It’s nice to be loved.
A few weeks ago I got an email saying that somebody missed me very much. They were quite emotional – they pined for me to come and see them again, said it had been too long, yearned to catch up. I probably would have been touched, were that somebody not Southern Railway.
Since then I’ve had two further emails, one a gentle reminder of how much they missed me and how they wanted to give me a gift, and the next a slightly threatening reminder that if I didn’t come back to them in a few days they were going to take the gift away.
Southern Railway is basically a jilted lover.
To clarify, my relationship with Southern was nothing more than a fling, to me at least. From memory I pre-booked a Southern train to Clapham, I got on it and then I got off. I was in and out in 5 minutes, tops…
Feel free to finish off that sentence however you like, my two suggestions are ‘as ever’ or ‘which was actually quite a good showing by my standards’. I’ll be the bigger person and refrain from childish innuendos.
Anyway, as I was saying it was pretty brief, but entirely satisfactory – and we both went our separate ways, or so I thought. Now, they’re literally following me to work and metaphorically standing outside, playing the guitar, naked from the waist down, weeping and whispering my name.
I’ve got nothing against Southern Railway, apart from the fact that they’re a train company trying to be my friend and that makes no sense. They’re just a particularly strong example of the ever-increasing trend for every company you ever deal with to want to be your best mate or to stalk you for several years.
Companies have finally cottoned on to the idea that not being total arseholes might make people like them and want to spend money with them – the idea is that if you’re good to your customers they’ll choose you more often. If you build a good ‘relationship’ with the customer, it’ll pay dividends long term. A nice idea, which works when executed well and which many firms are seemingly intent on dry humping into utter oblivion.
A quick glance at my unread emails tells me that Sports Direct, Spurs, Tesco and the RFU all want me back, among many others.
Spurs I find especially odd given that I’m an Everton fan. I think I bought someone a Spurs mug in 2005 – so it’s entirely logical that they’d still be contacting me 9 years later – I must be a pretty premium customer. If it were a person I’d have got a restraining order about 8 years ago.
But seeing as it’s not, it’s just a company trying to make me spend more money by being insincerely chummy, it’s apparently totally fine. Which is totally not fine.
In short, I don’t want a relationship with a train company. I want to get on a train and get off it at roughly the right place and time and for there to be little to no sick on the seats. I certainly don’t want a fucking postcard from the 08.54 to Leatherhead.
The same is true of 99% of other companies we deal with. Just provide the service I require, do it well, I’ll be happy. I don’t need anything more than that. What’ll make me choose you in the future is good experiences when I’m buying stuff, not 15% off single fares and gooey emails about how brilliant I am and how you miss me. All that’s going to do is make me not go to Clapham.
Which is actually fine, Clapham’s a dive.
But that’s not the point, the point is stop it, it’s weird.