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“How To Control Your Elephant” Training

The Working Days conundrum. Not as bad as ASAP … but nearly!


Be clear with all times and dates is one of the mantras from my How to control your elephant training course.

The time-based phrase which winds me up the most is “As soon as possible”.

Meaningless, non-committal, drivel!

I will not say it to, nor accept it from, anyone. My job is to serve clients efficiently and professionally.

If I’m asked to do something “ASAP” I acknowledge that whatever the other person wants is clearly important to them and then I’ll ask them what’s the latest they can accept it. And if they say “ASAP” again, I tell them when I’m going to do it. If they agree… great! If they don’t agree we talk and then agree. Both sides leave the conversation with total clarity, as opposed to ASAP, when both sides leave the conversation with no agreement whatsoever.

But ASAP is not alone – there are other phrases designed to sneak up on you and cause you to thump your desk and scream in sheer frustration.

This one’s courtesy of Royal Mail. I call it: The Working Days conundrum

On November 6th my wife posted two parcels to the same address, at the same time; First Class Mail. One arrives, and the other doesn’t.

She is told that she must wait 10 working days from the anticipated delivery date before making a claim. On the 17th she completes the online form only to be told at the very end that she “must wait 10 working days before submitting the form blah blah”. She screams at the computer “xxxxx Royal Mail grrrrrrr!”

What is a working day at the Royal Mail? It apparently works 7 days a week collecting, or at least 6; or maybe it is 5?

I found this Tweet from them: Saturday is classed as a working day for us.

The Law Insider website has several definitions along these lines: Working Day means a day other than a Saturday, Sunday or bank holiday in Scotland, within the meaning of the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971.

The Collins on-line dictionary says: A working day is the amount of time during a normal day that you spend doing your job.

So, when someone tells you something will be done in X working days

Do make sure that you ask them if they are using the definition as described in the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 or the Collins dictionary. Or why not just ask them to give you the date they might be referring to.

Anyway …

Brimming with confidence my wife attempts the form again on the 18th and at the end of the form filling …….. Yes, you’ve guessed it … “must wait 10 working days blah blah”.

There’s a scene in The Matrix, when the helicopter explodes that is famous in our house for making the walls shake (love you Sonos Soundbar!).

She got close… very close!

At the third attempt made on the 19th, the form is accepted.

I’ve no doubt that if you scan the small print, somewhere it will tell you what a working day is in Royal Mail World.

But why make it soooo difficult and frustrating for your customers?

Be clear with your times and dates.

P.S. Don’t get me started on “We’ll have it done by close of play….” Huh!?

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