Sunday, April 03, 2005
Computer Says No
My apologies for not posting any Nanny stories yesterday, I was unfortunately involved in a titanic battle of wills with the computer system at Lastminute.com.
I will elaborate.
Last week my partner (Eva) booked a flight to Stockholm with Lastminute.com, she duly received the confirmation for the flight which was to take place today.
However, on Friday evening at around 6:15 she received an email from Lastminute which started off in the not too promising fashion "Hello Frost..".
The fact that her surname is in fact Hellqvist, seemingly was of no importance to the author of the missive.
Said author then went on to explain that the ticket for the flight had been cancelled, as there were in fact no seats available. Why, one wonders, did the Lastminute computer system sell us a ticket for these non existent seats?
The author then suggested that we call him for clarification.
Ah, if only things were that simple!
We called but, needless to say, the office was shut!
Saturday duly dawned, and we had less than 24 hours to try to get Eva a flight; cue the dramatic music.
We accessed dear old Lastminute's site and found a few flights that were still available, though these were naturally more expensive than our original booking; how convenient!
We tried to book, but the computer said "No"; the flight (despite being shown only 10 nano seconds before) was now full.
We tried another search and came up with another flight, alas to no avail; computer said "No".
We tried four more times, each time the computer gave us a flight that we could book; each time we then pressed the booking button computer said "No".
Anyhoo, very helpfully computer provided us with a phone number to ring.
I rang, and found myself talking to a real live customer "care" operative; to my view a more apt description of said individual would be that of witless, patronising "scrote".
Said scrote, informed me that I had rung the wrong number, and that he was not the right person in the mighty Lastminute.com empire to handle my booking.
I pointed out that computer had given me the number.
He pointed out that computer was wrong.
He gave me another number to ring.
I asked to be transferred, scrote said he couldn't do that.
Okey dokey, I rang the new number.
Joy of joys I found myself talking to the computer, which was equipped with a voice recognition and touch tone operating system. I went throughout the sequence to get to the "book flight only to Europe" part of the menu.
At this point, can you guess?
Yes, that's right, computer said "No".
Seemingly, if you can believe the computer, Lastminute do not take human bookings for Europe flights only; I was told by computer to use the computer to make the booking, computer then hung up on me.
Well bit of a problem wouldn't you say?
I decided to ring my old chum the witless, patronising scrote; and pointed out the "catch 22" problem with computer and the booking system.
Scrote informed me that I must have used the system incorrectly, and that the system worked perfectly. I pointed out that I was not an idiot, comments on this assumption please?, and that the system did not work. Scrote informed me that the system worked perfectly, and that I was the only person ever to complain; therefore I was at fault, not the system.
Orwellian "Big Brother" logic if ever I've heard it!
Scrote then again refused to transfer me.
Right, time to don my armour of burnished bronze, we do not get treated like this!
I rang computer again, this time claiming that I wanted to book a holiday. Computer graciously allowed me to talk to a human.
The human I spoke to was a charming lady, who told me that I had come through to the wrong part of Lastminute (this we knew!), and that I should have gone to the flight booking area (this we also knew!).
I explained the problem, fortunately she had the wit and the intelligence to check for herself; and informed me "that there seems to be something wrong with the computer"...ah ha!
Now we at last were getting somewhere.
She said that she could not transfer me to the right department, fascinating phone system they have in Lastminute wouldn't you say?
However, she would get someone to ring me back.
She kept her word, and another person rang back. He was also helpful and intelligent.
I explained the problem with the cancellation and the trouble with computer. He then spent a while trying to confirm if Eva's original ticket had been cancelled. This came to now't, as the person who emailed Eva was not known to him, and the department in which he allegedly worked was shut until Monday.
So we "winged it" and decided to make a new booking.
After a few more phone calls we finally succeeded in getting a new flight booking by 3:00pm that afternoon (some 6 hours after we started trying to make a new booking!).
Well, they do call themselves "Lastminute"!
Needless to say the new flight was around £60 more expensive!
The moral of this story is that Nanny exists in many forms, be it political or commercial, all of them designed to belittle and crush the individual.
Now, for those of you with nothing better to do today, I have a little game for you.
Let's annoy computer, try to make a booking for a European flight only (not holiday, not hotel) using the following phone number 08712223200.
I bet computer says "No".