Anarchy in the UK – Sainsbury’s style

When I was growing up there used to be this really annoying kid, (that I suspect was slightly mad), who used to have an opinion on absolutely everything, and he used to proceed to tell everyone how they should act in every situation. And every now and again I’d see this asshole limping or walking around with a black eye, because he would have told someone large and aggressive how they should do something and rather than receiving the usual response of “f&^k off” has received a wallop.

And there used to be this incredibly annoying old lady who was always on TV and in the papers telling everyone that they were wrong and that she was right. She even ended up having Pink Floyd write a song about her on the album pigs, with the memorable line “Whitehouse you fucked up old slag” in it, again a highly appropriate response.
And of course the US has their annoying bigoted assholes in the form of the religious right, epitomized by the incredible anti-social, racist sexist and generally nasty behavior of the Westborough Baptist Church.

Now all of these bigoted assholes have something in common, they truly believe that they know better than everyone else, and are proved to be soundly wrong by simple logic and ethical norms. But this doesn’t stop them being sociopathic pricks with a Napoleon complex.

But all of these loonies pale into insignificance when compared to the really incredible sociopathic pricks who now run Sainsbury’s, the supermarket chain in the UK.

Sainsbury’ are a pretty run-of-the-mill, supermarket in most respects. They sell the normal range of crap from poor quality frozen meat products with meat that probably shouldn’t be served to your cat, to vast quantities of sugary drinks and a massive volume of chocolate based products with enough sugar to kill the kidneys of everyone in the country, along with aisle after aisle of beer, wine, spirits, toxic cleaning products and virtually every other form of average supermarket fare.

And they also include a pharmacy in each store, and this is where the descendants of Mary Whitehouse clearly have found their power base.

All the staff in Sainsbury’s are dressed in high visibility jackets, because obviously this increases safety, while at the same time removing any semblance of human dignity, and that should have been a sign…

Some drugs (as in most pharmacies) are stocked behind the counter. And these either need a prescription or are limited to be sold by quantity and with advice on how they should be taken. That seems normal and somewhat expected.

But here’s is where things get very weird at Sainsbury’s.

Sainsbury’s now have a rule that says you can only by a single pack of aspirin. Why you ask? Asprin isn’t a controlled substance. Well Sainsbury’s have decided that for health and safety reasons they will not sell you more than one packet of aspirin at a time.

Now you can buy a packet of 128 tabs if you like, but you are not allowed to by 2 packets of 16.

Why? Well the only reason I can think of is that Sainsbury’s have hired a bunch of brainless sociopathic morons who spend their time telling others how to live their lives.

You can buy a dozen bottles of vodka, or a pallet load of beer, or enough chocolate and coke to lead to your presence on a reality TV show about the morbidly obese. You can literally buy a rope (to hang yourself with) at Sainsbury’s, and you can buy 128 Aspirins, 64 Paracetamol and 64 Iburprofen tablets at the same time.

Just so long as you don’t buy more than one packet of each type. Buying a massive volume in a single packet is okay, but buying a smaller volume across multiple packets is not okay.

I’m sure the Westborough Baptist Church, and every other opinionated idiot in the world, worships at the head office of Sainsbury’s sales training department.

When I was hit by this illogical, petty bureaucratic nonsense as I was being checked out by a pleasant enough (but clearly emotionally beaten by life) lady at the conveyor belt, I asked to speak to a manager. The manager was duly called and some sole-less but in all other respects normal looking bloke in an orange high visibility jacket told be “that it was more than his job was worth to sell me 2 x 16 Aspirins”.

And what could I say, yes he was right it was more than his job was worth. Working for Sainsbury’s is that worthless!

I shook his hand out of pity for his wasted, pointless existence, took my single packet of Aspirin and walked out into the bright evening, in the certain knowledge that if I never shop at a Sainsbury’s store ever again in my life, and never have to think about the petty minded, idiots who spend their time thinking up ways other people should behave I will be happier and freer.

A little update to this story – had a call from Sainsbury’s today, they are changing their policy, you can now get two packets of aspirin at a time. They really don’t get it…..


Did anyone EVER recieve a call from a telemarketer at 7pm at home and actually buy anything?

There are many things I do to protest terrible behavior.

If I get bad service in a restaurant or shop, I am happy to spend the time to pass on my annoyance to the store manager.

I don’t shop at Walmart, having seen their terrible vendor management practices first hand, and heard the horror stories about pitiful wages I choose to boycott them.

When my usual limo service gives me crap service, I move to another of the plethora of available almost identical limo services.

When a airline acts crappily towards me (yes I mean you British Airways) I do whatever I can to avoid them in the future.

I don’t feel my choices are particularly unusual, most people have a choice of who they trade with.

So why do telemarketers act like such assholes, and keep calling and pissing me off?

There is absolutely no way I would EVER buy a product or service from anyone who is so annoying as to call me at home between the hours of 6pm and 9pm.. Of fax me an advert.. or leave automated messages on my answerphones…. In fact even if I was looking for exactly the service or product they were offering, I wouldn’t buy from them as I know they would green-light my contact details as someone who doesn’t hate their guts and is a target for every other seller.

Let me be very very clear. “To all telemarketers who contact me at home or on my private cellphone, I will never buy from you, and I wish you nothing but misery, when you call me I HATE YOU”

Yes I’m on the do not call register, and yet you still call.


Start It Up In NY?

New York wants new businesses to start up here!   Newly hired employees, innovative new services and products, new revenue and profits and tax income to the state and more!  I’ve heard NY politicians talk about it, “We’re making New York an attractive place to start and grow your company!” and the like.

Steve and Woz in Jobs' garage creating Apple.
Steve and Woz in Jobs’ garage creating Apple.

We’ve heard the stories about successful companies started in a garage or studio apartment with an idea and just a few hundred dollars in some cases. The next thing you know they’ve got a campus, thousands of employees and plans to hire thousands more.  Those stories are never about New York companies though, are they?  Coincidence?  Bad luck?  New Yorkers aren’t as smart as people in Washington state or Virginia or elsewhere?

Actually, just the opposite.  New York entrepreneurs are smart enough to know that New York state and especially the 5 boroughs of New York City have a unique “Publication” requirement for all new LLCs that will likely cost them thousands of dollars and 6+ weeks of hassles.  Open your business elsewhere, no such requirement and no such fee.  Hmmm…, NY and pay the fee or anywhere else and not pay the fee.  Tough choice for them, eh?  How does NY compare to neighboring states for formation of new LLCs per capita?  Terrible, of course.

The “Publication” requirement requires new NY businesses to publish an official notice of their existence in multiple printed newspapers for 6 consecutive weeks.  Any newspapers?  Of course not.  They select the newspapers and you have to call the county clerk to get the names of the papers who will get the $.  They say the requirement is so the general public is “notified” yet the New York Law Journal with its high rates happens to seemingly always be one of the required newspapers.  Big circulation of the general public for that one, eh?  Oh, and the information is already available online, for free, to anyone in the general public who wants it on the Secretary of State’s website.

How unique is the fee?  48 states don’t have it, that how unique it is.   If you’ve ever been curious about what a “special interest” group is and how their influence can drive lawmakers to do something for just them at the expense of virtually everyone else, here’s your case study at the state level.

$2000.00 may or may not seem like a lot of money to you but to some budding entrepreneurs it is money they could clearly use better elsewhere (elsewhere meaning anywhere other than New York).

NY and its lawmakers don't seem to love new business
NY and its lawmakers don’t seem to love new business




What Sales expect from Marketing

Every sales person I’ve ever met will say the following “Give me a customer who is ready to buy a product and I’ll sell it to them. All I need from marketing is for them to give me the leads, I’ll do the rest”.

It sounds so simple, just give them the leads and they will do the rest.
Don’t do anything else, just give them the leads!

Wow it’s so simple, why didn’t I think of that!

A colleague of mine tells the story of when he said to salesman “So what you need is a customer who is ready to buy, and a product that is better and cheaper than the competition for you to sell to them, correct?” to which the salesman said, “exactly, just give me that and I’ll do the rest”

It sounds so simple, again why didn’t I think of that?

The challenge (of course) is that most prospective customers are not ready to buy something, just because the salesman needs to sell something. And being in the right place at the right time takes a lot more than good luck.

Also for more complex solutions, there is a lot of education that needs to take place to get a prospect in the place where they can consider fixing a problem the way your product does it.

It can take months or years of communication to get a business to consider making a large investment, and that is the job of marketing.

The marketing cycle needs to nurture a relationship, promote the brand values of a company, and provide thought leadership. Through these things marketing can speak to hundreds, thousands or millions of prospective future customers, and through careful measurement understand and influence which ones are ready to talk to sales.

At the very end of the marketing cycle, marketing can pass the baton to sales for them take an interested prospect through the complex and delicate process of actually buying the product.

When a sales team has worked with a great marketing team their requirements subtly change for all future interactions. They then ask for a detailed forecast of how many prospective customers are at each stage of the buyer’s journey, and want to know what the marketing team is doing to accelerate the rate at which prospects are progressing. They want to know what the ratio of progression versus leakage is and how many prospects are being recycled.

What happens is that the conversation moves from “just give us leads and we’ll do the rest” to a team relationship, where sales and marketing have shared objectives, goals, tactics, and success is much more likely.



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