A lot of people complain about customer service. The general consensus is that it's gone to the dogs. As I've pointed out before, more often than not these days consumers are treated as suspects rather than customers.

A terrible state of affairs of course, but what's even more terrible is when customer service goes the other way and becomes over attentive and solicitous. It's not just me - I've spoken to friends about this and they all feel the same.

It's at its worst when you get into a routine - for example if you call at a particular shop/cafe/stall for your lunchtime roll. After a surprisingly short amount of time the owner recognises you and then starts anticipating you. That's what I hate, being anticipated, with all the underlying implications that I'm being dull and predictable. Unfortunately when they say "Ah, cheese salad roll again today sir?" I haven't yet plucked up the courage to say "No, I thought today I'd go for a dead kitten in pitta".

So you stay away, you go somewhere else, you walk an extra half mile to avoid this particular shop/cafe/stall, you make your own lunch or go hungry. But these people have long memories, and the day will come that you're both very hungry and in a hurry, so you relent and decide to patronise the offending establishment again.

"After all," you think, "They must see hundreds of people a day. Surely they'll have forgotten me by now?"

No such luck. As soon as you walk through the door the joyous shout goes up.

"Where've you been!?"

So not only are they anticipating you, they're now inappropriately trying to engage you in conversation. There's nothing for it, you're going to have to get a different job on the other side of town.

Of course I haven't experienced the worst of it - a friend reported how the proprietors of a fast food joint became over-friendly to the point that they allowed her to jump the queue, gave her free stuff and invited her to sit down for a cup of tea. Needless to say she stopped going there fairly shortly afterwards.

They've got technology on their side, too. You'd think that one safe way of avoiding all this would be to order stuff over the phone. Hooray, no need for any of that mucky fraternisation stuff, it all gets done down the wire.

Unfortunately the phone remembers who you are and tells them. Last year I ordered a pizza over the phone. Before I had a chance to speak, the man on the other end had told me who I was and where I lived. But the crowning annoyance was when I placed my order.

"Ah," he said in response to my request for a deep pan vegetarian with no olives, "Same as last time then."

Me, I think I rather just be treated with suspicion.

It has been suggested by some people that occasionally my blog entries here are perhaps a little too angry. And therefore might come across as rude.

Sorry! That was never the intention – firstly they're always a bit tongue in cheek. And secondly – this is the internet. Next to what often seems to pass for normal internet behaviour, my blogs are a model of restraint!

You'd think that online where people are communicating anonymously with people they don't know in forums, chat rooms, email groups, Second Life etc etc etc… people would be on their best behaviour. After all, in real life you don't walk into a room full of people you don't know and start insulting them.

However, in reality the anonymity offered by the online world seems to make many people lose all their inhibitions and fly off the handle at the drop of a hat over the tiniest things. For an example of this in action just go and have a look at any number of forums dedicated to popular TV shows. They're tearing each other to pieces out there. "Starbuck is a man!" "Paul McGann's Dr Who isn't canon!" "Spock wouldn't do that!" "Dot Cotton's back-story has continuity problems!"

And anyone telling them to calm down also gets ripped to pieces.

I first came across this level of disproportionate ire on Usenet. In these days of blogs and Yahoo Groups, Usenet isn't as popular, but it used to be all the rage. Anyway years back on a Usenet group devoted to Gothic culture (of the necro-nerdy yoof movement variety rather than high Medieval northern European art) I joined a light hearted discussion about black-furred animals being Goths. On holiday in Vancouver not long before I had been interested to see black squirrels running around in the campus of the University of British Columbia. So perhaps foolishly I opined that in Canada, some of the squirrels were black, and therefore Goths.

Almost immediately an incandescently furious reply dropped into my inbox, beginning:

"That is ABSOLUTELY not true, Canadian squirrels are grey!" and continued in the same ranty vein for several paragraphs.

Of all the odd things to get worked up about.

So please, dear reader, don't take offence at anything I say that might appear harsh. I'm doing in a humorous manner so that much hilarity may come about as a result. After all, it's a dangerous internet out there.