SPERed on to crime

I WANT to kill someone.

I am suffering from telephone rage – again!

The problem with telephone rage is that — luckily, perhaps — it renders killing people almost impossible. Although you do get through an awful lot of phones.

It’s reaching the stage where I have to lock myself in a room and eat the key in case my wife should walk in accidentally and in a blind fury I take out my wrath on her, poor thing.

Telephone rage is not new. All that is new is the cruel and perverted way in which the most unlikely organisations wreak it on you.

I have just rung SPER. SPER is the Queensland Government’s State Penalties Enforcement Registry. It is the organisation that chases the money when you are fined for stepping out of line.

In my case I drove too fast and I was very sorry, but it didn’t prevent them hitting me with a fine of $188.

However, when I tried to pay it over the internet, it wouldn’t work. So I rang SPER for help.

BIG mistake.

If you have a strong constitution and more patience than a rock, try it yourself. The number is 1300 365 635.

The robot on the other end (who sounds like a female, but I can’t believe any real human being would ever be party to the kind of inhumanity these recorded messages are capable of) said my call would be monitored for quality assurance purposes.


Do they mean they want to be really, really certain they have got it so badly wrong that people are driven to suicide by the experience? I guess that would be a way of reducing the numbers of people who are likely to be persistently anti-social.

Anyway, the inevitable result of all these honeyed words is that you end up on hold, listening to vaguely familiar violin music that you probably heard the last time you phoned any government department in the world.

And after a minute or so she comes back again and says, “All our client service officers are currently busy. Please hold and your call will be answered shortly.”

This is probably actionable in a court of law.

Firstly, they are nor client service officers. I am a client and they have never given me any service.

Secondly, what do they mean by “all”? I have a sneaking suspicion “all” is three people, one who is doing her nails; one who is exploring the internet for the dirty pages and one who is trying to sort out his love life – while I’m on bloody hold!

And lastly, what does she mean “answered shortly”!

It’s a lie. Unless, of course, you count the fact that in a couple of minutes time I was answered – by her again. Saying the same thing.

Indeed she did it so many times I lost count.

But never mind. I am a patient man. I did a crossword — all of it — while I waited. Patience is its own reward, I thought. Eventually I will get through. I felt good about my own virtue.


SPER has honed the art of telephone trickery to a degree that is the envy of corporate entities everywhere.

After waiting for twenty minutes to this silly cow who continued to perpetrate the myth that I would be answered shortly, another one came on who apologised for the delay, suggested I leave a name and number so someone can call me back – and hung up! Completely! Nothing on the line but a dialling tone!

My mouth opened and shut like a goldfish. I hyperventilated. I fractured my fist on the wall. I threw myself against the door in case my wife should walk in and I was forced to strangle her while the balance of my mind was disturbed.

I hurled the phone on the floor and jumped up and down on it until it was no more than a few plastic shards and some wires. The robot woman who caused all the problems was not there, of course. When this happens they always scuttle back up the telephone line to the safety of their own offices.

I guess this is threatening behaviour on my part and will probably attract a heavy fine, which I’ll have to pay through SPER, which will mean a phone call…

Oh God…