When I couldn’t find a phone number on Monday I used the whitepages and got it immediately.
On my way to Christchurch the following day I needed the number again so rang 018.
I gave the operator the surname and first names of the couple and then explained I didn’t know the exact address but they lived at Clearwater.
She asked if that was an area, I replied it was a resort and she told me they didn’t have a number for anyone of that name at Clearwater.
The names I’d given her aren’t rare but they aren’t very common either so I asked if there was a number for any couple with the combination of names I was asking for anywhere in Christchurch.
She said there was one so I asked for the address and when she gave it to me I recognised it as being the one I needed.
Not giving the exact address makes finding a number harder, but given I gave the two first names and surname of the people whose number I wanted and there was only one with that combination in the whole of Christchurch, why didn’t she offer it as an alternative rather than just giving me the we -don’t -have -anyone -at -that -addreess response?
This isn’t the first time I’ve gone through a similar teeth-pulling exercise to get a number, even when I know it’s in the phone book and/or internet whitepages and I’ve got the right address.
It happens often with country people because rural delivery addresses usually go through a postal centre some distance from the phone exchange, so for example the postal address might be Oamaru but the phone exchange will be one of several other wee townships such as Enfield, Windsor or Duntroon which most people don’t know.
But it also happens with addresses in towns and cities and others tell me they have similar problems with the 018 service.
If it’s this bad when staff appear to be New Zealanders, imagine how much worse it will get if Telecom moves this service to an overseas call centre too.