Scene: the auditorium of the Royal Opera House. A stage and orchestra rehearsal of Vito Odafone’s opera “La Merde d’Orange” is in progress. In the pit, conducting, is the Music Director Tony Mobile. He’s generally very happy with the progress of rehearsals but the soprano keeps singing a wrong note. He picks up the telephone on the wall of the pit behind him and dials 0800.
“Welcome to ROH O2 Performer Services!” says a cheery voice.
“Ah, hello…”
“The number for ROH O2 Performer Services has changed!” continues the recorded voice. “Please dial 0844 1234578973623322!”
The line falls dead.
Maestro Mobile finds something to write on and a pencil, redials the 0800 number and writes down the new number. He dials the new number.
“Welcome to ROH O2 Performer Services!” says a different cheery voice.
“Hello! I just…”
“If you want to find out how much rehearsal time you have left, press One! If you wish to add more rehearsal time, press Two! If you are thinking of leaving the production, press Three! For all other enquires, press Four!”
Mobile presses 4.
“Hello!”
“Ah, hello…”
“I’m sorry we are experiencing a high volume of enquiries at the moment. Please wait while we try to connect you to a member of our performer services team!”
Mobile holds the phone well away from his ear while the phone blares some 80s rock music at him.
After a minute or so a distorted voice comes on the line.
“Hello. You are through to Performer Services.”
Mobile waits, assuming this is another recorded message.
“HELLO! Performer Services. My name is Kumar. This call is being recorded for training and monitoring purposes. How can I help you?”
“Oh sorry, hello. The soprano is singing a wrong note and…”
“Can I have your production name please.”
“Oh. La Merde d’Orange.”
“Fantastic. And a few security questions. What is your name?”
“Anthony Mobile”
“Brilliant. And are you the prime conductor of this production?”
“Yes, I am”
“Brilliant. And can I have your password please.”
“Pardon? Oh, I didn’t know I had one. Um, crikey what could it be. Can you give me a hint?”
“Your mother’s maiden name.”
“Oh, Cellulare.”
“Sensational. And the first line of your current address.”
“Royal Opera House.”
“Brilliant, Fantastic. And how can I help you?”
“Well, the soprano is singing a wrong note. On page 124, fifteenth bar, she keeps singing an F when it should be an F sharp.”
“Hmm. One moment sir, but I don’t see you on our system as the conductor of this production.”
“What? But I’m the Music Director of the Royal Opera!”
“Oh, I’m sorry, you’ve been put through to the Visiting Conductor service team. Hang on one moment and I’ll put you through to our Music Director team.”
Again the 80s rock plays through the earpiece.
“Hello! You are through to Music Director performer services. My name is Jarleen. This call is being recorded for training and monitoring purposes. How may I help you?”
“Well, the soprano is singing a wrong note. On page 124, fifteenth bar, she keeps singing an F when it should be an F sharp.”
“OK, brilliant. First we’ll have to go through some security questions.”
“Oh god, not again.”
“Sorry?”
“Never mind.”
“Right sir, What is your name?”
“Anthony Mobile”
“Brilliant. And are you the Music Director of this opera house?”
“Yes, I am”
“Great. And what’s the name of your current production?”
“La Merde d’Orange.”
“Brilliant. And can I have your password please.”
“Cellulare.”
“Fantastic. And the first line of your current address.”
“Royal Opera House.”
“Brilliant, Fantastic. And how can I help you?”
“Well, the soprano is singing a wrong note. On page 124, fifteenth bar, she keeps singing an F when it should be an F sharp.”
He can hear typing on a keyboard.
“Brilliant. And when did this problem start?”
“Well, day one, really. A month ago.”
“Fantastic. OK well it’s in the system now and we’ll make sure that gets seen to. Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
“Well, every time I ring the number you gave me to call Performer Services, 0800, I have to redial and then I get put through to the Visiting Conductor line and then be redirected through to you. Can we get that fixed?”
“Brilliant. Let me have a look.” There’s tapping at a keyboard. “Well, Mr Bomile, according to the computer that shouldn’t be happening.”
“But it IS happening.”
“Brilliant. Well, I’ll put a note on the system and have our team have a look at it.”
“Thank you. Good bye.”
He hangs up.
An hour later, while he’s conducting Act 3, the phone in the pit flashes at him. He picks up the receiver, worrying that some calamity has happened.
“Hello. Am I speaking to Mr Mobile?”
“Yes”
“My name is Brooklette and I’m calling from Cello Customer Surveys on behalf of ROH O2 Performer Services and I was wondering if you have a few moments to take part in a survey about your recent experience contacting their Performer Services team.”
“Well I’m quite busy right now”
“The survey will only take a couple of minutes.”
“Oh alright then.”
“Fantastic. This call is being recorded for training and monitoring purposes. On a scale of five to one where five is Very Satisfied and one is Very Dissatisfied, how would you rate your recent overall experience with the ROH O2 Performance Services team?”
“Well, the soprano is still singing the wrong note.”
“I’m sorry sir, I’m not here to address the nature of your original problem. We are an independent survey company that has been commissioned by ROH O2 Performer Services to help them assess the performance of their Performance Services team.”
“Well in that case I would have to say One, Very Dissatisfied.”
“And how well would you say they performed it tackling your particular problem?”
“One. Very Dissatisfied.”
“And how would you rate the friendliness of the members of the team who dealt with your problem? Five for very friendly, one for very unfriendly.”
“Well they were friendly enough but they didn’t solve the problem. Three. This is turning into a colossal waste of time.”
“Brilliant. Just one more question. Given your recent experience how likely are you to stay with the Royal Opera? Five for Very Likely, one for Very Unlikely.”
“Five.”
“Fantastic. Thank you Mr Bromide.”
The next morning Tony Mobile receives a text message from ROH O2 Performer Services. It says “Thank you for contacting ROH O2 Performer Services. We have sent you an email about the problem.”
Mobile fires up his computer and his email programme but there is no email from ROH O2 Performer Services.
At the morning’s rehearsal the soprano is still singing the wrong note.
Then he gets another text message. “We are sorry you have been unhappy with your recent experience. We take our performer servicing very seriously and one our Team will be contacting you shortly to discuss the issues you have raised. Please do not reply to this message.”
Again, the next morning Tony Mobile receives another text message from ROH O2 Performer Services. Again it says “Thank you for contacting ROH O2 Performer Services. We have sent you an email about the problem.”
Still there is no email.
He decides, much though he dreads it, to ring the 0800 number again.
“Welcome to ROH O2 Performer Services!” says a cheery voice.
“Ah, hello…”
“The number for ROH O2 Performer Servies has changed!” continues the recorded voice. “Please dial 0844 1234578973623322!”

Come the first night, the soprano is still singing the wrong note.

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