Having experienced living life 'in the sticks' in my time, which can be tantamount living in a time capsule, even I was bemused today when, whilst staying at a relative's house the night before, I went to the local station to catch a train.
Yes, I have caught a train before! But the network operator on this particular route has always been notorious for packing disgruntled commuters like sardines into as few carriages as possible at prices you find hard to justify - something I'm sure many of you can sympathise with. This morning, however, I was astounded when the usual two carriages had multiplied. Wow, they must really be listening to customer complaints, was my initial thought. Then I spotted that the carriages were from the days before the railways were privatised in the late 1990s - that murky grey and white colour emblazoned with the red stripe and Intercity logo that I fondly remembered from my first ever trip to London as a child.
I'm all for recycling and I know there has been somewhat of an 80s revival of late, but stepping into that carriage conjured mixed feelings. The interior was still exactly the same - and when I say the same, I mean it was the same. The upholstery had just about survived the ravages of time and carried with it a musty smell that reminded me of going up into my mum's attic and finding boxes of my old school books - not the sort of cool image that the new privatised companies are hoping to convey I'm sure.
Still, it was reliable enough and even the slightly depressing surroundings beat standing nose to armpit with a stranger for the half-hour journey, I suppose.
Speaking of nostalgia though, new research by onepoll.com has found old corporate stalwarts BT and British Gas languishing at the very bottom of the contact centre customer service satisfaction leagues - and not for the first time in the last few years.
Especially for a company like BT, the irony surely can't be lost on the execs that they are heading up a telecomms company providing the worst phone-based customer service?
BT's Busby may have given way to the Twitter bird these days (for those of you who remember the ads!) but is there a lesson the firm can take from the past - namely, what was it that singled BT out from its admittedly fewer competitors in its heyday that perhaps it can learn from and build on today? Or is it the fact that it has held such a monopoly over the market for so long that it is reluctant to radically overhaul its customer service practices, stifling customer satisfaction?
To be fair, there are plenty of other (and newer) big companies out there that are just as guilty of providing poor contact centre customer service - among those named and shamed were Sky, Virgin Media and Vodafone. But one thing is for certain, with competition set to get fiercer, it won't be long before it will be the end of the line for the likes of BT and British Gas unless they can prove to customers that they are doing something positive about getting back on track.