IT IS more than a fortnight since my home phone stopped working. Getting it fixed is proving as problematic as solving the North Korea missile crisis.

And it is easier to get through to Kim Jong Un than get hold of Talk Talk at its Philippines’ call centre.

It screens callers using voice recognition, so if you’ve got a cold forget it. And when you do get through it is, literally, like talking to a brick wall. My neighbour watched open-mouthed as I used her phone to explain, repeatedly, that, no, I could not ring on my own phone as it was not working.

They promise to keep you updated, but don’t, so you ring back, wait another half hour, get through to someone else and have to explain the whole scenario again. After half a dozen calls like this, you lose the will to live and resign yourself to using carrier pigeon.

We now have to deal with not one but three companies. The work that needs doing is commissioned by Talk Talk, assigned by British Telecom and carried out by a contractor. But any problems and it’s back to Talk Talk.

Despite advances in communication, nowadays if you have a problem, it is as rare for it to be resolved promptly and satisfactorily as it is to win the lottery twice in a row.

Take student finance. I applied for my two daughters, having been told that one application was sufficient for both. But while one received her award, the other did not. Three months, a million phone calls and a Kafkaesque nightmare later, she had still not received it.

She had written to them to give permission for me to sort things out, but although this form had been received, it has not been “authorised”, and, I was told, this would take several weeks.

Then her university sent an urgent message saying it had not received notification from student finance, so might not be able to save her a place.

Even getting through to them is an ordeal, with requests for ‘secret answers’, that I apparently gave three years ago and I’m now supposed to remember. You have to recall the second or third letter of your secret answer before you move on.

I can understand a certain level of security but I feel like I’m talking to Bletchley Park. It is now, I hope, sorted out, but I’m not holding my breath.

Let’s move on to pensions. When my husband changed jobs he was told that he could continue paying his pension with the same provider, but, despite form-filling on a grand scale, this did not happen. When he called it took ten minutes to crack the Spanish inquisition grilling.

Where was your first school? He got it wrong, naming infant instead of primary. What did you call your third pet? What is your favourite film?

In years gone by it was one simple question, usually your mother’s maiden name. Now you have to wrack your brains to conjure up your favourite metaphysical poet, the name of your first dentist or where you went on holiday in July 1979.

After several phone calls, he found the right department.

I would love to hear the AA’s phone screening procedure. I’m unlikely to get that far, however, as they never pick up. I’m helping my neighbour resolve an issue with them, but their complaints department kept me holding on for so long I began to resemble Miss Haversham.

We have so much technology at our disposal, why is this happening? When you do get through, if you need to ring back, no-one ever keeps a record of your original call. It is as if these systems are designed to wear you out so you eventually give up and drop everything.