It is as a statement of fact, rather than with any pride, that I confess to a certain phobia about online shopping.
True, I am not that big a shopper anyway, and tend to come out in something of a rash on my annual supermarket visit, on the second day of our summer holiday. But the online variety brings out in me even greater anxiety and purchasophobia.
We did have something of a minor celebration in the house recently when I successfully booked my own train tickets online. Well, I kind of did. I used the traintracker service to find out which trains I wanted, but when it came to the actual purchase I got on the phone and had a nice chat with a man in Bangalore who took down my credit card details.
But my latest experience of the online shopping market has been as a seller rather than a purchaser, and it has been a fascinating experience, not least for the politeness of people when they are served properly.
A fair proportion of online chatter is of the abusive and insulting variety. Feed in any footballer or showbiz celebrity’s name, let alone a politician or a banker, and you will see what I mean. So much of our media discourse also operates only at the level of fury and rage.
And I sense from the response to the service we have been running that people have a lot of bad experiences of shopping online. Because the response has been characterised by an extraordinary politesse and thankfulness that something is ordered, paid for, and arrives as promised within a day or two. I’d love to know whether this really is out of the ordinary, but it has been nice to get the emails, tweets, direct messages and letters thanking us simply for doing what we said we would.
We have a good little system going here. My son monitors the site overnight, grabs me at some point in the day to sign any books that need signing, with the message as directed, then he gets them out the next day. I’m glad it seems to be working, and raising a bit of money for the party as we go.
Remember, it is the trade paperback of The Blair Years we are selling, at £15, with £7.50 going to the party. Go to http://www.alastaircampbell.org/bookshop.php.
Meanwhile, feel free to share online shopping horror stories or otherwise.