Thursday, 17 October 2013

Getting used to lower standards

Even Labour's Alan Milburn has begun to twig that topping-up low wages with tax credits just allows employers to pay staff less and allow the taxpayer to make up their income. And young people are starting to twig that a first degree, when every second person has one, is worth diddly-squat unless it was earned at a Russell Group uni. A 2:1 from the University of Stanstead is for burger-flippers. 

Meanwhile, the traditional world of work has all but abandoned the standards that top firms used to pride themselves on. No-one answers the phone any more - we divert all calls to voicemail, when we can deal with it at our leisure. The public and customers can't complain by phone any more, or even by email - the website 'contact form' is frequently the only offered link to a company. Here's a tip. Write a letter. It can't be ignored and they have to respond by writing back. 

Semi-literacy is now the norm in official correspondence rather than an exception to be sneered at. We're being asked to accept that people who can't write, spell or compose prose adequately also have a place in the new world of work. And no-one can find important documents and records any more - the entire commercial UK appears to have consigned its collective corporate memory to cardboard boxes in a huge warehouse in Slough. Not that the untrained and inexperienced law graduates from Luton University know what a wayleave or easement is anyway, even if one spells them optionally according to personal taste. 

All over the place, firms are shedding the old tiers of professional staff and staffing-up with low paid generalists capable only of the simplest decisions. The new business model involves a couple of constrained channels of transactions processing that handle 93% of potential business at the lowest cost. If you're one of the 7% for whom an Amazon or Ebay transaction goes wrong, forget all their online resources. Write them a letter, then after 28 days raise a money claim online. My most useful resource these days is my Government gateway MCOL (money claim online) facility to issue County Court summonses whenever I wish. It even gets my bank's attention. 

Get used to lower standards. Exploit the system. Enjoy your superior knowledge, ability and resources and never forget that a book of stamps and a fountain pen together with computer literacy and an MCOL account will enable you to overcome in the new world of consumer commerce.  

10 comments:

Sackerson said...

Can you hear the pit-props creaking?

DeeDee99 said...

It won't be long until the Dept for Education and the Dept for Culture get together and decide that the only way forward is to simplify the spelling of English.

Today's and future generations can't be expected to learn the complicated spelling "rules" which grew up as English evolved and absorbed words with Germanic, Nordic, Latin and French origins.

I'm a Civil Servant. We have young people joining (quite bright) who simply cannot spell or compose even a fairly simple letter. The method of achieving promotion means that they never really have to acquire these skills.

G. Tingey said...

Tha MCOL lionk might prove useful - thanks for that .....

DD999
In other words they have not been educated properly or thoroughly.
The fault of successive guvmints, 1970 - 2005 (approx)

plantman said...

Yes - it is partlly "educashun" but I think it is also the "system" No-one is able (or allowed - and the more they are not allowed the less the ability) to compose letters anymore. They are given a menu of replies from a list of letters for all occasions - perhaps if it is a sophisticated system, a menu of paragraphs from which they can sort of put together a sort bof individual reply, and can only "tick-box" either a pre-prepared answer whether it fits the circumstances and addressses the issues or not. Near enough is good enough is the outcome.

Anonymous said...

Where do I start? Looking back over my 40 year career, I have found that the old (and by me, bitterly despised mantra) of "it ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it" is the single biggest killer of real talent in this country. Being good or great at your job isn't good enough; it's the political timing and ability to duck real responsibility that get many otherwise average people to the top. Just look at our once great corporates, or worse still, our politicians!

My wife is a special needs English teacher who demands and commands high standards of effort and attainment. Does she get support from senior management at the school? No. Dumbing down and mediocrity are the way forward.

Still, I carry in my mind another mantra; one my Dad taught me at an early age - "in the land fo the blind, one eye is king".

Coney Island

SimonF said...

Here's a tip. Write a letter. It can't be ignored and they have to respond by writing back.

Be polite, set out your problems as clearly as possible and then address it to the Chairman and ask, even more politely, what s/he would do in that situation. (It should go without saying that you will have researched their name and addressed the personally)

I faxed such a letter to the Chairman of a large DIY chain a few years when they screwed up and time was of the essence. The fax went at 7am and at 8:30 my wife received a call at home from the Regional Manager asking for my number. Problem solved by 9:30.

I now address all letters to the (Hi Bob Ayling, you must remember me :)) or the Chairman. Works wonders.

Steven_L said...

I'm not allowed to send letters out from the council until my idiot boss has been through them with his red pen.

We amuse ourselves by copying and pasting his old letters from a few years ago and trying to keep a straight face while he slags them off.

Tony Harrison said...

Write to the top man, certainly. I had a problem with some IKEA stuff a few years ago that was taking far too long to resolve - I would never have believed they might have had so many different departments in this country alone, all incapable of communicating clearly with one another...
I discovered the personal email address of Mr IKEA in Sweden: my problem was resolved in two days flat.
As for standards, when lecturing in FE I listened with fascination as a part-time colleague (a perfectly decent lady of around 50) struggeld to explain to a student on the phone about the use of the apostrophe: "Well, er, it's because it's plural, you see..."

Edward Spalton said...

G. Tingey

Greg,

I think the rot started earlier. I went to school in Leicestershire which was the first county to go comprehensive in the Fifties.The Labour leader of the local District Council gave away the true motivation.
"Good, working class lads go to grammar school, get good jobs and vote Tory. We're going to put a stop to that".

Our teachers were horrified. They were in the business of providing opportunity, not levelling. I guess that most of them were Labour-inclined but they never told us.
This was the first fruits of academic cultural Marxism of the Ralph Miliband type.

I recently met a retired academic, who had come up through the free grammar school system post war. He teaches a yacht masters' course now. The students are people with good enough jobs to afford expensive yachts. He has to break the rules to get them through, allowing double time for the written examination. None of them can do joined-up writing!
I came across this in less academic young men thirty years ago but now it appears to extend to graduates in top jobs.

TrT said...

"Even Labour's Alan Milburn has begun to twig that topping-up low wages with tax credits just allows employers to pay staff less and allow the taxpayer to make up their income."

I never understood the reasoning that its better to pay someone benefits to sit at home getting drunk watching Jeremy Kyle rather paying them benefits and allowing the to go out earn £3 per hour on top