Ok, Mr Call Centre Man. I appreciate that you probably started the job about 2 hours ago, after approximately seventeen seconds of training.
Five seconds of which went something like "Those are the toilets and there's a microwave on the second floor."
I sympathise. I really do. I too have had rubbish jobs. I still can't hear "It's a small world after all" without being instantly transported back to a high stool, beside a small barrow in the Gateshead Metro Centre, where I worked for £2 an hour (plus commission), attempting to sell family history name scrolls and sticky toy bugs that walked down windows, and imagining all sorts of horrible ends for the unfeasibly perky staff from the Disney Store a few yards away. All "HIIIYA!" and "HAVEALOVELYDAYNOW", to a background of Disney's greatest hits on loop.
I am probably the only person in alive able to sing the entire Pocohuntas soundtrack from memory.
Anyway, I have considerable sympathy for the trials and tribulations of those employed in less than salubrious situations. However, if you do hope to progress in your chosen career of defrauding the public, you probably need to polish up your act.
Since I'm in a compassionate mood, I am therefore willing to offer you some much-needed feedback. So let's have a look at where you went wrong, shall we?
Call Centre Man: Hello, I'm calling from [your phone provider] about your upgrade which is due at the beginning of August.
Me: Oh good, someone called me the other day but it wasn't convenient and I've been waiting for a callback.
CCM [presumably taken aback by my enthusiasm]: er, did they?
Me: Yes. My phone is knackered so I've been waiting to be upgraded.
CCM: Er, ok, right. So, how much do you estimate your monthly bill to be right now?
Me: My tariff is £18 and I usually come in somewhere around £20.
CCM: Yes, yes, that's right. So are you looking to spend a bit more, or do you want to stay around the same monthly cost?
Me: About the same. I'm willing to go up to about £22, but not much more than that.
CCM: So which iphone do you have?
Me: The original one.
CCM: Ah, the iphone 3.
Me: No, the ORIGINAL one.
CCM: What? The old one?
CCM: Oh. Well. I can upgrade you to an iphone 4.
Me [like a child in a candy shop]: Oooooh!
CCM: For £29.99 a month, you'll get the iphone 4 and...
Me: I don't want to pay £29.99 a month.
CCM: But iphone 4. It's all lovely and shiny and people will want to sleep with you because it's so lovely and shiny. Ok, so I'm paraphrasing a bit, but that was the general gist.
Me: No. What else have you got?
CCM: How about the Samsung Galaxy? Tariff of £22 a month and it's even lovelier and shinier and even more people will want to sleep with you.
CCM: I've got one. It's the best thing ever. It gives you free wifi and 16gb of memory and access to a teeny-tiny wormhole that takes you anywhere you want to go and converts woodlice into gold nuggets.
Me: Oh go on then.
CCM: Excellent. We'll get that to you for Thursday. Now, a few details. Can I just re-confirm that you are the account holder.
CCM: And how do you spell your surname.
Me: Er, no. You've got the right spelling on your screen surely?
CCM: Oh yes. There it is. I just had to check for security purposes.
Me: [suspicion dawning] What? That I can spell my own name?
CCM: Er, yes, yes, right moving on. Can I confirm your postcode?
Me: Of course you can.
CCM: [puzzled silence]
CCM: Er, hello?
Me: Go on then.
Me: You asked if you could confirm my postcode. You tell me what postcode you have and I'll tell you if it's right. You know, confirming it.
CCM: Ah, no. You tell ME what your postcode is, and I'll tell YOU if you're right.
Me: No. I definitely know I'm right. It being my postcode and all.
CCM: Well I do need to confirm your postcode for delivery purposes.
Me: But I'm your customer. You have my delivery address.
CCM: But it's for security purposes.
Me: [relenting, just in case this is actually some poor brand-new O2 bod] I'll tell you the first half and you can check it against your records. [provides first half of postcode]
CCM: [frantic button pushing audible] Is that Newton St Loe?
Me: Not last time I checked. I'll just have a quick look out of the window. No, definitely not Newton St Loe.
CCM: Ah, is it...
Me: How about you actually look up the postcode you have and then you'll know where I live?
CCM: Ah, um, yes, I can see it now. So what's the name of the street?
Me: There isn't one.
CCM: No, the STREET name.
Me: There isn't a STREET name. It's a very small village.
CCM: There must be.
Me: Oh. Must there?
Me: Oh dear, I'd better tell the parish council that. They'll have to do something about it.
CCM: Yes, that's a good idea. So what's the house number?
Me: There isn't one.
CCM: There must be.
Me: Can I refer you back to the aforementioned 'really small village' answer.
CCM: [with a burst of inspiration] Oh, is it a house name?
Me: You tell me. You're presumably looking at it.
CCM: Oh yes, but I need you to say it for security purposes.
Me: What sort of security purposes?
CCM: Well, how do I know you are who you say you are?
Me: How do I know that YOU are who you say you are?
CCM: Er, what?
Me: I know I am who I say I am. I'm reasonably sure that you're not who you say you are. So which one of us should be trying to reassure the other one?
CCM: I'm not sure I follow you.
Me: No. I'm sure of that too.
CCM: Er, yes. Good. So can I have your date of birth?
Me: No. I don't think so.
CCM: Well, I'm not going to be able to put the upgrade through.
Me: I tell you what. How about you give me your telephone number and I call you back, just to set my mind at rest.
CCM: OK, 077...
Me: Not your own number, you numpty! The callcentre number.
CCM: Oh, right. 0844 12345678
Me: Interesting. The internet says you're a marketing company in Lancashire.
CCM: Yes, that's right.
Me: Aren't you supposed to be an international phone services provider?
CCM: Ah, yes, well the international phone services provider outsources its upgrades to us. Because they're very busy, what with being all international...and the providing of phone services and...um...
Me: I tell you what. I'll just call my phone provider, shall I?
CCM: [with obvious relief] Um, yes, yes, er, bye.
Oh dear. And it all started so well. You knew I was due an upgrade and everything. But you let it slip through your fingers. So what went wrong? Well, let's break it down a bit.
1) Not being able to spell the customer's name is a bit of a giveaway.
2) Not knowing where said customer lives, or even the general shape of their address, is generally going to arouse suspicion in even the dopiest of customers or, in this particular case, customers who are being distracted by two brawling pre-schoolers and the nauseatingly cheerful strains of "Mike the Knight, he's a brave young hero..."
3) I've got to hand it to you, the iphone was a good guess. But I suppose a reasonable percentage of the population have an iphone. You did let yourself down a bit by your complete failure to get your head around the idea that anyone could still be in possession of the original version, without having taken it off to the Antiques Roadshow for a quick valuation.
4) Giving out your mobile number. Oh come on.
5) Don't even get me started on the whole "Your phone company are really busy" thing. Honestly. I know you had me for about a minute and a half, but really. How stupid do I sound?
Needless to say, my phone provider has confirmed that Call Centre Man is not One Of Theirs.
Maybe he's been disavowed. He's probably on the run, right now, waiting for some sort of mobile phone provider counter-agents to track him down and persuade him to hand over his marketing list.
Or maybe he's just gone home to lie down in a darkened room.
Maybe he should consider a change of career. Maybe to a barrow in the Metro Centre. They probably pay much more than £2 per hour now. He might even make his commission. I never did, but maybe there's more demand for sticky bugs these days. And anyway, there's always the cheery tones of the Disney Store denizens to lighten his day.
All together now. "It's a small world after aaaaaaaall."