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A Different View

Hard to lick loyalty – unless it’s Green Shield Stamps

Dave O'Connell

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A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Loyalty, they say, has to be earned – it cannot be bought. But tell that to the purveyors of loyalty cards, because if you spend enough to get the stamps, everything from free coffee to cheap haircuts can be yours.

You can even get a computer for your child’s school, admittedly only if you spend the equivalent of the national debt on groceries – or if you only have a million for meat and veg, you may have to settle for a plastic football.

Clothes stores have swipe cards which give you money off if you sign up by email and continue to be inundated with special offers on runners and tee-shirts until your inbox is full to overflowing.

Indeed there’s a high price paid for loyalty in the commercial world we inhabit – the average wallet now has more loyalty cards than credit cards.

But it’s not a new phenomenon – do you remember Green Shield Stamps?

You’d get yards of them to stick into your booklet, and eventually you’d collect enough books to get a set of saucepans which would duly arrive in the post.

When all of this started back in 1958, one stamp was issued for each 6d – half a shilling – that was spent on goods, so large numbers of stamps had to be stuck into the books.

The problem was that you effectively needed to spend £12,000 to buy a TV for example – at a time when the average colour television cost around £350.

At a later stage, a second denomination was added, worth ten of the original stamps, which somewhat alleviated this problem. But you’d still have a sore tongue by the time you were finished licking for your set of delft.

Indeed – and as Michael Caine might say, not many people know this – it was the Green Shield Stamps that led to the formation of Argos.
As sales slowed, Green Shield Stamp catalogue shops began to offer part stamp redemption and part cash, for the goods in their catalogue. The proportion of cash accepted was slowly increased until the goods could be purchased, outright, without the need for any stamps.

And in time, the catalogue stores, warehouses and vehicle fleet were re-branded as Argos in July 1973.

The Green Shield Stamps actually lasted until the early nineties although they had really had their day by the early eighties – but by then everyone was in on the loyalty act.

Petrol stations bought your loyalty with other kinds of gimmicks – when Esso had an outlet across from the hospital (where Tesco is now), I can recall a coin collection of the England 1970 World Cup squad.

I wasn’t driving at the time obviously – because boys under ten years of age only do that in Tallaght – but it was the prospect of acquiring a tatty gold coin bearing the head of Bobby Moore or Peter Bonetti or Bobby Charlton that steered us, literally, to the same garage every time.

And because everything eventually turns full circle, petrol stations are back with a modern version of the old routine. Topaz has announced that it is investing €3 million into the roll-out of a new loyalty app.

So no doubt it will have bells and whistles and email alerts and bonuses and incentives and whatever you’re having yourself, and the inventors will stand back and admire their work in the way that their forefathers did when they came up with the wheel.

But the truth is that it’s just a variation on a well-worn theme – and for our generation they can try all they like, but they’ll never manage to lick Green Shield Stamps.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Words in the one language can get lost in translation

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

You’d be fairly deluded to see the upside of stormy weather – but if any joy could be drawn from the recent Storm Ciara, it was in the efforts of our English friends to pronounce it.

Even a handful of staff at the BBC – an organisation with its own Pronunciation Unit – got it hopelessly wrong as often as it got it right. So instead of Keera, it was Key-ara, just one small step from Ki-Ora as though an orange squash had engulfed the land.

You’d wonder if that was the devilment at play when the storm was originally named, following a poll hosted by Met Éireann on Twitter – coming up with something that would at least give us a laugh in the midst of a blackout?

Adding fuel to that particular fire was that the Chair of the European Storm Naming Group is none other than Evelyn Cusack, Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann and a woman blessed with a wicked sense of humour.

That’s not to say that Evelyn doesn’t take her job extremely seriously, because she does – and the colour-coded weather warnings are indicative of that.

But she also has a good sense of perspective – so ensuring there’s a strong Irish dimension to this shared naming process between ourselves, the UK and the Netherlands would be right up her street.

In fairness to any devilment in Evelyn, there’s an even greater danger with these things if you leave it to the general public – as evidenced by names suggested by the public (and rejected by the UK Met Office) including Vader, Voldemort, Baldrick and Noddy.

Indeed, according to the London Times, among the other suggestions turned down was that one of the storms could be called Inateacup.

So instead, we get to name a few, the Brits get to name and good few and the Dutch throw in their tuppence worth as well.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Alone, all alone in a world packed with internet friends

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Women have more friends than men; they spend more time cultivating friendships and work harder to keep them. Men move in smaller circles – and sometimes no circle at all.

That’s according to a recent UK study that found that one-fifth of men questioned had no close friends at all with the corresponding figure for women not far off half that percentage.

And yet Facebook would tell us we’ve more friends than any generation since Adam ate the apple (an actual apple, not the tablet named after said fruit on which you store all your electronic ‘friends’).

The definition of friendship would suggest it’s very hard to claim you are one with a person you’ve never met – and yet Facebook does just that, offering you unlimited acquaintances, none of whom you’d recognise if you bumped into them on the street.

So, does this suggest that social media friends are replacing actual people?

Or in a world where we can reach out to people on the other side of the planet at the touch of a thumb, are we actually becoming more insular and self-centred than ever before?

There was a time when your friends were people who lived near you or you went to school with; your social circle didn’t extend too far beyond the radius of the area you could walk to.

And maybe it’s rose-tinted hindsight, but very few people seemed all that lonely as a result.

Now we have unlimited potential for an infinite number of friends – and yet this UK poll by YouGov found that 18 per cent of men did not have a single close friend and 32 per cent admitted they had no one they counted as a best friend.

And while women fared better, even then twelve per cent said they did not have close friends and 24 per cent lacked a best friend.

The online survey found that men were less likely to say they felt lonely; 44 per cent were lonely sometimes, often or all of the time, compared with 50 per cent of women.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Power of radio allows you see the world in your mind’s eye

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Back in the world before the internet, it was common practice for sports fans to keep in touch with events elsewhere by means of a transistor radio which they fixed to their ear for the duration of their own game.

Back then, even headphones were a future phenomenon – so the only way to manage this was to keep the volume low and the radio near, so that the sound didn’t upset those other spectators who preferred to just concentrate on the game at hand.

Nonetheless, there were many who yearned for the bigger picture – and therefore it was a regular feature to find half the crowd with a wireless up to their lughole.

And there’s a story from that era shows just how this can go awry.

Depending on your age, Philip Greene either needs no introduction – or you’ve never heard of him.

In a nutshell – and alongside the great Jimmy Magee – he was the voice of Irish soccer through the forties, fifties, sixties, seventies and into the eighties.

Jimmy did the television commentaries, but every weekend Phil would be despatched to a footballing outpost, far from his beloved Glenmalure Park, home of Shamrock Rovers.

Occasionally Philip’s love for the Hoops got ahead of him, and he was known to hand back to studio with lines like: “Still 1-0 to us and ten minutes left to play.”

But the transistor radio story goes back to the early part of his career and a time when RTÉ Radio Sport featured just one live match on a Sunday, with the occasional input from studio to bring fans up to date with other scores.

This was also the golden era of the continuity announcer, a person who had just two jobs – to introduce the next programme and to plug to gaps if there was a break in transmission from the outside broadcast unit.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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