Man walks into a bar, charges them for his time
Should companies pay you for being their customer? We don't mean reward you with pointless points and worthless exclusives; we mean should they give you hard cash? Paul McCrudden thinks they should, so he set about invoicing businesses for time he spent as their customer. Using a data collection website called Daytum, the hapless chancer recorded the time and cost of all his interactions as a consumer over a six week period:
"The way I see it, my time on this planet is limited and as such I want to spend it as wisely as possible. It frustrates me therefore that every day of my life I have to waste time standing in queues waiting to buy some product or service that, in the big scheme of things, I don't really care about. Take the Post Office for example. Whenever I go in there (and I try not to) I end up queuing for about five times as long as the actual time I spend at the counter sorting out those trivial things such as a parcel's size and weight. That's time that I'd prefer, in my limited, lucky period on earth, to be doing something else.
"What riles me is that all this time ultimately helps the company's bottom line and market share - and I get nothing back for my time as a result. The fact that I'm in Pret a Manger and not EAT on any particular day results in the former having my attention - and wallet - dedicated to their brand, as opposed to their competitor's."
After applying a generous 75% discount to his standard hourly charge-out rate (based on his rate at work) since his time spent with these companies was less productive than with his employer, McCrudden set about invoicing all the businesses and sat back to see what happened next.
So far, plenty have responded: one chain of cafes that McCrudden has frequented for a decade didn't get the point of it at all, Boots expressed delight at the 75% discount they received but failed to pay the bill, while the founder of Pret A Manger spied a chance for good PR and made with the cash:
There's a serious point, or at least one that attempts to justify the idiotic nature of it all:
"I did this for two main reasons: firstly, to further understand how I spend my life as a consumer, and secondly to challenge the basic assumption that consumers are subservient to brands."
Brands receive a great deal from us in terms of loyalty, word-of-mouth promotion and return business and we rarely, if ever, receive anything above and beyond the material goods we pay for. It's interesting to see a consumer attempting to balance out that relationship, especially when it works.