Today, pretty early on a Sunday morning, I have bought services from an incumbent (former monopoly) provider in my country. This was at a teller, with a kind, helpful and very careful clerk, er, service representative. Good.

So careful he was that as I pulled out my payment card, he correctly spotted in my card holder a loyalty card from this provider – now that is *personal* service, isn’t it!
He helpfully recommended that I record the purchase with my loyalty code and earn loyalty points.

Now, for readers from different cultures:  in my country and culture this counts as walking the extra mile, both for the proactive suggestion and for the extra effort he was volunteering to do to read and enter the loyalty code – more often than not, his colleagues would complain about the fuss if I requested that myself. Privacy concerns such as peeping my card holder pale in comparison with this keen and helpful offer.

As it happens, this particular service provider only grants loyalty points on services purchased *for individual use of the loyalty card bearer* – with characteristic stinginess, deeply rooted in its monopoly heritage. I dutifully shared with the keen and helpful representative that others were going to use the services I intended to purchase through him. In fact, keen as he was, he must have guessed some of this, since what I purchased is a two-person package, so at least half of it had to be for somebody else.

The representative dutifully shrugged away my concerns, as he commented “it’s points charging up a card anyway, isn’t it?”

With a more competitive, market-savy provider I just might have suspected that representatives were rewarded for driving customers to obtain and use loyalty cards, so this one were actually asking me to break his employer’s regulations in self interest.

My country’s culture being what it is, I am convinced instead that this person believes he is helping customers make the best possible use of his service and the provider’s, based on the obvious assumption that regulations are purposeless, so the cost of breaking them must be lower than the reward.

Please do come to my country and enjoy personal, helpful service. I look forward to meeting you then.