Talking to a brick wall bot…

By | June 1, 2020

As a family, we’ve been doing quite a bit of ordering things online over the past few months – for various reasons.  Mostly because the physical shops have been shut, but also because we tend to find it easier that way.

But we’ve not had the best of luck, to be honest.

Tim ordered a new cotton jumper for the summer evenings, only to be sent a pink and blue striped short-sleeved shirt instead (well – obviously).  I bought a clarinet which turned up with the wrong reeds, no cork grease for putting it together and a cleaning cloth that was too big to pull through the instrument.

We’ve had things turning up late, or not turning up at all.

But the one that really got our goat last week was a new bike that we ordered from Halfords.  It’s one of those electric bikes that helps you up the hills – if you’d seen the hill Tim will have to ride up every day, you’d understand why we want it!  Anyway – it turned up without a manual (par for the course), but also with no charger for the battery and the left pedal missing!  I mean – really!!

So what with one thing and another, we’ve had to do quite a bit of contacting companies to find out what’s gone wrong and what we need to do to get it sorted.  And the first port of call for most companies at the moment is an online “Live Chat”.

Some of these are absolutely brilliant – I’ve had some great chats with real people who’ve sorted out my problem quickly and been really efficient about it.  But what you often get when you first start using one of these things is a “bot” – that’s what we got on the Halfords website.

A “bot” like this is basically just a fancy search tool for their help pages – so most of the time, they can’t answer your question directly. In my experience, whatever I type tends to bring back a really unhelpful reply – something along the lines of: “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that. Did you mean [some random thing that bears no relationship to what I wrote]?”

Oddly – no that’s not what I meant.  Otherwise, that’s what I would have typed!

They’re a bit infuriating! 

But usually, you have the option to talk to a real person on one of these Live Chats eventually.  If you stay patient and live with a few goes round from the bot of “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that”, it’ll give you the option to go through to a real person.

If you don’t get that option, it’s worth hunting around on the website for a different way to contact them.  Most companies are asking you not to ring up unless it’s really, really urgent – and if you do try that you might find yourself waiting in a very long queue…

Email might be a better option, but big companies often won’t give you an email address on the website.  Smaller companies are more likely to – that’s how I got my clarinet sorted.

What finally worked for Halfords, though, was a Facebook message – believe it or not!  Even though they don’t have many people on the phones at the moment, they’re still answering messages through social media, so it’s well worth looking for that if you get stuck.

That’s probably enough ranting from me for now 🙂

All the best and have a great week.

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