I don't want my human interaction to be dictated by a script. I want to be greeted by a cheerful voice on the end of the line, to have a bit of a laugh. To have lighted the load of having to part with my hard-earned cash with a bit of banter, or to access a necessary service.
It started with Virgin Media when I moved out to the Country. As they could not provide a service out in the sticks and as I was still in contract, they charged me for £200 for the pleasure. I'd been a loyal customer since way back, when they bought my custom from Cable and Wireless. Yes, that loyal. The fact that I would be returning to Norwich, probably within 12 months was of no interest. Then they insisted on my returning their equipment in a highly convoluted manner. They were willing to waive £50 if I recommended Virgin to the next owner of the flat. I told them to get stuffed. I recommend on basis of service, not bribery. I dropped off their equipment at the Virgin Shop as I told them I would and I will never be a Virgin Media customer again.
I just did some basic maths. If my annual payment for their service is £480 and assuming that I would still be accessing their service until I was say, 80 years old, not taking into account inflation and the 12 months when I wasn't their customer, they've kissed goodbye £17,280. You'd have thought that £200 would have been worth it for a loyal customer of 14 years.
A few years ago, I went to The Lemon Tree in Norwich for a massage, a facial that sort of stuff. I drifted off to somewhere else and then stopped frequenting beauty parlours. Four months ago I received a text from The Lemon Tree with a beauty offer. I'm sure some women would be pleased. I'm sure some people would shrug and just delete.
My mobile phone is my personal communication device. I don't give it out to companies to contact me. I started carrying one with me when Boy first went to school, so I could always be reached. I am a member of the Telephone Preference Service for both my landline and my mobile phone. The cold caller who greeted me with the words "This is an urgent call for Ms Blackthorn, for your PPI claim..." got a tirade of abuse and suddenly couldn't manage to transfer me to her manager.
I texted back The Lemon Tree and nicely asked them to take me off their lists. Both the number that had texted me and the number quoted in the text body. The next month, after I received their offer of the month, I went in and politely asked the girl on reception to remove my details from their marketing literature. The month after that, I emailed their info email account and said that it was going to be the last time I asked nicely for them to take me off their lists.
On Saturday, I lost my cool when I got their latest offer of the month. On Sunday, I amused myself by sending pictures of flags to the text given in the body of the text.
I started with Armenia, Afghanistan and Antarctica. Other people joined in. The next suggestion was Mauritius.
Eventually, it was suggested I could block the number, which I did. But actually, I deeply resent.
I did not give the business my permission to use my number for marketing purposes. I asked nicely and politely to be removed from their marketing lists. Tell me, as a woman who wants to fee indulged by an experience in a beauty parlour, how is ignoring her wishes, good business practice?
I'm sure as you read this you're thinking "bloody hell woman, just block the number and leave it", but how about this as thinking fodder:
Businesses are in business to provide product/service to their customers. I am a consumer, a customer. I would like to give my custom to people/businesses who are nice to me, who are fun to deal with and who provide a good product or service.
Virgin Media didn't treat me like a customer. They treated me like a number. An inconvenience. They didn't respect my long-term intention to remain a customer. My business wasn't that important to them. They have other customers.
The Lemon Tree, didn't listen to me. Another fundamental lack of respect. How could I put myself in their hands for a massage or a facial or waxing? Treatments which potentially put me in a vulnerable position in the first place. Am I exaggerating? How would you like to undress in front of someone, have their hands on your naked body, without trust and respect? A bikini wax? I understand their marketing person is not the beauty therapist. But here's the thing, they still represent their business.
National Flag of Mauritius
I know some reading this will say "get over it, it's the way that it is." But the fact of the matter is, it's not just business blatant disregard for their customers, this lack of respect exists throughout society and on a fundamental level in our government institutions as well.
But I'm just a number, I don't count. My opinion doesn't amount to any change at all. I should lump it. Suck it up, Man Up and go spend some more money like a good little consumer.
Here's the thing, I have many numbers and they aren't me. I am committed to making a difference. I vote with my feet and my mouth. I talk to other people who vote with their feet and their mouths. The democratic process will only evolve, if we the voters, engage with it. By the way, if you haven't registered to vote, here's the link.
If you don't vote, someone else will.