At the start of the month I had a questionnaire through the post from the NHS. It seemed that I had been selected at random to take part in an independent survey researching the quality of GP services. Believing this to be important, I completed the questionnaire within 24 hours or so, put it in the Freepost envelope and my Hero dropped it in the postbox the next day.
Less than a week later, this card dropped through the letterbox. Note the date.
I can’t tell you how irritated I was by this. Doubly so when I read that the first sentence acknowledges that I may have already returned the thing. Have we become so hopeless at responding to such requests that an automatic nag is necessary?
I blame it on these things. The constant flood of never-to-be-repeated offers which arrive in abundance every day, most of which go straight into my “mailshot” folder to be deleted at the end of the week if I haven’t needed whatever it is that’s been promoted.
Some particularly irritating emails arrive within hours of one another. Tick tock…hurry up…. The classic marketing ploy of trying to prompt swift action. Impulsiveness, even. I’ve fallen for it more than once, only to find that tomorrow’s offer is more or less the same, merely couched in different terms or with a different code.
I had a conversation about this with a telephone marketer a couple of days ago. My Hero and I both drive the same brand of car and as a result, we get two copies of every unmissable invitation to attend the latest showroom spectacular, the special event reserved for privileged customers only and the can’t be beaten end of season sales opportunities. That invitation is frequently followed up by emails with the same information, occasionally an email reminder (in case the first one went straight into my Mailshots folder, perhaps?) Now, they have started to follow through all of that with a phone call. Several phone calls. And if we let the answering machine kick in and ignore the message, then they will keep calling until we do pick up the phone.
Last week, I decided it was time to have the conversation and picked the phone up, recognising the Birmingham number that was showing on the handset. Thankfully, the person on the other end of the phone understood why I was irritated by this marketing approach and agreed that it was counterproductive. If we didn’t want to consider buying a new car the first time they invite us to go and take a look, then it was highly unlikely that we were going to change our minds after the fourth or fifth invitation (times two).
Apparently, our mailing preferences have now been updated. (We will see)
My Hero and I were sitting reading one or two emails late last night when he looked over and asked if I had also deleted the email from our cruise company. Actually, I had, but catching a fleeting glimpse of the contents as it disappeared into the recycle bin, I recognised that this was not the average special deal or cruise promotion but a reminder that our own adventure is now on the radar! It was time for us to make bookings for speciality restaurants, to update our preferences (down pillow please) and to decide what we’d like in our fridge when we board the ship: Paulaner HefeWeiss and Tanqueray Gin? Yes please!
(A good job we didn’t miss that one!)
Perhaps I’ll cut the NHS some slack when it comes to issuing reminders, even though I feel we shouldn’t need them. After all, most of the time it’s way more important than a marketing mailshot and I understand that too many people fail to turn up to appointments they’ve made, costing us all a fortune that could be far better spent. I just don’t like being included in that group when actually, I do my best to take a responsible approach to such things.
And there is one NHS reminder for which I am grateful and never fail to follow through, which also happens to be on the shortlist of NFWI resolutions this year. We shouldn’t need it, but nag all you like on this one, NHS (and all of these too, of course)