THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Owt for nowt

The most common stereotype of a Yorkshire person is as tight with money: there is a British saying that “a Yorkshireman is a Scotsman with all the generosity squeezed out of him”, which references how Scots are also stereotyped as being tight but not as tight as Yorkshire folk. This stereotype can also be seen in the Yorkshireman’s Motto: ‘Ear all, see all, say nowt;Eyt all, sup all, pay nowt;And if ivver tha does owt fer nowt –Allus do it fer thissen.Translation: ‘Hear all, see all, say nothing; Eat all, drink all, pay nothing; And if ever you do anything for nothing – always do it for yourself.

Although originating in Yorkshire, the phrase “you don’t get owt for nowt” has been part of the common vocabulary around me since I was a child growing up in working class Manchester.

Beautifully illustrated at the Escape Lounge in Manchester Airport’s Terminal 3 this morning at 06:30, when I arrived behind a family of 4, clearly dressed for sunnier climes, and had to wait for a good 10 minutes whilst they argued with the two ladies at the desk to try and gain entrance using a QR code on “Dad’s” smartphone, generated by his Groupon voucher purchase.

Computer said “no” and there was, as a result, no way that this family were getting past the gatekeepers.

Mum tried to shuffle the kids into the lounge to take a seat and wait for the battle of wills to conclude – but they were intercepted by gatekeeper #1 who prevented them from grabbing a sly croissant whilst the plot thickened.

Mum then rolled her eyeballs heavenwards as Dad waved his QR code at the guardians of the upgrade and explained that he had purchased the offer online.

No such “deal” existed in the memory or machinery of the gatekeepers and so the resulting impasse took place as a queue of bleary-eyed business travellers formed behind the bottle-neck.

Having already had to wait for a bag search after Fast-track security, I was thankful I had arrived a good 2 hours early for my flight, so that I could catch up with emails and project work before catching my flight to Norwich.

Eventually, gatekeeper #2 realised that the waiting line of passengers had to be addressed before riots broke out (much huffing and puffing behind me from middle-aged besuited men anticipating their “free” bacon roll).

The Groupon family didn’t make it – they had only managed to arrive 20 minutes before their gate call and so the valiant defence of legitimate exclusivity was successful – I’ve no doubt that Dad will be storming back to Groupon when he gets home to demand a refund – good luck with that mate.

It reminded me that I’m still dealing with a handful of dental practices that are recovering from their own experiments with Groupon dentistry – surely one of the more significant own-goals in recent dental business history.

I wonder sometimes who is the most daft – the businesses that offer these deals or the people who buy them?

There’s pretty much always a catch – sometimes discovered too late to do anything about it.

Here at the airport, you still don’t get owt for nowt.

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