Customer Service — Bajan Style

We spent most of Monday at the airport in Barbados, firstly waiting for friends, and then Mr B’s parents.

Friends were in transit en route back from sailing round islands I had only ever dreamt of and were scheduled to have five hours on Barbados before their flight back to sunny Gatwick.   Great, we thought, we can pick them up and go for lunch.

Except local airlines don’t quite work like that and so they were delayed.  But we weren’t because I don’t do late.   So we had a couple of beers and pina coladas and read our books whilst we waited.

They then arrived and we had a couple of beers, at the bar in the airport and although still short, was great to catch up with them when it had been months since we saw them at home (they live 15 miles away, I don’t know why it has been so hard either).

And then Mr B’s parents were due to land, an hour early it turned out.  (Virgin no doubt trying to make up some of our 24 hour delay).    So I decided to call the children who had been off having a fabulous time on the beach, with pina coladas, lilos and friends all day.   They were then dropped back at the villa and I thought I would touch base with them, pretending to be a responsible adult for once.

“Ooh look, a public phone box.  I will use that rather than my mobile which would probably cost about £8 for a minute”.

Villa phone rang and went to voicemail.

Nothing unusual in that expect there is no voicemail here.

People had been telling us all week that they had been calling us and leaving messages for us and I just thought they had all had too much rum.   Maybe my pina coladas with friends were stronger than I thought.    Oh well, had only cost me 25c, less than 10p.

I wandered down to another bank of phones that happened to be being checked by an engineer from the local phone company, Lime.    I tried again.   Same thing.    Mr B and I started discussing this and the following conversation ensued:


“children / villa / voicemail / not ours / blah blah”

“try again” and he duly handed us 25c out of a stash he had just harvested from all the phones.

“nope, same thing”

“where you staying”  (I won’t try and do a Bajan accent because it will be insulting and quite frankly embarrassing)

We told him the name of the resort and he grabbed the Yellow Pages (dangling from the phone box as it used to in the 1970s in the UK), looked it up and pointed to the general number  “You try that”.

And gave us another 25c

I got through to the switchboard, they put me through to the villa.  Same thing.

So the engineer then called his test centre and gave them our number.   They duly confirmed a fault on the line that meant if it wasn’t answered it went elsewhere.   Oh, seems my friends were also correct.

The engineer then gave us another 25c and dialled the number to report the fault.   I spoke to Tanita who asked me to confirm the name on the account.

Oh.   Here we go.  This is going to be like speaking to British Gas, isn’t it.  I won’t get passed security.

I gave my parents names and the address of the property.

“I don’t have that name on the account”

Yep, I was right, here we go.

“I have ….. ”  and she gave me the name of the management company.

Pardon, are you giving me the info that I actually need to actually report this actual fault and are therefore actually being helpful?

I confirmed that was correct

“Thank you Mrs Barrow, the fault is now logged and our engineer will get onto it immediately.  Do you have an email address so I can update you?”

Now I don’t know about you, but if you have ever tried to do anything with a company in England that involves verifying account information you have probably found that selling a kidney is far less painful and much easier.

Plus the engineer had given us $1.  Somehow I don’t think it is because he thought we were poor (though it might have been I guess).  It is just because that is what people do over here.

Not often I am speechless, but as I put the phone down words failed me.

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