Friday, December 08, 2006

Planet Earth

The above... is a famous BBC show. Quite excellent.

Were it that some of its employees were on the same one as the rest of us.

Back in November, I had occasion to ask a question of the Working Lunch team, and this resulted in a rather odd reply, the consequences of which rumble on to this day.

I recently had a reply from their complaints department:

Thank you for your emails about previous correspondence you've had with
Deputy Editor for Working Lunch. Please accept my sincere

apologies for the delay in responding.

I contacted her and discussed your correspondence to date. Lynne
explained that the reason she posed the question - "May I ask do you use
"see us on the BBC" on all your promotional literature?" was simply because
of the text in the auto signature of your original email to the show. She
was genuinely interested in this and assures me there was nothing sinister
behind this question.

She did not hear back directly from you (please note that if you sent
further correspondence to the Working Lunch team she may not always receive
this due to the sheer volume of email traffic to this inbox).

Reading her initial response to the question posed about the
competition I trust that this answered your concerns on this subject. Lynne
informed me that all the information about the competition should also have
been on the auto-response email you received.

In conclusion, I trust that this explains why Lynne posed this question to
you. If you have any further concerns about this please contact Lynne
directly on the following number: [I'll spare her this].

Thank you, once again, for contacting the BBC and for your patience in
waiting for a response.

Yours sincerely

Divisional Advisor
BBC Information

As the reply seemed to be 'it's between you and the original person you couldn't get a reply from anyway, and nothing to do with us as we have no power or opinion' (shades of Newswatch?), I decided that it wasn't going to end quite yet:

Thank you for your email.

Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in responding.

No problem. I know you must be busy. And it's not time critical.

I'm still not too satisfied with this I'm afraid. And don't really see any value in going to the trouble of talking to [her] any more. Her interest was... interesting... though obviously fleeting and soon forgotten. But I am glad there was no sinister intent. I just wonder why the question was posed. I've removed it now just in case, and as it is quite old news.

Appreciating how busy you all must be (I too have a good few hundred emails to address daily, many of which I am not paid a salary to address), may I suggest that if such a question is posed, it may be worth having systems in place to accommodate the answers, if only as common courtesy.

Hence I would like to get another view on this as I appreciate you are only in the position of passing on those of the protagonists. So who do I get in touch with now who is outside of the BBC? OFCOM? Board of Governors?

Yours patiently,

Rather deliciously, this is what came back... again:

We are sorry but our email system will not receive your email unless you use one of our pre-formatted webforms. We realise the inconvenience but hope you will understand that this helps us handle the many emails we receive every day more efficiently and makes best use of your licence fee.

I have now readdressed it to the 'black hole' that is our licence fee consumer. Watch this space.

Too PC. No Comment.

BBC - Birth rate 'harms poverty goals'

Twisting the story

You kind of expect it in a Kansas trailer park, but not so much 'North of the River' (that'll teach those cabbies): How could a tornado hit London?

And because it was not expected, I rather leapt to the conclusion that here, if it were needed, was evidence that things are deteriorating, climatically. And frankly I was poised to make this comment when I started reading more.

Thing is, it is not unheard of. And while 'worst in 25 years' makes for a pithy phrase, that kinda means it was worse 25 years ago.

Not to detract from the climate change argument, which I support by advocating we stop wasting stuff and cut down where we can, but it was refreshing not to have seen more 'See, we're all doomed' bandwagon jumpers come out.