My Christmas 2013 ‘Customer Experience’ Turkeys

turkey2To accompany ‘My Christmas 2013 Customer Experience Cracker’ blog, I’ve captured three experiences from my Christmas shopping experiences which have left me feeling less favourably about the brands I’d engaged with. As well as less inclined to use them again (even if I don’t have a choice).

greater angliaGreater Anglia | In the run up to Christmas my 7 year old came to the office in London with me for the day. Sadly, due to damage to the line, the trip home from Tottenham Hale which normally takes 25 minutes took over 2 hours and we were the lucky ones! The line was damaged – these things happen and Greater Anglia terminated trains at Broxbourne. Looking on Twitter it was clear from disgruntled passengers that there was a lack of effective ‘contingency’ planning in place. We had a few apologies from @greateranglia but no sense of ‘control’ of the situation. And where it mattered there was  just one poor member of staff directing a car park full of hundreds of passengers trying to get onward towards Cambridge with only one bus in sight and no instructions. I feared we had a long night ahead of us. My son asked if this was the first time this had ever happened because if it had happened before the train company would never let their passengers be treated so badly. He had a point. 

Gratefully, the agitated hundred commuters ahead of us spotted parents and families like us and pulled us forward to ensure we got on the one bus allocated back to our train station. We climbed the bus in relief and thankful to those left behind on a dark and wet evening miles from home.

The next morning, like others I boarded the train (because I had no feasible alternative to choose) to see tweets from @greateranglia talking about ‘no delays this morning’ whilst the carriage was full of stories about £100 passenger taxi sharing, friends of passengers driving coming out to pick people they didn’t know up, a school bus driver stopping and helping passengers get to their destination and even one woman who let a family who’d missed their flight to Stansted stay with her for the night – and that was one carriage of stories! A sad example of being ‘out of touch’ and ‘under-prepared’ from Greater Anglia.

verifoneVerifone | Conversations with London cabbies used to be about the weather, then it was about the Olympics but now it seems to be about how much they detest the payment machines they carry in their cabs! I’ve started to build up a library of images of machines that are covered over by the cabbie who has decided the experience is so bad for his/her passengers that it’s actually easier to say the machine is broken than to have to deal with the broken process.

This picture comes from December when I hopped in a cab to get back to Oxford Street for some shopping. The first issue is a sign that states “We charge a 10% convenience charge for using the machine”. An interesting expression, especially as the definition of convenience is unfounded in most cases. If I have £10 in cash in my pocket it’s more convenient for me to use that than have to take extra time waiting for the machine.

Which brings me to the consequential impact of this first issue, it means whilst I may have decided to tip the cabbie for his expedient service (especially as he has got me to my destination faster than planned), I am now reluctant because I’ve got an extra fare to pay to a machine that has done no work compared to my poor cabbie on top of his tip.

the third point is that it takes longer to get your receipt and make a payment than it does to stop at a cash point on the road to your destination and take the money out of the wall and jump back in.

Not great I’d say when your promoter (the cabbie) and your end user (the passenger) collaborate to find ways not to use the machine. I’m sure it’s not exclusive but the machines I recall have been made by POS specialist Verifone.


Sports Direct | Fortunately I didn’t caught on this one, but having listened to a BBC Radio 2 phone in with Jeremy Vine, it’s clear many did. When you shop on line at Sport Direct and head to checkout they automatically pop a mug in your basket which you then have to take out otherwise you are charged and shipped it! Imagine if that was an offline retail experience – it would be the equivalent of a shop assistant loading your basket up with extra items hoping you don’t spot them and pay for them at the till – hideous. I can’t see how a £1.00 short term gain is worth creating so much detractor negative social noise?

Today I met a colleague who was heading to Sports Direct to buy new gym kit, trainers and bag. I told her the story and she decided to head to another sports store instead. How many mugs do you need to sell to replace the profit from her £100 abandoned shop?

These are the three poor customer experience examples I came across during my shopping over Christmas of 2013. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. I also encountered some excellent customer experience from brands such as John Lewis and Premier Inn. To find out how they shine (and increase advocacy and revenues at the same time) take a look at My Christmas 2013 Customer Experience Crackers.

We collect customer experience examples. If you’ve come across any which have amazed or impressed you, please forward them to me at We will periodically post and link them to you and your company.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the start and the heart of marketing strategy

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

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2 thoughts on “My Christmas 2013 ‘Customer Experience’ Turkeys

  1. Pingback: My Christmas 2013 ‘Customer Experience’ Crackers | LEXDEN

  2. Anonymous

    I was also on the end of the mug scam. Even better than that it was smashed to pieces. So without asking I was sent a smashed mug and charged £1. Brilliant!


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