Business Diary: Child's play to see through this stunt

Retailers, eh. You really get the chance to see them at their very worst during the January sales, and Toys R Us came up with a doozy with its offer on a Thomas the Tank Engine "Cranky The Crane" set at its Newbury Park branch.

Emblazoned with a big, splashy, special super-duper offer price tag, the toy was retailing for £19.97, a whole 2p cheaper than the pre-sale price tag of £19.99 quoted on the same splashy, special super-duper offer price tag. Chaps, even a five-year-old could see through that one.

M&S marketing is just maddening

But it's not just Toys R Us. Step forward M&S with its one-day, internet-only extra 30 per cent off sale prices. Just click through and grab a bargain. Except by no means all the sale items actually appeared to qualify for the discount. Surely a call through to the premium rate helpline to clarify how the special, super-duper offer worked would help? Well, yes. Diary was lucky enough to get hold of an unusually honest member of staff who explained that it was only selected products, which you have to dig out. "It's just marketing," he said. No, it's just really, really annoying.

OpenBet knows its customers well

It's not unusual for online gaming companies to say their latest software offering provides the most realistic gaming experience you can get this side of Las Vegas. So it's no surprise to see OpenBet blowing the trumpet of its Real Deal offering launched with Betfair. It's got the computer equivalent of bright lights, action, and, erm, glamour with the CGI hostess wearing a very, very low-cut top. The firm's whizz-kids have clearly spent a lot of time and effort on her. At least you can't accuse them of not knowing what their customers want.

Do singles rule the Facebook roost?

Hankies out: end-of-year stats from Facebook show that 43.9 million people changed their status to "single" on the social networking site this year. Still, that's countered by 36.8 million changing to married and 28.5 million to "in a relationship" although we worry about the 3 million who put "it's complicated" up. Diary imagines that dating websites would be willing to pay a pretty penny for the details about where it all went wrong in 2010. Sniff.

businessdiary@independent.co.uk

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