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Towards the end of last year, I attended a UX workshop at my place of work, presented by Andy Priestner. Among many of his excellent ideas for engaging with library users was the concept of writing a Love Letter or a Break-Up Letter, to a service or company that you either enjoy or dislike. I recently had cause to write one for real, so here it is. Writing it was very cathartic!

Dear Great Western Railway,

I’m sorry that it has come to this, but our relationship is truly over. I have been turning up and waiting at our usual meeting place three times a week, but most of the time you’re late, if you even arrive at all. I’ve tried talking to you about your lack of time-keeping skills, in an effort to find out the reason for your behaviour, but my questions go unanswered. You brush me off with comments like “we are continually improving our service” or with empty apologies such as “we’re sorry for the inconvenience the delayed service may have caused you”. You have even sent me gifts; those £50 worth of rail vouchers were gratefully received, but they sit at home in a drawer; I just don’t have the enthusiasm to use them. For two years now I have relied on you to get me into Oxford city three times a week, a train journey time of just over ten minutes, and yet, it never is just ten minutes, is it? The problem is, my journey doesn’t end when I get off the train; I then have to catch a bus and travel to the other side of Oxford, and if you don’t run on time, then I miss the bus and have to wait for the next one… and all this lost time adds up. Each journey became a gamble of whether or not I would get to work on time. Well, enough is enough, I quit. I’m leaving you. I’m going to drive to work twice a week from now on, braving the Oxford traffic, because I know I stand a much better chance of getting to work on time. I will still have to see you once a week, for just a single journey into the city on a Tuesday morning. It will be painful to see you, but there’s no alternative. I will get the bus home after work though, so at least we won’t have to see each other twice in one day. I tried to make it work, I really did, but two years is long enough. Goodbye.

If you ever have the chance to attend one of Andy Priestner’s UX workshops I highly recommend it; he does a wonderful job of showing how you can use ethnographic techniques within the library environment, and it was one of the most engaging workshops I have ever attended.

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