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As a soon to be graduate with no imminent job lined up, off to temping agency, Blue Arrow it was!
I live in Manchester, and having no office skills or experience to speak of, decided to hit the catering branch of this agency.
I walked in, was kept waiting an interminably long time (but hey, that's okay - I'd keep my prospective employees waiting while I sat chatting to my friend at the next desk too...)
"Suzy" eventually calls me over, and she's actually fairly nice. Has me fill in a plethora of standardised forms (name, address, qualifications, work experience etc) and photocopies my passport and national insurance card.
She gives me two multiple choice test papers. The first is very basic food hygiene stuff. Seriously easy stuff, like "1. you empty the waste bin, 2. you cut up some raw chicken, 3. you handle some cooked chicken. At which point(s) do you wash your hands?" (answer at bottom of page - haha!)
And the second is slightly harder, about waiting tables. Asks what sauces are traditionally served with what meats. I came a little unstuck here (no multiple choice!)
and couldn't get Bearnaise(?) sauce outta my head. Still, I passed.
So those two tests convinced Blue Arrow I was up to the job and really, I have no (nada!, zip!) experience of either waiting tables or catering, or anything to do with food for that matter. This is something I glossed over in my work experience recounts!
Suzy tells me that the pay is usually in the realm of 4.85 (minimum wage apparently for a 23 year old like me) to 5.50, so really rather shocking when all my office-skilled friends agencies pay in excess of 7.00. This agency has stopgap (and nothing more!) written all over it. The drill is that Blue Arrow will call me as and when they have work available. I can always decline to work if I don't fancy it, and they encourage me to ring them too to enquire after bookings etc.
So, I leave. I'm registered. I ring Blue Arrow the following day and speak to the joyless being that is "Kieron". He has work for me that weekend. I'm to turn up at Blue Arrow at 3.45pm on the Saturday, bussed out with other temps to some function in warrington, and then bussed back to the office for round about 11pm. Sounded fine.
On the friday I receive an answerphone message from Kieron saying he's just confirming we're getting picked up at 3.45pm. I ring him back to er.. confirm. Five minutes later I receive a text to "confirm" I'm being picked up at 4.45pm. Er... HUH??! I ring him back. Someone else answers. It's 4.45pm they say. For sure. Ten minutes later. Text message. 3.45pm it says. Arggghh!!! I say! Nice one Blue Arrow.
Anyway, after eventually sorting out that its the earlier time , Saturday arrives, and there I am in the office waiting for the bus. Of course we can't go until everyone else has arrived, and its only at practically 5pm that that happens (most probably due to that dumb texting and the even dumber staff) Incidentally, this is one whole hour I am NOT getting paid for.
Anyway, the function is fine, just plate service, clearing tables, a monkey could do it. Just as well really, because some of the other staff are pretty unevolved.
The next day I worked a wedding - same drill, margainally less waiting around. Issued with black ties to complement out black trousers, white shirt, black waistcoat combos. Fairly easy again.
Get paid the Friday of the following week. Tax deducted. I feel like screaming. I'd said (till I was blue arrow in the face!) that I was a student, asked after that student tax exemption form I've filled in so many times before, was assured they'd take nothing. Gggggrrrrr.
So, to sum it up: Great because: 1.They offer you all kinds of free training, such as silver service etc. This just takes the format of an hour in the office on a weekday afternoon, watching someone do it. But its not brain surgery, a quick practice does suffice.
2. Provided they've got a booking, you can start immediately. There's no waiting while they vet your references etc.
3. Its a job. It's money.
1. The staff (admittedly not all of them) can be complete simpletons. Highly frustrating when you're relying on them to keep you informed of work and times and whatever else.
2. The wages (compared to say, office temping) are dire. Really, really abismal!
3. Often, as was the case for me, they have no work available.
If you're desperate for cash, can start right away and will get out almost as quickly, I recommend Blue Arrow.
Guest What? i just came back from Blue Arrow Leeds... they treat me like a homeless lad that desperate for a job. They are very not friendly. The office are not busy but i waited for almost 25 minutes (and no one come to me and ask 'how can i help you?') and then suddently one English girl come to the office and she got served first!!! and they dont even look at me althought i stand in front of their desk!!! and after that, i try to speak to one of the staff and she dont even look at me when i was talking to her. plus, she make a 'poker' face to me. I cant wait to do review about Blue Arrow... A bias, ignorance and racist place...
Lucie_S1984 18.07.2005 13:11
Sound terrible! I'm temping through the summer and have registered with about 10 agencies - found that only 2 or 3 of them are any good though! Lucie xxx
bingbong 12.07.2005 20:29
Im in the void to and doing temping. Ill remember to avoid blue arrow. anna x