David Randall: Fundamental shoppists are on the march

Sellers beware: buyers are out for revenge

Share
Related Topics

Of all last week's doings, it was, to we shopaholics, those of Mr Robert Caton which rather caught the eye. He is the Hampshire man who drove his Rolls-Royce into the window of an Andover Tesco, reportedly in retaliation for the non-delivery of a mattress. According to his wife, a Tesco Direct van had brought the bed, but not its upholstery. And so, after Mr Caton visited his local store and failed to get satisfaction, he took matters, the law, and steering wheel into his own hands.

Who – on being delivered faulty, wrong, or missing goods – has not toyed with the idea of driving down to the store, crashing a vehicle through its window, demolishing at least two checkouts, and scattering both staff and displays of confectionery? But Mr Caton did not merely toy; he acted. There were witnesses, minor injuries, large shards of evidence, and his dabs were all over the Roller untidily parked by the end of aisle 11. Hampshire Constabulary put two and two together, and he has now been charged with criminal damage, recklessly endangering life, dangerous driving, and failing to provide a specimen. He has been remanded in custody by Basingstoke Magistrates' Court.

His story raises a disturbing prospect: what if Mr Caton is the first of a new breed of Fundamentalist Consumer? Are we heading for a world where no shopkeeper is safe from their fanatical insurgency? Where milkmen are held hostage and forced to make videos renouncing the dairy just because they delivered skimmed when semi was specifically ordered? Where women will go on hunger strike after Superdrug declines to redeem a "10p off voucher" on the new 3-for-2 eyeliner offer? Where shoe shops are firebombed for selling customers the wrong kind of suede cream, and managers of Greggs lynched if a Belgian bun lacks the cherry on top?

It is, if your living is earned behind the till, a palpable anxiety that somewhere out there, elements of what you thought of as a mere rabble of "punters" are now planning revenge for all those years of being fobbed off with sales goods specially bought in, misleading advertisements, and guarantees that prove anything but quibble-free. Have they formed an amorphous cell-like group that will soon be claiming responsibility for attacks on the retail community?

It is, in reality, only a remote possibility. In all likelihood, we consumers will continue to be as gullible as before. We will go on forming large queues outside M&S, lured there by the prospect of buying a pair of faux leopardskin knickers for 1p, only to discover, two hours later, that all that is left at that price are cans of Lilt.

But, as point-of-sale marketing folk know, the important thing is not what is true, but what is believed to be true. And so, there are benefits for us till-fodder if retailers think that a People's Front for the Liberation of Goods At Popular Prices is operating; and that, until all stores subscribe to the PFLGPP's creed that The Customer Is Always Right, they will continue their insurgency. After all, some of their members are very clumsy, and those plate-glass windows look very delicate. Accidents can happen. Know what they mean?

Now, about this suit you sold me....

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Glou...

Humanities and Economics Teacher - January 2015 - Malaysia

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

SEN Teaching Assistant needed for long term assignment

£45 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Preston: We are looking for an experienc...

Day In a Page

Read Next
<p><b>Mock the Week</b></p>
The newest of our quiz shows was created by Created by Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson, who also made 'Whose Line is it Anyway?'. This is more of a 'quiz' format, and for me, the best part about it is that it introduced me to Frankie Boyle.  

Liberal shows like Mock The Week just can’t understand why Ukip has so many supporters

Nigel Farage
The appearance of Miguel Arias Canete at a Brussels hearing last Wednesday caused 100,000 people to sign a petition to prevent his appointment  

TTIP is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the EU's suspect relationships with corporations

Lee Williams
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain