if guarantor

If you would like to speak with one of my colleagues directly, please feel
free to ring our local number 13 22 65 or internationally on +61 3 8641
9083 between 8.00am and 8.00pm (AEST) Monday to Friday.

I hope you are happy with my personalised service. I’ve really enjoyed
helping you today.

Yours sincerely,

As you can see, of the four paragraphs of writing here, only one of them has any actual utility. The rest is just a waste of space, and a waste of time. He “really enjoyed helping”? I bet.



  1. I think it’s more fun when you get a faint, crackly Indian voice on the end of a customer service line, telling you how much they’ve enjoyed helping you.

    Of course they did – they’re inside a building, not in the streets of Bombay.

  2. Yeah, all this jolly ‘share the love’ customer service gets up my nose, with banks being particularly irksome. My personal bete noire being the Commonwealth Bank.

    Last time I ambled up to a CBA, I got greeted at the entrance door by a clipboard-welding matron with a ‘warm smile’. Shaken, I quickly proceeded to the teller (all I required was a $50 note broken in smaller notes). I was then asked by the teller, if I required anything else – perhaps a home loan? Why yes, methinks, plumb slipped my mind. Anyone changing a $50 note surely needs a new home loan?

    Anyways, I tersely reply, “Not interested” and signal my departure. As I’m collecting my cash, Ms Teller, who’s taken on the demeanour of someone looking for a way out of the Warsaw Ghetto, tells me that Clipboard Matron will impede my exit and ask me what ‘rating’ (10 being a perfect score) of customer service I received from her (the teller).

    She then timidly croaked, that if I answered anything less than a ‘9’, she had ‘failed’ in providing good customer service and would get a ‘bad mark’ against her name. Timid Teller also told me to expect a ‘follow up phone call’ about my customer experience at branch that day.

    I’d walked in off the street, a nameless random with a need for smaller notes. I now had home financing issues, Ms Teller’s life in my hands, the Matron barring the exit and the prospect of getting a phone call from telephone customer service people who didn’t know my name or address, but would presumably have gotten information about me after the bank’s daily security footage had been analysed and I’d been identified, duly tracked down and put ‘in the system’.

    How to escape this nightmare? I managed to attach myself to a Rugby pack of ‘valued customers’ leaving the bank, assiduously avoided the Smiling Clipboard and busted out those automatic sliding doors, clutching my two $20s and one $10. My head was whirling and I haven’t dared to cross their portals since.

    I think it time that we, the customers, take a stand AND STOP THIS SILLINESS! Such ‘friendliness’ is far from normal.

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