I do most of my shopping online. I’m not especially a cliché of masculinity that detests the idea of actually going into shops. I like going into shops and looking at stuff I might want to own. I’m very much a consumer in spirit and there are lots of things that I think, if I owned them, would make my life considerably better.
It may be largely untrue that they would improve my existence, but I’m a sucker for dreaming the dream that the retailers want me to dream. However, that is generally all I do. I imagine what my life might be like with all the aspirational products that are available. I enjoy the speculative day dreams. But my cash stays in my wallet.
Because I am not, fundamentally, someone who especially needs anything. I haven’t really grown much since I became an adult. I have gained and lost and regained a bit of weight but clothes that fitted me fifteen years ago still fit me today, and while I like to refresh my wardrobe a little, every now and again, I really only buy things I need.
I have more books than I have time to read, more boxsets than I have time to watch and though I’d quite like some new gadgets, I don’t especially need any. So I don’t tend to purchase very much at all in reality.
But when I do decide that something is worth splashing the cash on, I tend to buy it online because it tends to be cheaper to do it that way.
So while it may be true that if I ever become incredibly rich, I may well spend my money irresponsibly, my current, reasonable but definitely average, wages keep me fairly grounded when it comes to purchasing stuff.
But recently, after being without my mobile phone for a while, I rediscovered the joys of wearing a watch.
I did already own a watch, but it was a fairly cheap one, purchased many years ago, and I found that the strap caused a minor irritation to my wrist. Also, while functional, it was not the most stylish of timepieces.
So I thought I might treat myself to a slight upgrade. I’m not talking a Rolex or anything, just a slightly nicer watch that might be more comfortable, elegant and accurate.
I did a bit of research and found one that I really liked on the internet. It was made by a reputable brand, looked quite stylish and had a very subtle Star Wars theme to it (essentially the ‘second’ hand is a lightsabre, but you can only see that if you know it’s there – it’s pretty understated but appeals to my inner geek)
I ordered the watch, and it arrived in a timely enough fashion. It’s the second time I had used that particular online retailer and both times have been satisfying experiences.
So what’s the problem?
Well I find that once I’ve used an online retailer, they like to email me with opportunities to buy other products.
I understand this form of marketing. It’s unlikely to work on me particularly well, because, as previously mentioned, I’m a cautious and pragmatic consumer these days.
But I don’t begrudge them their sales technique. It’s fine. They can bombard me with as much junk-mail as they like.
But I do find it mildly irritating that they have now started to send me emails suggesting other watches I might like to buy. Are they suggesting that there is something fundamentally wrong with the watch they have just sold me? A problem that will necessitate me buying a replacement immediately? Because if that is the case, I’m hardly likely to buy it from them am I?
As it is my watch is fine and my time telling needs are more than met by a single watch. So I won’t be buying any more from them, even though I genuinely love the one they sold me. They’d be more sensible trying to sell me other products really.
I’d be ok with that.
But while I’m on the subject, if there are any online retailers reading this post, they might like to make note of the following exceptions to my general ambivalence. Because junk mail really irritates me when:
- Online retailers send me a message on my birthday. I like getting birthday messages from friends and family. I’ll signpost my birthday on this blog when it happens and will delight in any congratulatory comments I get. But birthday wishes from faceless corporations who want to sell me stuff? Not as heart-warming as they might think.
- I also dislike it when online retailers remind me that I’ve got something in my basket, that I haven’t paid for yet. I shop online for convenience and value, but if I choose to browse and speculatively add something to my online basket, only to change my mind and leave the virtual shop, then that’s my prerogative. It isn’t possible to shoplift online so back off Mr Online Retailer. If I want the product I’ll buy it and if I don’t I won’t. If I put something in a basket in a real shop but then leave the product in the basket and the basket in the shop, I don’t expect a shop assistant to come chasing after me, rugby tackle me to the ground and drag me back into the shop so why is that acceptable online?
- It also bugs me when emails from online retailers are overly familiar. Don’t start an email with ‘Hey James…’ It’s Mr Proclaims to you Mr Online Retailer!
- I think the one that gets me the most, though, is when I’m sent a promotional email letting me know that a product I’ve already purchased is now reduced in price. What good is that to me? I’ve already bought it. Unless you’re taunting me Mr Online Retailer. In which case you’re playing a very dangerous game if you want to retain my custom.
Now I’ve gone and got myself all worked up.
I’m going to have to try and calm down.
Maybe I’ll try some retail therapy…