In this lesson we look at what happens in the offices of Bookmart Publishing Services. We see how people work together and how they deal with the problems that arise, both within the office and with their customers.
|Terry Cabe||is Personnel Manager at Bookmart.|
|Elsie Donnell||is Dispatch Room Supervisor at Bookmart.|
|Jane||works in the Dispatch Room at Bookmart.|
|Frank Penny||works in the Dispatch Room at Bookmart.|
|Gemma Tripp||is the Dispatch Room Manager at Bookmart.|
|Susan||works in the Order Processing department at Bookmart.|
|Mr Field||owns a bookshop in York.|
|Ben||is the office junior in the Order Processing department at Bookmart.|
|George Harvey||is Sales Manager at Bookmart.|
All of these characters are British.
|Vocabulary||Office management and routine; scheduling holidays; customer complaints; orders and invoices.|
|Skills||Managing people; arranging a holiday rota; dealing with a complaint; explaining to people.|
|Documents||A holiday chart; business letters; an order; an invoice.|
Working with people
6.1 Listen and read
It's Thursday, 18 April 1991, at Bookmart Publishing Services. Terry Cabe, the Personnel Manager, is having his weekly meeting with Elsie Donnell, the Dispatch Room Supervisor. Listen to what they say. How do we know that Terry isn't really interested in the holiday arrangements?
Right, that the lot then?I've got a selection board at ten.
Just one more thing. It's to do with the holiday arrangements. Frank Penny - you know who I mean, don't you?
What's he done now?
He’s put himself down on the chart for the first two weeks of August.He did exactly the same thing last year. He’s the only one in the office with no children. He can go on holiday any time...
Elsie, whatever you say to Frank, I'll back you up, but I'm late for the selection board already. I'm afraid I simply have to delegate this one to you.Tell me tomorrow how you got on.
6.2 Listen and read
Elsie is looking for Frank Penny. She finds his colleague, Jane. Listen to what they say. What time should Frank start work? What time will he start today?
Jane, where's Frank? His phone’s not answering,isn't he in today?
Mm. I don't think I've seen him today. I couldn't say where he is.
I suppose I'll have to ring him at home.
Frank, it's Elsie Donnell. Aren't you coming in today?
Of course I'm coming in. I am on flexitime now, remember.
Frank, it's now 10.37. If you're on flexitime you're supposed to be here by ten o'clock at the latest.
Well, be fair, Elsie. I was working till half past eight last night on the papers for the selection board this morning. Don’t worry. I'll be there by, oh, half eleven, OK?
Well — I suppose so.
6.3 Structure practice: suppose
Elsie uses the word 'suppose' in three different ways:
I suppose I'll have to ring him at home.
[I have to do it, but I'm not very pleased about it.]
If you're on flexitime you're supposed to be here by ten o'clock at the latest.
[You should do it because that's the rule.]
Well - I suppose so.
[I agree, but unwillingly.]
Now look at the sentences below. All of them include the word 'suppose'. Decide for each one whether 'suppose' is used like a, b or c above:
Can I borrow £10? - I suppose so!
You're supposed to take your holidays in June!
You're not supposed to use the office telephone to make personal calls.
I suppose I'll have to change my holidays!
I don’t suppose we can afford a new car now? - I suppose not.
I suppose we'll have to wait and save up for it.
6.4 Listen and read
Elsie sees Frank when he comes to work. Listen to what they say. Why can't Frank change his holiday dates?
|ELSIE||Frank, can I have a word with you?|
|FRANK||Look, if it's about me coming in late, I said I'm sorry.|
|ELSIE||That's not what I wanted to see you about. It's your holiday dates. You've put down for the first two weeks in August. Now, we discussed all this last year, remember? You know everyone wants the first two weeks in August, and everyone else has young children. I really can't let you have those two weeks, two years in a row.Wouldn't you like to go in June instead?|
|FRANK||No way.I can't. We've already booked our holiday. We're going on a cruise. And Chrissy's arranged with her employer to get those two weeks. She didn't have any hassle.|
|ELSIE||Frank, I'm not hassling you. I just don't think it's fair, that's all.|
6.5 Document study: a holiday chart
This is part of the Dispatch Room holiday chart. In the left-hand column are the names of the staff. Study this chart. You will need to refer to it for 6.6.
6.6 Speaking practice: sorting out the holidays
Gemma Tripp is Elsie's manager. She phones Elsie to discuss the holiday arrangements for the department. Read through the dialogue first, and write what you think Elsie says to Gemma (a-g). You will need to look at the holiday chart in 6.5. Then listen to the conversation. Don't worry if your answers are not exactly the same as the ones you hear. Listen again, and speak the part of Elsie.
|GEMMA||I ve got to go away for a fortnight from 29 July. You'll be standing in for me, as usual. You've got the holiday chart there, haven't you? Let's see if we can sort it out so it's fair to everyone. When were you planning to take your holiday?|
|GEMMA||Hm. We overlap by a week.Suppose you were to postpone your holiday till 12 August? How many people would be away from the office that week?|
|GEMMA||And the following week, the week of the nineteenth?|
|GEMMA||Mm. If you were away then, who could deputise for you?|
|GEMMA||No, not Queenie, I think. Victor's too new, and so is Lola. That leaves Frank or Richard. How would you feel about Frank being in charge of the Dispatch Room?|
|GEMMA||Yes, I thought you'd say that. I'll have a word with Richard Ogden. Why can't Frank take his fortnight off before the school holidays?|
|GEMMA||Yes, but she hasn't got any children, has she? Go on, tell Frank to persuade her to go in June. Otherwise, I'm afraid you'll just have to change your dates.|
Dealing with complaints
6.7 Speaking practice: a complaint
Other staff at Bookmart deal with customers and suppliers. Listen to this telephone conversation, then listen again and speak the part of Mr Field, the bookseller.
|SUSAN||Hello, Order Processing, can I help you?|
|FIELD||Good morning. My name's Field, I have a bookshop in York.|
|SUSAN||Yes. What can I do for you, Mr Field?|
|FIELD||I'm calling about an order that I've been waiting for since the end of March.|
|SUSAN||The end of March! Can you give me the order number, please?|
|FIELD||Yes, the order number was one two two seven.|
|SUSAN||I'll just call it up on the computer. One two double-seven, did you say?|
|FIELD||No, one double-two seven.|
|SUSAN||Oh sorry, one double-two seven. Yes, I've got it. Well, it was dispatchedto you on the twelfth of this month, so it should arrive any time now. Can you give it another couple of days?|
|FIELD||Well, all right, as long as it has been sent. But if it doesn't arrive in the next forty-eight hours you'll be hearing from me again.|
|SUSAN||Yes, do please contact me again if it hasn't arrived by then, Mr Field.|
|FIELD||Who shall I ask for?|
|SUSAN||Susan - I'm Susan. Thank you! Goodbye!|
6.8 Document study
Ben is the office junior.He is opening the morning post. Listen to what he says. What problem does he find?
|BEN||Susan? There's a remittance here, they've sent a cheque, but it's less than what it says on the statement.|
|SUSAN||Really? Any explanation?|
|BEN||Oh yes! There's this letter.|
|SUSAN||Ben, get me the customer file on this, will you? I'll be back in ten minutes. Can you leave it on my desk so I don't forget to deal with it?|
6.9 Document study
Susan is reading the file on Martinu Books. She finds a letter from Martinu. Read the letter and the handwritten comments from her manager, George Harvey, carefully. Should Martinu have the extra discount? Why/why not?
Cheek! George Harvey is suggesting that Martinu are deliberately misinterpreting the discount terms to avoid payment.
play this by ear wait and see what happens, and decide what to do then.
6.10 Listen and read: explaining discounts
Susan has explained about Martinu Books to George Harvey. He reads the file, and then telephones Susan. Listen to what he says, then do 6.11.
|GEORGE||Susan, thanks for sending me the details about Martinu. I'd like you to write to them. Point out that we don't understand why they've knocked off five per cent, but say that we'll allow them a special discount of two point five per cent on everything since the beginning of December, OK? It'll be deducted from their April statement. No need to mention the invoice that they haven't paid; it'll just appear again on their next statement. Of course, assuming they go on ordering five thousand plus every month , they'll qualify for the full five per cent discount starting in August anyway. Is that OK?|
|SUSAN||OK, Mr Harvey. Thanks.|
6.11 Writing practice: a letter to Martinu Books
Susan now has to write to Martinu Books explaining how the discount works. Write the letter for her. The letter should be formal, but polite. The aim is to persuade Martinu to pay, not to force them. Remember, you don't want to lose a customer.
Nearly all the phrases you need are shown in the text, but you will have to think carefully before starting to write. The following points must be covered:
|a||Start by saying that we (you are writing on behalf of your company, not of yourself) have received their letter and cheque.|
|b||Say that we do not understand why they have deducted 5% from the four invoices mentioned in their letter of 22 January.|
|c||Remind them that our representative explained the 'Major Customer' plan to them. They do not yet qualify.|
|d||Offer them instead what Mr Harvey suggested - 2.5%. If their orders continue to total £5000 or more each month, they will qualify for the full 5% discount from 1 August.|
6.12 Speaking practice: an angry customer
Susan has another telephone call from an angry Mr Field. Listen to what they say. Why is he angry? Listen again, and speak the part of Mr Field. Remember - you're supposed to be angry!
|SUSAN||Hello, Order Processing, can I help you?|
|FIELD||Hello, this is Field Booksellers, in York. I'm calling about my order, number one two two seven ...|
|SUSAN||Oh, good morning, Mr Field. Did the books reach you all right?|
|FIELD||They were finally delivered a few minutes ago.|
|FIELD||But most of them were damaged, and it's due to bad packaging.|
|SUSAN||Oh dear! Was the packaging damaged in any way?|
|FIELD||Yes. The boxes weren't banded, so they just split open.|
|SUSAN||I can't understand how that could've happened. Every parcel is supposed to be machine-banded before it leaves the warehouse. Look, can you return the books to us, carriage forward of course,and if you could possibly fax us a list of what's damaged, we'll get replacements sent off as soon as we can, provided of course we still have the titles in stock.|
|FIELD||And how long will that take?|
|SUSAN||Well, if you can send us the fax by, say, three o'clock this afternoon, I'll get back to you before you close tonight.|
|FIELD||Well if you could. You'll appreciate that I've got customers who've been waiting a long time for these books.|
|SUSAN||Yes, we do appreciate the inconvenience to your customers, and I assure you we'll do everything we possibly can to help. Thank you, Mr Field. Goodbye.|
6.13 Listen and read
Susan rings George Harvey to remind him about an order for packaging materials. Listen to what they say. Susan thinks that George had forgotten about the order. How do we know this?
|SUSAN||Mr Harvey, you remember we asked several office supply firms to quote us for bulk packaging materials.|
|GEORGE||Oh, when what's-his-name went out of business.I remember. Have we had the quotations?|
|SUSAN||Yes, and I think we should put in an order. The warehouse say they're starting to run low on most items, and we need stock for the office as well.|
|GEORGE||All right then. Perhaps I'd better have a look at the quotes. Meanwhile, if you'll make a list of what we want...|
6.14 Document study
George Harvey decides that the order should go to Beloff Supplies. Susan makes out the order form below. Read through it carefully, and note how it is laid out. You will need to refer back to this order in 6.16.
6.15 Listen and read
Susan is teaching Ben about order forms. Listen to what they say. What mistake does Ben make? What would the correct figure be?
|SUSAN||Now, Ben - remember what I told you? We've raised the order in four copies.|
|BEN||Top copy to the supplier. Pink to Warehouse. Blue to Accounts. Yellow, file copy. Right?|
|SUSAN||Right. But get Mr Harvey to initial them first, otherwise the order's not valid.|
|BEN||Oh, and there's something else you haven't done. You haven't put the total price. Let me see, it's, er, forty-two pounds thirty.|
|SUSAN||Ben, those are unit prices. You've got to multiply them by the quantities. The total will be several hundred pounds.|
|BEN||Then why don't you show it on the order form?|
|SUSAN||Because the prices may have changed, or Beloff may not have all the goods in stock. They'll show the total on their invoice. It's their job, not ours.|
6.16 Document study
A delivery arrives from Beloff. Ben signs for the goods, and takes out the delivery note and invoice. Check the invoice against the order in 6.14. Is everything correct?
6.17 Listen and read
Ben unpacks the goods, and ticks off each item against the invoice. Listen to his conversation with Susan. What does Ben have to do now?
|SUSAN||Have you checked that everything's there?|
|BEN||It’s all here. Only I think they've sent two and a half centimetre tape instead of two centimetre.|
|SUSAN||Oh no! It'll have to go back. All our tape dispensers are two centimetres wide. Check it, will you, Ben? If it is the wrong stuff, make out a returns slip and ask them to replace the tape as soon as they can. And in the meantime we'll expect a credit note from them.|