Am I alone in being fed up with special offers? I can see the point with perishable goods, Al used them sometimes when he had a lot of ripe fruit that would not keep more than a day – but really they are just used to make you buy stuff that you don’t want or need. I remember some years ago one of the presenters on You And Yours on Radio 4 (I think it was Winifred Robinson, but am not sure) said that they are known, in her family, as Buy One, Throw One Away.
The wine shop chain Threshers had three-for-the-price-of-two offers for almost all their stock for several years. But of course, they simply raised the price to allow for it, so you paid well over the odds if you just wanted a single bottle – such as champagne for a special occasion, or a bottle of good wine (compared to your usual tipple) as a present – and it was a specious bargain offer. Of course, Threshers went bust in the end, so I probably wasn’t alone in shopping elsewhere unless I actually wanted several bottles of wine.
I can see why bookshops have to have special offers and why they try to shift as many books as they can – the competition from Amazon and, for bestsellers, major supermarkets, is pretty crippling. But I still don’t want a buy one, get the second half price, or buy three for the price of two offers when I just want to buy a book. It’s annoying. Amazon is still cheaper, after all. Just give me the discount, even a slightly less ‘generous’ one, and I’ll buy the book if I’m in the mood to buy a book.
If a bookshop is good enough, mind you, I won’t even mind the full price. I have mentioned before (nearly a year ago) that I visited Topping & Co. in Bath, and it was brilliant. I didn’t begrudge the full price and I found so many books that I wanted to buy. I haven’t been to Ely since, but when I do, I’ll go with an open mind and a willing credit card. I went to another bookshop when I was visiting the area (can’t remember where it was) and it was, though smaller, almost as alluring. It was also independently owned, which must be a tough way to make a living.
BOGOFs can have their appeal, admittedly. Before Woolworth’s went out of business, I used to check out their offers if I happened to be near a branch, because they were genuine ones. It was worth stocking up on kitchenware and so on, if it would have returned to its full price in a week or two. I thought of another example but the phone rang (for the Sage, as it turned out) and, Coleridge-like, the distraction has made me forget.
I have not forgotten, however, that I meant to finish on a different subject entirely. While writing this (and doing some cooking and answering the phone and emails) I have been listening to Pick of the Week, chosen and presented by Graham Seed, late of The Archers. He is as delightful to listen to as he was when playing Nigel. And no, I don’t want to start listening to it any more. It’s just a soap, whose producer doesn’t care about manipulating the audience. So I opted out. Bet I’m not the only one.