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By Frances McGuckin

As our wireless society hurtled into the new millennium, communication during business hours is getting more difficult and frustrating to deal with. Are we really progressing-or regressing in the delicate art of communication?

Take for instance voice-mail. We hate it as much as we hate the GST yet we have learned to live with it. Real receptionists don't exist anymore-one is routed through a variety of taped options to listen to pre-recorded information that invariably doesn't answer your question. Thank goodness for dialing "0" and bypassing most of these electronic menus to sometimes reach a real voice. And what about the voice-mail messages you leave that never get answered?

I called a bank for a client, looking up their number in the phone book. No such luck. There was one central number, and of course was put on hold until "a customer service representative was available". Eventually I was informed that the person I was seeking wasn't listed at that bank. "Give me the number anyway please," I asked. "Why do you want it?" queried the young man at the other end. I thought to myself that it was none of his business, but told him so that I could elicit the number.

When I called the bank, guess what? A taped message informed me that I should leave a message and the person concerned would get back to me within two hours. Now that's what I call service! This whole process took about twenty minutes. I am not at all impressed with this bank's method of service and dearly hope that others don't follow suit.

And what about those wonderful phone calls from the electronic salesperson? "Hi there, this will just take a minute....." Even worse is if the message goes to your voice-mail, you have to listen to the drivel before you can erase it. This is a form of electronic blackmail because you don't have the option of hanging up if you want to erase the message.

Let's not forget the unsolicited junk-mail faxes that waste reams of fax paper. Even worse are the spam e-mails. Invariable, they offer the opportunity of making a zillion dollars with no experience necessary. When you reply with "remove" in the topic line, usually they return as undeliverable. Do your clients a favour and don't send unsolicited junk e-mail-all it's doing is clogging up the cyberspace system and wasting the recipient's valuable time.

This weekly 'Business Concerns' column is available for Syndication. Please phone or e-mail inquires to

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Frances McGuckin
10-3348 Mt. Lehman Road, Abbotsford, BC, V4X 2M9 Tel: 604-856-0602

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