The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

People Might Be Stupid, But They’re Not THAT Stupid …
July 3, 2009, 6:04 am
Filed under: Comment, Crap Marketing Ideas From History!

So last week I popped into Singapore and whilst I was there, I decided to get some pain killers that aren’t available in HK.

I walked into my old chemist and walked up to the counter – however instead of seeing the usual pharmacist, I saw this …

Now you might not be able to tell what it is, but it’s a computer with webcam and microphone resting on what is commonly known as a ‘Lazy Susan’.

I don’t mind admitting I was somewhat confused until I saw this …


So according to Guardian pharmacy, their new ‘tele-pharmacy’ [crap name eh?] is designed to make dispensing more convenient.

Well let me tell you what I experienced …

Whereas normally I would be in and out of the chemist in about 3 minutes, I waited TWENTY SEVEN MINUTES before I got served.

And then it took a further 14 minutes before I could leave the shop.

A total of FORTY ONE MINUTES to buy a packet of Aleve.

Too be honest, I’d of walked out after 5 mins but I was transfixed at how bollocks their new ‘time saving’ system was, and wanted to get the full ‘bullshit’ experience in all its glory.

And what a bullshit experience it is …

Basically a person has to talk into a mic to a pharmacist that is probably locked up in some room deep in Singapore’s East.

To make matters worse – because the internet connection is not very good – they have to literally shout their ailments, so any degree of sensitivity/privacy goes right out the window,

We then have to endure the madness of the pharmacist asking the customer to ‘turn’ the computer around so the shop assistant [who now stands behind the counter] can find the requested drug. However it get better because in a commitment to safety [hahaha] the assistant then has to show the packaging to the pharmacist to ensure it’s the right drug.

Given the webcam has the definition of a Lego character, who the hell knows what the pharmacist sees on their screen … it’s total rubbish.

Anyway, while I was waiting [semi] patiently in the queue, the man infront of me was at almost cardiac arrest levels of frustrations.

Basically the desired drug this bloke wanted [and had been prescribed by the Max Headroom of pharmacists] was out of stock, so I had to watch in wonder as the computer was turned back and forth between the customer and shop assistant as they tried desperately to find a medication that would not only work, but actually be in stock.

Of course this frustration might be some clever ploy to sell more drugs … however the reality is I had to stand through TWENTY SEVEN MINUTES of inane shouted conversation whilst packets of various medications were held up to a web cam and a customer queue that resembled the M25 at 6pm on a Saturday after a footie match formed behind me.

And they have the nerve to say this system has been implemented to save time for customers.




Of course it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise the real reason behind this stupid decision is cost cutting … because now, rather than having to pay for one pharmacist per store, they can now fill them with ‘cheap labour’ and have a couple of ‘central’ pharmacists to deal with all enquiries.

Except it won’t work … because if I experienced that hell at 10am on a Wednesday – hardly the busiest day of the week – can you imagine how long a weekend will take to get what you want?

I don’t know what offends me more … the fact they have adopted this stupid system or the fact they are trying to claim it’s a move for the better.

Look, I know people can be stupid – I am one of them afterall – but even Stevie Wonder would be able to see this is a demonstration in customer disservice and I hope to hell that people start voting with their feet because Guardian deserve a cold hard slap for this arrogant behaviour.

Saying that, we all know what will happen if that is the case …

As profits tumble, Guardian will kick even more of their hard working staff to the curb and they are going through enough hell already.

Seriously, while I was queuing, you could feel the tension in the place getting more and more oppressive and who was going to cop it? Not Guardian’s marketing and management that’s for sure … it’s the poor shop staff and pharmacist that have suddenly found themselves thrust into a situation not of their making.

To be honest, this is the sort of situation that Guardian’s ad planner should force him/herself into.

I appreciate this decision was probably not made with any advertising consideration … but as far as I am concerned, a planner shouldn’t just be about the ‘ads’, they should be about representing the people, culture and society of the country they’re in and the brands they represent and whichever way you look at it, this decision has the potential to completely undermine both.

Will the client get pissed off?

Possibly … it’s all about how you handle it isn’t it … however whilst I believe our job is to make our clients wealthy, my view is ‘cost cutting’ is the domain of the management consultant [we liberate, they consolidate – not quite true, but it’s a view I’ve held for years] so whilst this ‘idea’ may indeed initially knock off quite a lot of money from Guardian’s operating costs, in the long run I think it will be seen as a major business limiting move and for a company who claims to be ‘for you’, it’s obvious they’ve been taking too many of the drugs they’re supposed to be dispensing.

20 Comments so far
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the starting point for too many fucking brands is how cheap can they do it.

its fucking false economy because unless they have something like total market % or distribution, a shit/stupid product or experience leads to a shit take up.

brands should rejig darwins wank and have an attitude of “survival of the satified customer” or some other word i cant be arsed to think about.

cost cutting means fuck all if no one wants or feels good about what youve cost cut to fucking death. unless theyre heat magazine readers but theyve got as much fucking loyalty as liz fucking taylor.

just call me alan sugar. campbell can be that battle axe side kick of his.

half decent post there rob, hope guardian get so fucking sick they have to take some of their own medicine. fuck me ive become frank carson which so im off for a pint of the irish black stuff.

Comment by andy@cynic

I think Andy says it all, too many companies focus on the cost of the production rather than the cost of satisfaction.

Naturally there are degrees of satisfaction but I can’t see how a virtual pharmacist who takes much longer than the previous incarnation of their service can equate to anything other than the self interests of the company behind the ridiculous scheme.

Comment by Pete

Careful Andy, your brain is showing …

Comment by Rob

I went through what you went through yesterday. It’s stupid. Guardian are a bad company and people could become more ill because of mistakes via a webcam. This is a good post and I agree with everything you say. Keep up the good work.

Comment by Gerald Lim

I wonder why companies don’t realize, there is nothing like ‘human’ interaction.No substitute, It’s almost like a no brainer.

Comment by bhaskar

Hi Gerald, nice to hear your rant … keep up the good work. And Bhaskar, you’re so right – especially in areas like health and hospitality – and yet so many companies are continually looking for ways to get rid of what they deem as ‘excessive staff’ even though this creates an unsatisfactory customer experience and a lowering of company morale.

Sure profits are important/vital – companies are not a charities – but the manner some organisations behave, makes me question just how far they’d go for an extra $2!

Comment by Rob

its actually very easy to get it right but so many brands fuck up at the first hurdle.

Comment by perki

Having to deal with a machiene more & more is worrying, at times i think people should just gang up and boycott such brands / companies. This may sound juvenile, but its effective!

Comment by bhaskar

I agree Perki [Perki, I can’t call you that] … and I even accept the idea might be able to work, but given they seemingly gave the whole concept a total of 2 mins thought, it’s not surprising it hasn’t.

What next, hospitals where the surgery is conducted via SKYPE?

Comment by Rob

It’s the way Andy tells ’em.

Comment by John

i give the fuckers on this blog a snippet of my esteemed knowledge and what do i get? fuck all. only dodds pays some respect and thats linked to some drunken irish has been.

youre all a bunch of bastards who wouldnt recognise genius if it shagged you up the arse with a broken bottle.

and pete and campbells words dont count. those fucks work for me so its in their interests to keep me sweet.

Comment by andy@cynic

good afternoon Andy.

Comment by Marcus

Rob – you can call me whatever you want! 😉

Comment by perki

In that case ‘Perki’, I’ll have some choice names for you when I see you next.

And Marcus, what about saying ‘hello’ to me rather than my self appointed boss with the delusion problem, ha!

Comment by Rob

Good evening Robert.

Comment by Marcus

Much better. Thank you. 🙂

Comment by Rob

Good morning Rob.

Comment by Marcus

i thought those automated phone systems that take 15 minutes to direct your call were a gross misuse of time. but this is a doozy!

what i find absolutely hilarious is that, despite all of our advancements in technology, philosophy and advertising wank, time still equals money.

which means that each day, as each one of those people in the queue gets more and more frustrated and less and less likely to spend at guardian EVER AGAIN, the money they’re hoping to save is haemorrhaging out the back door.

sucked in.

Comment by lauren

Is the problem not the idea, but the execution? I have no idea of knowing if the man who worked before the machine took over was better or not, but what if you had gotten your medicine within 1,5 minutes?

How would you have felt about the move then? Would it then be a case of good evolution? Netflix, amazon, google..depersonification of services is something that can work. though in the current way of doing it, the odds are limited for this company.

the reason being not because of the idea of going without staff, but for the reason Andy points out. They did it to be cheaper. cost cutting was actually a great point to experiment. only they stopped ahead of the finishline.

They should of asked, what would we do with no money, not how can we get to the lowest cost? Forcing the company to come up with a solution on no budget would have led to other ideas. perhaps more interesting.

Going for “near no cost” and starting from no cost at all may just be a difference of a few pennies, but the outcomes are as different as Michael Jackson and Michael Jackson.

Comment by niko

You might be right Niko – I did say a similar thing in one of my comments – however given their starting point seemed to be ‘cost reduction’, meaning any human need/insight was ignored, we’ll never know … however I’d of thought it would be more ‘time efficient’ to keep the pharmacists and get rid of the GP’s – well it would if I was a facist money grabber.

Comment by Rob

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