The Amazing Disappearing Customers!

Today, whilst buying mags from Ben, the co-ordinator at Waterloo, I asked to have a look at the latest list of sales figures, listed by vendor number. The list was from the week before last and as Ben looked at it he said “Your figures are wrong on here, surely?” I told him that, no, unfortunately, the figures were quite correct – my sales dropped by a quarter to a third after New Year when three of the Kent platforms closed and those trains could no longer stop at London Bridge. Since then my sales have dropped to half of pre-Christmas levels leaving me in rather a woeful state. In the last three months I have been in debt more than out and the whole situation is beginning to feel quite hopeless. The recent losses in sales are due to people avoiding the rail chaos that is London Bridge and instead they are travelling to Charing Cross, Blackfriars (which apparently is quite a civilised choice), Victoria and Cannon Street. I have no idea how this will all end but it’s not looking hopeful for me – getting new people to buy when they have been walking past and ignoring you for months is very difficult. Most regular customers are the sort of generous people who would buy the magazine automatically, without thinking, usually from a vendor who is a regular fixture on their route to work. If they changed jobs or offices, then they would automatically scout around for a convenient vendor and then transfer their allegiance to them, usually with no thought at all – they are just naturally kind and generous. Unfortunately, most of the 46,000 people who pass me in the morning are not naturally kind and generous – in fact a large number of them can be rude, arrogant and thoughtless. So my task is now much, much harder than it has ever been before – and with no guarantee of any success. Keep watching to see how I fare – Sharon

The Whiteboard Returns!! (About Time Too!)

Last week I finally saved enough dosh to pay for my liability insurance so that if my whiteboard becomes a negligent public menace, you know, knocking people over just for the hell of it, they can be reassured that they will be amply compensated! Up to a million smackers in fact, but don’t let those serial insurance-for-injuries claiming types know or before you can say “whiplash” they will be suffering from it! Anyone who trips or falls within 20 feet of my board or even rucksack will be investigated long and hard for pretence of pain symptoms. I am really glad to have it back as during the three weeks that I was without it my sales were pretty awful. Now this might be due to people over-spending in the Easter hols but you never know in my job. Anyway, the board is back and I am really looking forward to getting some great messages down this week. Many thanks as usual to all my regulars who helped me with the insurance financially and also those who helped me with my feelings of helplessness and anger and my being miserable over the whole issue of whiteboard safety. See you on the bridge soon – Sharon

Health and Safety Gone Mad (Again)!

I am sure you have all seen my whiteboard that I write messages on to keep the public up to date with what is happening in my life. This week a plain clothes policeman reported me to the Big Issue office as using language on the board that could be construed as begging. The notice on the board actually said – Lots of people on hols this week (lucky them!). Sales Tues 8/Wed 7 so not so hot – please stop and help, it will make you feel great!
So this was the supposed “begging” message. Unfortunately the Big I office was more interested in the board itself. The vendor co-ordinator, Chris, asked me – what is this board you have, where is it, how big is it, where is it in relation to the passing public etc. Now, everyone in the Big Issue office has seen my blog and also the film of my day that world-class journalist, Danielle Batist did for an online magazine article and my board features prominently in all these. I had to go into the office for a dressing-down about my potentially dangerous board and I have been told that I may use it only if I buy public limited liability insurance in case someone gets hurt by the board. Basically they are terrified that someone will try to sue them in such a situation, even though I am not an employee of the Big Issue as such, I am self-employed – if I was one of their employees then I would surely be covered by their own insurance. So now I have to raise £58 for insurance before I can entertain the passers-by with my wonderfully witty board! That’s definitely health and safety gone extremely mad – especially as my board has been in situ for three years already with no problems. If you have a minute, please email the Vauxhall office of the Big Issue and tell them how ridiculous all this is – thank you.

New Pitch for Wednesdays

Just to let you all know that due to the changes to train services at London Bridge station, I have lost between 33 and 50% of my regular customers. They are having to travel instead to stations such as Cannon Street, Blackfriars, and Victoria. Because of this I have decided to sell at Cannon Street every Wednesday morning in the hope that I can see a few of the missing regulars. Every other morning of course, I will be on London Bridge Walk as usual. Sharon