Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Easy Like Sunday Morning

Stelios Haji-Ioannou probably doesn't spend much on TV advertising. It's easy. His companies are already all over the schedules as documentaries or reality television.
Airline, about easyJet, is endlessly shown and repeated on ITV1. It has enticing come-ons to the viewer in the listings mags like: 'At Luton a passenger forgets her passport' or 'at Liverpool, Customer Service Assistant Trisha is in a bad mood after stubbing her toe on her desk'. And you ask yourself: 'can I cope with the excitement?'

Stelios, as he is known (not affectionately but because nobody can pronounce or spell his surname), obviously believes there is no such thing as bad publicity and he may well be right. Airline regularly shows his staff making a complete pig's ear of dealing with the public.
If I watch it occasionally, it's because in the past I have worked in front-line, customer-facing environments. Or, to put it another way, I've had to deal with the general fucking public.

So I have much sympathy with the staff featured in Airline. It's not easy to remain composed and polite when confronted by what Americans usually call 'assholes'. But the easyJet staff rarely make any attempt to soothe people with phrases like 'I'm very sorry, but.....', or 'I know it's very frustrating for you, but....' The easyJet approach is: "You're late. Check-in's closed. You've missed your flight. Fuck off." (Well, not the last two words but you can read those in their facial expressions). They also make the fundamental mistake of taking abuse personally which means the situation often escalates.

I was once obliged to walk backwards for about ten yards because a customer was poking me in the chest with his index finger with great force whilst shouting that he would have me sacked. I remained almost transcendentally calm, Christ-like in my turning of the other cheek and Gandhi-like in my restraint from smacking him in the mouth. I don't think I said anything, except perhaps "Please stop poking me". But although backing away to avoid serious nipple damage, I didn't back down on the subject of our disagreement. The only way he'd have had me sacked was if I'd grabbed him by the throat or uttered the words I was calling him in my head. And afterwards you take professional pride in achieving that level of disassociation.

Last night Sky1 began a new series called 'Cruise With Stelios' about his new venture into budget cruise ships, easyCruise. And guess who sponsored the programme? easyMoney.
The spartan cabins are painted bright orange and have no portholes, guaranteeing you'll be sick before it even leaves port. In an odd reversal of traditional cruise ship practice, the crew's cabins all have portholes but the passengers' don't.
Curiously, most of the first batch of passengers reacted as though they'd been shown into a suite at the Ritz. But, since they were British, they were probably just being polite and were already mentally composing a six page letter of complaint.

The idea of cruising with Stelios is deeply unpleasant in any sense of the word 'cruise'. But nausea increased with a script that included the line "As the temperature rises, Stelios's chopper rears up into view."
It really was more like Carry On Cruising. The Cruise Director was a very camp chap who produced boxes of free T shirts and baseball caps emblazoned with 'I'm Cruising' and 'Hello Sailor'. He affected to be shocked by these but I'm convinced he had supplied the artwork himself.

Then there was the Geordie DJ who I'm sure was played by Peter Kay. It was his first time abroad and he was finding the French difficult to understand. He was astonished to find people driving modern Renaults and Citroens. He thought the cars would all be old and clapped out "like in China". He called all the Frenchmen 'Signor', which must have gone down like a request for Turkey Twizzlers in a Michelin starred restaurant.
But his greatest triumph was going to buy a shirt in Nice. He failed in this mission because, despite his limited French, he knew with absolute certainty that 'Ouverte' on a shop door meant 'Closed'. The market and the cafés were thronged with people but every clothes shop had 'Ouverte' on the door.
Lazy bastards, those French tailors.

Today's post was sponsored by easyBlog


At 7:45 PM, Anonymous Graham said...

I have every sympathy for these kids that work for easyjet, most of the general public's attitude to custmer service is to shout and ball and get nasty until they get what they want.
Ive worked directly with the public for 20 odd years and I will bend over backwards to help but shout at me once and you can fu*k off,I don't get paid enough to take shit.

At 8:43 PM, Blogger zaphod said...

I agree. Once someone swears at me they become toast. I won't have it.

At 6:02 AM, Blogger Wyndham said...

Willie, did you happen to see Wakey Wakey Campers on Ch4 last night? I'd be interested to know what you thought.

At 10:07 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Most companies have a policy that if customers swear then staff can terminate the conversation.
I too have great sympathy for anyone in the front line but some of the easyJet staff display that rudeness and indifference that we're used to in Britain but some other nationalities find astonishing.

wyndham, no, I didn't see it. If it's repeated on ITV2 I'll try and take a look and report back.

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At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Stelios Haji-Ioannou said...

stelios haji-ioannou wrote:
Like what your about Alan. Met your son Simon at the club, no i am not gay like that I am fed up with people calling me a Big Bubble Queen, what does that mean? I wish to make clear that like ashley cole and Master Steps i stelios haji-ioannou am definately not gay in any way at all as i have had many high profile relationships with real women such as dannii minogue sister of Kylie Minogue.
My legal policy:
With regard to my legal policy. I am sure you will understand that i, stelios haji-ioannou cannot permit others to use my family name and the smear campaign i have had to endure notwithstanding and without the certainty that i will sue the person or publication for libel due to rights in my character and family name being prejudiced. It follows that no use should be made of the stelios haji-ioannou name (or anything similar to it) and if any smear whether directly or indirectly relating to gay or homosexual practices is made you or your publicatin will be punished to the full extent of the law. And in addition i will seek damages and compensation. The thought of being gay repulses and disgusts me and has brought a great deal of shame and embarrisment to my family especially as it is not true. I have nothing against gays or lesbians personally and i do not wish to offend anyone at all please do not misunderstand me i actually employ many gays and do not discriminate but i will sue anyone who calls me Stelios Haji-Ioannou is Gay or says Stelios Haji-Ioannou is a homosexual


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