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The Richard Spooner Column: Time to dish out plaudits

11 January 2019

We’re not very good, apparently, at dishing out plaudits. So I decided the other day to change the habit of a lifetime even after having my patience tested to the very limits of human endurance.

It all started when I needed to change a couple of tyres on the car. Because it’s a lease car, I was forced to use a certain national firm, which I won’t name to save their blushes.

Things got off to a bad start, but I can assure any readers of a nervous and/or sensitive disposition that this tale does have a happy ending.

Because of my location and travel plans, I tried to book the car into the firm’s Leamington branch. The website told me that all branches opened at 8.30am. So I called at 8.40 (to save repeating am, please note that these are all morning times and are very approximate) so as not to shock them too early. No reply. Tried again at 8.50, no reply.  And again, 9.10, no reply.

So I switched my attention to the Stratford-upon-Avon branch, my ultimate destination this day in order to visit my favourite music shop.  9.12, No reply. 9.15, let’s try Coventry. No reply.

9.18, back to Leamington. Reply! After a sharp intake of breath, the voice at the other end said: “No chance today, mate.”

Then I remembered my friends in the Solihull branch (I had used them previously), even though it was in totally the opposite direction in which I had planned to travel.

9.20. “No problem, sir. Bring it in straight away.” Music to my ears.

I duly arrived at c9.45 to be greeted by the manager, who confirmed immediately that the tread on the car’s front tyres had worn enough to merit a change.

His sidekick sprang into action, even though he was delayed while I tried to remember where something called the wheel lock was stored.

c10.45 I was driving out of the depot, complete with two new tyres and my new best friends assured me that they had re-set that annoying little device which warns you that your tyre pressure is incorrect. Has anyone, apart from the professionals, learned how to re-set it?

So pleased was I to be legal on the road again, I dropped the area manager, no less, a note to say how pleased I was with his Solihull branch while expressing disquiet about his colleagues elsewhere who seemed unable to get out of bed in time to open up promptly, or even to answer their telephones.

Disappointingly, I did not receive even an acknowledgement of receipt of my plaudits until I inquired. Maybe the area manager needs to take a leaf out of his staff’s efficiency book…  

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