Perth hasn’t fallen off the twig, yet

IF anyone doubts that Perth has become a “branch office” city then learn from this enlightening encounter with Challenge Bank, BP – and a car which allegedly consumed 8705 litres of fuel in a week.

It begins with a computer keystroke error sometime around April 5, moves to a demand from BP for $8139.18, including GST, and ends with Challenge Bank being unable to help because it is after 4.30pm on a weekday and the computer, which works to Sydney hours, has been shut down.

Briefcase knows these intimate details because the car belongs to Mrs Briefcase. Admittedly, the vehicle is a Nissan Patrol, a notorious gas guzzler, but 8705 litres is somewhat more than the fuel tank holds. If it did, then even with a ferocious thirst, it should be able to travel about 62,178km – around the world and back, with enough left for a dash around Australia.

Panic at the sight of the bill for $8139.18 turns to laughter as the numbers are crunched and questions are asked, such as how did BP sell so much fuel to a single customer using a card specifically allocated to a particular vehicle. There is a spare fuel tank in the Patrol but, after the first 120 litres, the rest must have been stored in jerry cans – about 500 of them.

No, it must be a mistake. A simple phone call will fix it up. Wrong.

BP’s customer helpline proudly tells you that normal working hours are till 7pm on weekdays. True, but that means 7pm Sydney time and the first call from Mr Briefcase is made at 5.15 Perth time. Bother (or something stronger) is all that can be said to the recorded message.

Damn, is the next reaction as a sudden fear sweeps through the household. The BP account is a direct debit, which gives BP the right to extract money from Mr and Mrs Briefcase’s account. Better stop that before it’s too late, and just in case common sense has flown out the window and BP really does believe that it pumped 8705 litres of fuel into a Patrol.

Cancel the direct debit authority is the answer. Call the bank. It’s 5.20 and the bank listens attentively, and then drops the bombshell. Sorry, we can’t help because that part of the computer shuts at 6.30pm daily.

Excuse me (or something less polite) it is only 5.20pm and I’m calling you in Perth because you’re Challenge Bank, the old Perth Building Society, and you live here, don’t you?

Ahh, no sir. Actually, I’m in Sydney and yes I know that 6.30pm is still 4.30pm Perth time and most people are still busy at work but, heh fella, that’s the way it is. Call back tomorrow and we’ll try and help.

Ok, then cancel the account. Just stop the money from going out until the problem is fixed. Certainly sir. To cancel the account you will need to visit your branch – tomorrow.

Briefcase is confident that the problem of the very thirsty Patrol will be fixed.

What will be harder to fix is the damage being done to Perth as a serious business centre when so many services are sold by phone or email from service centres in Sydney.

Branch office Perth. You betcha.

Trend towards mangled monikers disturbing

English is a beautiful language, until it falls into the hands of corporate Australia, which has developed a habit of dreaming up ghastly, if not impossible, names.

Bemax Resources, a titanium minerals explorer, says the correct spelling of its name is BeMaX. Pahth Telecom has avoided a capital letter at the end but appears to an unhealthy liking for the letter h.

A cruise down the list of listed companies throws up a string of horribly mangled words, some even have numbers insert at the oddest places, like. MIN-Tech 8 Ltd.

E-Comm Global and E-Comm Multi no doubt regret their choice of name, which permanently tags them as players in e-commerce (hands up anyone who remembers that fad?)

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