I was on the website of a bank. I patiently slogged through all my details, not forgetting mother’s maiden name and name of first pet. With a sigh of completion I finally clicked submit. “We’re sorry, our system is down this morning. Please try later.” Er, couldn’t they have warned me before I started? I did log in later, went right through the whole rigmarole and finally received the bank statement I needed.
I could have left it there but I was feeling public-spirited. Mightn’t my experience help them make their website more user-friendly? So I telephoned. A succession of courteous robotic voices led me to an equally courteous human. And now here is my point. I was trying to benefit other bank customers in general. She thought I wanted satisfaction for myself in particular. It appeared to be outside her comprehension that somebody might take the time to make a public-spirited suggestion to help other people.
“May I call you Richard? How may I help you, Richard?”
“Well, I’ve been on your website trying to get a bank statement, and I’d filled in the whole form before I was told that the system was down anyway. Could I suggest … “
“My apologies for that, Richard, let me help you now. What exactly is it you require?”
“Er, no, I don’t think you understand. I’ve already got what I personally needed. I want to report the difficulty I had, so that you can make sure other people don’t suffer the same inconvenience in future.”
“Richard, please tell me what is the date of the bank statement you need, and I’ll have it sent to you.”
“No, I already have the bank statement I need. I’m trying to help other people in my situation … “
I might have been speaking Volapük. She simply didn’t understand a word of Voluntary-Public-Spirit.
CULLED FROM THEGUARDIAN . COM