Friday, March 30, 2007

Day 261: I Am Reminded That Over-Familiarity Breeds Contempt

"Good afternoon. Is that Monkey? This is Jeff from Orange, calling about your contract." No, Jeff. Stop. Stop now. Do not use my Christian name*. You are twenty. I am thirty-seven, and we have not met.

I am "Miss Monkey" or, if you must, "Ms Monkey". ("Ms" is such an ugly political point to make, like non-leather shoes.) If you must insist on using my Christian name do not, once you have started talking to me, use it in every sentence. It does not make me trust you more when you do it. It does not make me feel that you are listening to me. Please stop it. We do not live in the Mid-Western States of America; you are not selling used cars, and I am not the sort of person who buys Diamantique chandelier earrings from QVC.

If we were to meet, looking me straight in the eye, giving me a long, firm handshake and using my name all at the same time would not encourage me to think of you as trustworthy; it would encourage me to think you had been on a training course outside Leicester.

Moreover, if you have met me once - albeit in fairly informal circumstances - do not, under any circumstances, call me "you nutter" or "you idiot" in an email. Never, ever say (either out loud with your mouth or written down in an email), "You're MAD, you are!". (You do not, I am sure, want to discover the full extent of my insanity for the first time when I kill you with my hands.)

Calling me 'Madam' is, however, entirely appropriate. As is the following introduction to a telephone call (from John Lewis, of course): "Good afternoon, Miss Monkey. It is Peter from John Lewis calling about your account card. Is now a convenient time to talk?". Yes, Peter, it is.

* No pedantry about "Isn't it Non-working?", if you please.


rivergirlie said...

ahhh - if only the entire world were a great big john lewis. (sometimes, when i'm shopping there, i just want to hide in a tiny corner until closing time, and set up home once everyone's gone)

Anxious said...

John Lewis, like a cup of tea, is one of those things that just makes you go "ahhhh..."

Beth said...

yes! that thing where they use your name every third word - someone i was required to speak to kept doing it and i had to ask her to stop, i couldn't concentrate on what she was saying for the boiling in my blood! i felt like asking her 'did you go on the training course only last week?'
(as i type i am getting a sense of deja vu - if i have said this before and am repeating myself i apologise)

Beth said...

also, i sometimes use 'is now a convenient time to talk?' but what i usually mean by it is 'do you think you could possibly turn the tv down or stop shouting at your children for half a minute?'

tea and cake said...

how elegant is John Lewis?!

We've had loads of money back for buying from them when it would be cheaper elsewhere, and they are sooo polite and lovely; and they are forgiven for not offering two for one cinema tickets.

tea and cake said...

setting a pattern here for two consecutive posts.

Just remembered this constant name-calling thing happened to me yesterday! Only this was by someone who actually sounded very nice, and I want the esteemed work she was possibly offering. I gritted my teeth and felt guilty I wasn't using her name. I got one in at the end of the call, though, with a 'bye, ms possible employer!' phew.


Rivergirl, Tea 'n' Cake, Anx: John Lewis makes me want to cry. I completely agree about wanting to set up home there. I once got in a massive argument with someone who was being FOUL to the person on the till. They are all lovely in Waitrose too. All of them. Each and every one. (I tell you who else are good at the customer service lark: Land's End. People who are not:

Carphone cocking Warehouse
Shithouse Orange
London Borough of Fucking Lambeth
British Flaming Gas Services
B "what is this broadband of which you speak?" T.)

If John Lewis made gas and electricity, houses and pets, I would get them all from them. I really miss John Lewis. Really miss it.

Beth: no no no deja vu, just very funny. Yes EXACTLY about 'is now a ...' - it is a very useful weapon, as it also means "stop being rude and listen to me now you fool.' I use it with clients all the time.

That's so pants said...

I once took a fridge magnet into John Lewis and told the man with the spotted bow tie in white goods, 'I'd like a fridge to go with this magnet please'. His manners were impeccable and I left with the perfect fridge.

Nichola said...

I agree with you, Miss Monkey (although I prefer Ms myself, making the point that women should not be categorised according to their marital status).

Bloody salesmen calling me Nichola without asking! BAH!

martina said...

Whew! I thought it was only me who got upset with this! Here in the colonies many boilerroom er sales calls address the person being called by first name. My parents were very strict about never calling an adult by their first name unless the adult said to do so. I still call people Mr/Ms etc. I also detest strangers/sales people using my first name. It is just better to address formally and so much more...polite!

Beth said...

I feel almost ashamed to say so here, now, but - I have never knowingly bought anything from John Lewis. It's not deliberate, the opportunity just never seems to have arisen. Unless online from Waitrose counts?

My own customer service crown (personal experience category) goes to Lakeland.

And back to the name thing again - in a work context, even when someone *asks* me to call them by their first name I really really can't do it. Not unless we hit the six month mark anyway.

Janejill said...

I've heard that in Germany, first names are only used after several years' acquaintance - maybe that's going a bit too far in the manners department - Love John Lewis , but Citylink really sucks (well it did yesterday)

monkeymother said...

Oh Lord, all you young folk are turning into Grumpy Old People.

I must admit I am not mad about that first name thing either, except when it's the lovely children who work at my excellent internet and mobile supplier who, when I subscribed a hundred years or so ago, made me feel part of their Very Speshul Club, as they obviously didn't realise what an old, grey person I am. Sadly, I'm told they don't do trains so well.

NWM - I may gladden your monkey heart by telling you that if you ever return to Blighty, Waitrose supplies what I'm told is an excellent internet service, as well as various types of insurance, although I'd keep your own email address for obvious reasons.

I'm now going to order my monkeynuts from Ocado. Even their delivery drivers are charming.

minty. said...

a friend was recently asked in Peter Jones (the Sloane Square John Lewis for those of a foreign persuasion) whether she was Miss, Mrs or titled. It made her feel wonderful but it is standard practice there apparently. It made me feel warm too.

apprentice said...

Yes let's make John Lewis the new national Parliament.
The new national motto can be "never knowingly undersold"

I phone them and they post me my coffee filters for my machine. TYhey are fab.

Hope the ankle is mending

Reading the Signs said...

very good, Ms Monkey, you tell it like it is and I like that. Me, I like proper titles to be used at all times, ms monkey, even in the bedroom, just ask Mr. Signs.

Ms. Monkey? I'm mad, I am!

Indigo said...

I love John Lewis too. When you buy something new and big and heavy, they take away your old big and heavy thing - 'fridge, cooker, whatever - when they deliver your new one. I've had an account with them for about 15 years.

Does anyone else remember the dining room on the top floor, with white table cloths and those silverised tea and coffee pots? Before it was swept away and replaced by The Place To Eat etc.

Z said...

I buy all important purchases, such as computer and coffee-making equipment, from John Lewis.

I am tolerant with the young person who doesn't know better however. Now, I remember his or her name and use it back. I find it helps them relax.


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