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It was Bozo Customers who came under attack from me last month. In the interest of journalistic balance, this month, Bozo Account Managers. I'll put my hand up. Occasionally I cock up. You may get USB instead of parallel port or two metres instead of three. I don't do it often and when I do I sort it out. Fairs fair. Sometimes it's even to my customers' benefit, like the time I quoted my cost price by accident and made £2 on the carriage of what should have been a £200 margin deal. Bah! Still, I shrug my shoulders and remind myself that some you win, some you lose.
However, that's little league compared to an old colleague we shall refer to as Mr. B*. Some years ago when he was young and reckless, through the medium of miss-typing, he pulled-off a remarkable deal. They had to book a 7½ ton truck to deliver the 73 monitors he'd sold. Dispatch had got as far as loading the lorry when a sharp-eyed someone said, "These monitors, should they really be £3 each?" To which the answer is 'no'. Three monitors at £73 a-piece were later sent out, while Mr. B was taken around the back of the building and playfully birched.
I ashamed to say I've had five minute pally conversations with someone I couldn't remember which ended with: "…and can I have that stuff for tomorrow?" "Ah, yes, sure…. One little question?…" It's embarrassing but it has to be done. The only other option is to take an educated guess at which customer you're talking to and hope for the best. I don't favour this route because I've seen too many past colleagues fluck up massively and send orders to the wrong account, thus compounding their mistake and ultimate discomfiture. That way not only does one customer have to wait for their goodies, another innocent bystander is drawn into the stew with a box of unwanted stuff that will have to be collected and redirected at our expense. Verdict: Not good.
The reasons for mistakes are as varied as the bozo account managers who make them. Pressure has to be my main one. I only get fluffy when urgency is the word and I'm running around like a headless chicken. Other peoples may include:
This months plea. Forgive we sales people our mistakes, for we are only human. However, if it happens a lot it might be because we're drunk, lazy, dumb or scamming. Telling the difference isn't always easy but it is important to try.
*Although his real name is Chris Bottomley.
504 words Dale, I hope it's ok.
P.S. Chris ok'd me to use his name in connection with his true story.
February 2000 (original, unused version)
I love clubbing. I think it's the way the seal cubs look up as you advance towards them, as if to say, "Great! Can I pitch?" However, on this occasion, the 19th of January, I was going to HOME, the super-club in Leicester Square. On the train down to London with Andy, my boss, I practised my best clubbing banter. "Innit, sorted, respect due", I intoned. "No need", I tried in my best Mark & Lard voice. I was indeed 'Mad for it'. We'd been privileged enough to be invited to the Bleeding Edge Publishing (owners of CTW and your very own Indie Magazine) Millennium Party by top-editing-dude Dale Bradford. It was to be my first full-on trade bash and my first proper club experience too. I'd been to clubs before, you understand. It's just 'The White Stiletto', my local meat market, with its one asthmatic smoke machine and single glitter-ball, is to clubs what the Reliant Kitten is to Formula 1.
The place was filling up nicely by 7.20, when we arrived. The base thumped, the lights flashed and I'm happy to report the dress code ('sexy', the invitations had requested) was being observed. I can't say I was bumping into familiar faces all night long, with the exception of Lee Schofield from CTW/Indie, as BEP do a lot of music and video trade mags too. So, never shy, I decided to make some new friends, like the very lovely Shelley and the equally delightful Poula pictured below. They collared me and accused me of photographic voyeurism as I snapped bad behaviour with a disposable camera. I explained I was taking shots for the Indie Magazine, so they said shouldn't I have a camera with a great big lens, and I said I found a small one was just as good… and so on. You get the picture.
As the night wore on the dancing got madder, the drinking less selective, and the snogging more public. I won't mention the gropeidge. That's other people's bopping, boozing and tongue wrestling, not mine. I have the natural grace and rhythm of a Rhino in a spin dryer on the dance-floor so I declined to groove. I'm t-total so didn't make much of a dent at the free bar either, but had enough coke to keep me going all night. Coca-Cola! Coca-Cola! Let's scotch those rumours right now! And as for mouth-pressing, Judith, my other half, had given me clear instructions and a picture of a severed ear as a warning-cum-reminder.
I'd like to say I'm making the next bit up, but it is, sadly, all too true. Except the bit about the stick. By one o'clock I was Larry Lightweight so we left, ears still ringing. The tube had stopped running so we walked up Tottenham Court Road to Euston. Which was also closed. We'd missed the last train back to my car, parked at Berkhamsted station. So, at 2 a.m. and five below zero, we're caught in London with no trains for four hours and nothing to do except watch a loudly arguing couple publicly air their sex lives. Which was nice. A Taxi seemed our only option and we found a helpful soul in a B reg. Mercedes. In broken English he explained he had no idea a world beyond the North Circular existed, but we negotiated a price of £40 anyway. Within moments our possibly Armenian minicab driver, who merely muttered as a Gatso camera flashed him, was speeding us at 70mph through central London. I checked my seatbelt one more time, just to be sure. With Andy directing him we found the M1 and headed out of town, the car steadily developing a worrying ticking noise. Before we reached the relative safety of Watford, something functionally vital to the engine went horribly Pete Tong and we ground to a halt on the hard shoulder. It was about now I started looking around for hidden cameras. We were left standing behind the crash barriers, freezing our buns off, as our remarkably calm driver tried to repair a seized straight-six by checked the oil and saying 'gearbox' over and over again. Then he reverted to a technique that worked with his previous form of transport, back home in Armenia. He started hitting the car with a stout stick and shouting at it. When that didn't work he 'phoned his brother on his mobile and using the international language of sign we convinced him that this was the northbound carriageway of the M1. Frankly it could have been the Newbury by-pass for all he knew. He promised help would soon be with us, to take us the rest of the way. Our doubts developed as we waited, so after giving him half the money for half a job, we struck out on foot up the M1 to warm up. Keeping well up the embankment and behind the barriers we were in no real danger but as the hours passed I began to wander which god I had upset. About three miles, two frozen feet and a cut across country later we came to a petrol station on the outskirts of Watford and called Emma, Andy's girlfriend, to rescue us. The Orange Message Service wasn't able to help but an understanding lorry driver turned up, and after listening to our sad story, took us out of his way to Berko. As a crowning turd to our journey home, the railway station car-parks barriers were all down…
The moral of this story is that the Muller Rice commercials are right. We'd had a great time and had to pay the price, and in future NCP and not the public transport system shall be receiving my patronage.
954 words Dale, pictures to follow ASAP.
P.S. If it's too long, lose the bit about the stick!
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