Katy Guest: The customer is always right – but you'd never guess

Share
Related Topics

There is one election issue that is neglected by all the parties, but which I'm sure would win votes. It's a simple new law that could make a huge difference to so many lives. It would regulate the behaviour of businesses and can best be illustrated using the examples below.

When a voter (aka a customer) walks into Upper Crust of a morning and politely asks for a small latte, the law would state that a small latte and only a small latte is exactly what should be provided. The customer is a grown-up and knows what she wants (the law would explain). She does not secretly want a medium latte but is too shy to ask, even if it is "only 40p more". She would not like to choose from the range of tasty sandwiches – and look, that's her train coming in 57 seconds so it's the coffee or nothing, and quick. No no no, Mrs Doyle, she will not be tempted into plumping for a muffin, no matter how many times she has one helpfully and slooooowly described to her. Can she just have the coffee, please? No? Then that's an automatic fine. Three strikes and the management will be immersed in blueberries until they are sick.

The same citizens' charter could apply to banking, which screws up our daily lives as much by the little things it does as by the big things, like causing a global meltdown, for example. If a customer wants a loan or a credit card or a lovely little chat with an adviser (Lloyds TSB would be told), she will know where to come. If she didn't want a loan when they sent her that junk mail about it two days ago, chances are that she still won't want it if they send exactly the same junk mail today. So that will be banned. Under the new system, it will also be illegal for our banks to phone us needily on our mobiles when we're busy at work or out with friends or in bed, because they want to talk.

Picture this brave new world: we will have the right to phone them. When we're ready. The law would force them to give us their direct line, so that we can contact them, at a time of our choosing, and not have to push a single button or ever sob into the phone, "Adviser. ADVISER! Pleeeeeease!" How hard can it be to oblige a bank to provide banking services, rather than a stalker?

Once everybody starts to feel the benefit of these laws, they can be rolled out across the retail sector. A rule will ban staff in Jigsaw from maundering beside the entrance, asking everyone if they're "OK there", and then following them around demanding to "help". It ain't rocket science, ladies; it's just shopping – we can manage it all by ourselves. The new law – it's so simple! - will put all those spare staff on the till so that we can actually find someone to take our money when we do want them.

Similarly, a Karen Millen clause will enshrine it in our constitution that we do not need assistance to carry our selections from the shop floor to the fitting room. All we want is to buy stuff. All we expect them to do is to sell it to us.

Will anyone take this on and offer it as a policy? Or do I have to do it myself? Your vote is up to you, of course, but if you want me, I'll be the Leaving People Be Party. And I won't be putting any leaflets through your door.

In the bunker: Elin neither stands by her man nor ditches her Tiger

Amid all of the gossip about Elin (wife of Tiger) Woods – the did-she-or-didn't-she rumours, the should-she-or-shouldn't-she debate, the have-the-environmentalists- seen-how-many-times-she-puts-gas-in-that-huge-SUV debacle – it's reassuring to hear the voice of the Swedish lobby, who stand by their woman with admirable good sense.

"Our Swedish hearts are brimming with pride," wrote Britta Svensson in the Swedish tabloid Expressen, back in December, when it was still received wisdom that Elin had put a golf club through Tiger's windscreen. But commentators on last week's Daily Beast website (which refers to the Tigress as "the Swedish cipher") have been much more rational.

An article had bemoaned Mrs Woods's "revolutionary [approach] for a jilted high-profile spouse: neither stand by your man nor ditch him". But, to Swedish readers, it seemed obvious. "Her behaviour is anything BUT abnormal for a person born and raised in Sweden," wrote one.

Another pointed out: "Maybe she is just acting the way any sane person would that may not make the decision to either fix or end a marriage in the blink of an eye just so the stupid media can have an ending to their soap opera."

Since everyone in the world is officially in the market for giving Mrs Woods their advice, then, may I add my two kronor? The people (mostly men) who say that she is "playing a blinder" and that she should stay married to him, for now, for money – they're wrong.

Elin Woods must feel pretty humiliated already. Imagine how she'd feel if she allowed herself to become some sort of concubine.

And the Swedes would never forgive her.

Another heated debate

Interesting that Channel 4 is choosing to show a Members of Parliament Come Dine With Me special on election night.

True aficionados caught on to the show's voyeuristic Schadenfreude and the genius of Dave Lamb's waspish voice-overs before it came over all famous with celebrity specials such as the one with the Lesley Joseph, Abi Titmuss and leg of lamb incident. But those of us who have stuck with it since the More 4 days are aware of the roles each week's dinner party hosts tend to fill.

Generally, there's a posh one nobody likes, an organic vegan who means well but who's got no chance, an underdog who may surprise, and one whose wife secretly does all the hard work and nobody votes for as a result. Not much like the political wannabe hosts on the other channels at all, then.

Listening to patients is a virtue

I am reluctant to write about GPs. The last time I did, dozens of them sent me the most abusive, personal and upsetting post bag I have ever received, including one call for my imminent and painful death. But the shocking story of David Gray, who died because of his locum doctor's poor standard of English, raises important points.

MPs, to their credit, are acting swiftly to address doctors' language skills – but that is not enough. The last GP I visited spent seven minutes tutting at me for wasting her time, interrupting me and refusing to let me speak. Only when I finally shoved my last prescription under her nose did she see that I had been given the wrong medication all along, and that the drug she had just prescribed would have been a dangerous combination.

She did speak English; but she didn't listen. Or didn't have time to. What are MPs doing about that?

Janet Street-Porter is away

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A press image from the company  

If men are so obsessed by their genitals, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities of sex?

Chloë Hamilton
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory