We are currently experiencing longer than normal wait times to speak with an agent.

Today I took a letter to be mailed to the Mayor of the City of Richmond at a 711 outlet. I walked up to the postal services agent and asked if a letter to a municipal government required postage. The answer, “All letters need postage.”

Being shocked at her response I said, “No. That isn’t true. For example, a letter to an MP or the Governor General of Canada are two instances where postage is not required.”

The agent’s response. “All letters from here require postage.” End of story.

In protest I said, “Can you not check with the postal services branch and give me a proper answer to my question.”

“We don’t do that.”

Being appalled at the poor customer service I asked to speak to her supervisor. She then resolutely informed me that, “She was the supervisor.”

I immediately walked out of the postal services outlet and zoomed back to my home to google the postage rules about mail to governments.

There I found out that indeed, I was correct and a few other illustrations for free mail given. Unfortunately, it didn’t appear that my letter to a mayor of a local municipal government qualified for free postage.

Then, I began my hunt to file a complaint about the unwilling agent at the 711 store. A few scrolls later I ran into what appeared to be another brick wall: “We are currently experiencing longer than normal wait times to speak with an agent.”
I asked myself this question. How could anyone say that in writing on a website? Was this some kind of warning that longer than normal wait times were a permanent state of affairs?
This reminded me of a song I wrote in the early 1990s about information trees being installed throughout the provincial government. I called it, One More FTE as a sarcastic allusion to the depersonalization of government workers from human beings to what was labelled a full-time-equivalent (FTE). Staff were no longer workers or employees but FTE’s.
One More FTE

Welcome to the information tree,
I said, welcome to the information tree,
Press one, two, three, four, if you please.

People are lined up, just about everywhere,
There is no sign of relief, anywhere,
And at home, Lord, the cupboards are bare.

Now people are phoning, just want to get through,
They don’t know, what to do,
Might be the bailiff with an order to seize,
Or a landlord who wants the keys,
Press one, two, three, four if you please,
An automated attendant, will set your mind at ease.

What we need is a smile, at the end of the line,
A little tenderness would be just fine,
No tapes, no fakes, give us peace of mind,
Eyes, ears nose and a human face
Don’t say you’ve lost my case.

Lined up, tied up, backed-up, sorry, you’re too late,
Back track, side track, one track, sorry no cheap rate,
Can’t help, won’t help, might help, try some other date,
Now they tell me that computers, don’t make mistakes,

So press one, two, three, four, if you please,
An automated attendant, will set your mind at ease.

Today, it looks like I must add another verse.
“Sorry, we’re currently experiencing longer than normal wait times,
To speak with an agent, try to locate a number you’ll never ever find.
Cause you’re stuck on our website, all alone and deep in cyberspace,
There’s no way out but to give up your search and disappear without a trace.