Humour and the law. Going off the Rails

Written by Margaret Briffa | June 5, 2018

IP Disputes

A growing and very welcome trend is to respond to the threat of legal action with humour and combine that with fast remedial action to put everything right.

The latest example I spotted concerned a potential dispute between a certain rail firm and two brands of chocolate. I am not a regular rail commuter but I am well aware of the frustrations caused by delayed and cancelled services. This legal action in the making started on a sultry summer afternoon in late May when a passenger going by the name of Kevin felt that frustration on his afternoon journey. Above his head a Thameslink Departures Board was littered with the words ‘delayed’ and ‘cancelled’. To relay his annoyance, or maybe just because he had the time, Kevin tweeted a photograph of the Board with the message ‘Why Ambassador @TLRailUK With this fine service you are spoiling us’. The tweet room at Thameslink recognised the Ferrero Rocher slogan and tweeted back. ‘Very sorry Kevin. Appreciate at the moment the service is less Ferrero Rocher and more Poundland cooking chocolate.’ Next enter Poundland Retail Manager, Austin who was quick to respond with a letter claiming among other things that Poundland served eight million shoppers last week and has a “pretty good idea about what great customer service is”. He added “But if we ever fall short, perhaps we’ll describe ourselves as a bit ThamesLink.” Austin suggested that if Thameslink did not want to hear from Poundland’s legal team it remove the tweet. He ended his message with @TLRail UK You’re off the rails. Thameslink did remove the tweet and fast.

Looking at Kevin’s departure board and Thamelink’s apology tweet the whole episode was over in under 3 hours. A dispute started because of humour, compounded by someone who recognised the slogan and decided to use humour to alleviate the situation and then ended by a quick thinking Retail Manager at Poundland using humour. All in all a very English affair and well in keeping with the late running of our trains.

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