COMMENT: Westwell of Ely

Ely Standard columnist Rosemary Westwell,

Ely Standard columnist Rosemary Westwell, - Credit: Archant

Service? What service?

We are very fortunate to have free services provided by our councils. Unfortunately a number of people who work for these services do not seem to understand what ‘service’ actually means.

Service, to me, means helping someone. Quite often, when trying to use the government’s ‘services’ we end up being thwarted at every turn. It is no wonder we read messages at the desks saying that they will not tolerate verbal abuse and the like. There must have been so many people who have got SO frustrated that they have finally cracked.

Some locals recently used a library for a literary event. They arrived on time. The library was locked. They waited until a scowling woman unlocked the door and sped away. They went to the room they had hired. It was locked. They had to go back to find someone unlock it. They asked if they could put a notice near the front door so that passersby could come to the event. No. Apparently only library events could go there. When they pointed out that this was an event in the library still this did not count. Later, when they looked at the board in question, there was an advertisement for a company selling drinks. Is this library now in the business of selling drinks?

After this little problem, they went to the room only to hear a high pitched whine. The air conditioning was broken. After a search, a staff member came, quickly pressed some buttons on the handset and the noise stopped. She sped away. The whine started again. After another search they learned which buttons to press to stop the noise and someone had to turn the air conditioning on and off during the whole day’s event.

Later, a speaker was suddenly interrupted mid sentence by a loud voice shouting ‘Are you the people wanting lunch?’ Sandwiches had been ordered from a local firm which was asked to slip them in quietly onto the table next to the door.

Finally, they noticed that the dishwasher was broken. They spent an extra fifteen minutes washing up someone else’s dirty plates and cups. When they went to pay for the day (double the cost of other more friendly places) they were told they should pay for their extra fifteen minutes. When the situation was explained through gritted teeth, they were not charged for the extra time.

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With service like this, it is no wonder libraries are finding it difficult to survive.

Preparing properly for visitors, offering a friendly smile, and asking to help the service users costs so little.

We are doomed until people in the services actually make an effort to be helpful.