In uncertain times, businesses are increasingly desperate for your money and different companies adopt different strategies, usually via technology, to part you from your hard-earned.
For all businesses, the internet has been a potential boon (apart from retailers who rely solely on bricks and mortar, or have a web presence so half-baked as to be useless).
No, the internet has been great for them to find out everything about us and then indulge in what I like to call; ‘The, give us your bank details and then you’re fucked’ business strategy.
This strategy is used by pretty much all web-based businesses, from footwear firms, to insurance and holiday companies. The best practitioners tend to be media and phone companies, who offer you a deal, paid for by an initiallly competitive monthly payment, that they can then adjust upwards at their own leisure.
Essentially, once you set up a standing order with a company, they give themselves the authority to remove as much of your money, whenever they like. All utility firms are also extremely adept at relieving you of whatever they like without informing you, via this modern-day thievery.
This business strategy is usually underpinned by two other tactics; asking for your feedback (to supply them with more personal information) and being extremely elusive when it comes to trying to communicate your dissatisfaction with their robbery.
Some communications’ firms leave occasional clues, but essentially do not want you to complain to them. If you would like to fire off an email to them, there will be no email address; at best there will be a discussion group, which, obviously, they have set up to be absolutely useless.
Getting a number with a helpful person on the other end of a phone has almost completely ceased to exist; like people serving in supermarkets; it is much more efficient to drag you down an impersonal maze of confusion, encountering only automatons, while preferably charging you heavily for the privilege.
The second and, closely allied, new business strategy is; ‘Provide a service of such incompetence, the customer cannot believe how grasping you are. In the hope you will give up’. And then ask you for your feedback of course.
The Cricket World Cup is currently on television and this has tricked me into being a victim of this business strategy.
Bottom line; I needed a new TV, so I turned to the internet. The TV turned up three days later and when I unpacked it, discovered the screen had a foot-shaped dent in it. I had bought from a company via the Amazon website. I contacted the company who informed me it was nothing to do with them and that I should contact Amazon. I then received an email from the company requesting my feedback on their performance.
Amazon told me to take the television to a shop three miles away and their courier service, Hermes, would send it back and I would get a refund. After a lot hassle involving a taxi and half an hour trying to print a barcoded label at the shop, it was dispatched.
Two days later there was a knock at the door and a gentleman from Hermes carrying my smashed TV. I told him there had been a mistake and asked him to send it to the barcoded label. Eventually he admitted he had not seen this and promised to get rid.
Two days later it arrived again, and after about an hour on the phone, Amazon agreed to send me a new replacement and that they would take my well-travelled and battered parcel back. Which they duly did; so a simple transaction had taken the best part of 10 days to be resolved.
This business model requires perseverance, patience and resolve on the customer’s behalf. The business concerned can act with impunity. Who can you complain to? Where’s the Ombudsman? Credit card companies want so much information (printed, not online) if you want a refund, that many people will just give up.
The third new business model is to ‘jump on a bandwagon’; go green, or go gay, just hijack some cause that has public goodwill.
For years, companies have been greenwashing, pretending to be environmentally friendly and ethical; petrochemical companies, like Ineos, who plunder the world’s diminishing resources, are now proud sponsors of what used to be the Sky cycling team.
See also, Stella McCartney and her new ‘sustainable’ collections.
Equally cynical, companies have increasingly jumped aboard the gay bandwagon.
To celebrate Pride Month, M&S launched an LGBT+ sandwich, which was received with mixed reactions. It is hard to imagine the meeting in which it was decided that it was a great idea to produce a lettuce, guacamole, bacon and tomato sandwich in rainbow plastic packaging to show a supermarket’s allegiance to the cause.
Banks, because they can afford to, love getting in on the act too.
Barclays has changed its logo from blue to rainbow to celebrate London Pride. Anything to get their grubby hands on the pink pound.
The final business model is a shocker and it has been enthusiastically embraced by the Guardian newspaper, a charity which is provided for, in perpetuity, by the Scott Trust. Their new strategy, otherwise known as begging, has proved surprisingly successful.
On their website (not in the newspaper, which costs £2.20 during the week) they stick this digital cardboard message into every article.
Unlike many news organisations, we chose an approach that means all our reporting is free and available for everyone. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable.
For some reason this new business model is the one that most annoys me, but our butttons are all pressed by different things.
Please let me know how you feel. Your feedback is very important to us.
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