Contact us! Actually, don’t

28 Oct 2011 0

A guide to getting in touch with usIn our world of instant communication and supposed consumer empowerment, it continues to baffle me how some companies get away with being impossible to contact.

The worst offenders tend to be companies like Facebook and Google who provide online services for free – making it a bit difficult to complain anyway.

But it also extends to firms whom we pay lots of money for frivolities like heating and water. Phone companies, paradoxically, are particularly bad.

Lots of companies have a section marked ‘Contact us’ on their websites. Don’t be fooled. It generally consists of a list of reasons why you should not contact them, and suggestions for things you can do instead (reading an out-of-date FAQ, discussing it in a forum with some other clueless souls, asking your cat…).

The government is doing it too. I had to call HM Revenue and Customs yesterday, but before I was allowed to speak to a person I had to listen to a five-minute script (strictly speaking a 2 ½ minute script, played twice) about why I should hang up and go to the website. Oh well, at least they’re not in charge of anything important like taxation.

A number of people recently had their GMail accounts hacked by people trying to extort money – and one of them spoke on BBC Breakfast earlier this week about how Google proved impossible to contact.

This woman had lost hundreds of contacts, and everyone she’d ever emailed had received a fake message from her, pleading for money. But Google, that giant of the internet, that shining beacon of the information age, that bastion of openness and connectivity, had no one to call. When the poor woman managed to get hold of an office number for them and rang it, she got hung up on.

Google, the friendly face of technology. Those nice, quirky, ‘don’t be evil’ guys who go to work in their jeans and sit around on bean bags. But if something goes wrong and you need their help, you find that their office is actually on the Death Star. And the bean bags are filled with shredded complaint letters. And there’s no phone.

So I was pleased to see today that Innocent, who make juice and whatnot, have gone all out with the contact details on their packaging. They suggest that I might contact them via carrier pigeon, semaphore or interpretive dance (the semaphore signals are actually listed on the bottom of the carton).

But they’re only joking! At the bottom, they give me an address (two actually – one UK, one Ireland), a phone number, an email address, a website, a Facebook page and a Twitter ID.

I almost feel like calling, writing, emailing and tweeting just to say thank you for being reachable. Once I’ve done that, I’ll get on to why they’ve cheekily made their cartons smaller.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions about this post, you know where to find me.

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