Contrary to popular urban myth, I am not a member of the Apostrophe Protection Society. Yes, I did write a blog about Waterstone’s and the decision from their powers that be to get rid of the apostrophe in 2012. My blog did, incidentally, prompt a nonsensical reply from one of their directors (also littered with grammatical errors) in which they stated that the apostrophe rules didn’t count in their case because the founder, Tim Waterstone, no longer owned the company. Hm. Perhaps I could direct them up the stairs to the section on Logic…?
More recently, I also blogged about Cargiant, because their advertising campaign – emblazoned across buses all across the capital – declared that they had
“thousand’s of cars to buy in one place”.
I even sent them a message to let them know. I didn’t receive a reply, of course.
Well, I say “of course” (and in truth, I wasn’t surprised not to receive one), but perhaps I should have. Not only would it have been polite, but it may also have saved them embarrassment if they ever do a rerun of the campaign.
This leads me on nicely to a little shopping trip I took to Cambridge yesterday. I don’t think it’s my age because I’ve always loved the whole John Lewis brand. I’ve never once encountered rudeness or even mild disinterest from any of their staff (or “partners”, as they like to be known, given that they all own shares of the company). And that good service extends to Waitrose too. They’re reliable, competitive, fair; their customer service is second to none. When I think of quality, I think of John Lewis. And there’s nobody else I’d rather buy a telly from. Five-year guarantee? What’s not to love?
So my heart just sank when I walked past their window display in Cambridge and saw a sloppy grammatical howler that set my left eye twitching. Yes, it’s that header image above:
Colour in your spring…with the season’s new look’s
Ouch. Where was the John Lewis attention to detail? Who wrote it? Who proofed it? Who authorised it? Was it the visual merchandising team who was at fault? But even so, why had nobody else in the store spotted it the second it went up? Don’t the staff walk past it every day, maybe several times a day?
Left eye a-twitching, I ventured into the store to enlighten them. I’m not sure what I was hoping for exactly. Given that my helpful (if slightly pompous) grammatical advice had prompted a defensive email from Waterstone’s and I was completely ignored by Cargiant, I wasn’t exactly holding out much hope.
But this is John Lewis, you see. The two ladies I spoke to were intrigued by my slightly contrived storytelling with the big suspenseful reveal. And when I DID reveal the error of their typographical ways, they started oh no-ing and thanking me profusely for being so kind in taking the time to let them know. They wrote it down there and then, and assured me they’d tell the visual merchandising team ASAP.
At that point, that would have been enough for me. But this is John Lewis, remember. For all of the two minutes it took me to go in to let them know about the typo, they produced a rather lovely box of Hotel Chocolat caramel chocolates to thank me for my troubles. Yum.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why John Lewis is such a loyalty-winning brand. They actually do care about customer retention. They spent a fiver on rewarding me – and more importantly, they listened. And I’m going to spend a heck of a lot more than a fiver when I’m doing up my new house.
Ashley is a copywriter, editor and blogger
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