Selling Yourself: Part Six

Another reblog from 2013, continuing this series about my early career in sales. I thought it was in 6 parts, but have just rediscovered a last part, which I will post tomorrow. I think only Jude has seen this before.

beetleypete

I hope I am not wearing down my readers, with this unusually long series on my exploits in the world of sales. Judging by figures for the posts, enthusiasm has dimmed somewhat since Part One. There is one more to go after this, and that will take me up to the Ambulance Service. No more selling stories to come after that, I promise.

As I have previously told you, I needed a job, as the shop was not paying enough to save for a future. I saw one advertised locally, and had an idea that I could get it, if I gave a good interview. It was back to sausages and pies, something I at least knew a lot about. My first employer in that field had now been swallowed up, and had become part of the brand leader, who had been my second employer. There was a new number…

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Selling Yourself: Part Five

Part five of a series from 2013. This covers the time when my mother and I ran our own business. For the benefit of non-UK readers, an ‘Off-Licence’ is known elsewhere as a ‘Liquor Store’.

beetleypete

At the end of Part Four, I mentioned two more jobs, both covered previously, in other posts. These are behind us as we continue, and it is now 1976. My next sales venture was back in retail, though in a very different way from before, and for totally different reasons. I have touched on this earlier, in a post I called ‘Looking after Mum’, and I will now go into it in more detail, and if you will forgive me, at considerable length.

When my Dad left, and forced the sale of the marital home, I was working as a taxi driver in Kent, and Mum was working in an office job. I was in my early 20’s, and did not want to be tied to a mortgage at the time, especially one taken out with my own Mum. However, it was highly unlikely that we would have qualified for…

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Selling Yourself: Part Four

Reblogging part four in this series of six from 2013. I got another job, but didn’t enjoy it very much this time!

beetleypete

The reason the interview for my next job was on a Saturday, was because the staff started far too early, to allow for a weekday interview process. After less than seven days, technically unemployed, but paid until the end of the month, I was taken on by this new company, following the most basic meet and greet, and a quick driving assessment. They were so short of staff, even the top managers were out doing rounds, so as long as I could read, write, and drive, I was certain to be employed.

I was back on van sales once again, this time for a bread company in the Medway area, Betabake. Knowing that they had little hope of competing with the brand leaders like Wonderloaf, and Sunblest, they concentrated instead on the neglected ‘personal retail’ market. This was a posh term for door-to-door selling and delivering, something like a milkman…

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Selling Yourself: Part Three

Next part in the series of six from 2013. Part three of my early days of employment. This didn’t end so well! I think only Jude has seen this.

beetleypete

My time with sausages and pies was over for now, though I would re-visit this area of sales at a later date. Having sneaked a day off to attend an interview, I had a new job offer, and I was off, to sales pastures new.

The confectionery market is well-known to us in the UK. We have a national sweet tooth, and there are plenty of companies out there willing to exploit this. I saw an advertisement for one of those companies, although the sweets were only a small part of a more complex organisation. Jimmy Goldsmith, father of Jemimah Khan, and businessman extraordinaire, owned a company called Cavenham Foods, producing food of many types. As he is long dead, I feel it is in order to use the actual names.

One subsidiary of this, the third largest company in its field at the time, was an offshoot selling cheap…

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Selling Yourself: Part Two

As requested by some readers, here is part 2 of my 6-part series ‘Selling Yourself’, from 2013. I have decided to repost them all, and I think only Jude has seen this one before.

beetleypete

I was a bit fed up with records by now. I wanted to listen to them, collect them, and discuss them, not sell ones I didn’t like, to argumentative heavy metal fans, and old ladies. I researched new markets in which to invest my skills.

Food, and shopping for food, was changing dramatically by then. Large supermarkets, called Fine Fare, Safeway, and Tesco, were beginning to dominate high streets, especially in the suburbs. Even the traditional grocery shops, represented by Lipton’s,  J. Sainsbury, and the ubiquitous Co-Op, were enlarging their stores, and reducing the amount of goods physically served to the customer. Self-Service was the new shopping catchphrase, and working women were no longer the housewives of the past.

Along with the busier lifestyles, came the need for food that was easier to prepare, required less fuss and bother, and could all be bought in one place. It wasn’t quite…

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Bilking

This word may be unfamiliar to you, but it is well-known to taxi-drivers in Britain. Here is a general definition.

Non payment of fares – ‘Bilking’
Non payment of a taxi fare is called ‘bilking’ which is an offence under the Fraud Act.
Any customer unable to pay the full fare for their
journey will be returned to the original pick-up point or the local
police station. Passengers must ensure they have sufficient funds
to pay for the journey before it starts, or inform the driver
accordingly. The driver will be happy to give you an estimated fare
to your destination
.

During the short time I worked as a taxi driver in Kent from late 1973 until early 1976, I soon became used to the variety of ingenious ways some passengers would use to avoid paying the fare.

Some basic fare-avoidance tactics were obvious to anyone.
Suddenly jumping out of the car at traffic lights and running off.
Claiming to have no money at the end of the journey and promising to bring it to the taxi office the next day.
Offering much less than the amount due and claiming that was all it cost them the previous day.

Fortunately, they were not that frequent. But as a local private-hire taxi using your own car for pre-booked jobs, there was little redress available. Fighting someone for the money was not a good option, and calling the police was pointless, as it was considered to be a civil offence of non-payment of a bill. The more recent changes that made it an offence were not law at the time, and the police in Kent would never have considered attending an address to enforce payment of my fare.

However, it was the more talented fraudsters that could cost you the most money. Often employing elaborate scams, and being so convincing, I was frequently left having to admire their talent, despite being out of pocket.

One morning, I was asked to attend the office of a respectable local Estate Agent. As I stopped outside, a well-dressed man walked out. He was carrying a heavy box, and turned in the doorway, calling out “Goodbye, Anita. I will see you later”. The young woman inside waved to him as he got into the back of my cab. He asked to go to Lewisham Town Hall, a distance of around nine miles. On the way, he told me that he was taking a box of papers to the planning department, as the Estate Agents were acting for the builders of a new development in the Lewisham area. On arrival, he asked me to wait, and to take him somewhere else after.

The man reappeared some twenty minutes later, minus the box. He got back into my car and asked me to take him to Westerham, a small town in Kent. This was a further fifteen miles to the south, and I guessed it would take around an hour, in traffic. When we got to Westerham, he pointed at an Estate Agent’s shopfront, and said he was going in there before returning to the place where I had picked him up that morning. I couldn’t park close to that, but found a space at the other end of the shops, agreeing to wait. By now, the fare due was considerable. Including waiting time, it was almost fifteen pounds, and in 1974 that was equivalent to around £150 at today’s values.

After thirty minutes, I went to have a look through the window of the shop, and he wasn’t in there. I went in and asked for him. As I didn’t know his name, I described his clothing and appearance. The young man inside nodded. “Oh yes, he was a potential buyer. He asked for a leaflet about one of the houses in the window, took it, and left”. I walked back to the car realising I had been conned. The man had obviously wanted to get to Westerham, and had staged a really elaborate ploy to get a free taxi ride without making me suspicious. No point wasting any more time, so I drove back to the original Estate Agency in Bexleyheath where I had picked him up. I wanted to know if he had any connection with that company.

When Anita had finished a phone call, I asked her about the man, without telling her he had bilked the fare. “Oh yes, he was nice. He came in carrying a box, and was asking me about a property in Bostall Heath. He said if I could ring him a taxi he would go and look at it from the outside, then come back in the same taxi to arrange a viewing over the weekend if he liked the area. When he didn’t come back, I presumed he didn’t like the look of the house Why? Was there a problem?”

I told her he had left a pen in my cab, and I was going to return it. I was too embarrassed to tell her the truth.

Foreign students

After yesterday’s post relating to foreign exchange students, I was reminded of this old post, one that many of you have never seen.

beetleypete

In 1978, we had moved to a house in Wimbledon, an affluent suburb of South London. The mortgage was manageable, but with interest rates above 12% and climbing, any help with finances was always appreciated. My first wife, then working as a college lecturer, had planned to take on examination marking during the holidays; a temporary, albeit well-paid extra job. I was working as a company representative, on a fair salary, with a new car supplied. Still, we had to run the other car, and the house needed repainting, as well as some other minor jobs. We considered our options to generate extra income, and they were few. My wife noticed an advertisement in the local newspaper. Host families required, for French students visiting the area, to improve their English skills. The remuneration offered was £40 a week, almost 70% of what I was getting, as an acceptable salary. It…

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Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Fever Dream.

Whatever was ailing me yesterday seems to have gone away overnight. Though it was uncomfortably warm here last night for February. I woke up late, in the middle of a dream that had disturbed me so much, I thought it was still ‘happening’.

I had lost Ollie, and I was looking for him everywhere. But everything in the dream was wrong.

We were living on a busy main road, in an unfamiliar city. The cars outside were all 1970s American cars, and Yellow Cabs like I have seen in films. People were helping me try to find my dog, but none of them were familiar, and none were American either. The shops, banks, and other buildings all looked like they would in an English city, but the traffic, buses, and even police cars, were American types from fifty years ago.

After what seemed like hours passing in my dream, it was getting dark, and I still couldn’t find Ollie. I was becoming incredibly agitated, and worried about my dog.

Then the yapping of a neighbour’s tiny dog woke me up, leaving me thinking about yet another strange dream, and why I had experienced it.

At least Ollie was alive and well, sitting on his bed in the kitchen when I went to check on him.

The Rizla+ experience.

A post from 2013 that I think only Eddy has seen. My claim to fame, ‘Reinventing the spliff’!

beetleypete

In late 1972, I applied for a job as a company representative for Rizla, the manufacturer of cigarette papers. The LaCroix family had been involved in paper production in France since the 16th century. As early as the late 17th century, the company began to market papers specifically targeted at the emerging hand-rolling cigarette market, which was beginning to become an alternative to pipe smoking. By modern times, they were the the leader in the distribution of cigarette papers, and even though there seemed to be other brands available, they were probably a subsidiary. In effect, they had a European monopoly of these products. The foundation of the paper is rice, hence the name; RIZLA+.  Riz is French for rice, and the La Croix family name was shortened by the use of the cross symbol.

I was successful, and employed to cover the areas in the East; Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk…

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What I Don’t Miss About The 1970s

I was 18 years old in 1970, and 25 when I got married in 1977.
By the end of that decade, I was already an EMT in London.
It is easy to look back with fondness at some things from that era.
But I am also reminded of what was not so good in Britain at the time..

The awful sliced white bread.

The Christmas Gifts.

State of the Art portable televisions.

What was on those televisions for most of the day, and after midnight.

Some of the sweets.
(Mostly good)

(Mostly not so good)

The ‘long-bonnet’ British Leyland Mini.

Police Officers getting off the beat, and into silly-looking patrol cars.

Limited options for ‘eating out’.

Fashionable clothing for men.

The 1960s were pretty cool, as well as ‘Swinging’ of course.
But something went badly wrong on the 1st of January, 1970.