Friday, April 25, 2008

Don't bank on it

I have a lot of problems with my Bank – not the least of which is their staff’s infuriating habit of calling it “Haitch SBC”. (I resolved that at the first opportunity, I would ask the management why their staff training didn’t include advising people the name of the firm they work for - but the next manager I spoke to also called it “Haitch SBC”.)
With staff exhaling violently whenever they announce themselves, their call centres must be like wind-tunnels.
But collective aspiration is a minor irritation. Another problem is their web-site. Why do so many big companies have user-hostile websites while smaller ones are usually much easier to use? OK, their businesses are less complicated, but I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who used to scream at the British Airways screen, “Go and look at Easyjet’s”. In the end they did, and it shows. Perhaps HSBC should look at Nationwide’s.
But the site's most annoying idiosyncrasy – of many - is the way it asks you, in the middle of whatever you’re doing, if you would prefer NOT to be logged off. If you happen to be looking elsewhere at the time, you’re off.
(The creeping "haitch" is not confined solely to HSBC - a guy in Curry’s the other day tried to sell us a TV that was “Haitch D ready” – it sounds like a folk singer. I wouldn’t buy anything from a guy who says “Haitch D ready” even if he didn’t have halitosis.)
Not only that, but the words he should have aspirated, like "have" or "here", he pronounced "'ave" and "'ere".

I’m enjoying a Christmas present, Passionate Minds, about Voltaire’s affair with Emilie, Marquise de Châtelet – one of the first women physicists - in the early 18th century. Writing about the Enlightenment period, author David Bodanis says, “In writing your thoughts in a letter rather than in a private, confessional diary, you’re showing that you’re proud enough […] to expect that other people will want to hear what you’re expressing, about yourself. Emilie wrote an immense number of such letters[…]”
Sounds like she was also the first woman blogger.

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