Leni Cooper remembers her time working in the Sales Office

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Leni writes:

"In October 1960, I started work in the Sales Office that was accessed by the original stone built main entrance on Player Street. It took up the whole of the second floor and half of the first floor – the exact part that was destroyed by the fire in 2015. Back then, the Sales Office consisted of 9 Sections that were generally open plan, each one covering a specific geographical area of the country. I was based on Section 5 –serving London and the Home Counties, including some countrywide accounts when their H.O. fell within our area.

In those days, it was usual for new S/O employees to start work on the Addressograph – of which each section had two – a large Addressograph Multilith for doing the main account work and a smaller one for dealing with queries. There was also an Addressograph Section where the embossed metal plates with the name and address of each customer were created and these were used to print all documentation – from invoices to labels. Once the documents had all been printed, including the invoice in (at least) triplicate, they had to be sorted out on each section and passed on to the appropriate departments in the factory and other offices so that the order could be executed.

Still within the Sales Office I went on to invoice typing using a National Cash Register – a sort of large electric typewriter – ordered items were added to the invoices that had been printed on the addressograph. Being unable to touch type was not a problem at the time – the Sales Office had it’s own training school situated on the next floor up, where there were three very helpful ladies to guide us through the procedure. Since all the documentation was already addressed – all that was necessary for the invoice typist to do was learn to type brand names such Medium Navy Cut, Gold Leaf, Digger Flake, Digger RR (Ready Rubbed) etc.  Once the quantities were added, the NCRs printed out the invoice extensions and even the total amount due, including any early payment discounts. The training school provided tuition on most types of office machinery, although not for addressographs.

Following on from invoice typing, I became a statement clerk, then dealt first with taking telephone orders then dealing with telephone queries from customers. Due to an office reorganisation, still within the Sales Office, I moved to what was diplomatically called ‘C Department – we actually dealt with complaints but this was eventually re-named Customer Relations. Initially I was a records clerk before graduating to the job that I enjoyed most – resolving complaints from smokers by letter, telephone and – on some occasions – unhappy smokers that sometimes used to call into the Player Street entrance to complain. Initially there were four of us (I was the first female) and we first used to open the mail (referred to us from the Mail Room at the end of the long corridor off the Player Street entrance). The product under complaint was placed in a small plastic bag, the brand, packet and quantity written on the letter. Each was then securely attached along with a small record card and the day’s mail placed in a larger bag and taken across to the laboratory in No 3 Factory so the reason for the complaint could be ascertained. Each complaint was given a category from 1 to 50 – every type of complaint was logged and, when necessary, taken up with the relevant area in the factory or, in the case of ‘old stock’ the respective retailer was contacted. Once the reason for the complaint was confirmed, we had to either select standard paragraphs that a typist would use to write a letter of apology to each customer – or, using a Dictaphone, dictate a suitable letter to the customer. Appropriate replacement packets were usually enclosed with the letters as a matter of course. Eventually, the work carried out by the laboratory was done at Player Street – at least it was a faster turnover!

During my first years with the company, I remember one occasion when one of the girls turned up for work in TROUSERS! They were smart looking ones but, nevertheless, she was sent home to change! Also, there was a degree of harmless ‘familiarity’ from some of the older men – we didn’t really find it offensive – it was par for the course and we just tended to laugh it off. I don’t think that today’s ‘libbers’ would accept it now! When I had our daughter in 1976, maternity leave had just been introduced. In fact, I think I was probably the first one that the Personnel Department had to deal with as I recall they weren’t really too sure just what they were doing. Typically though, any pregnant ladies attended weekly antenatal sessions provided by the company. What a firm – and other benefits (for everyone) included free treatment from a chiropodist!

I really enjoyed working in the Sales Office at Radford – we worked hard but had lots of laughs and there was a great atmosphere – something that was sadly lacking at Horizon. I was never really happy there although I think it changed when the company was taken over by Hanson and I was really pleased when had the opportunity to take early retirement before I was 50 in 1988."

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Leni Cooper

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Leni Cooper

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Citation

Leni Cooper, “Leni Cooper remembers her time working in the Sales Office,” People at Players, accessed June 24, 2018, http://peopleatplayers.omeka.net/items/show/34.

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