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12 July, 2005

Wasted calls

Last Tuesday, I returned from work and noticed that my answerphone had logged a call at about 10:30, but no message, and that the number had been withheld, so I couldn't ring back.  On Wednesday, the same thing happened: an unreturnable call at about 12:30.  There was yet another on Thurday, received (or rather, not received) at ~17:15.

If someone rings me but can't be bothered to leave a message or even a number, I'm happy to ignore it, but when it happens repeatedly, I do get a little concerned. I know that calls from my father (in Norway) and H (in Poland) aren't properly recognised by my answerphone, so the thought obviously crossed my mind that someone might have been calling me from there, erroneously thinking that he/she had left a message or number. I checked: no.

On Saturday, I received a slightly irritable letter from the bank asking me to contact my local branch at my earliest convenience (there was no indication of a reason), as repeated attempts to ring me had failed (phrased more like "you failed to take our calls").

I went there immediately. They merely wanted to check my account was performing to my satisfaction, and to try to sell me their mortgage, insurance and 'premium' (i.e. not free) account options; i.e. they'd dragged me in as a matter of urgency, to listen to a sales pitch. I, er, wasn't pleased.

The Assistant Manager explained that the cryptic phone calls were 'policy': bank employees are told not to leave a message on an answering machine, in case someone other than the intended recipient hears it, or in case people become worried by the very fact that the bank had called. Policy is to ring once in a morning, once around lunch, and once late in an afternoon, then send a letter. Another policy is to only ring a customer's home number.
So that's: only ring a customer's home number, during working hours, and never leave a message. Right.

The Assistant Manager promised to forward my... concerns to the appropriate people, but guess what: yesterday my answering machine logged an unidentified call at ~09:45, and I've come home from work this evening to a blinking red light and the information that a mystery caller failed to reach me at midday.

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