Sign of the times? I hope not
It’s not often we at Iluvinvers have a grumble about something, and although this may start off with a distinct lack of positive direction, bear with us and you’ll see that it does indeed have a silver lining.
While the increase of technology is often greeted with enthusiasm, I encountered something today that I hope doesn’t have much of a future. It turned a car journey I normally thoroughly enjoy into a living nightmare and all the man on the other end of the phone could say was “Sorry, but there isn’t much I can do”. That didn’t help me one bit. Let me start at the beginning.
When I left home just outside of Invercargill to make the journey to Queenstown I had a respectable half a tank of petrol, but obviously that wasn’t to last forever and I felt the need to put a little more into the ol’ tank by the time we got to Lumsden, where I came face to face with the automated petrol station. You know the ones with NO helpful people and no other option but to use a card. So that was my first obstacle – I had cash. After grumbling a little I dug deep into the handbag and managed to find a card. Not that the spent energy was going to produce anything resembling petrol – I put my card into the machine and nothing. Nothing happened. Nothing at all. Very helpful indeed. So I telephoned the 0800 number listed so helpfully on the front of the machine, and waited until I spoke to a man who was able to tell me something I already knew – the machine wasn’t working. Something to do with the internet. You don’t say?! So I asked him how I was going to get petrol and after admitting I wasn’t going to get any, did offer a “I’m sorry about that”, and I don’t doubt that he was. Never mind, I’ll get it at the next town that has a petrol station. So on our merry way we went and drove towards Kingston. At Five Rivers we stopped at a road side cafe to get coffee and ask if they perhaps knew if there was a normal petrol station a little closer by. The ladies at the café were very nice, made a great cup of coffee but unfortunately they said Kingston would be the closest, but don’t worry, they said, I’d make it there easily on the petrol I had left. And they were right. I did make it to Kingston only to be confronted by another one of those useless unmanned machine pumps! Despite grumbling I was happy to have at least access to petrol so in went the card. Again NOTHING! Unbelievable! Owned by the same company! ARGH!! Not bothering this time to call the same 0800 number again and have the man tell me what is so incredibly obvious, I instead wandered into the local shop to ask if there happens to be a normal petrol station around close by, you know the one with the friendly fore-court attendants and ones that take cash and stuff because the one next door isn’t working? The by now familiar answer of “Sorry, just the computerized one next door, until you get to the normal one in Frankton.” Fabulous <insert sarcasm>. So here we were with less than quarter of a tank setting off again, and although the nerves on Devil’s Staircase on this occasion wasn’t from the winding road, the drive didn’t take long, I don’t remember much of the breathtaking view I know I missed and I have never been so glad to see Frankton before where I just about hugged the forecourt attendant who with a smile filled up my very thirsty car. YIPPEE!
If computerized services are a sign of the times I don’t want no part of it. Sure, on occasion it works very well but how many of us have stood by the self check out kiosk in the supermarket waiting for the staff to come and swipe their cards because something has gone wrong? Or when telephoning some businesses have ended up at the wrong extension because the automated voice activated menu options didn’t state the one thing you called about? And now off course I can add the distinct lack of petrol to my list of things gone wrong with automated technical advances. Sorry, but none of it is customer service in my opinion. Customer service is a smile, being helped and you look forward to returning to spend your hard earned money. But, remember the silver lining? There is one. Today’s mishaps have confirmed to me that Southland is indeed a region of fantastic people – from the ladies at the café, the unknown man who offered to give me 5 L of petrol from his house, to the TipTop delivery man at the local store who said he’d give us a lift if we ran out of gas on the way to Queenstown (he was going the same way but would be 10 minutes or so behind us) – there are so many helpful nice people around. So why on earth we would want to take away such great ambassadors to our region from the public eye and replace them with un-cooperative non-personal computers is way beyond me. Southland is known for its kind down to earth people, I for one hope we keep the computers at bay for quite some time to come yet.
oh, and as usual Queenstown didn’t disappoint either, how can one remember the hiccups of the journey when treated to views such as these?