I never dreamed, as a child, that being a parent dealing with a school would be stressful. I guess you think your parents are all powerful and know how to cope with everything. But really, I never dreamed that my parents had any emotion about the organisation at all except that it was imperative that I attend unless I was seriously ill.
Earlier this morning I tried to write a rhyming poem about bad customer service. Sadly this was motivated by an interaction (or actually a lack of interaction) with the school.
At a recent P&C Meeting it was brought to my attention (by a parent new to the school) that a child’s photo had appeared on the school Facebook Page without the permission of the parents. The principal was adamant that this would only occur if the parent had allowed it in the “Permissions Form” that one is asked to fill out on enrollment. Since I am not even on Facebook and therefore never look at the school Facebook page, I was horrified at this revelation and the next morning I went to the front office to check exactly what “permissions” I had ticked for my children. The staff there were very helpful and read out all the permissions and how I had responded. Social media was never mentioned. In fact, what photos would be used for was notably absent from the questions. It was mostly about who was allowed to take photos.
The next best step was to approach one of the two teachers who are in control of the Facebook page. Due to COVID19, parents are only allowed into the school on specific invitation and (further horror) the staff at the front desk didn’t know who the teachers were that I needed to contact. Luckily, I remembered that in my training for working at the Uniform Shop, I had been given the Facebook contacts in case the Shop wanted to publicize anything there.
I sent an email to the principal notifying her of my feelings on the subject and I sent an email to one of the two teachers requesting that neither of our children ever appear on the Facebook Page. I never heard back from either. Eventually (two weeks later) I happened across the principal who said she’d never received my email. I had a further conversation with her in which I got the distinct impression that she thought I was making a fuss about nothing. The next day I composed another email from my gmail address hoping that a more generic email address would make it past the school’s electronic guardian system. I CCd in the Facebook control teacher. Another two weeks (plus holidays) have passed with no response. Today I rang and actually asked to speak to the principal. She was in a meeting so I left a message. Still nothing.
It blows my mind that a school can wave around a “permissions” form as though that’s their duty done and then start up a Facebook Page and just put kids’ pictures on there without asking anybody. And, worse, the page isn’t even private. So any weirdo can access those photos, not the least of whom being Mark Zuckerberg that money-grubbing, morally bankrupt, despot of a boy.
Both our kids were in tears the night before school went back this term. Between that and this total lack of respect for my wish to NOT have my children’s photos on public social media, we are on the lookout for schooling options. It’s kind of crazy because the school our kids are at is extremely well respected. But horses for courses, right?
In addition to that, we sent all our tax stuff by email to the accountant. No acknowledgement. Again I had to ring this morning and confirm that it was actually received. And I had to chase up our lawyers for some outstanding work on our wills which they have ignored emails and phonecalls about for the last three months.
These people are all paid (by me) to do a service and I am their client. And yet they feel no compulsion to help me unless I goad them into it. It feels like they don’t need me. They are so complacently sure that there will always be clients around that they don’t need any individual client enough to make an effort.
I have worked in customer service ever since I left school. I know how to be a good customer service representative and I hope the school appreciates how I take this knowledge to my voluntary work in the uniform shop. And yet I so rarely feel like that is how other customer service people treat me. The other day we were in a well-known (and reasonably upmarket) department store and the guy who served us was so friendly and kind and helpful. I was incredibly impressed to the extent that I commented on it to my husband. But that should be NORMAL. It shouldn’t be a shock to come across people like that.
Capitalism challenges every worker to minimise the amount of work they need to do for their pay unless their pay is contingent upon good service. This country is so dependent on volunteers. I’m beginning to think that volunteers are often the best at customer service because they do it from their hearts, not from their pockets.