No rainforests were harmed in the creation of this post

I was browsing through the good old days of the Afrowelshman and was surprised to come across this piece which suggests that I have a rant about stuff every now and then. Given we’re lurching from Black Friday towards Christmas Thursday in a frenzy of online retail this one feels appropriate.

*

In a fast-paced and ever changing world it’s good to know that you can waste fantastic amounts of your valuable time tied up in the vagaries of global bureaucracy.

It was a simple enough premise – a friend reads a book on an ebook device and thinks to herself, “Hey, I have a friend who might enjoy this especially as he’s such an awesome writer, blogger and human being in general.”

OK so I may have embellished the thought process slightly.

Anyway said friend continues on to the .com version of a well-known website (that happens to also stock said ebook device) and orders the book as a gift. Within moments an email arrives at the desk of yours truly and a rash promise to download the book a bit later is made. Granted it doesn’t seem rash at face value when you take into account that exactly the same type of transaction had happened between the same protagonists via the same website to the same ebook reading devices a matter of months prior and so I draw your attention to paragraph one once again people…fast-paced and ever changing world.

And so I found myself at 11.30pm last night staring at a web page telling me that I could not accept the gift due to my own account being of the .co.uk persuasion. I chalked it up to being tired and confused and so I made a similarly rash though more internal promise to download the book in the morning.

And so I found myself at 9.30am today staring at a web page telling me that I could not accept the gift due to my own account being of the .co.uk persuasion.

How. Dare. They.

We are global citizens of a change-embracing world living in the rainbow nation and alive to the possibility that anything is possible! I WILL NOT go back to the dark days of intolerance and prejudice! I WILL NOT be told that an interdomain relationship is a thing to be feared, ridiculed and stamped in to the virtual dirt of the cyber-universe! If a .com and a .co.uk want to get together I support it and rejoice in their union (admittedly there’s always a chance that any offspring will end up as .cock but it’s a risk I’m willing to take).

And so my friend was forced to do whatever any self-resecting, middle-classed good-citizen would do and an inquisitive and strongly-worded email was dutifully despatched.

A little while later a reply filled with grammatical wonder was forthcoming. It didn’t explain much but it was very earnest in its total uselessness. I particularly enjoyed the part about not being able to help because (and I quote) your friend is having .co.uk. I would like to refute this claim in the strongest terms. No .co.uk’s were had by me or (to the best of my knowledge) anyone else during the course of the day.

The one very unsurprising suggestion that came through was for us to contact the .co.uk version of the website and ask for their help. I placed a small side bet that the advice from the .co.uk site would be to speak to the .com site but that’s just the tiny little shred of cynicism that overtakes my brain from time to time, destroying my normal image of moderation and calm.

And during this moment of cynicism I had a much better idea.

What follows is the completely unabridged transcript of the online chat I had with an online representative of the .co.uk website.

Except for the bits I altered for comedy value and the documenting of my internal thought process (ITP) and feelings at the time. Oh and the bits where I removed the names and stuff.

Look away now kids, daddy may be about to swear.

You are now connected to M from ********

Me: Hi. A friend of mine gifted me an ebook which I am unable to retrieve. Her reader is registered to .com and mine is for .co.uk. The book in question is available for download on both sites yet I am unable to retrieve her gift as it is apparently “not allowed for UK customers”. She has contacted .com and they have told us we must contact you – can you please help?

M:  Hello, my name is M. Thank you for contacting .co.uk. Could you confirm the name on your account, please?

Me: Nik Eveleigh.

M:  Hello Nik.

At this point it all went quiet. I waited a few minutes and nothing whatsoever happened. Clearly there was some kind of handshake required to kick start this process but I wasn’t sure, and then it dawned on me.

Me: Hello

Not a nanosecond went by from the time that I sent greeting until the handy and informative “M Is Typing!” popped up in the chat window. In Africa we use bribery to get things done – in this call centre the only wheel greasing is done via politeness and small talk.

M:  I understand your concern. A member of our ebook reader team will need to help you with this. Please hold on the line while I transfer the chat. One of our ebook reader representatives will assist you shortly.

ITP: Look donut, I clicked on the ebook part when I started this chat so why did it get routed to you in the first place?

Me: Thank you very much

A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.

ITP: Dum de dum de dum de dum

You are now connected to V from .co.uk

V: Thank you for contacting .co.uk ebook reader support. My name is V. I’ll be happy to help you today.

I understand your concern.

ITP: Is this on the training card? You’re all very understanding of my concern but – call me crazy – maybe some kind of actual help would be of more use?

V: I am sorry to inform that this content cannot be given as a gift on .co.uk at this time.

While gifting this content is not yet offered in the .co.uk store, we are working to make it available in the near future.

I’ve let the development team know that you’re interested in this feature and we’ll consider your feedback as we plan further improvements.

ITP: Where do you think you’re going? We’re just getting started…

Me: That’s completely untrue – I was gifted a book earlier this year and it worked perfectly fine

V: As an alternative, you can give or get a Gift Certificate.  Gift Certificates are site specific and are only redeemable at the site of origin.

ITP: Enough with the closing arguments Judge Judy you’re not getting out of this one with a gift certificate that I will probably never be able to use given your sites trans-domain intolerance. Shame on you V. Shame on you.

V: I understand your concern.

ITP: No offence V but if you or anyone else understands my concern one more time I am going to punch you in the fucking face repeatedly before removing your skin and wearing it as an elaborate headdress of some kind.

Me: Earlier this year I got gifted a book called Love, Sex, Fleas, God (ITP: It starts extremely well but is ultimately a little unsatisfying) by the same person who is gifting me this book. Same ebook devices, same exact process (she placed it on .com and I retrieved it via my .co.uk account)

V: This feature is currently available in our partner website .com.

I understand that you have received the content as gift from .com to .co.uk.

Can you please wait for a minute or two while I check this for you? 

ITP: Fine call in your supervisor. I don’t have a job or anything better to do

Me: Thanks – I just fail to understand why this has worked in the past and now doesn’t

Some time passes

V: Thanks so much for waiting.

ITP: Like I had a fucking choice

V: I’ve checked your account and see that while you’re receiving this content “Love, Sex, Fleas, God” as gift you are registered to .com. This was the reason you’ve received the content as gift to your device.

Now your account is currently registered to .co.uk.

Me: To my knowledge my account has always been with .co.uk – I had the account long before the reader

V: Moreover, the gift content you’re referring is not there in your .co.uk account. 

ITP: Seriously? You’ve just gone from “the content as gift” to “moreover”? Who the fuck are you really V? Do you have some double life masquerading as a simple call centre agent while lurking just beneath the surface is EIGHTEENTH CENTURY LITERATURE MAN!! “Help..help…save us eighteenth century literature man!”. “Gadzooks. Prithee forasmuch forsooth the bad man escapeth.” Oh wait I should type something.

Me: Is there any evidence from the account as to when it changed?

V: I understand your concern.

ITP: I fucking warned you! Prepare to become a skin flavoured hat.

V: At this time, it’s better to assist you over the phone. Please provide me your UK phone number so that I’ll connect a call for you right away.

ITP: Stop ducking the question! How did I end up on the .com version?

Me: I am currently in South Africa. Where I live. So that may be difficult

V: Ok.

I can see that your account is migrated to .com and now it is in .co.uk.

In this case, there is only one possible way to get the book as gift from your friend.

ITP: YES, YES SPIT IT OUT…DO IT V…YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO…

V: You need to migrate your account to .com and receive the content as gift and then you need to migrate to .co.uk.

ITP: I found that out on Google two hours ago but hey, let’s carry on with this period of awesomeness in my life. I have spare minutes. And why are you back to “the content as gift”? Are there no incidents requiring pointless superheroes currently in the pipeline?

Me: OK – that sounds like a good idea. Will this have any repercussions or loss of content in any way?

V: I can help you in regarding how to migrate your account, Shall I?

ITP: We’re out of sync here…

V: No, your all purchases reader contents will be available in your “Manage Your Reader” page.

Me: Excellent. And this will also have no effect on the 2nd reader which is my wife’s registered to the same account?

ITP: Please let it not be a problem…please let it not be a problem…she’s tired and we’ve got two crazy kids and she might get violent…

V: You wife’s reader also will be migrated to .com until you re-migrate to .co.uk.

Your wife’s reader also able to access the purchased reader contents from “Manage your Reader” page.

ITP: …and breathe…

Me: OK great – as long as she won’t lose anything while I temporarily migrate I am happy. Some assistance to migrate would be appreciated – thanks. I assume it’s via Country Settings on my account page?

I will not bore you with the steps. So let’s just make the leap and assume I followed them.

Me: V – Have just downloaded the gift successfully. Thank you for your help – much appreciated

V: it’s my pleasure helping you!

Is there anything else I can do for you today?

ITP: I could use a coffee after all this technical wizardry…

Me: No – that’s all I needed. Thank you

V: You’re welcome!

If you need further assistance, please feel free to contact us again!

ITP: Enough exclamation marks…

V: Thank you for contacting support! Have a great day!

ITP: I’m warning you…remember the skin hat promise? That may only be the start of it…

V: Bye! We hope to see you again soon! 

ITP: That’s it I’m going to f…

V: Please click the “End Chat” link to close this window.

ITP: You’ll never know how close you were V…

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