Seeing how Britain has decided to put such great faith in the service industry and abandon any pretence or hope of ever being a nation that makes things itself again, you'd think that at the very least we would be good at providing a service.
We aren't. Shop assistants - if you can ever find one in some of bigger chain stores - are often unhelpful and frequently rude. I've lost count of the number of times I've bought something from a shop and they haven't even bothered to say please or thank you as I hand over my cash - let alone call me "sir".
But worse even than that are the banks. I've been banking with the same bank since I got my first monthly salaried job in 1978. I don't want much from my bank - I just want to be able to pay my salary in, pay the odd bill here and there and take money out when I need it. However, I get bombarded with circulars from my bank telling me about the multitude of services they offer - loans, overdrafts, credit cards, travel insurance, mortgages, home insurance - none of which I require. I keep telling them that I don't require these services, but every month they send me more circulars offering me these services that I do not want.
And yet, earlier this week I dared to use the internet to pay a bill - a fairly large bill. There's more than enough money in the account to pay the bill so I knew there wouldn't be a problem - but I've since had numerous calls and discussions with their "fraud" investigation people regarding it. I confirmed straight away that the transaction was genuine - but it's been cancelled by this fraud investigation unit twice now.
I've had to make half a dozen phone calls to half a dozen different people in half a dozen different departments - none of whom have the slightest idea about what I've talked to the others about or even what those departments are doing - to resolve the issue, but finally the bill has been paid - a day late, which didn't please the recipient!
This is the problem with our so called "service" industry - they mistake offering lots of services with offering a service. All I want is for my bank to do what I ask of them when I ask them - and if I want anything else, I want someone who know me and knows my account history to talk to about it. I don't want them to offer lots of services - I just want them to do the basic requirements of what I need properly and efficiently. If they can't do that then they are failing in the basic rudiments of being a service - regardless of how many "services" they offer.