A conference call and off you pop. It may be the end if an era, but the demise of Debenhams should not perturb the cognoscenti.
Yet at one time, they were rocking. Great products with modern designers and all-round accessibility.
So what went awry? Well, this is not a COVID horror story per se. Yes, it was perhaps the final Toy Story-themed straw (buy two, get the third free), but this debacle has been a long time coming.
It was the primacy of a strategy that was as transparent as it was stupid. The over-pricing and under-discounting of shoddy tat. Garments that had immediately unravelling stitching, buttons that pinged off at the slightest touch, and all banged out just marginally below top dollar. Other so-called great ‘deals’ were tacky, low-rent, imported kitsch that largely fell apart within minutes of its removal from the unfeasibly unforgiving moulded plastic packaging.
The whole bunco gig was fronted by staff who barely concealed their contempt for customers and held a marked disinterest in service ethics. No wonder previously loyal punters had started to give it a wide berth.
Debenhams has rested on their laurels and had long since taken customer loyalty – and revenue streams – as a given. And now they’ve been found out; their pants pulled right down.
For too long, counter assistants were only too willing to lure you away from a speedy lunchtime purchase into a form-filling odyssey where all roads led to a 29.9% APR bullshit store card. A triad of benefit comprising a modest saving for you, a tidy commission for Debbie (as they bemusingly would so often be name-badged), and a crushing debt. Of course, you would get to keep your button-bereft jacket or your shoes which were unlikely to be an exact pair with uneven stitching and an unexplained colour variation. But it was an unedifying methodology for a purportedly customer-focused organisation.
So, don’t feel one iota of sympathy for these charlatans because they got off on pushing you further into financial insecurity, just to hoover up a few extra coins per week. They weren’t screwing you by accident. They just preferred hefty commissions to a morally stout steer away from scorchingly overpriced dross, coupled with needless debt.
If your view is that they were only doing their jobs, that still does not get them off the hook. Everybody has a choice. And theirs was to keep taking their pay packets while screwing the punters over. And be misanthropic turds while they were at it.
If they are now whimpering about getting a ruthlessly abrupt bullet, more fool them to not see a shafting coming from an organisation who were only too happy to give everyone else a jolly rogering.
And so, the balloon has now gone up. A combination of public awareness and COVID fortuity.
‘Staff announcement. Would all personnel please head to the DWP’.
Yes, it gets even better. All those stroppy, caked-up, sour faces are heading to the dole office for endless form-filling and passive-aggressive attrition from premier league scumbags.
It’s ‘Nam for all those Debbies out there. All those cock-sure, supercilious, hatchet-faced monstrosities who sneered at people gagging for the blue-cross bargains will now be up against the seasoned pros of the DWP hate machine.
They’ll be haplessly treading their collapsing, counterfeit Ugg boots onto all those administrative IEDs, and sucking up their own high-calorie diet of pointless queuing, bad attitude, and piss-poor service.
Tonight, Debbie is totting up her outgoings and wondering how she’s going to make her next-but-one payment on her poky cardboard new-build that’s already cracking faster than her trowelled clown face and her flaky resilience to getting the old heave-ho. She’ll already have considered whether one of those 29. 9% APR credit cards might help.
Spoiler alert: it won’t.
Debenhams will quickly evaporate like all the other retail shysters who came up short in the digital age.
And its analogue employees will now find themselves at the bottom of a rapidly augmenting pool of unemployed obsolescence and – like the Debenhams institution – irrevocably on the road to perdition.