Epidemic of incompetence?

Is an epidemic of incompetence sweeping through this country?

This morning I rang my electricity supplier and asked for my wife’s name to be added to the account. Just that. 

Sharp intake of breath. “Ooh, that’ll be a change of account. It will nullify your contract.” I said it was what I wanted, and could they please arrange it, then email me the current invoice with the change.

The current invoice arrived soon afterwards … unchanged. I had to call and start again.

One month ago I returned to the opticians where I had recently had new glasses made, to complain that they felt wrong. A re-test produced a significantly different prescription! I ordered new thin lenses — two pairs of varifocals and one pair of mid-range lenses for working on my computer, and provided my previous pair of mid-range glasses for the lenses to be replaced.

What they gave me was one pair of varifocals and a pair of single-vision DISTANCE lenses in my old frame. When I got them home I realised that the left lens was 3 times as thick as my old glasses, and much thicker than the right lens. I spoke on the phone to the franchise owner who assured me he would make it all right.

Yesterday I went to collect the glasses, only to see that the (thick) left lens was unchanged, and that the right lens only had been changed to the new prescription. 

I asked for a refund, but still no senior person came to discuss the matter or attempt to keep me as a customer, until I insisted on speaking to the manager or director. When I pointed out that I now had no mid-range glasses because they had replaced the old ones with distance lenses, they were silent.

There’s more. I took out a subscription to a daily newspaper, but decided to cancel because I found the voucher system cumbersome. So I wrote to tell them and asked if I could return the unused vouchers. No reply. And they took the next direct debit payment.

So I asked my bank to cancel the DD. This morning I received a letter from the newspaper saying, “We have been unable to obtain payment … because the account details were incorrect.” Hello? The account details were correct, but I cancelled the DD!

When I was a child, “Made in England” was a prized mark on Dinky Cars and other toys. “Made in Hong Kong” was at the other end of the scale. There’s been a reversal. These days, too many people in England seem unable to do a good job. What is worse, they seem not to care enough to get it right.

Feels like an epidemic of incompetence. What do you think?

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