Civil servants’ civility?

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I have been unemployed for 12 months and had need to phone the benefits helpline.

I was asked a variety of security questions and correctly gave my national insurance number, name, post code and date of birth but fell down when it came to my mobile phone number.

I explained that I had changed my number a few weeks ago but had forgotten to inform the job centre, so they only had my old one and gave my new number.

I was then asked to call back in a few minutes, just before 6pm when the lines close for the day; needless to say I assumed because of this that in the meantime my records would be updated accordingly.

However, when I rang back I spoke to a different person and found this was not the case and that because I could not give the number already on their records they could not help me - clearly, my records hadn’t been updated with the new number as I had been led to believe would happen. Shocked, and somewhat annoyed at wasting credit I can ill-afford, I said I was ringing back as per instructions given by the person who’d answered the first call.

I was further shocked when this second person responded by telling me, quite bluntly, that I had failed the security questions, said goodbye, then hung up!

These people are supposed to be civil servants - the clue is in the title.

I’d been told in the past by my children, who are both now unemployed, that they’d experienced similar problems when calling the helpline.

Although I found it hard to believe at the time (of people in such positions) now I know they were telling the truth.

These people need lessons in manners and how to speak to their customers: just because we’re unemployed doesn’t mean to say we can be treated like the proverbial.

They should think themselves lucky that in this day and age they’ve got a job.

BD, S8