I popped into WH Smith to buy a paper this morning. As I pushed my pound coin across the counter the assistant mumbled something about a pound. I couldn’t make it out but picked up a vague sense I was being invited to buy something else. I probably gave a look of mixed confusion/doubt and whatever it was, was clearly sufficient to remove what little motivation my fellow human being had for the ritual. I grabbed my change and headed for the train, as my brain put two-and-two together, noticing the big display of £1 chocolate bars.
Clearly, the folks at WH Smith are under instructions to pitch every single customer with the idea of buying chocolate. Come to think of it, last month they were pitching me some £1 bag of sweets.
This strikes me as a modestly demoralising way to do business. On the whole, we don’t really need to eat more sweets (US: candy) and you don’t need a degree in psychology to realise that the ritual of having to repeat this mantra for every customer, day-in, day-out, is not exactly life-enhancing for the staff. No wonder the guy pitching me was barely going through the motions.
I don’t know if this is typical, but if makes me wonder if whoever is running WH Smith has lost the plot.