Friday, September 15, 2006
Clean up your act!
British Council in Lagos, na wa for una o!! In case you don't know which one I am talking about, its at Thompson in Ikoyi. I have had to go to the council quite frequently in the recent past as my M.Sc exams hold there. On the first day I went (sometime in April), I wrote my exam and left. No drama. Day 2, I was with a classmate so after the exam I decided to wait for him in the reception area. Nature called, so I asked the only customer care staff on duty to direct me to the bathroom to ease my self.
Me: Hi! I would like to ease myself. Can you please direct me to the ladies?
She: (Long Pause as she looks at me up and down, up and down)
Me: (Slightly amused)
She: (Deigning to speak to me) Why did you come to the British council?
Me: I beg your pardon?
She: What did you come to the British council for?
Me: (Slightly upset at this point) I came to write an exam.
She: O.k, its down the hall to your right.
I went off thinking that "this has got to be a joke".
After doing my business, I went back to her and asked her why she had to look at me that way and then ask me that question before she could point me to the right direction. She then went on about the way people just come in for the sole purpose of using the loo and then messing it up and leaving. How they (customer care personnel) get into trouble with management as a result.
Me, I kept quiet and listened, thinking about the procedure for entry into the compound. First of all, a guard standing outside has to ask one sitting inside to "Open gate 1". You come into a cage of sorts and you are screened/wanded. Then your bag is thoroughly searched by a second guard, you are given a tag, asked to sign in and only then will the guard say "Open gate 2!" to let you into the premises.
As madam attitude spoke, I thought to myself, yeah, right!!! People go through that just to take a leak! She then went on to say, "O! I hope I did not embarrass you". I assured her in a quiet voice that she did not, but that I was suprised and midly upset at her rudeness and that there would have been a better way of handling the situation even if I had lied my way in to take a leak. Having said my piece, I walked away.
Fast forward to August 23rd. I had another exam to write and since you are asked to call at least 3 days ahead to confirm, I did just that and asked for the contact person on my letter. The lady that picked up the phone told me that he was on a lunch break. Fine. I asked to pass on a message about my confirmation for the exam. she agreed to and then I asked her when he would be back so that I could call back. Next thing, I can't hear a thing, just background noise. I kept saying "Hello", no reply. I passed the phone to a friend who was next to me and she said that she could hear people talking in the background. apparently madam was done with the call and just took off. Mistake? I don't know, but it was not nice. Especially as I was calling from my GSM phone. That's premium rate for a landline call. Not funny
August 25th: I land there for my exam and the guy at the desk is on the phone. I stand in front of him waiting to be granted audience. I realise about 10 seconds into the call that its a personal one. He's going on in his local dialect which I understand. He was nice enough to motion to me to give him sometime. 1 minute... 2 minutes...3 minutes...I was rescued by the invigilator who had come looking for me. My guy was still on the phone as I walked away. Hmmm.
Less than a week later, I was back and my chic from the first episode was there. A man who had a form to fill was right in front of me and asked if he could use her pen. In a rather brusque manner she said " No, you can't, because I am going to use it soon". I cringed visibly and without saying a word started rifling in my bag for a pen for the bobo. After that, I went for my exam.
I have to say that I am sorely disappointed in their behaviour. It costs absolutely nothing to be courteous. Like I pointed out to my sister when I told her about it, the very reason why these people are employed is so as to deal with enquiries and assist customers. If there were no customers, there would be no work for them and hence no salary. I pay £65 for each exam and I believe that if you can not be courteous naturally, then you should be because my money pays for it. I was actually going to complain to "management" the following day, but ended up not going.