When big companies can’t be bothered to get back to you….

What can you do, when people you need to speak to at big companies, simply refuse to respond to your inquiries?

Having left too many phone messages and voicemails, my latest attempt to answer the question is – blog and tweet about it!

The situation has arisen not once but twice in recent weeks. In both situations I want to discuss a real business opportunity, I’m not simply try to sell something. And in both cases, big companies – First Group and Apple – simply seem unable or unwilling to even respond. I am at a loss to understand why.

First Great Western is the first corporation I have been trying to communicate with. I have a client interested in putting up a small sign at one of their stations. So having established the particular station appears to be their responsibility, I have tried to speak to someone at least four different times.

I called the 0800 line listed on the station, an inquiry agent took the details of my inquiry, and finished with “Someone will get back to you if necessary.” There was no way they could give me contact details for the station manager – it was not company.

Being a former journalist and press officer, I called the press office, expecting them to not only know who I needed to speak to, but confident that they would be more helpful. On two separate occasions, members of their press team promised to get back to me.

Using the internet, I tracked down a geographic number for the company’s Swindon office, and spoke to someone who appreared genuinely interested in my plight. She promised the estates manager would call me. That was more than two weeks ago.

I’ll shortly be advising my client to simply put up the sign. On the basis of their attentiveness so far, seems like they’ll never notice it.

Apple is the second culprit. It’s a curious situation, bearing in mind here’s a company in the business of creating leading edge communication devices.

On behalf of a client, I have been arranging meetings for when they attend an international business conference. This event is about retail property, and is attended by delegates on the basis that they will be wanting to make new contacts and learn more about potential opportunities. The organisers facilitate contact between delegates through their web portal, ahead of the event, for this very reason. Two delegates from Apple are listed as registered attendees.

I’ve now left five voicemails for the two individuals from Apple, on their own direct dial landlines. The first was in mid October.

Getting a little frustrated, I tracked down the switchboard number of the London office and asked if either have a PA – no, they don’t.

Having explained the situation and my reason for wishing to make contact, I asked for a mobile phone number or email address. Neither could be given (company policy once more), but if I sent an email to the office reception, it would be forwarded.

It’s a week since the office confirmed the email had been delivered to both people. So, still no meeting between them and my client.

Why are both these large companies simply incapable of responding? Even an out of office email, or a “sorry we’re too busy to deal with this right now” voicemail would be helpful.

Instead, I must assume that they simply don’t have enough people to handle the level of business they are currently enjoying.

So, please help First Great Western out – if you’re travelling to Bath or Cardiff, don’t burden them further by trying to buy a ticket or catch one of their trains, please drive instead.

And if you’re thinking of a new laptop or smartphone, please give the overworked guys at Apple a break – perhaps go and buy a Samsung instead.