19 January 2008

GIGO - Garbage In Garbage Out Example

Happy New Year reader(s)!

I was most impressed yesterday to see how IT has revolutionised marketing. In my postbox was a fully-personalised full-colour brochure from Thomson Holidays with every page trying to be personal (eg. The Surname Holiday Brochure 2008 - A range of personally selected holidays for my name).

Page 2 showed photos of the Roman Epic Cruise I went on last year including a nice photo of the Thomson Destiny cruise ship. It reminded me when I had departed Gatwick airport (May 2007 in case I'd forgotten). It suggested I might want to cruise the Eastern Mediterranean this year based on last year's selection. Great fuzzy logic, guys!

However, as the character Kryten would say from the Red Dwarf TV Series, "There's just one small problem with that, sir".

Despite having my address entirely correct, the brochure was addressed to a Mr Johnson. Hobson/Johnson, understandable, perhaps? But more notable is the fact that I certainly did not depart Gatwick in May 2007 to join the Thomson Destiny. Indeed, I have never, ever been on a Thomson holiday in my life (what do you take me for, dear reader?).

And in case you thought perhaps they just got the address slightly wrong, there are only 2 flats at this number, and the other flat does not have a Mr Johnson either. There are no other flats at nearby numbers, and certainly none at this postcode (a postcode it took me 10 years to get the Royal Mail to accept - another story, however).

Nice idea, Thomson, but if you really can't get the data right, a complete waste of money. It made me wonder about the quality of their whole database and the thought crossed my mind that they might have sent an incorrect brochure to everyone on the list. It also made me think of the bank (urban myth perhaps but funny nonetheless) who sent a mailing to every one of their customers addressed "Dear Rich Bastard" after the programmer had left some of his testing code in and used his test database customer - a Mr Richard Bastard - against the production address file.

At least the brochure suggests recycling, which it will quickly succumb to.

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