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The Death Of The Phone Number

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The death of the phone number

Last week a baby fox got trapped in the garden well in my front yard.

You can see a pic of the cute, somewhat damaged animal here.

I guess it fell into the well looking for food. The question was how to get it out.

It’s a ten feet hole, so even if you felt confidence in your fox-wrangling skills (I do not), it was not easy to get down to or indeed out of yourself.

What does this have to do with PR? Well, none of the organisations you might expect to help had anything useful to offer.

Neither the actual organisations nor their PR departments answered to say: we’ll be right there, or even, here is what you do.

The RSPCA, which says it “specialises in animal rescue” doesn’t extend that to foxes.

It refers you to the fire service.

None of the other organisations you might Google to help were any better. The Animal Welfare Foundation replied several days later to say, sorry, best of luck.

If we were waiting on it, the fox would be dead.

All the other pet sanctuaries and charities had the same approach.

They don’t offer phone numbers on their website, merely an email that they aim to reply to within 2-4 working days.

If there is a number, they are quite open that no one will answer the phone. The call goes to a voicemail which they might check sometime, if it isn’t already full.

Someone at the fire service did answer and really tried to help. But couldn’t.

The council said: not us, guv. They’d come to remove if it were dead, but not till then. (If you think I missed an obvious trick, I bet you I didn’t. I bet you I tried whatever it is you are about to suggest.)

This isn’t some heartfelt plea from an animal lover (I’m not really).

The wider issue is the cultural shift in organisations away from taking responsibility for anything, in favour of letting consumers and homeowners sort things out for themselves.

In the FT Pilita Clark documents The Strange Death of the Company Phone Number.

The companies claim they have ditched phones because “we have noticed customers prefer to chat online, via email or by filing in the form below”.

Clark mocks this notion and one wonders whether companies, and indeed charities, actually believe it.

The organisations that do engage, with hacks, customers and everyone else, will surely do better than the rest.

(The fox is free. We lured it out with a ladder and a trail of chicken. Eventually.)

Press release of the day

Around 500 new words are added to the dictionary every month says this from Crossword Quiz Solutions, which gives us a guide to some of the best.

A sharent is a parent who frequently posts pictures of their child. Barkitecture is designing houses to suit pets. Fexting is arguing with someone via text.

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3) Who would benefit from an emergency rate rise?

4) Which country is getting hit hardest by the bond markets?


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