We have had our milk delivered to the doorstep every day for the last forty years. A reliable faithful service provided without any fuss or hesitation. Also trust that you would pay at the end of the week. A socially distanced service before anyone had heard of Coronapop. A short handwritten note left in the evening could amend the order and have it on your doorstep, before you are awake the next day. Even better than Amazon Prime and no flurry of Emails or extra delivery costs !
Of course the middle of the night deliverers have changed over the years. Mr. Robinson – our original milkman – retired after a long career never seeing his customers, but trusted and valued by all of them. Since then we have had a steady succession of milkmen still with the same everyday service. A few things have changed – Mr Robinson’s silent, electric milk float was ahead of its time, tip- toeing through the night with no carbon footprint, later it was replaced by a diesel version. We didn’t know about climate change back then, but the cows have a lot to answer for.
The service was enhanced with orange juice and eggs …. and bottled water……….and bread ….. and even more things at Christmas. Every house got a Christmas card and the milkman got a tip.
Sadly it’s a fairytale without a happy ending. Along came a corporate business with great ambitions – Why not take over all the small milkmen? – and create a UK-wide milk empire. Call it “ Milk and More”. Economies of scale; bulk purchase of goods; widen the product offer; centralise the back office administration. I’m not sure Mr. Robinson ever had a back office.
It all went well for a while – there were printed colour glossy brochures of the enhanced product range; the occasional free gift to introduce new lines and even TV adverts ! The administration of all this became more complex and much less personal. The back office was a long way from the front line.
The somebody in the back office had an idea of how to simplify the payment system and get rid of all the small change and notes on the door step. Go on-line with orders a get customers to pay by direct debit. Just one problem – the back office staff had never ever met any customers, so they didn’t know that lots of them were elderly and didn’t trust computers, even if they were on-line in the first place; nor did they like the remoteness of direct debits.
Cancel the milk today was the final note on the doorstep.
That is how “Milk and More” became “Milk and Less”.