Radio Silence – Care Factor Zero

Apologies because today’s blog was supposed to be about my new casual job in the Cobar Returning Office and how I hadn’t had time to write a blog because of the Cobar Council election last year as well as the current by-election. I was going to extol the virtues of our voting system, explain how our electoral system is probably one of the most democratic in the world plus impress you with the lengths we go to to ensure that everyone who wants to, may vote.

However, after months of trying to be more gracious and despite a partner, who supports and challenges me to be my best self, I think it’s time to admit that I have failed my New Year’s resolution spectacularly because this blog is actually a giant whinge.

Is it human nature to deal calmly with a pandemic but lose your cool when someone criticises your Facebook post? Perhaps we’re more hardwired towards coping with big emergencies than small ones. I for one seem to be able to handle a health dilemma or a car accident quite well but then freak out when I misplace the car keys.

In spite of the upheavals and traumas of 2020 /21…… or maybe because of them, it seems that it’s all the little annoyances that cause the most angst …… things like dealing with a big company whose motto seems to be “Care factor zero”.

So let me just start with a warning that the following is a series of whinges about small problems that really don’t warrant the stress and frustration they cause. But just maybe, you’ll relate. Want some cheese with that whine?

Grievance Number 1

For more than a year, I’ve been complaining – first to our property manager and then directly to Stayz (aka Vrbo) that the wonderful reviews written by our lovely tenants are regularly marred by what my son (programmer / analyst extraordinaire) calls errant parsing.

Just last month, for example, we received this review by one of our regulars:

Everything you could ask for in this perfect holiday house for our family of 5 and dog. He’s right across the road from the beach, has several entertaining areas and a pool if you don’t feel like going to the beach any particular day! The house is beautifully decorated and furnished and very relaxing July around in on those who don’t feel like going out to! There is a barbecue and beautiful kitchen as well. Kept very clean, nothing to do but relax.

With no reply from Stayz and, hence, no solution, I was grateful when my son rang the help desk on my behalf. The lady, who answered noticed the errors immediately but advised that she couldn’t raise the issue internally until it was raised to the help desk by the Property Manager. And round and round it goes.

Considering the web fee is in the hundreds of dollars (per owner per year) and considering the IT team is supposed to, well, actually do IT work, it was disappointing to hear that they’re having difficulties and are still working on it ……. a year later! And by the way, comments like “We’ll get back to you first thing in the morning” only appease if you actually do ring back.

More phone calls and emails later, the problem persists. I admit expressions like “It’s not rocket science!” (my son says it’s an easy fix) really haven’t helped my cause and now, all my emails are ignored.

Grievance Number 2

After a tough year (house repairs and Elvis’ new engine), last December I noticed an Oz Lotteries ad for a special New Year’s Eve Saturday Lotto draw (special because New Years Eve was on a Friday). The ad encouraged everyone to purchase a ticket ahead of time – with a first prize of $40,000,000 you wouldn’t want to miss out! Suddenly I was hooked!

Following the online instructions, I clicked through the weekly draws until I came to the New Year’s Eve draw and, throwing caution to the wind, selected a “Large” Syndicate. At this stage all was good – the web page showed that I was indeed purchasing a Large Syndicate ticket in the NYE draw on the 31st December so I clicked Add to Cart.

Unfortunately, what I failed to notice was that, when I clicked, the draw date suddenly reverted to the current Saturday – not the Friday 31st special New Year’s Eve draw.

While it’s clear that I was at fault for not noticing the date change can I just say in my defence that I had no reason to suspect that the system had failed. It’s a bit like paying at the cash register and then checking the receipt to make sure I wasn’t overcharged. I don’t do that either. Even worse, regardless that I had spent more on a single ticket than I ever had before, I didn’t even check the ensuing email proclaiming that I’d bought a ticket. I already knew that I’d bought a ticket.

The first I knew that I’d purchased a ticket in the wrong draw was an email, a couple of days later, announcing that I hadn’t won, which was pretty disappointing – not so much because I hadn’t won but because I didn’t know I was even in the draw.

In a series of messages to and fro and after first telling me that there was nothing wrong with the system because it had just worked for her, the Oz Lotteries customer representative did what I asked and tried to purchase a syndicate ticket rather than a standard ticket and, sure enough, the system defaulted to the current draw date.

On realising the error her response, “With syndicate tickets, they actually need to be purchased the week of the draws. Otherwise they will continually revert to the next draw. So that’s where we had the issue” was less than satisfying. No apology….. No “My goodness, you’re right!” …. just a statement that “we” had an issue….. except that “I” seemed to be the only one out of pocket.

I know, I know…. If I’d won, it would have been a whole new ball game. Still, Surely it should be my decision when to lose money.

To be fair, I imagine that she isn’t actually allowed to apologise on behalf of Oz Lotteries because that’s admitting they got it wrong. So her final response was “We appreciate your patience on this”. Plus I noticed that the ad and the instructions were promptly pulled.

Grievance Number 3

With work over for another day it was Happy Hour – a beer for Nige, a glass of 65 for me and a bone for Bowie – all in the shade of our huge Wilga tree. A perfect end to the day…… until we realised that Nigel’s hands and clothes plus the bar fridge were all covered in black marks.

Several, black grubby afternoons later plus some inductive reasoning (Detective Greg watch out!) plus a career in teaching and the problem was solved. It seems the black ink on the wine bottle foil had reacted to the Aerogard on Nigel’s hands (teachers will tell you that Aerogard gets marker pen off desks) resulting in the black mess.

It seemed only logical to warn the wine company. After all, summer afternoons, alcohol and mosquitoes surely go together. Thank goodness it didn’t happen at a wedding!

So I emailed a warning to Yellowglen and waited for the accolades. That was more than a week ago and the anticipated free boxes of wine, letters of congratulations, and the undying gratitude of Bubbly drinkers everywhere has not been forthcoming…………………. nothing but radio silence!

But on a brighter note, check out the new Cobar Sound Chapel on Facebook!

The Cobar Sound Chapel

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