"On a flat one?"

Commerce Here is a cautionary tale on how not everything happens for a reason and you can be easily led.

Shortcutting through George Henry Lee's today (or John Lewis for those of you haven't lived in Liverpool all your life) I decided to see what FreeSat receivers on sale. Our high rise apartment building has a signal running through its many orifices and only recently thanks to the Twitter brains trust has it been explained to me that it can be used in conjunction with the free service - well free apart from the price of the box.

Said boxes are out of my price range but I glance left and see a Sharp Freeview HD box for £35 which still seems like a lot of money, or does on my salary. I wait for a partner to be free (for the uninitiated all of John Lewis's staff are shareholders) (it's complicated) and then fire at him the battery of questions:

"Will it work on a portable ariel?"
"On a flat one?"
"Just the four channels? Three I already have and BBC HD?"
"Does it effect the picture quality?"
"Can I return it?"

That's the gist. He answers them patiently and is even open enough to tell me that he himself has a Humix PVR with an HD receiver which is "quite good". I thank him, he thanks me, I thank him and he thanks me again and then I continue standing looking at this little black box.

Having only marginal self control when it comes to consumer goods at the bottom end of the price range and offering the same rationalisation I'm employing to justify buying the Star Wars blu-ray boxset, that I don't imbibe any noxious substances for pleasure or addiction, I pick up the little slip of stock control paper and take it to the check out.

The lady partner checks for stock. They're sold out. My vision of leaving the shop with the box in a bag evaporates. She tells me she can order me one and that I'd be able to collect it on Friday, maybe? I think again.

"Tell you what", I tell the teller, "Leave it. If there isn't one in stock, it's the world telling me I shouldn't have one."

"We could deliver one to you."  She blurts out quickly.

"To my house?" I live in a flat, but I always say house because the flat's in a House and I like saying the 's' sound in house more than the 't' sound in flat, which sounds a bit flat.

"To your house."

"Go on then."

She had me. So now I'm waiting for my new Freeview HD box to be delivered. Which goes to show that the internal stock ordering and distribution systems of department stores have nothing to do with fate and philosophy and everything to do with sales and marketing.

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