Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Two Companies

I've done business with Cheltenham & Goucester for years. I could often have found better deals elsewhere but I stayed because the people were friendly and efficient. Now these people are to be fired to be replaced, I don't doubt, by call centres. Why? Because Lloyds needs to make savings. Why? Because it took over HBOS. And why did HBOS collapse? Because of, among other things and people, Andy Hornby who has acquired a soft landing for himself at Alliance Boots. Boots used to be like C & G, but it's horrible now. The shops are always in a state of chaos; I avoid them when I can. Why is it so bad? Because it is now owned by a private equity company which sees its customers as cattle. This is not unlike the view of the Labour Party, whose leader so loves the turbo-capitalism which is alive and well and still making our lives worse.


  1. Ditto Bryan, like you we were C&G customers for many years, like you we stayed with them because of their high standards of service, they were one of the most efficient UK mortgage lenders.
    We were disgusted when terminator LLoyds ate them, may they rest in peace.
    May LLoyds burn in hell, their motto..shareholders first, senior employees second, customers third, lower ranks last, "big is beautiful"

  2. I too am currently suffering from an inchoate rage that seeks out its daily focus. Over-exposure to politics is very bad for you.

  3. Ah, quite. Capitalist economics. We, the people, will never learn. Why?

  4. I heard that they were replacing the staff with those little plastic flowers wearing sunglasses that dance when you clap your hands

  5. The big main Boots here cunningly moved all its prescription and medical stuff to the first floor. Now the customers they don't want - old ladies, the unwell, the arthritic, etc. - are obliged to negotiate steep stairs, a dodgy escalator and frequently broken lift for their medicines. The ground floor is full of the high-margin tat, smelly stuff and electronics the bean-counters adore. Yup, barely a chemist at all, more like a machine for the perpetuation of Andy Hornbys.

  6. Ian, the trouble with capitalism is that there are not enough capitalists. Instead we have a few behemoths, living on momentum and slowly dying.

    Bryan and Malty, if you want good service, don't do business with large companies; they can't be anything other than dysfunctional.

  7. Oh yes, isn't it just typical? We have a week or so of the rotting hell of the so-called government and its so-called opposition parties, all being put in their place by the presumably even more ghastly BNP and UKIP - and now, barely chance to recover, and the financial ORCS are flapping about again.
    Yes, Boots - I have fonder memories of the old WHS but the stories are similar. Nowadays, you go into Boots to try to buy a box of tissues, or a washbag or a packet of aspirin - forget it. But plenty of totally unnecessary fashionable rubbish like electronic heated nose-hair removers with quilted cover. Then, you finally find your bottle of shampoo or whatever, lurking behind some obsure pillar at the back - it took you 15 mins and then you realise you are in a cavernouus hall of 3 floors of tat and ONE TILL - so your choice - do you wait a further half hour behind all the people buying tinted suncream or do you just hurl it away and make do with matted locks for another decade?

    Actually, come to think of it, quite an appropriate fate for one of our beloved fianciers. After a few months he'll be made a lord of enterprise advice to the govt, anyway, when Alan Amstrad retires because the world does not agree with his professed lack of conflict of interest between business advisor to the govt and sleazy business award-giver on crack-TV.

  8. Sorry to continuously rant on in your comments (your posts just sum up my inner moods so well I can't resist!) - but returning to your words about the C&G, I feel similar about the A&L. I first joined that many years ago (before it acquired the "L") and have seen it get progressively more corporate, shoddy and evil (they continuously "close" savings accounts and reduce the rate to zero without telling you - though of course that doesn't matter these days, when zero is a rather good rate of interest). Now, to cap it all, they are going to transmogrify into Sandanter. Where on earth can one put one's hard-earned, tax-drained pennies that isn't ghastly - anyone got any ideas?

  9. I think you will find Australia avoided most of the excess by stopping its banks from taking over one another.

    Something we cannot do as there is no such things as British banks they are EUropean banks subject to competition laws set outside of this country/state/province.

  10. Allow me to fix your post in regards to Alliance Boots:

    Why is it so bad? Because it is now owned by a private equity company which sees its customers AND its employees as cattle.

  11. Maxine, buy gold, bury it in the garden.

    Recusant, how many capitalists does it take to change a light bulb? Only ever one.

  12. 'fraid I don't (can't) share your favourable views on C&G - for many, and good reasons (will spare you, you'll have to trust me).
    But an explanation of the mystery of Andy Hornby continuing to receive accolades, encouragement and obscene amounts of dosh in return for his campaign of corporate destruction? Well, he was first in his class @ Harvard Business School - ergo is necessarily without fault ...
    Words fail me. No they don't! Would go on to lampoon the Orwellian distortions of language and leadership that characterises these people (HBS grads); but Lucy Kellaway @ FT does it so very much better.

    @Martine: a fine example of passionately articulate, coherent argument to rival BA's own, therefore far from a 'rant'! Hard act to follow, so forgive my relative vapidity.
    Where to put your money? People need to eat, and they get sick - so agri-bus/food retailing + pharma. Oh, and on subject of building socs, check out Nationwide (ex-clients of mine, off and on over decades back in days when I was a Real Person with job, etc., etc; but they are pretty sound and fairly well-run).

    Word Verif = 'bagro'. Hm ...

  13. Er, whoops:
    @ Martine should, of course, read 'Maxine'.
    Apologies for 'inadvertent administrative oversight'.