Tell us what you think…

Embed from Getty Images

“Don’t tell them anything!”

Retailers, online stores, services, utilities, even government agencies… they’re like desperate and needy friends – the ones you avoid.

Businesses used to pay to get this information. Market researchers were employed to sap the time of friendly householders keeping them occupied for up to an hour.

Armed with clipboards holding reams of paper filled with questions, tick boxes, dotted lines (for more personalised comments) and interesting ways of categorising age, class, probably ethnic origin and family size, they would politely get through the forms. Middle-class homeowners would see this as an (perhaps) annual good turn.

Now we’re asked to do it for free. Daily. Well forget it. Not more Mr. Nice Guy.

Popcorn justifiably shoved down back of date’s neck. Crushed and thoroughly rubbed in. Phone number erased. And (oh! If only!) post poor feedback left on firstdate.com.

You wouldn’t continue a friendship or relationship if the other person conducted themselves that way:

First date (cinema). Queuing for popcorn:

 “Do I look nice?”

Entering the cinema:

“Are we going to hold hands?”

Walking along the aisle looking for good seats:

“Is it nicer coming to the cinema with than with your mate Ed?”

After the ads, just before the film:

“Are we in a relationship now? If not, is there any way I can improve my service?”

Popcorn justifiably shoved down back of date’s neck. Crushed and thoroughly rubbed in. Phone number erased. And (oh! If only!) post poor feedback left on firstdate.com.

Every time I buy, browse, sometimes even inquire, I’m asked for feedback.

Feedback is time-consuming and laborious. Isn’t it enough that I’ve bought something from your shop?

Surely now in the 21st century we know how to sell. If we’re not getting it right, we won’t sell. Is that naïve? Problem is, it’s now more involved and convoluted than just, ‘did the shopper find (and buy) what they came in for?

Stores (real and virtual) want you to leave with stuff you didn’t plan on buying. And psychology graduates are now finding that they’re sought after in the world of commerce: to observe how we shop, analyse it and think up ways to increase sales. Rather than help people in need. Am I alone in finding this sinister?

I’m proud to say I’ve never bought a new car. Many of my best shoes and boots are ‘pre-loved’ (yes, another euphemism to remove any shame some might feel buying second-hand). Books, jumpers, crockery, furniture… there’s little I won’t buy used (bed linen… )

Feedback is time-consuming and laborious. Isn’t it enough that I’ve bought something from your shop?

There’s a great line from a curt police officer in Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps (1935).  Asking a police officer at a train station where the train on the platform is going, he responds with something like, ‘go away and find out for yourself. What do you think I am a station porter?’ A man with his head screwed on.

I didn’t like the feeble and pointless Pride and Prejudice (Kiera Knightley version). How could it have been improved? Don’t make it.  Would that have been helpful?

There’s a great advantage to the way I shop (charity shops). So far, no one’s asked me for feedback. (Though I think it’s only a matter of time.)

Do we go to the theatre and expect to provide feedback? Do we watch a new DVD and think moodily of the credits when we’ll be asked to give our opinion on the acting, direction, set design, costumes, locations…? I think this would be the death of cinema.

More than this, we’re not specialists. Few of us are media graduates. We just don’t know what’s good.

I didn’t like the feeble and pointless Pride and Prejudice (Kiera Knightley version). How could it have been improved? Don’t make it.  Would that have been helpful? No. Those who collate and make stats out of feedback would have simply screwed my sheet up and binned it.

Readers might ask why I’ve done it all. Well… to try to be helpful. Nice. A good girl? I’ve been deceived in my intentions and however nicely they ask, I refuse to do it. I’ll keep my valued opinions to myself, my consumer feedback private and my ratings hidden.

The day a charity shop asks me for feedback is the day I start shopping at boot sales. Again.

Advertisements

Small minds… Mini mentality

Embed from Getty Images

Warning: this is not a portrayal of real Mini/Fiat drivers.

As a girl, I had a friend who was fond of writing on the blackboard: ‘The meek shall inherit the earth… if that’s OK with everyone else’

Irish Catholic, maybe she was trying to rid herself of some gnawing internal pressure.

But it looks like she was right. Because on the roads at least there is nothing so determined, forceful and power-soaked as a Mini/Fiat driver.

I have a medium-sized, very dull car. It’s even blue. Not a shade of blue I like. But maybe these car characteristics bring out a strong reaction in the ‘Big on the Inside’ Mini/Fiat driver.

Those sweet bulbous shapes in nail polish colours are the new aggressors.

The ads have found their audience. Those who’ve only just ditched the L-plates, can eat solids all on their own and can afford to bleach their hair and have pretty pictures painted on their cars. You’d know them anywhere. Pea puree green with a stripe, pastel pink with a cartoon flower or white with … well a double-stripe of course.

Half a dozen times in the past ten days I’ve been on a familiar A road. Speed limit on that stretch? 40mph. It’s built up. There are speed cameras. On the pavement you could see anything from a mobility scooter to a Mum pushing a buggy, holding a paper cup of coffee and talking to someone on the phone. (More stupid people.)

In my rear view mirror is a child in a Mini/Fiat. She’s squashed up against my bumper, has a friend in the passenger seat (they always come in pairs), tunes blaring, singing along, nail-extensioned hands unable to hold the wheel normally.

I put the brakes on suddenly. She pulls back and then further down the road (one lane only) sidles up on my right seeing how soon she can overtake me.

Are these cars marketed specifically to straw heads? I think so.

Or more specifically to girls who want to appear cutesy to other people looking at their cars.

There’s a glaring disparity between the image of these little cars and those who drive them. Inside these petite cars is usually (I’m afraid) a fully made up, heavy-framed blond. She’s thinking I am that slightly Italian-looking elegant woman driving around the empty streets of Rome. Just like in the ad! How cool am I!  I’m seeing a large baby incapable of following the simplest road rules.

Small but with an inflated sense of power and importance? I don’t know for sure but suspect some relationship between a feminine and agile car and the bulky, muscle-headed drivers.

They’re like bitter centres inside a nice shell; the hard, husky nut with a sweet coating; the toffee someone’s kept in their pocket too long still in its shiny foil: I’d hate to unwrap it.

You can’t blame the ads. It’s their job to sell cars.

I just want these bubble-heads to get off my tail. It’s one of the biggest road deceptions ever. Those innocent headlights, the toy-like appearance, the pretty flowers. And yet inside is a hairdresser/nail technician with a driver’s licence who’s prepared to kill.

Enough. I think it’s safe to say that until someone intelligent who has some driving skill/road sense changes my mind, I’ll continue to think of the drivers as at the bottom of the human hierarchy. Come on: prove me wrong.