11 AUGUST 1961, Page 25

Consuming Interest


By LESLIE ADRIAN Welbeck Motors have come up with a frank and honest reply in the form. of a personal state- ment from the Managing Director, who reminds me that he has always insisted that the first three months in operation should be regarded as a dress rehearsal. He agrees, however, that this is no excuse for -`the appalling service you have been given' and. then goes on to explain that 'the ridiculous situation is caused by the fact that, although we ordered an elaborate telephone exchange last January, we have still not received delivery and are operating on a temporary arrangement.' He expected calls to be at the rate of 15,000 a -day; in fact, they have often been getting 40,000 (seven hundred alleged to be fake calls by taxi-drivers' wives). There is now a duplicate telephone installation and you can call HUNter 1250 as well as WELbeck 4440. 'You should receive a reasonably quick reply.'

On the staff side, the Managing Director is equally frank. 'The tremendous pressure put on our telephone room has meant that the wastage of staff has been terrific. Inexperienced and in- efficient operators were replaced by more in- efficient and inexperienced operators, and that is the reason why so many silly things were said to customers on the telephone; that is the reason why again and again more bookings were taken than could be possibly handled.'

Are things going to get any better? The service is gradually getting better telephonists and book- ing clerks; 'We have still many more cars than good drivers,' but this is improving.

The new policy, which has now been in force for a couple of weeks, seems likely to help. Orders in future will only be accepted for journeys of five miles and more. The rate will remain the same: Is. a mile and 7s. 6d. an hour. waiting time. Bookings in advance will be taken. for journeys of ten miles or more. These book- ings are accepted for the next day; further.in ad- vance may be possible but is not. guaranteed. Bookings for journeys of twenty miles and over will be taken ,up to a \WA or two in advance. I'm glad to report Welbeck Motors' reply to my article at length, partly because I think they are doing a worthwhile job but also because, though they have had considerable difficulties, they have been trying hard to get over them.

* To forestall those dear people who will soon be telling us that nights are drawing in I present the following advertisement, faithfully repro- duced from a prominent hoarding on an Adriatic isle, sometimes known as the Yugoslav Madeira.

COME AND SEE HVAR IN WINTER Sensationally convenient accommodations at reduced tariffs Exceptionally mild climate • 50 per cent. reduction if it rains more than three hours a day between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

• Free of charge for each snowy day • Free of charge for each foggy day • Free of charge for each day when the tempera- ture drops to the freezing point.

`Hope it keeps fine for you' might be mis- understood under these conditions.

Towed away again, this time from Soho, I learned two pieces of information at the Morley Street car compound. One testifies to the power- ful influence of this column. The Metropolitan Police now issue a receipt for removal and storage as separate charges, and on the reverse of the paper is a summary of the relevant law, Section 15 of the Road Traffic Act, 1960, instead of a lot of gefuifie about firearms and pedlars.

The other piece of intelligence was more vital. A fellow victim was charged £2, given a warden's ticket in addition, and barely listened to when he stated that a man passing himself off as a car park attendant (he carried a satchel and a book of receipts) had taken a shilling off him and , given him permission to stay for two hours with- out being beside a meter. London is well supplied with rogues, quick to turn any situation to their own advantage. Moral: demand credentials.

'But we did Belgian? and Luxemburg yesterday.'