Avatar Further travels with the Pernickety Dickhead

We’ve already discussed, back in February, that I spent a number of years in the early 2000s where my single most prominent personality trait was that I was absolutely insufferable.

It’s not really necessary to go any further to prove that point, but flogging a dead horse is one of the pillars of this blog and its rampant popularity, so flog a dead horse we will. Please enjoy this further example of my absolute arseholery towards innocent people working in customer service jobs, and please also believe me when I say that I am truly sorry for everything I’ve ever done.

10 June 2008

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to complain about the online service offered by the Student Loans Company. I took out a student loan in 2003 and have been repaying it since 2007. I believe that there is an out of date postal address listed for my account, which means I have not been receiving statements for some time now. All I want to do is check my current loan balance – but this seems to be completely impossible.

Allow me to outline what has happened.

The DirectGov website sent me to a login page asking for my customer reference or ART number. Which would you like? My most recent letter from you has the “customer reference number” LEED03976337A, but previous correspondence has the “ART ID” 39476208476. I have tried both to no avail.

I am then asked for a password and the answer to an obscure question. I don’t believe I have ever provided you with answers to these questions, and they are so vague that I cannot begin to guess what answer I might have given if I had. So I clicked on the option to “find out your login details”.

This now asks me for an email address. I don’t think you have my email address. I have searched my email archive, which spans back to early 2004, and I have never received an email from you. No email address I enter seems to work, so I can’t get in, and I am directed to call your Customer Support Centre on 0845 300 5090.

I spend several minutes on hold, and eventually I am asked to enter my customer reference number again, which apparently is 11 digits long. Presumably this is the older ART ID because the newer customer reference I have contains letters. So I enter that and spend fifteen minutes on hold.

I am then told that I have called the wrong number. I beg to differ – I have called the number I was asked to call. It’s not my fault it’s wrong. The operator asks me to try calling 0845 073 8891.

On calling this new number I am asked to select from a number of options, none of which have anything to do with me, or press zero to speak to an operator. I press zero. The system reads out the same list of options again, or tells me to press zero to speak to an operator. I press zero. The system reads out the same options again. This is, you will agree, rather a pointless exercise. I hung up.

In all of this – on both phone lines while being kept on hold – I was made to sit through repeated pre-recorded lectures about how all of this, including finding out my login details, could be done quickly and easily online. No, it cannot. I have tried and I know from experience that you cannot do anything quickly and easily online. That is why I was on the phone in the first place.

The final straw came when I decided to make a complaint so that you would be aware that people like me may be having trouble with what is clearly a flawed system. Your complaints page suggests I begin by contacting the last department I dealt with. But I haven’t got as far as dealing with anyone yet, so that seems impossible too. I am also asked to quote my “loan account” or “student support number” in my correspondence. What are they? Are they like my ART ID or customer reference number? This is just silly – how many numbers am I supposed to have? So I conclude that even your complaints system does not work for me.

I would be very grateful if you could, first, endeavour to look at the way your online system operates and whether it has adequate telephone support for those experiencing trouble with it, and second, let me know how I might do something as basic as see my own account balance and change the address listed against it.

Yours faithfully,
Chris Marshall

I don’t think this one got a reply, and rightly so.

5 comments on “Further travels with the Pernickety Dickhead

  • If we wanted safe comedy, jokes that only hit the mark because they’re so predictable a hawk could see them coming in the distance, we wouldn’t have this website. Our “jokes” are based on observations and history only the three of us are aware of. It’s so niche were the literal definition of niche now.

  • Yes. Which is nice in a way. But it also seals us permanently into the position that we are the only people who will ever read any of this crap.

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