“Everyone is on the radar and subsumed by the detritus of life. Under the radar, on the ground, we find the same old rubbish: cigarette butts, biodegradable bags of biodegradable dog shit, newspapers curling in the breeze like unravelling bandages, licked out yoghurt pots, lottery cards hopelessly scratched, torn pants, and condoms. But at least it’s quiet.”
Most of us in the UK use the services of big business to run our homes. By and large, life proceeds reasonably smoothly. However, even when everything is fine, they still insist they take priority over anything else. It’s their credo and their law.
They call at any time of the day or night. Bury you under a mountain of letters and emails. Their smiley representatives, accost you in the street. Their advertising agencies vandalise our towns and villages with billboards the size of an average house.
I wonder if Chief Executives ever ponder the impact on their businesses if they were to stop spending millions of their customers’ money on advertising. Perhaps we should tell them that there’s so much advertising pollution it’s become nothing but white noise. In my career, I have learned two things above all others: firstly, for the most part Big Business spending on advertising does very little other than feed the CEO’s vanity and secondly, that most advertising is as effective as preaching to a shoal of goldfish.
They shout, louder and louder. Typefaces in their letters become increasingly aggressive, bigger and redder, like Soviet Revolutionary propaganda. Reminders become commands: contract expiring! renew house insurance! get car tax! upgrade now! don’t miss the deadline! verify now! send meter reading now! List upon list of obligations, some demanding fines for non-compliance, some threatening excommunication. Oh, and the biggest con of all is that we must pay by Direct Debit.
When you don’t jump to attention the instant they snap their fingers, they become neurotic and spiteful.
We want what they supply and nothing more. We don’t want their newsletters, add-ons, apps or personal managers. We don’t even want to be asked how we spend our leisure time, how many children of school age we have or anything else of a personal nature. We certainly don’t want to be tricked into accepting or not accepting marketing material from “trusted” third parties by ticking or unticking a box so as to not receive or to receive whatever it is we actually don’t want.
We want what they supply, nothing more.
Stop for a minute. Who exactly are these organisations? Let’s pick one at random, energy companies for example. Do they dig the coal and pump the gas or engineer wind-turbines? Do they build the power stations, design and build substations to harvest alternative energy? Do they build and maintain the networks of wires and pipes and other paraphernalia which pumps the energy into our homes?
No. No, they don’t.
Energy companies in the UK, like many counterparts in other industries, outsource the creative engineering and heavy duty construction – you know, assets – to third parties. Energy Companies don’t supply energy they supply prices, bills and banter. The actual mechanics of making what they sell is left to somebody else.
Understanding that they are simply marketing, sales and administration centres, is the first step towards knowing how to deal with them.
Rebel Rules . . .
Be silent: Corporations have no mechanism for dealing with individuals who will not engage. Silence confounds them and they soon lose interest. Block their telephone numbers and join the Mailing Preference Service.
Direct Debits: Why are people so keen to give total strangers free access to their bank account? Cancel all Direct Debits, which is easily done on-line, and set up Standing Orders in their place to the same or a reasonable monthly amount. You can easily vary the amount to a smaller figure if times are hard or to a bigger amount when feeling flush.
Don’t tell them what you intend to do! I made that mistake and it took me almost an hour to get the Sales Agent off the phone. By the way, it is perfectly legal, whatever they might tell you. You are not refusing to pay, only to pay them in a manner which suits you and, crucially, they cannot drain your account “by accident.” Neither are they allowed, by law, to penalise you by not offering the same discounts as everyone else.
>Location when written: Raffles Place, Singapore
>Music I was listening to: Visage ~ We fade to grey