I’m not normally a fan of the ‘Open letter.’ But something happened a while ago that was so spectacularly silly that I actually didn’t think it would be fair on the world to write it in a sealed shut letter.
It’s about your Gift cards. And how frankly un-gifted they are.
It all began when a very dear close relative of mine was diagnosed with cancer eighteen months ago. In my small and negligible way, I wanted to do something that might improve her life as she hoped to recover from bouts of traumatic procedures, one of which sounded terrifyingly like an episode of Doctor Who.
I wanted to share the gospel with her that there’s now never any need to go to a supermarket and haul her tired body round the aisles. ‘Much better to stay at home and rest’, I told her, ‘Why not try this online shopping site called Ocado – it’s just so breezy and fun to use!’
So I bought her a birthday gift card for £50, to help get her started.
Big mistake. Huge.
Let me outline for you, step by step, how it is that one can give The Gift of Ocado:
Step 1. Buy Ocado Gift Voucher Online, to arrive in plenty of time for the gift recipient’s birthday. Receive email receipt confirmation.
All good so far.
Step 2. Receive email receipt four days later from your driver, Yuk, to tell you when your printed gift voucher is going to be hand-delivered to the recipient.
Step 3. The next day, receive telephone call from the recipient, telling you a man named Yuk has just rung to say he’s got lost somewhere just outside Borehamwood, having driven all the way to her house.
‘Well I’ve not done one of these before,’ Yuk will eventually say on arrival as he rifles through the back of his van, not knowing quite what he’s looking for.
Eventually a friendly and befuddled driver will present the recipient with an inexplicably large crate containing a solitary green card – upon which is printed something along the lines of, ‘you now have a 50 pound voucher, which will be sent to you on email in a few weeks, when the person who bought you it receives it and forwards it on to you.’
Step 4. A few days later, receive email from Ocado confirming successful delivery of what can only be described as the gift-voucher’s stunt double.
Step 5. Two weeks later, receive email containing THE ACTUAL GIFT VOUCHER for your relative while you are abroad, almost a month after ordering it, and three weeks late for their birthday. As instructed, forward the voucher yourself onto the recipient from an internet cafe.
Step 6. Receive email from gift recipient describing their check-out experience as ‘a mare beyond belief’. After an hour of attempts to check-out, Ocado is still asking her for the 10th digit of her 8 digit credit card number. Even though she is trying to use the one thing that wants so desperately to be a gift voucher. Before long, gift recipient will empty their basket and go and have a cup of camomile tea (assuming there are any left in the cupboard).
And that, I shit you not, is what it took for me to give my dear relative a simple Ocado gift voucher.
So I wanted to write this letter – in the hope it might make her giggle at a time when she really needs to – and also, to gently suggest that you think about simplifying your customer user journey in time for this year’s Christmas givers?
If one less shopper has to suffer this convoluted (though hilarious) process then we’ll both be happy.