PlateI ordered two dining sets and matching mugs from M&S but they arrived with one broken mug and one broken plate.

I phoned customer service, who said they would send replacements for the broken items.

Soon, a new mug arrived. I waited a few days for the plate, then phoned customer service again.

“Ah, the single plates are out of stock online,” she said. ”They’re very popular. That will be the reason we haven’t sent you another one. I can refund the whole set if you want?”

I didn’t want. I wanted my missing plate. I asked if they were in stock in any nearby stores, and whether I could pick one up.

“There are some at Redhill,” she said. “I’ll email them to set one aside for you.”

That was yesterday. I drove 15 miles to Redhill today. With traffic, roadworks and accidents, it took an hour.

I got to M&S but couldn’t see the homewares department listed by the escalator.

“Excuse me,” I asked a passing shop assistant. “Where’s your homewares department?”

“We don’t have one,” she told me.

“Is there another M&S in Redhill?”


I told her the whole story. She called a shop assistant called Jackie to help.

I said: “My name is Jackie too!”

The first assistant replied: “So is mine!”

I said: “Surely three Jackies can solve this.”

They looked at the record of my order. They checked their stock list. They couldn’t find any plates anywhere, apart from a set of four, available online.

One Jackie told me: “If we had a set of those in-store, we’d split them and give you one.”

“Can we make that happen?” I asked.

“But we don’t stock homewares here.”

“So why did customer service tell me there were some in stock at Redhill?!”

“The only thing I can think is that a customer has returned them and they will be somewhere in our store room.”

Jackie and Jacqui went to look. “We may be some time,” they said.

“I’ll wait…”

I waited.

And waited.

Eventually, Jacqui came back. Waving a plate!!!

“We found a set in the loading bay. They were going back tomorrow.”

I was so happy!

In return, I gave the two Jackies a box of caramels from the M&S food store to share.

That made them happy too. In fact, they were so overwhelmed that they nearly cried.

Luckily, I got my new plate home in one piece.

And my next dinner party guests will be able to eat from a full set of matching plates.

What this means for you

The way you communicate has a big effect on the results you get. I achieved my goal by being determined, remaining positive, creating a communal bond (“three Jackies”), and stating clearly the outcome I wanted.

In copywriting, the same lessons apply.

You have to:

  • Know what you want to achieve, make that your call to action, and work backwards from there
  • Use language that resonates with your audience
  • Be ready for anything
  • Understand the power of storytelling (and dialogue)
  • Be good at saying ‘thank you’
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