‘I think most of them just use the phonetic alphabet to show off the fact that they know it. It’s nauseating’, said Emma Rigby, a complaints handler for M&S Money. ‘For example, if your name is ‘David’, please just say David, you don’t have to spend two-minutes slowly saying: ‘That’s David: Delta; Alpha; Victor; Indigo; Delta. Over’. If you just say ‘David’, I’m confident that I can take it from there’.
Emma added: ‘To be honest, I’m more impressed by the customers who only know a little bit of the phonetic alphabet from watching films, but consider it only polite and proper to make-up the rest as they go along. A good example would be my last customer, ‘Sheila’, who assisted me with the spelling of her name with: ‘The name’s Sheila, that’s: Sierra; Hotel; Echo; erm…Ice; Liverpool; Acrobat’. At least she’s being creative’.
Olivia Vickers, an inbound call handler for Littlewoods Direct, who says she only ever bothers to use the phonetic alphabet to clarify the spellings of more obscure foreign names, said: ‘The usual culprits are those who are required to use a walkie-talkie at work, or the ones obsessed with films like Hamburger Hill or Black Hawk Down. Either way we’re not impressed. I’m sorry to disappoint, but I’m hardly sitting there thinking, ‘oh, Mr. Williams, your ability to spell ‘Nigel’ phonetically is quite the aphrodisiac, please whisper me a phonetic nothing’.
Although not all telephone operatives find the world of phonetic spelling frustrating, as explained by Thomas Hughes from Lloyds Banking Group: ‘Some people haven’t got a clue what the phonetic alphabet is, they just pass it off as call centre jargon. It’s great,’ said Thomas.
‘If only Mrs. Granger from Norwich knew how often I referred to her ‘Tango indigo tango sierras when she called in to enquire about the interest on her ISA yesterday, she’d be switching banks! Wait, this isn’t being published anywhere, is it? Bravo uniform golf golf echo, er, robot.’