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Secret codes

Cross

When working on customers’ existing systems, either to service them or to complete alterations, you would often see markings inside the control panel. 

Chubb utilised keys to lock the control panels so that they could not be opened by a customer making the marks only visible to Chubb engineers. 

A tick would denote that this customer often tipped the engineers, A letter U denoted that cups of tea were frequently offered and a letter O that biscuits, cake or even sandwiches were often offered. Seeing these symbols in the panel would greatly influence the engineer’s attitude towards the customer, as they gave a heads up of what could be expected.

However, some customers received other symbols, the letter X meant you should watch your step as this customer was not above calling your supervisor if you said or did anything they deemed in their opinion was less than the fawning service from slaves that they thought they were paying for. 

Should a customer receive a second X, you could presume that you will be criticised, often in writing, if you do not go above and beyond and treat them like a lord and lady.

On one occasion I recall seeing a panel with three X markings, fortunately the customer was out for the day and I dealt with the housekeeper. However, as expected, my supervisor received a call to go back to the premises, it seems the customer believed I had caused a cigarette burn on his expensive leather sofa. 

This was a common type of complaint and often resulted in a showdown between the supervisor and the customer which in many cases resulted in new furniture being purchased following an insurance claim. On this occasion however, the customer had read things incorrectly, I did not smoke due to a medical condition and my supervisor was able to prove this and get the customer to withdraw the complaint.

It later transpired that this same customer had reported a service engineer for scratching his car with the ladders, all the way down one side looking like a keying, not a bump from ladders, however the claim had gone in favour of the customer, earning the service engineer a written warning. 

The three X in his panel I was reliably informed went up to four following the next service visit and engineers seeing this, simply refused to do any work on the premises without either the customer, his wife or housekeeper watching.