October 27 2012

My Statement of Unfounded Beliefs

Businesses, organisations, clubs and even individuals often get to a stage where making a clear decisive statement of what they truly believe can be helpful. This is called their Statement of Beliefs. My theatre company, The Backyard Bard wrote up our Statement of Beliefs many years ago (you can read it here). Get some advice from Jimmy John Founder and get inspired by him to make life more interesting.

On this blog, I often am trying to explain, defend, explore and articulate my beliefs. I hope the testimony of this blog is that they are founded on Scripture and my own experience of life and God. But I also acknowledge that I hold many unfounded beliefs. Beliefs that I hold to dearly, that are founded on very little if anything other than my own imagination, superstition or paranoia.

I thought it good to state my unfounded beliefs (the ones I am aware of, or at least, the ones I could think of in the last few hours). May they be recorded for posterity, reflection and understanding. May I live my life admitting and uncovering the beliefs that I hold without foundation.

SIMON CAMILLERI’S STATEMENT OF UNFOUNDED BELIEFS

1. DAIRY PRODUCTS WILL IMMEDIATELY GO OFF IF LEFT OUT OF THE FRIDGE FOR ANY MORE TIME THAN ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.

I think this one was instilled by my father who insisted that the milk be put away immediately after use. I also have many distinct and fond memories of mum or dad coming home after a big shop at the supermarket and as soon as you heard the car horn beep it was all hands on deck! We all had to run out to help bring in the bags of groceries and re-enforced every single time was the important principle that all the fridge stuff had to be put away first and as quickly as possible.

As you can imagine, every time I go on a church camp I experience great angst when during breakfast the jug of milk is just sitting on the table for the hour or so while everyone eats. Every time I can hear my internal Statement of Unfounded Beliefs screaming “PUT IT BACK IN THE FRIDGE!!”.

2. SPIDERS WILL JUMP ON YOUR FACE IF YOU LOOK DIRECTLY AT THEM, AS OPPOSED TO RUNNING PAST THEM WITH YOUR EYES DIVERTED.

You would think that this arachnophobia was caused by some traumatic experience as a child when a spider jumped on my face, but no, a spider has NEVER jumped on my face, but I would put that down to the fact that I never look at them directly and I run past them with my eyes diverted. See! It works! Just like I save myself from being eaten by sharks by not spending to much time in the ocean and I avoid being attacked by bears by not going to Russia. It all makes perfect sense to me.



3. GETTING THE PERFECT SEAT IN THE CINEMA IS VITAL TO AN ENJOYABLE MOVIE GOING EXPERIENCE.

Dad, I must once again attribute this principle to your training. You know how when you go to the movies they rip your ticket and then you go to find your particular cinema, well, back when I was a boy you used to have to line up outside of your cinema before they ripped your ticket and let you in. My dad loved (and still loves) the movies and we would get to the cinema as early as humanly possible in order to be as close to the front of the queue as possible to get the best seats in the cinema. On the tragic occasions that we arrived at the cinema after a long queue had already formed, I distinctly remember on more than one occasion, my dad would instruct me to sneak to the front of the queue so that I could get in and save seats for the rest of the family. I would have to have only been around 6 or 7 years old at the time.

So there I was, a young innocent child carrying four large jackets ready to claim seats for my parents and my two older brothers (and maybe my baby brother, I can’t remember). Not conspicuous at all! Well, I sort of felt less than convincing as I tried to sneak in to near the front of the queue. So, of my own cunning, I developed a technique. I used the fact that I was a child standing alone and I simply stood near an adult so the everyone else thought I was with them. If the adult or family I was standing with got suspicious, I would simply lean a little closer to another adult and their suspicions would subside. So my life of crime and deceit began, and so Number 3 on my Statement of Unfounded Beliefs was written in stone.

My friends (and especially my wife) know that if you’re going to a movie with me then you’re going early or you’re booking online. If there’s a big group of friends meeting before the movie, I will abandon all the social catchup and unhelpful human relationship building that traditionally goes on as you wait for everyone to arrive. I will grab my ticket, get into the cinema and save the best seats for everyone. I think in my entire life (which must involve around 1,000 movie-going experiences) I can only remember 3 times that I have had to endure crappy seats – “The Witches” in 1990, “Twister” in 1996 and “Paul” in 2011. I guess 3 out of a 1,000 ain’t too bad.

4. I CAN DO FULL-TIME WORK, PART-TIME MINISTRY AND PART-TIME THEATRE, WHILST MAINTAINING A HEALTHY MARRIAGE AND AN ACTIVE SOCIAL LIFE… AND HAVE TIME TO BLOG.

Back in my twenties I seemed to be able to juggle all these things… or at least that’s what I believe as I look back with nostalgic eyes at the “glory days” when I had so much time and energy and could do so much. But come to think of it, even that is an unfounded belief. I never worked full-time in my early twenties. I worked part-time as a checkout chick at Safeway for most of it! I did do part-time theatre, but that was my main involvement in ministry, whereas now I lead the Bible Reading Ministry at my church, run a support group for guys struggling with porn addiction and am getting my “Elephant Room” ministry off the ground. I also hope to co-lead a Bible Study in my home with my wife next year and am getting more involved in various leadership roles as my church stretches its legs in its new church building. As for my marriage, well I was married at 23 and it ended in divorce! So I guess I shouldn’t really look on my twenties as my “glory days”. They sorta sucked. 

I am older and more overweight than I was, but I’m also a lot more busy with more important things, and now that I am married again, I want to invest in it and prioritise it. So I do need to realise I can’t do it all. I sometimes think of it like I’m driving on the freeway of my life, and parallel to my freeway is another freeway, where another Simon is driving a different life. At some point, I made a choice at some junction and now I am on this path. There are multiple freeways all travelling along next to each other. On one freeway I travel the world doing storytelling. On another freeway, I moved to the US to study to be a psychologist. On another freeway, I spent my days single, pursuing reconciliation with my first wife. On another freeway, I went back to Uni to study to be a teacher. I can not live every possible life and then at the end of them all see which one glorifies God the most. I must chose a freeway. And I have. And I love the freeway I’m on. So, when I’m reminded of all the things I could be doing and I look across at the other Simons driving on the other freeways, I can just smile, give them a wave and keep driving. 

5. A CHICKEN SCHNITZEL SANDWICH IS A HEALTHY LUNCH BECAUSE IT HAS SALAD IN IT.

My efforts to eat healthier are full of unfounded beliefs and the world of marketing is full of lies from “Mars Bar Lite” to Nutra Grain being “Iron Man Food”. Over the years, I have worked jobs that have required me to eat at a shopping centre food court, which has always kept me looking for the newest top rated weight loss supps – but enough is enough. I have come to believe that if I can avoid KFC and the Fish n Chips outlet and stick to the healthy Sandwich Bar, I am safe… not matter what I buy from them. I have a particular fancy for Chicken Schnitzel sandwiches, with swish cheese and mayo… oh, and lots of salad as well, which clearly makes up for all the fat that I consume from the other stuff.

I recently saw at my regular lunch venue, just how they fry up the chicken schnitzels that I love so very much. They guy lathered on at least a centimetre or two of pure margarine across both sides of the crumbed schnitzel and chucked it on the hot plate. After witnessing that, this unfounded belief just became a little more unfounded!

6. IT’S GOING TO BE A STRUGGLE FOR CAT & I TO LIVE ON JUST MY WAGE NEXT YEAR.

In 2013, Cat & I will try to live on just my wage and have all of her wage going into savings. This is partly because we want to save but mostly because we’re hoping to start a family in the next year or so and Cat wants to be a stay at home mum for the first few years. If that is going to be our life, we thought it best to start getting used to living on only one wage. This seems hard. It’s going to be a real challenge. It will take a lot of budgetting and financial planning and luxury sacrificing to pull it off.

What a load of first-world baloney! Here in Australia, we have very little concept of real poverty and real struggle. When we think of the poor, we think of people who have a beat up old car, live in a crappy high rise apartment with mould on the walls and who are unemployed. But (not to diminish the suffering of anyone who is in those circumstances), on a global scale that is still incredibly wealthy. Half of the world’s population lives on around $2 a day. 

I don’t have any concept of what it means to live without clean drinking water, access to a toilet or to actually feel real hunger that could endanger my life, and the truth is, it is almost impossible in Australia that I could ever be in that position. Even if both Cat & I lost our jobs tomorrow, we would realistically never end up living on the streets. I enjoy the luxurious benefits of material possessions, money in the bank, University education, a wide social circle, and general health (despite the chicken schnitzel sandwiches). But even if I lost all those things, I live in a country that provides water, sanitation, education, health services and employment assistance to anyone. I am truly rich. I am filthy rich. I have no right to complain about the potential “struggle” I may face by living off only one income. That income still puts me in the top %1 of the entire world, and if I have to make some petty sacrifices to adjust to a slightly lower income, they will be very superficial on a global scale.

It is so so easy to compare your plight with the wealthy around you. As we may shake our head and laugh at someone who thinks he is doing it tough if he has to travel business class rather than first class, I would look even more ridiculous to the majority of people in the world. I must always keep that in perspective and my blindness to my own privilege and wealth has earned this unfounded belief a place on the list. 

7. I CAN MAINTAIN A HEALTHY, INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD WITHOUT READING THE BIBLE REGULARLY.

This is actually not something I consciously believe. I mean, I would never say this or teach this or encourage this, but I guess the real test of what we believe is not what we profess with our mouths but what we actually do. Like the guy who says, “I love you honey”, but treats his wife like crap, our words are pretty shallow expressions of our beliefs if they are not backed up by action. The Bible is full of this principle. Like Isaiah 29:13 where it says, “The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.'” or 1 John 3:17-18, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”, or if you want it from the mouth of Jesus himself, check out the challenging passage in Matthew 7:15-28, where Jesus warns that it’s not enough to call Jesus “Lord, Lord” and listen to his words, you have to put them into practise.

God doesn’t want just lip service, he wants wholehearted discipleship, and it is by our fruit that we will be known. If you say you believe that God hears our prayers and that he is powerful to act, and yet you do not pray, then something is very wrong. As Samuel Chadwick, the Methodist preacher said 100 years ago, “Prayer is the acid test of devotion”.

Well, I find the same hypocrisy in my own life when it comes to Bible reading. I very rarely read the Bible to commune with God. I read it often to look up something, or to prepare for a study I’m writing, or for a biblical storytelling performance that I need to practise. But the Bible is not simply a text book of useful information. The Bible is the inspired Word of God. What that means is that although the words of the Bible were written down by ordinary people, God’s Spirit had a hand in guiding and at times even dictating directly what they were to write. As Peter wrote, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21). So the Bible is a collection of writings that are inspired by God. They are, as Paul puts it, “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16)

But they aren’t simple a record of things that God once said (or wanted to be said). They hold ONGOING truths. Truths that are unchanging and must be engaged with by all people. The greatest example in the Bible of this truth is found in Hebrews 3:7 where it talks of an Old Testament scripture as something that the Holy Spirit “says” not “said”. The tense is present/continuous not in the past. Now, you have to be careful to seek wisdom as to how you understand and apply scripture and Christians may disagree profoundly on this, but what we must not disagree on is the fact that the Bible is Scripture – it is sacred. It is God speaking.

Now all that is fine and dandy to write in a blog with such confidence, but what do I actually believe? If I actually believe that God is real, and I have a relationship with him that is real, and the primary way in which he communicates with my Spirit is through the Bible, then why on earth aren’t I reading it more often?? Does it simply come down to a lack of discipline? Is it laziness? No, not really. I seem to fill my days with lots of other stuff I deem important enough to fit in. Is it because I find the Bible boring or difficult to understand? Not at all! My years of doing and teaching Biblical Storytelling has given me great tools for enjoying and understanding the Bible, along with my involvement with the Christian Union and my own church, Bundoora Presbyterian, both of which have helped train me in how to study and interpret the Bible. Is it actually a sign that everything I just wrote about the Bible being God’s Word is a big lie – an unfounded belief? I don’t think so, but I have to test my heart closely on that one, because as I said earlier, a person’s true beliefs are shown by their actions.

I actually think one of my problems is pride. I have read the bible lots over the last two decades and I have studied most of its books in depth. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of Scripture and so I go to the Bible with a sad expectation that I have heard it already. I know God will speak to me if I read the Bible, but I also arrogantly think I will know what he will say!

I recall my first few months as a new believer at age 16. I consumed the Bible like a starving child that had been just given a banquet to eat! I read it with passion and real spiritual hunger. Have I lost that hunger? Do I just feel full and think it now not all that necessary to feast. Maybe a snack now and then, but I’ll rely on what I took in yesterday to get me through tomorrow. In the end, if that is the source of my lack of regular bible reading, I really need to wake up. 

I can maintain a healthy, intimate relationship with God without reading the Bible regularly just as well as I can maintain a healthy, intimate relationship with my wife without ever communicating with her. Or imagine if I just wanted to talk to my wife Cat, but I made no time to listen to her (don’t ask Cat if that is ever her experience… please). In the end, we may still be married, but our relationship would definitely not be healthy and intimate. But I want a healthy, intimate relationship with my wife, and I want a healthy, intimate relationship with God. And so, I must talk and listen to Cat, and I must pray and read the Bible with God. Let’s hope I will learn this lesson, be shaken out of my pride and my true beliefs (backed up by action) will be revealed.

So, that’s my list… so far.

I’m sure there’s lots of unfounded beliefs I still hold. Some petty, some profound.

Why not reflect on your own life and bring out into the light some of your own unfounded beliefs. You may not have to throw them out (I think I’ll always try to get a good seat at the cinema, and I’m not going to start staring at spiders) but you can at least own them for what they are. It also has been a lot of fun and it has helped me identify those beliefs I hold that I actually do think have a foundation.

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September 4 2012

“I Want a Girl Who Fears Yahweh” – song

 

This is my version of Proverbs 31:10-31, to the tune of “Short Skirt, Long Jacket” by Cake.

For those that don’t know the passage, the woman described is actually a personification of Wisdom. It is not meant to be (thank God) a check-list for godly women!

This comes right at the end of King Solomon’s collection of wise sayings, known as the Book of Proverbs. Wisdom is always portrayed as a woman and he ends his book by summing up all the things he has said about how to live a wise life – working hard, being prudent etc. His climax is the final line that says that although beauty doesn’t last, the ultimate defining characteristic of wisdom is the fear of Yahweh (“Yahweh” is the name for God). This echoes what he says near the beginning of the book in Proverbs 9:10, “the fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom”.

The “fear of Yahweh” is an odd concept in today’s culture where we value conquering our fears and see those who instill fear in others as cruel or just a bully.

Some people try to soften the idea down to say that “fear” really just means “respect” or “awe” and although this is true, the word also means, “be afraid of” pure and simple.

I equate it to the sun. The sun is glorious and life-giving. But you don’t go hugging the sun. You shouldn’t even stare at the sun, it is too brilliant. True we should give the sun respect and awe, but at the same time it is foolishness to forget the consequences of treating the sun with disrespect or apathy. In this regard, we fear the sun. When we are where we should be and we relate to the sun as it truly is – a giant ball of burning fire hotter than anything you can imagine – then we can enjoy it’s warmth and light.

God is a bit like that, although I know the analogy has LOTS of holes.

Anyway, that’s off the topic. Here’s my song.

Download the MP3 here 

and read the words below.

I WANT A GIRL WHO FEARS YAHWEH

I want a girl of noble character.
Oh who can find a wife like that?
She has a worth that shines like rubies.
Her husband’s confident and doesn’t lack.

 I want a girl who brings forth good.
Good not harm all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax. She’s working with her hands.
She brings food like the merchant ships – that’s my kinda wife.

I want a girl not who’s hot
But who feeeeears… Yahweh!

I want a girl who gets up early.
I want a girl who provides food for all.
She’s considering a field. She’s buying her own vineyard.
She works really hard and her arms are strong.

 She sees that her trading makes profit.
Her lamp doesn’t go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
and her fingers grasps the spindle tight.

I want a girl not who’s hot
But who feeeeears… Yahweh!

Her arms are open to the poor and needy.
And when it snows, she isn’t scared.
For all her family are clothed in scarlet.
And see the fine, purple linen that she wears.

Her husband honoured at the city gate,
He takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She’s making linen garments. She’s going out to sell them.
She supplies the sashes to the merchant man.

I want a girl not who’s hot
But who feeeeears… Yahweh!

She is clothed with strength and dignity.
She can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks always with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

 She runs her household and isn’t lazy
Her children rise and call her blessed;
Her husband gives her praises saying,
“Many women are noble, but your the best.”

I want a girl not who’s hot
But who feeeeears… Yahweh!

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

 

(3643)

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June 2 2012

Some of my Magic Tricks

I love magic.

I have ever since I learnt how to make a coin disappear on a camp when I was 12 years old.

Here are some of the magic tricks I have recorded.

The first is my most recent magic performance, and the first time I have ever tried a magic trick with such a big crowd. Maybe this is why it doesn’t exactly go to plan!

Enjoy!

 

If you’d like to request more, please ask!

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Category: Funny, Life | LEAVE A COMMENT
May 28 2012

The Day the Zombies Invade

This is a song I wrote on the 18th of March 2012
and performed for Bundy Unplugged on the 27th May, 2012.

Bundy Unplugged is a fundraising variety night that my church puts on every year.

Vocals: Simon Camilleri
Bass: Aaron Liew
Drums: William Veith
Guitar: Lachlan Kingsford

Download a pdf of Chords and Lyrics here!

(perform your own version of the song and post it on YouTube and I’ll include it on this blog!)

LYRICS TO “THE DAY THE ZOMBIES INVADE”

Verse 1

He turns on the Playstation.
She always shakes her head.
What is this fascination
he has got with killing the undead?

While other guys are workin
to pay the rent and bills
He’s workin really hard
to polish up his zombie killin skills

  

CHORUS

The day when the zombies invade
You’ll go runnin to those boys playin games
Cos when that day comes they’re the only ones
Who can fight off a horde who wants to eat your brains
So please don’t complain
And don’t show disdain…
I know it’s 2am honey, but I have to train
For the day those zombies invade

Verse 2

D’you even know what weapon
you need in close combat?
You’ve grabbed a sniper rifle.
What are you gunna do with that??

A true survivor chooses
the combo shotgun axe!
And you say it is useless
that he knows all these kinda facts, but

 

CHORUS

The day when the zombies invade
You’ll go runnin to those boys playin games
Cos when that day comes they’re the only ones
Who can fight off a horde who wants to eat your brains
So please don’t complain
And don’t show disdain…
I know it’s 2am honey, but I have to train
For the day those zombies invade

 

Bridge

My mummy… She taught me
It’s better safe than sorry
The scouts they… made us say
Always to be prepared

Don’t fancy… your chancy
If you met necromancy
Why you rollin your eyes? Aren’t you scared??

Verse 3

He is now 37.
He’s moved back with his mum.
He’s bunkered in the basement.
Never knowin when they will come

He now plays on four consoles.
Gaming throughout the night
We laugh but who’ll be laughin,
when we actually find he was right!

 

CHORUS   

The day when the zombies invade
We’ll all go runnin to those boys playin games
Cos when that day comes they’re the only ones
Who can fight off a horde who wants to eat your brains
So please don’t complain
And don’t show disdain…
I know it’s 2am mummy, but I have to train
For the day those zombies…
Those flesh-eatin zombies…
The day the zombies invade 

The Zombie Bite Calculator

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Category: Funny, Music | LEAVE A COMMENT
November 18 2011

Corn is the magic vegetable.

I love corn.

You can have corn for every single meal.

You can have cornflakes for breakfast, or if you want a hot brekkie, you can have corn fritters.

For lunch you can have cold corn in a salad, corn cakes (like rice cakes) or some warm corn bread.

For dinner, the options are endless, with cream of corn soup, cornflake encrusted chicken, frozen corn chucked into your pasta sauce, or just good ol’ corn on the cob.

And then after dinner, you can enjoy corn chips with salsa, candied corn or some delicious popcorn.

Corn can be dried, steamed, baked, roasted, barbecued, boiled, pureed, ground, sweetened, popped or flattened. It can be added to anything, savoury or sweet and it can be eaten in any way, hot or cold.

I love corn.

I love to put a corn holder in each end of a freshly steamed cob and bite into its juicy sweet flesh enjoying every last kernel, maybe with a small blob of butter melting into it.

It’s the only vegetable I can think of that you can hold like that. It gives you the same satisfaction you get from chomping into a chicken leg or some barbecued ribs.

It may even save the world with the ability to use the ethanol they can get from it as an alternative to fossil fuel. On  the Fuel Corn website they describe it as “Nature’s Pure, Perfect Fuel”. This is the wrap they give corn…

Corn may be nature’s only perfect fuel.  It produces oxygen as it grows and needs no special processing or pelletizing before use.  It is nature’s perfect pellet fuel.   A near pure food and pure fuel, corn burns virtually smoke free, odor free, ash free, and pollutant free.  It produces no dangerous creosote in your vent pipes, no waste product, and it requires no chimney.

Burn corn and you emit no more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than if it were left in the field to decay or fed to animals.  Using a corn stove or furnace will produce the very same three things that you produce every day as you breathe out: carbon dioxide, moisture, and HEAT!  (Lots of heat in this case!)  If everyone would burn corn rather than wood, the blue-gray haze of wood smoke over our neighborhoods every winter morning would be gone! I have heard that the best pellet stove sytems are built specifically to reduce their emissions, if you have the dollars to spend on a green version of wood burning, please do! Other great advantages of corn are that it is inexpensive and plentiful.

and so it goes on.

Anyway, that’s my quick blog on how I love corn.

If you would like to learn more about corn (as I’m sure you do!), go to the Wikipedea article and you will only be more convinced that corn is the magic vegetable.

Or if you want recipes on corn, here is a website of 87 of the best corn recipes.

Or if you want to find out about how they put corn in everything from toothpaste to crayons, click here to go to the official corn website.

I love corn.

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September 16 2011

I WANT TO BLOG – A Poem


I WANT TO BLOG

a poem by Simon Camilleri
16/09/11

I want to blog.
My mind is clogged
With thoughts and essays pending.
An epic thesis.
Creative pieces.
The list is never ending.

I want to blog.
My brain’s a fog.
I hope one day I’ll find
Sufficient time
To post online
The library in my mind.

(1981)

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February 24 2010

The Single Bed – A Poem

The Single Bed

a poem by Simon Camilleri  24/11/09

I only need a single bed.
Why would I buy a double?
Having such room for someone else
Would only lead to trouble.

I know some people like the space.
They like to sprawl and stretch,
But then you’d need a King-sized bed
When finally you get hitched!

And so, since now I sleep alone,
I’ll go to bed and dream.
Sleeping soundly in my single,
Looking forward to my Queen.

(1625)

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February 24 2010

Blenders & The Paradox of Pain – A Poem

BLENDERS & THE PARADOX OF PAIN

a poem by Simon Camilleri  29/9/09

I put my hand into a blender and pressed the button “HIGH”
and in a flash my hand was gone and, shocked, I wondered why?

Why God? Why now? Why not THAT guy? Why’d this happen to me?
Why didn’t you just stop the blades? Or stop my hands, at least?

Aren’t I your child? Were you asleep? I thought you had my back!
I thought when I teamed up with you I’d live life free from lack.

And now I lack a whole right hand! How can you call this love??
I shook my fist (now just a wrist) at the heavens above.

I wondered how, in such a world, could God really be there?
If he exists, he’s either weak or worse, he doesn’t care!

This suffering seemed so pointless that I slowly filled with doubt.
So I thought I’d take a break from church until I’d worked it out.

So I ditched my Christian friends who all just didn’t understand.
It’s easy to say “God is good” when you have both your hands.

Yes, the complex paradox of pain would take deeper contemplation,
and what better way to think it through than in complete isolation.

See, I had lost my hand, I had lost my faith, I had lost my church and friends,
but I still had no idea just how my life had reached this end.

And as I pondered this I sat down on some railway tracks.
I began to juggle hand grenades and chainsaws to relax.

I wondered how could bad things happen to good folk like me,
as I smeared my face with honey and threw rocks at swarms of bees.

“It’s a mystery”, I finally said, “The great paradox of pain!”
and I shrugged as my left hand reached for the blender once again…

(1476)

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February 21 2010

Stupid Deals

I have noticed a few stupid deals being offered of late.

The main two are by Budget Direct car insurance and Flight Centre.

Budget Direct is offering a deal where you receive $50 if they can not beat your present car insurance fees (as long as you are with RACV, AAMI or GIO). As the terms and conditions on their website states, “If Budget Direct cannot beat the renewal price as verified by the renewal documentation provided, you will be sent a cheque for $50.”

So how does this work? Does anyone ever get the money? When is it more financially sensible for them to go, “Gee, I don’t think we can on this occasion lower our fees to price match our competitor and consequently gain a customer that will give us thousands and thousands of dollars over many years. Bob! Write another cheque for fifty bucks!”

Flight Centre’s latest deal is even more ridiculous.

Picture this… Flight Centre has one price for a flight and you tell them of a cheaper flight that is being offered by another Australian airline. You have to show them written evidence of the cheaper flight and the consultant has to check and verify that is it actually a valid flight. Once all these criteria have been met, the consultant has a choice – either they beat the offer by $1, or they give you the flight for free!

That’s right! It either costs them charging you $1 less than their competitor or it costs them charging you $0. On what planet does anyone ever get a free flight out of Flight Centre?

Sure, you may say that the whole “fly for free” thing is just meant to be seen as not the point and that they’re really just saying, “we will always beat our competitors”. But as the above picture shows, they really push the FLY FREE as a genuine deal that could be taken by any customer.  On their website, there’s even a tab that simply states “Fly Free”.

Both of these deals are just ways of suckering you in to going with their business as they offer you something that it’s never in their interests to follow through with. They might as well say, “If we can’t beat our competitor, we’ll give you the entire store and pay all your bills for twenty years!” That would impress a lot of people, and maybe even get some suckers to walk through the door, but anyone with half a brain would see through the stupidity of the offer. But make it not a spectacular, like a free flight or a $50 cheque and people are blind to way they are being suckered in.

It’s like a deal that was being offered at a pub/bistro near my work. The Doutta Galla Hotel in Flemingtonhad a sign on every table stating that if, when you ordered your meal, they didn’t offer you garlic bread, you got the meal for free. They weren’t offering you garlic bread for free. They were asking you if you wanted to purchase garlic bread… At $4.90 a pop, mind you!

So basically they were trying to upsell you. Hoping that you will buy some garlic bread that you didn’t originally want or ask for. And if they didn’t annoy you with this suggestion to buy something extra, you get the meal for free! I would think that not being pestered to buy something I didn’t want was reward enough! But no, they want to pay for my entire meal!

This was clearly just set up, not to better serve their customers, but as an incentive for the staff to get into the habit of upselling. If some poor staff member did happen to forget to suggest garlic bread and the customer got their meal for free, I’m sure you can imagine who would have to pay for the meal in the end.

While the deal was on I always wondered what would happen if I went up to the counter and said, “I’d like the Chicken Parma and THAT’S ALL! NOTHING MORE!” What would they have done? Would they lean on the side of good customer service and not suggest I buy something I clearly didn’t want to buy? Or would they so avoid having to give me the meal for free, that they would still ask me?

What about if I had said, “I’d like to order 6 serves of garlic bread… No, seven. Yes, seven. That will be completely satisfying. I won’t need any more garlic bread after that!” Or what would they have replied if I said, “I’d like to order the Greek salad but make sure there’s no garlic in the dressing. See, I’m allergic to garlic and will die if I even smell it. And make sure there’s no croutons either. I can’t have any bread products or else I break out in a pus-filled sores over my entire body.”

I’m curious as to what they would say.

Would they begin to twitch and start saying “Error! Error!” as steam came out of their robotic ears?

Would they whisper to me saying, “Look, I know you’ll say no, but my boss’ll kill me if I don’t offer you some garlic bread.”

Or would they just stare at me like a cow standing in the middle of a country road, and ask, “Would you like garlic bread with that?”

Stupid.

(2049)

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