Spample This!

These days, probably like many of you, I buy most of my stuff online, and I can tell you from my experience that it has helped me save a lot of time, which I put to productive use like dealing with the relentless ‘spams‘ that the same online companies cannot stop sending me.

When you start to shop at ‘e-commerce’ outlets you basically get yourself the life-long guarantee of being swamped by ad junk via app notifications, sms alerts, email announcements and what not. In fact, I am inclined to put down the steady rise in the pigeon population in and around my building to online firms perhaps trying to market their stuff by pigeon post.

The thing is when you buy anything offline, the same shop may reach out to to you for more business. Online, things, however, work differently: You so much as log into an e-commerce site, immediately every internet merchant in the block starts spamming you. You might have seen this: When one dog in the neighbourhood, for some reason, starts to bark at something — sometimes even at a desultory wind — the other dogs, one by one, join the chorus and soon enough the entire area reverberates with the concerted cacophony of the canines. This is, broadly, the marketing strategy adopted by e-commerce entities.

But who gives the permission to these companies to spam you non-stop? The answer in one word is: You. I mean it must all be there in the ‘Terms and Conditions’ page, which you signed without reading at the time of registering yourself on the site. But you can take heart from the fact that you are not alone in this. Along with the Indian Constitution and Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, the ‘Terms and Conditions’ page remains something that nobody has ever read fully down to the end.  But one of these days when one of you actually make bold to read it, don’t be surprised if it reads something like this: “The undersigned, who will be hitherto referred to as ‘Moron’ because we don’t expect him to read this, grants the company unfettered rights to disturb the ‘Moron’ at any point, including on his honeymoon trip, while the Moron also authorises the company to seize his one or two, whichever is numerically higher, kidneys without providing any reason, and, while at it, the Moron further gives full access to his bedroom and also…”

You might think that I am exaggerating. For your sake, I would like to think I am.  Anyway, what are the typical spam messages that one gets these days? Special sale and offer announcements are understandably many (‘Get further 10% cashback on goods that are anyway marked lower than their cost price because this is not our own money but since some stupid VC has chosen to invest somebody else’s money and we might as well splurge it’). And there are the earnest spams asking your feedback about the goods and services of the place you shopped at. These days they want you to ‘rate’ everything. (‘On a scale of 1 to 10 how will you rate our rating scale?’)

But the  spam junk that I am very fond of are the ones that I am besieged with whenever I order food via one of those apps. They carry minute-to-minute developments with regard to whatever I have ordered. The messages are usually tame stuff about when the food is arriving or why is it getting delayed. But if ever they send out what really happens all along, this would be more like it:

7.15 p.m.: Thanks for placing your order via ‘WhatSappadu‘.

7.16 p.m.: We have placed the order for the same with Hotel Stomach Burn

7.30 p.m.: Your delivery person Kalaiarasan has reached Hotel Stomach Burn to collect your parcel but is currently fighting vehemently with its manager for giving five more orders to deliver. He has already done 15 deliveries for the evening. If he stays the course, we will reward him handsomely with the ‘Employee of the Day’ badge later tonight.

7.35 p.m.: Kalaiarasan is now using extremely bad words. In this mood, you better tip him well or else he will ride his motorcycle over your crotons, or your mother-in-law if you are lucky, on the way out.

7. 40 p.m.: Kalaiarasan and the manager are still sparring verbally. Five more minutes, the naan you ordered, which was rubbery to start with, will be leathery by the time it reaches you. And if we were you, we wouldn’t even touch the malai kofta. It tasted foul yesterday itself.

7 45 p.m.: Kalaiarasan has quit and left the place in a huff. Don’t worry, in this trade people quit on an hour-to-hour basis.

7. 50 p.m.: We are in the process of urgently recruiting delivery personnel. If you have any leads, pass it on. You get referral bonus points that will come handy to gain more referral bonus points.

8.00 p.m.: Your food is still lying at Hotel Stomach Burn, but as it is more than 45 minutes since you placed the order, we will run this message just to placate you: ‘Your delivery is being delayed due to unexpectedly high traffic along the route’.

8.01 p.m.: Huh! Since when high traffic in Vadapalani was unexpected?

8.15 p.m.: Sorry for the delay. But there seems to have been an earthquake, measuring 8.5 on the Richter scale, on just the road leading to your house. This is preventing our delivery person from delivering.

8.30 p.m.: Good news, the earthquake was only 7.5 on the Richter scale.

9.00 p.m.: We are surprised that you are still tracking this. Your food is anyway safe and will be used for some other order by somebody else on some other day.

9. 30 p.m.: Hah! Some hope at last. Kalaiarasan has rejoined us. In this trade people rejoin on an hour-to-hour basis.

9.31 p.m.: Whoops! He just landed an upper cut on the manager and walked away with the ‘Employee of the Day’ badge.

9.45 p.m.:  Not that we need to tell you, but still: ‘Due to unforeseen circumstances we are unable to process your order and hence cancelling it and also closing down this app business itself’.