Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Great Dick

I get that 'sinking feeling' when I answer the phone and the bright bunny on the other end goes "ah, just the person I wanted to speak with ... I guess that doesn't happen often". Too damn right and thankfully too.

I had Julie (or Katie, or something) on the phone recently from our Food Group about a customer complaint I'd dealt with some months previously. That's months not moments.

By way of background when a customer returns something consumable that manifestly is of insufficiently high quality relative to the standard set for that particular consumable then a whole lotta paper work gets done.

The details of the product are recorded and, if a sample is provided by the customer as evidence of their claim then that sample is retained (and chilled or frozen as appropriate). The completed paper work is faxed off to a total jerk called Dick and the sample if available is sent to him via the internal mail.

The idea is that he, being very senior, liaises with whoever it is that one liaises with under such circumstances with a view to heading off at the pass any law suits and otherwise dealing with any claims as well as making it look like we're doing what's necessary to avoid any further instances of what are typically production line QA failures.

Returning to the call, I didn't get to the bottom of where Julie or Katie or whatever the hell her name is sits (organisationally speaking) in relation to the Dick. She wanted to know if we still had the foreign object some customer had found in her carton of juice. Happily, notwithstanding the distance in time since the report I did remember it and also remember both faxing the damned paper work to Dick as well as packaging up the sample for his delectation(with the assistance of a little bit of prompting).

She chirpily remembered both it and the dodgy pastie that we'd sent in the same run and then asked again if by any chance we still had the sample at our office. I told her it wasn't with us and had gone off to Dick. She once again chirpily admitted to having a recollection of having seen it and put it in the 'fridge in their office. Fool that I can be I thought I'd made some progress, but no, back she came, game and persistent if nothing else. "I don't suppose you have it still in your office somewhere?"

No dear, it isn't here.

Turns out their all turning cartwheels up at head office because (shock of shocks) the complainant has actually had the temerity to contact head office with a request for a progress report on the investigation into the 'foreign object' in her juice carton.

One way of looking at this is to see that obviously the foreign object's not been fatal or rendered the juice she drank fatal (or indeed even the cause of mild ill health) so she could just consider putting the whole grisly incident behind her and getting on with life. She could I suppose sue our arses off for the trauma of finding something alien in her apple juice. Alternatively she could have such an empty head that it has room to remember a complaint about something that has caused her no physical or mental trauma whatsoever but is, when all's said and done, the most interesting thing to happen to her in a twelvemonth.

The sample's been lost, last seen in the fridge in the office in the building where Dick works. The fridge that in the ordinary course of events is used to keep cool the milk for his tea or coffee. Quite where it's gone is a matter for conjecture but I fear we'll never have any certain knowledge of what befell it. And I swear I heard Julie (or Katie or whatever) say, as she put down the phone, something along the lines of "I guess this is another one to be put down to the Great Dick". The great dick, indeed.


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