Mr Mustard is a big fan of this Radio 4 programme, especially of Samantha who doesn't exist, and there is an empty chair for her whenever the programme is recorded in halls around the country. She always gets a big cheer. Barnet Council customer services decided to play the game recently and clearly haven't got a clue.
There are lots more clips where that one came from and hopefully you remembered what you were doing and are back with Mr Mustard now.
Not having owned a TV for some years when Mr Mustard made up the name of his mystery shopper from Birmingham he chose the surname Jones for Samantha, that being a fairly common name, and didn't remember that she is a character in Sex in the City. Mr Mustard had sex on the blog last week, moving swiftly on....
Here is what "Samantha" sent in to firstname.lastname@example.org
8 October 2012
Dear Sir or Madam
I am visiting East Finchley next week. I don't carry a mobile phone and I have checked on the Barnet Council website and see that I can buy a voucher in a local shop to pay for my parking.
Please could you send me a list of the shops in East Finchley where I can buy one of the 1 hour vouchers.
92 Torrey Grove
9 October 2012
Dear Samantha Jones,
Please accept this reply as confirmation that I have received your email.
I will investigate the contents of your email and provide you a full response within ten working days.
Samantha sat at home in Birmingham planning her trip which was going to take place by 20th October at the latest and wondered if she would get the vital information in time.
On 2 November she could wait no longer. A fat lot of use customer services had been to an out-of-town visitor up until now. This pay-by-phone or voucher parking system really must be putting people off of visiting Barnet.
Dear Mr Parking
I have had some trouble with my inbox and so hope I didn't miss your message. I also had to postpone my trip and am now going to East Finchley at the end of the month so it would help me to know which shop I have to go to to get a voucher.
Thank you so much
The reply came a little more quickly this time although it wasn't of any use.
Dear Samantha Jones,
I can confirm that the following webpage contains all information. I am afraid we do not keep a list of individual businesses which stock the parking vouchers. I can, however, confirm that all Barnet libraries sell them.
The webpage address was not included in the email. Not having a list of stockists of parking vouchers by shop for each CPZ zone strikes Mr Mustard as a failure to have even the most basic information available. Vouchers are not the answer to the missing parking meters. So Samantha wrote again.
7 November 2012
Dear Mr Parking
Thank you for your reply. Is it me or have you not put the details of the webpage with all the information?
I could go to the library. My appointment is at 9am. Is the library open at that time? Where is it? Can I park there without getting a parking ticket? I now expect to stay from 9am to 1pm. How much will that cost please?
I am sorry to keep troubling you but I really hate to get parking tickets as I do not have any spare money and so always have to check before I go anywhere about what is correct.
Thank you so much.
This time Samantha received a reply on the same day, and she has undergone a sex change since she last wrote:
Dear Mr Jones,
My apologies, I did not put the website address in the email.
I can confirm that page is http://www.barnet.gov.uk/info/
930112/cashless_parking_and_ parking_vouchers/714/cashless_ parking_and_parking_vouchers.
All of the information you seek is available on this page.
Information on libraries can be found at http://www.barnet.gov.uk/info/
Is it just Mr Mustard or do you all think that absolutely no service has been provided at all. The information provided was slow, pauce and not likely to attract visitors to Barnet. Samantha knew the library did not open until 9.30am which was why she chose a 9am appointment to see what advice or assistance she would receive. None at all is the answer. The phoneless Samantha has a problem unless she can find a shop that sells vouchers before she gets a parking ticket. At the library there is only one parking space which is reserved for the disabled so that she cannot use as she does not have a blue badge.
Samantha is going to retire from the mystery shopping market now. Watch out at first.contact as she will reappear in a new guise one day.