A weblog by Jon Silk, Client Services Director at LEWIS PR. (Contact / Subscribe)

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Thursday, 19 July 2007

A tough brief, a losing battle

The supermarket, er, market is a competitive one.

Asda puts billboards directly outside Sainsbury's stores. Tesco puts out ads about how much cheaper it is than Asda. Waitrose and M&S fight over who has the most exclusive smoked salmon. (Do I chose Orkney or Speyside? Help!)

In the squabble for online sales, all of them promise wonderful differentiators, such as refrigerated delivery vans, satnav, one-hour delivery slots or drivers dressed as Darth Vader. I made that last one up.

Which is why the copywriter must've thought long and hard as to how to deliver the bitter-tasting email I received from Ocado this morning.

Basically, they're going to start charging for delivery. How that poor writer must've deliberated over the wording of this ridiculously complex change to policy. "Most slots are free, £2 or less, with a maximum of £3 at busy times. If you spend less than £75 the charge will be no more than £6."

Nice try. But what the hell are you on about? And what in blazes is a 'delivery tote'?

After days of worrying over how to break it to me that I'll have to pay should I dare chose a busy delivery time - such as when I'm likely to be in - the Ocado technical team then go and blow it by incorrectly mailmerging me into 'Mr Jon' (which I actually quite like).

This was a tough assignment for any copywriter, and one that was executed with an A+ for effort. But I'm not sure even the finest team of writers could've made this message palatable, Mr Jon or no Mr Jon.

In a thrilling twist, I've never even shopped with Ocado.


We've made some changes to our delivery charges.

Dear Mr Jon,

To keep our standards of delivery and customer service as high as possible, we're introducing a small delivery charge to some of our delivery slots. Charges will affect busy periods but quieter delivery slots will remain free.

All customers spending over £75 will have the opportunity to choose a free delivery slot at a quieter time of the week. Most slots are free, £2 or less, with a maximum of £3 at busy times. If you spend less than £75 the charge will be no more than £6. Charges may vary, but we'll always tell you how much you'll pay on the slot booking page.

These changes will take effect for any order checked out on or after the morning of Monday 23rd July. If you already have an order placed for delivery after this date, you will not be charged unless you check out the order again.

Remember, orders of £75 or more will still qualify for free delivery before the 23rd July.

We remain committed to delivering perfect Waitrose groceries, at in-store prices, straight into your kitchen. As part of this commitment we've cut the price of hundreds of items, added hundreds of items to our range (with many more to come!), and recently developed a new delivery 'tote' that not only improves packing but also protects your groceries during their journey to your door.

Thank you for using the Ocado service.

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