Rage against the Washing Machine

Computers are wonderful things and I personally could not live without my Mac.  However, the old phrase GIGO (Garbage in Garbage out) still applies.  It’s amazing what people seem to believe if it is on a flat screen.  Here’s an example of what happens when people disengage their own intelligence in favour of a database:

I was phoned a few months ago by a company wanting to ‘conduct research’ on my washing machine. They refused to get off the line despite several polite attempts to persuade them to do so, so I told them I had a “Toyota” washing machine….

Two months later I had a call from another company offering me insurance, who proudly started the call with:

“We’re calling you today to offer you exclusive insurance cover for your Toyota USB2000 washing machine ….”

Sometime later: Me : “You do know that Toyota don’t make washing machines?”

Them : “Have you sold it?”

Me : “I have a Prius. As I said, Toyota make cars”

Toyota make great cars … but no washing machines

Them : “We know that sir.  The washing machine you have is spelt differently. Have you sold it?”

Me (broken record) : “Toyota make cars, not washing machines”.

Them (still keen to insure my washing machine): “We bought the data from another company.  Do you have a washing machine” ….

A hybrid washing machine?

A hybrid washing machine?

I had a similar experience when I bought an advert from Yell.com (now Hibu.com) recently.  The promise was articulated thus:  “We cannot get you business, but we can make the phone ring”.  This seemed like an entirely reasonable premise.  A couple of weeks later, the phone did ring:

“I’d like to buy some turf”

Me : “Aah, sorry, this is a business consultancy – you have the wrong number”

The following week, I got a call for Calor Gas.  I was suspicious so asked where he got the number from – it was the Yellow Pages!

The following week, I got a call for plate glass. Yell insist on giving you a different phone number so they can track calls.  Clearly this one had been round the block many times.

No problem, you would think – just call them and it would get sorted out.  Well, no.  Yell started off by trying to rewrite history, suggesting that it had not happened the way I described.  They then tried to shift blame by telling me that Yellow Pages did not belong to them any more.  It was only when I pointed out that their phone number was the root cause of the Yellow Pages calls and asked to speak to their CEO that they finally capitulated, after which time most people have given up.

What would have been better?  Well, simply offering to investigate and fix the problem without fuss would have been a much better turnaround.  Unfortunately they trusted the computer more than they did me to start with, wasting time and damaging their reputation, making me want to “Yell about it”.

Incidentally, saying you want to “Hibu about it” just does not work as well 🙂 …  Perhaps that’s why they renamed the company recently?

Life’s a Gas, Heart of Grass, The Green Green Glass of Home

On the upside, I have discovered a great business opportunity for a one stop shop that sells Grass, Glass and Gas … Hurry, hurry …  Happy Christmas!

3G business for sale on Yell.com

Coming soon, my recent dealings with HR outsourcing company RSM Tenon and boutique solicitors Twenty Twenty Law make for an interesting story of disappointment and dishonour in dealing with others, Bah Humbug!  To finish here is Pink Floyd’s prophetic tale of corporate cyber control where common sense is replaced by algorithms and bulls…t.  Welcome to the Machine:


About the Blogger:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching.  Contact via peter@humdyn.co.uk


7 responses to “Rage against the Washing Machine

  1. oh dear, sadly this practice of “selling databases” is getting more and more common, I don’t see it lasting too long though (hopefully) businesses will see the fallacy of buying poor quality data.

    I would say I’d expect more from Yell, but frankly I don’t. A well known brand they might be, a business I’d recommend to others, they are not. They are well behind in embracing online marketing, and now they’re throwing money at it, and as shows in your example- mis-selling. Which for me, is a bad business practice..

    I would not be surprised to hear of their demise in the next few years, another Kodak being too late to see the technological advances and how it affects their business.


  2. I have a Honda washing machine. Well, if I soap down properly and ride my motorcycle during a heavy downpour, I do. But you have to stay out there through the rince cycle, which is also a motorcycle in the rain. When the rain stops and the sun comes out, you’re now riding the dryer cycle. So, do you think your telemarketer contact could get me a good warranty plan for my 1998 washing machine?


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