“Can you purchase business cards printed onto savoury crackers?”
This isn’t a proper article as such, just something I stumbled across which tickled me so I thought I’d briefly write it up off-the-cuff.
Every business is, supposedly, always on the hunt for better and more efficient ways to resolve customer queries, and on that basis a lot of business websites are now equipped with ‘Live Chat’. In addition to phone and e-mail, ‘Live Chat’ is a way of contacting a company with questions or issues – you are put through to a one-on-one conversation with a ‘chat representative’ reminiscent of Skype or the nostalgic wonder of MSN.
‘Live Chat’ is becoming quite prevalent on company sites and people clearly find it helpful, but I simply don’t know how anyone is able to use them without being drawn towards winding up the delegate you end up speaking with. I could have the most pressing matter in the world and I still wouldn’t be able to resist taking the envoy of Jacamo or SportsDirect.com or whoever on a wild goose chase instead for my own cripplingly juvenile entertainment, I think it’s the visual similarity to MSN that evokes memories of being immature and unruly and makes me powerless to not act like a tit.
This urge hits me strongest when I see ‘Live Chat’ advertised on a site that clearly doesn’t require it. If present on a site for a software developer or telecommunications company or government then this is understandable, as there’s probably plenty of questions to be asked and answered. What I find irresistible are ‘Live Chat’s offered by websites for startlingly simple business models, where what few questions anyone could plausibly ask would fit into a concise FAQ and it’s obvious the chat representatives staffing it are all sitting around with nothing to do, spending all day playing with yo-yos or plotting affairs. ‘Live Chat’ is probably not necessary, for instance, on a website selling garden gnomes, or aromatic tea, or business cards.
A while back I decided to look into getting some business cards. I do not have a business, nor do I wish to have one, but print supplier Vistaprint were promoting a ludicrously good deal of something like 250 business cards for £1, and I thought I could order a batch of these:
I had no idea what I’d do with them but they seemed like a nice asset. I could stick them around the house, hand them out to people on the bus, show one with drunk indignation to any bouncer who tried to kick me out of a club, whatever.
However I never submitted my business card order, I must have visited the Vistaprint website and distractedly wandered over to their ‘Live Chat’ instead. I only know this because I’m currently looking through old Word documents trying to scrabble together pieces of writing to add to my paltry Ideastap, and came across the conversation below. I have no recollection of doing this whatsoever, I may have been drunk, but it seems a conversation was struck up between chat representative Fauzia, and me, under my pseudonym of Chester.
Fauzia: Hi my name is Fauzia, How can I help you?
If your query relates to an existing order, please can you let me know your name and the order number?
You: hey there Fauzia!
You: my name’s Chester
Fauzia: hi chester
You: I’m new to the site and just had a query or two
You: I’m looking for business cards that make an impact, so I want mine to stand out
You: this is understandable, in today’s business climate, yes?
You: stand out from the crowd, make Papa proud, you familiar with that old saying?
Fauzia: mmm im not familar with the saying :)
Fauzia: but i understand you want to make pappa proud :)
Fauzia: so please let me know your question?
You: of course
You: we all want to make pappa proudest
You: my question was whether you printed business cards on any sort of material other than paper?
Fauzia: we do not print on any other material
Fauzia: other than paper im afraid
Fauzia: sorry about that
You: well how am I supposed to make my Papa proud with this??
You: I was thinking, and flag me down if my ideas are getting ludicrous Fauzia, of having my cards printed on an exquisite Belgian biscuit
You: which potential employers or business associates could devour after reading
You: NOW, if I provided my own biscuits
You: could you print on them?
Fauzia: unfortuantely not im afraid
You: why not?
Fauzia: sorry about this
Fauzia: we only print on paper
You: you’ve said
You: but I want to damn well know why you can’t print on a biscuit
You: you can print on watery mashed up stretched papyrus reeds?
You: but not on a lovely little biscuit??
You: sounds a bit crazy to me
You: doesn’t that sound crazy to you Fauzia?
You: because it does to me
Fauzia: yes it is very strange but im very sorry
Fauzia: we do not do this
You: what about savoury crackers?
Fauzia: we are sorry we do not do this on savoury crackers
Fauzia: we just print on paper
Fauzia: sorry about that
You: have you ever even tried printing on a cracker though?
Fauzia: no we dont do anything with food
You: so you’ve never even attempted it?
Fauzia: no because we are only digital printers
Fauzia: that print on paper
You: so you’re rendering it an impossibility
You: before even trying it
You: ‘no man can’t land on the moon’, ‘no we can’t have wireless Internet’ and now, in 2012, ‘no we can’t print business details onto a savoury cracker’!
You: the trend is unmistakeable
You: this is what I propose
You: I come to your business this weekend with a variety of biscuits, crackers, and thin meats
Fauzia: Is there anything else I can help with?
You: and we undertake some printing experiments on them
You: what do you say Fauzia?
Fauzia: im sorry i am in the UK
You: as am I!
Fauzia: if you were to bring them no one will do anything
You: where are your offices based?
Fauzia: try this place
You: oh my God you’ve actually found them..
You: I don’t really want biscuit business cards Fauzia, I was just having a friendly wind up before placing the real order!
You: who would want biscuit business cards??
You: what a ludicrous notion!
You: they’d become soggy in the pockets in meetings, birds would try to steal them, stupid
You: no, in all seriousness, what I want are business cards carved into bars of soap Fauzia
You: where are we with that?
I found this old transcript just today and decided to chase up the link Fauzia sent over, 18 months after the original conversation took place. With the constant need to generate ideas for this blog I was sure there was something I could do with baked business cards, which I could then tie in with some grander, overarching, contemporary topic to make it appear like proper journalism. Handing out bizarre business cards, trying to stand out from the crowd, saturated graduate employment, yeah I could probably stretch a story out of that.
It took a little investigation as the link she sent no longer works – London Print Brokers has changed its name and apparently had a cyberpunk makeover and is now ‘Optimus 2020’. I tipped them an e-mail, politely inquiring as to whether Fauzia’s information was correct and I could start chiselling my contact information into pretzels and soap and whatever I fancied.
I was given your information by my friend and business associate Fauzia. I understand you offer, or at least used to offer, a service in which a business card could be printed onto a cracker, or savoury biscuit. My query is whether this process could be replicated on other materials, namely soap. My aim is to have 2,500 bars of soap etched with my business credentials by the end of this fiscal year, which I can hand out to potential partners & investors alongside comments such as “I’m the best bar none” and “drop me a foam-call sometime”.
Please get back to me as soon as is convenient,
Mr Matthew Rose
Their response was prompt and unambiguous.
Curse you, Fauzia…