Shocked civil servants were at a loss today as to what to make of a phone call from a service user who apparently had no complaint to make. A member of helpline staff at the DVLA took the call yesterday afternoon from an office worker in Chelmsford. The man claimed he had just felt like saying thanks for their online car tax renewal facility which had saved him wasting his lunch-break braving a squally shower and a post office queue, where he later found out there had been a fight, an incontinence episode and someone trying to pay for their TV license with softmints which had held up the queue for ages.
‘I just kept waiting for the ‘but’ and it never came’ said the Helpline assistant at the Swansea-based offices, ‘It got a bit awkward really. He said it was a really easy system to use, really quick, and had saved him a lot of bother. ‘A great example of a successful government IT project adding real value to people’s lives’ he said. Trouble was, our customer care helpline software doesn’t have a drop-down for any of that so I had to pass him on to a supervisor’.
The caller was then passed up the chain of command as increasingly senior civil servants pored through procedure documents in an attempt to log the issue. Eventually the Secretary of State for Transport, Geoff Hoon was called out of a meeting to take the call. Similarly stumped, Mr Hoon apologized profusely for the general crapness of the entire government and offered to resign immediately.
The call eventually returned some two hours later to the original operator on the helpline. ‘At this point the bloke had had enough’, he said. ‘Bloody helpline system, bloody paper-pushers, bloody waste of tax money’. He was fuming. So I ticked the boxes for complaints about ‘attitude of staff’, ‘query not resolved’ and ‘abusive customer’ which meant I was no longer obliged to manage his call, so I hung up’.