Contracts, Signs and other Nonsense!
by Paul Singer - MD, London Fine Dining Group
It might be my imagination but I could have sworn I saw an apology on a sign in a car park in Sunningdale last week.
Take a look for yourself.
No, it definitely says "Sorry about that." at the end after the legal bit about "Bugger Off if your car gets scratched in our car park". Now that's what I call customer service. First, exclude liability and then apologise. Well done De Vere.
If only lawyers were like that. At the end of their bill, after the part when you sit down and reach for the smelling salts, a line could be added saying "Sorry about that." Maybe we should try it with restaurant bills, too?
Sometimes, signs can a bit too honest. Take this sign in the US, for example, advocating "death by hotdog".
My mum always warned me that fast food was bad for my health, but nothing on this scale. And not a hint of an apology at the bottom either. I thought it was for cigarettes, at first, or at least cigars.
So in the world of exclusions, warnings and get-out clauses, it was refreshing to read an honest claim by Epson when I had finished removing the final piece of cardboard, polystyrene and sticky tape from my brand new printer, that their DURABright printer ink would last for 200 years. Yes. You read that correctly - 200 years.
And by way of celebration of their claims, I present a short scene, set in 2211:
[sound of spacecraft landing ...]
Customer : I wonder if you can help me?
Robot 1 : What can I do for you?
Customer : My great-great-great-grandfather bought an ink-jet printer ...
Robot 1 : What is ink? When was this exactly?
Customer : I think it's what they used to use to print photos - in 2011.
Robot 1 : Continue, please.
Customer : Well, he bought the printer in Dixons.
Robot 1 : On which planet, please?
Customer : Earth, I'm assuming, although I have just flown in from Mars today.
Robot 1 : Do you know what date it was purchased?
Customer : Does it matter? I am not here to complain about the printer.
Robot 1 : Next customer please.
Customer : No wait. I am here to complain ...
Robot 1 : Please make your mind up, Martian.
Customer : No need to get personal.
Robot 1 : What can I do for you?
Customer : Look, it's this photo of great-great-great-grandma Kylie.
Robot 1 : She looks hot.
Customer : She died in 2040.
Robot 1 : Sorry.
Customer : Well look carefully at her hair. It's blue.
Robot 1 : Yes. I noticed that. It looks nice.
Customer : Yes but she was a red-head not a blue-head.
Robot 1 : And your point is ...
Customer : The ink has deteriorated. It was supposed to last 200 years.
Robot 1 : [Rolling on floor laughing ....]
Customer : Why are you laughing?
Robot 1 : [unable to speak - motions to Robot 2 to assist]
Robot 2 : What can I do for you?
Customer : I need to complain about the ink on this photo.
Robot 2 : Do you have the receipt?
Customer : From 200 years ago?!
Robot 2 : Yes. We need to make sure it was purchased at this branch.
Robot 1 : You might have purchased it on Saturn or Uranus.
Customer : Well I obviously don't have the bloody receipt.
Robot 2 : Well I am not sure what I can do. How much was the ink?
Customer : In 2011 the printer was £35 and the ink was £150.
Robot 2 : Sounds about right.
Customer : I have already spent £100 to park my spaceship for 10 minutes.
(Wife) : ... and £1,000 in rocket fuel to get here.
Customer : and it took 2 years to get here - the traffic was awful by the moon.
Robot 2 : So here's what I can do ...
[lights flash and an hourglass symbol appears in his eyes] ...
Robot 2 : Nothing.
Customer : I bloody knew it. What a complete waste of time.
(Wife) : Can we go to Primark now?
Who ever thought of giving a 200 year guarantee, anyway?
So back to the present day, one wonders what method of rigorous laboratory testing was involved in arriving at the very specific figure of 200 years stated by Epson as the period for which their ink would last.
And whose head will be on the chopping block in 200 years time, if they made a mistake? Exactly.
So now we know the trick. Make the guarantee just longer than any currently living customer or employee and you're home and dry.
But today's prize for the best loophole, or rather the exploitation of a loophole, must go to a member of the Jewish community of Williamsburg. Forced to fast on Yom Kippur, the most holy day in the Jewish calendar, he came up with a novel idea to get his daily dose of caffeine - a caffeine suppository!
Were they Kosher? Shouldn't members of the congregation be sitting in the Synagogue rather than on the toilet?
Of course, there was controversy over whether Jewish people observing the Biblical fast should be allowed to take the easy way out (or, more accurately, the easy way in), but in the end (no pun intended), the suppositories were a runaway success.