WHISPERING SMITH: Thought my number was up, trying to contact BT

FASCINATING things, statistics, but they are very easily manipulated and rarely represent the whole truth and I note them with great suspicion.

However, there is one particular stat I would be interested in seeing and that is this – just how many people actually die when on the telephone to BT?

I had cause to ring them with an account query last week. I followed the “contacting us” directions on the reverse of the bill and phoned the contact number – here consider the word “contact” very loosely.

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A series of choices leads to another series of multiple choices, all offered by a recorded voice, until eventually, you are right back where you started.

So, take an alternative route and go online to BT. Worse than the M25 on a foggy day. The best contact you can hope for is a sort of rapid email chat with someone called Leona. The lack of a satisfactory answer to my query, I suspect, was due to the fact that “Leona” is, in all likelihood, a pretty name for yet another automaton.

Blood pressure rising, heart thumping and tearful, I gave up and went to the New Inn for a glass of wine and some human company. Telling my tale of woe to those at the bar who showed any interest, I learned I was not alone in my near death experience.

The following morning, I picked up the phone, gave it another shot and after the roundabout ride and constant pressing of buttons, from out of nowhere, came a humanoid voice, a kindly gentleman living in India, who sorted my problem calmly and efficiently in just a few short minutes.

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A little while later my phone rang. It was BT asking me to share my experience. Oh, joy! I am not a man given to rudeness and I save any or most profanities to the wide open spaces of the golf course, but I did tell them in the broadest of terms exactly what I thought of their automated “contacting us” system…

SUCH was the dismal wintery weather this Easter, that the Prom was deserted, the bustling river walk a thing of memory.

I felt so sorry for the LA traders who rely on these short days of spring, but was uplifted by the mournful whistle of the miniature railway engine, somehow promising a lovely summer.

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