Tuesday 13 January 1998
Given all this you can see why my first reaction to a fax last July from the Direct Line people headlined "The Price of Apathy" was to file it under "A". Then the other day, as I was trying to reorganise my finances in order to be rich by the year 2000, I decided a quick look couldn't hurt. I was wrong. The survey is full of irritations such as the fact that I could save pounds 175 a year by keeping track of small change and pounds 300 by taking food to work.
Even the idea made me feel ill, apathetic even. Then the other day I was standing at the supermarket check-out when the cashier said, "That will be pounds 100." Now the only reaction to such a statement has to be to laugh. Trolley experts say most people haven't a clue how much they spend but I know that I usually spend about pounds 70 and never more than pounds 90. (I always thought this was rather good but now discover the average trolley- load at Safeway is pounds 40.)
Of course I did not laugh at the cashier. Instead I smiled and asked if they took Switch. It was only later, when I remembered the Apathy fax, that I realised further action was required. Evidently two out of three people will stop at nothing to pick up a 50p piece on the ground but almost half of us don't bother to check receipts. Yet one in six supermarket receipts are said to be inaccurate. So I checked and found that I had been charged pounds 10 instead of pounds 1 for something. It was all so exciting that I almost called the Apathy people but decided that on balance it could wait because, let's face it, so many things can.
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