Jay Parmar has had quite an issue with his ATM machine. In a nutshell, the machine has been fine, but empty. And Cardpoint has been very slow in filling it up. Twice.
Jay runs Parmar Stores at Kingbury in Staffordshire. He first called me on Friday, December 7, in a bit of a panic, saying that his ATM had run out of money. The company told him they couldn't deliver until Tuesday. "People are walking away," he told me. "One just left a whole basket behind. I've got 30 to 40 customers a day trying to use it. And now it's the weekend."
Jay even offered to put his own money in the machine as a stopgap measure.
It was 5pm and I had little hope of reaching anyone at Cardpoint. However, I hit lucky and got a guy in human resources who explained that the company had just merged and its press communications were in limbo and would be migrating to Dublin. That wasn't the only challenge. Brinks UK had been acquired by another company eight weeks previously. Although he didn't say so, it was pretty obvious that it wasn't 'business as usual' at either head office. And no, Jay couldn't put his own money in the machine because he couldn't physically get into it (now that bit makes sense). The nice man promised to leave a message for the head of service delivery whom he thought might be able to help.
Fast forward to January. Jay again.
He had got the December delivery, eventually. And now he also had a new machine, which had been on the cards all along. When they took the old machine and the money away in early January they promised new money for the new machine within 48 hours. After a week-and-a-half Jay rang me to say that he was royally fed up with ringing Cardpoint, which didn't seem to have any answers for him whatsoever.
I tried again. In fact, I tried on five occasions. Sometimes ringing back later, as requested, sometimes leaving messages with the switchboard. Once, I got beyond the switchboard to leave a voicemail message with the man in charge of money. No one ever rang back, even though I left no one in any doubt as to the fact that I would be reporting this story.
Finally, after our blitzkrieg (mine and Jay's), he got a delivery from an unmarked van. The driver said it was a 'one-off' and he had come from London to bring the money.
But Jay had had to wait two-and-a-half weeks. The day before the money arrived he reckoned he had lost eight customers in one morning. He said he had received no apologies from the company, only distress.
There are two points here. What does a cash machine with no cash do for your 'service' image and - an equally big point - what kind of service is this supplier offering when no one will even return phone calls? A little information goes a long way, and although the truth might hurt, let's have it, huh?