Column: Wanted: honest relationship. Ts&Cs need not apply

Recently, one of the big supermarkets complained that shoppers are cheating them. It turns out that people who scan their own shopping are becoming increasingly dishonest.

Recently, one of the big supermarkets complained that shoppers are cheating them. It turns out that people who scan their own shopping are becoming increasingly dishonest.

My initial gut reaction to this is: good! 

But, when I've had some more time to think about the issue, I take a more considered opinion: Ha ha! Up yours Sainsburys! Suck on it, Waitrose. Stick it up your aisle, ASDA.

Shocking, I know, but if a company breaks the social contract with its customers, what can they expect? When they're not playing mind games on us, they're misleading us over prices. Waitrose marketers are the ones that conned me into buying two bags of salad, when I wanted one at a decent price, so they can BOGOF! Next time you bump up the price on perishable items, and create a false economy on the price of two, beware. Any sensible person will be tempted to respond to your furtiveness with some cheating of their own. You screw us, we'll screw you.

What was the role of technology in ruining 'our relationship'?

It was the marketing managers' fault, with their wretched CRM systems. The same people used technology to screw up the relationship between banks and their customers. First they created cash points so they could sack loads of staff and have more money to gamble. Then they replaced the support staff with call centres on other side of the world.

Then they used technology to force us to use insecure chip and pin systems and unstable online banking, so that Russian criminals could rob us more efficiently.

These days any bank or supermarket can say whatever they like, because they're never held to account. We must have the most useless regulators in Europe. Only the big corporations can get away with this, as regulators like OFWAT and OFCOM only seem terrified of anyone with a legal department. They come down hard on small shops.

Consequently, trust in corporate websites is eroding. The logic seems to be that if any firm can afford a web site, they must be a real rum sort, the types whose Terms and Conditions have to be read out by a racing commentator at the end of their advert.

This probably explains why IT companies are shunning web site and turning to Facebook and other social media to talk to their customers.

"The traffic to corporate web sites has dramatically plunged," says Janet Garcia, director of training company Mindleaders. They're doing a lot more training for businesses on how to use Facebook to interact with customers. Facebook is far friendlier, works a lot quicker and costs a fraction of the price (as I discovered when creating my own Facebook page OhThisBloodyComputer).

You can get a whole course from Mindleaders for less than an hour's patronage you'd get from some jumped up web designer.

Like certain web designers I've encountered, Facebook can be very insecure and can draw you into a world of obnoxiousness. Having said that, there are porn channels on TV now, but that doesn't make a guest speaking slot on BBC Business any less desirable. So it's time to make Facebook safe.

This is where Yorkshire based Smoothwall has created a solution, with its Read Only Facebook offering. It lets the IT manager vary the access to the world's most successful social network. 

"You can't ignore 30 million UK users," says Ricky Dransfield,  corporate sales manager at Smoothwall. "There are groups of legitimate users in marketing, communication and HR that need access to social media for their roles."

The rest of the staff just need it because they're addicted. So give them access and put a bit of trust in them.

If you don't they might start nicking things!

Image courtesy: Digital Vision

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