‘Service not included’

We are used to the idea of giving a tip at a restaurant for good service, and to know it is appropriate on the bill there is a note saying, ‘service not included’.

The latest fine for British Gas suggests on their bills there should be a notice, saying, ‘Service not included’, and two other energy providers are being looked at, so BG won’t be the only one to get hit with a fine.

Twice today I have had big frustrations with big companies. One was for an incorrect money transfer which was admitted by Bank no 1, but I had to contact Bank no 2, who told me I would get a charge but I could claim it back from Bank no 1! So they make a mistake and I have to do the work to correct it.

The second was for car insurance, can I insure myself to drive a friend’s car which is registered in another country where she lives? Call the AA, response, no we don’t offer that policy, no help to find out who could provide, and no explanation as to why not. So, the AA does not provide a service, they sell you things but if they do not have those things then please go away.

The lack of efficient, effective and friendly service in the developed world is of course nothing compared to the lack of just about everything in other places. But in places good service is available, and one of those places, Ethiopia, may seem the most unlikely of places to get it.

Owen Barder’s report on the famine in the Horn of Africa is the best I have seen, simple and enlightening. Yes, Ethiopia is affected, but emergency plans are working, so far.

Somehow, responses in one country, or from one company, are massively better than from another, and this must be because of fundamental differences in service ethics, that people feel and know their job is to provide a service. Decades of management improvement programmes, of leadership development, don’t seem to have put service at the forefront of the business. It is time this happened.


One response to “‘Service not included’

  1. During the eighties, it seemed as if ‘service’ became something extra.. a cost, and if people wanted it they’d have to pay extra.

    A generation later, we’re not paying anymore for a full valued service, but we’re paying for the cost to ‘get away with it’.. of course, this trend came along with marketing schemes dealing with ‘impression management’ so that a service could be hollowed out beyond recognition without immediately affecting the end-client’s experience.

    I guess this is what happens when management training based on selfish genes takes over..

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