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“Order number 952... to your collection point please.”
“All hail Argos, and it's laminated book of dreams - laminated so you can wash off the tears of joy.”
Argos was the faithful pet of Odysseus who waited more than twenty years for his master to return. It is not recorded if Argos subsequently opened a UK catalogue store selling stuff in all of its multi-plasticated forms, but still, the name is an apt one, for there actually exists a UK catalogue store, named Argos. And indeed, it is a place where no customer is ever more than twenty days away from being served. This Argos can therefore be defined either as "not a dog" or the "working man's version of Portobello Road, except with much more plastic and a faint damp whiff of sweat" or simply "laminated hell".
Argos stores exist for the sole purpose of taking advantage of those who are too scared to shop using t'internet. Thus, they still rely on the traditional methods of service, such as the sneer, the blank stare and outright rudeness.
Ordinarily, the process of shopping means finding a store miles from home, picking something up, bringing it to a tillpoint and paying. Argos, however, have simplified and streamlined this process. At Argos, you simply go to a store, queue to read a book, look around for a pen, write a number on a piece of paper, queue up to pay for the item, collect a ticket for more queuing, wait for your turn, forget your number, check the ticket again, queue again at a large table, collect your item, bring it home, realise it is the wrong one and go back again.
On a more positive note they are introducing a streamlined system where you enter the info at a terminal, choose a password, and just tell that to the cashier. Doesn't help with the queuing, but saves writing stuff down... Unless you need to write the password down.
When you forget to write down the item code before leaving for the store, Argos's special computerised system means that you can guarantee that the item you want will either be out of stock or the page containing the ID number and details will be missing from the in-store catalogue. All of which means you'll have to come back tomorrow for that bubble fish lamp you so desperately wanted.
Additionally, that next generation XBOX 3000 "try before you buy" console is always being used by some snotty eight-year-old kid whose parents wouldn't buy him one for Christmas. He can't even get past level one on Super Mario.
The Argos Catalogue
Argos pride themselves on providing any item the customer might need, including batman costumes, giant inflatable boxing sets and kung fu hamsters. These are all documented in a neat and not-so-handy bible.
Argos catalogues are stacked in enormous piles metres wide forming garish blue walls stretching from one end of the store to the other. Every single Argos catalogue for the past 200 years has been called 'The Big One', but in fact has been growing ever bigger since. They exist to create a barricade between the mere members of the public and the wealthy capitalist forces that exploit them. That is, until, some dodgy-looking blokes appear, shiftily and hastily stuff them into their massive backpacks and sports bags, all the time keeping watch for the all-seeing eye that is the CCTV camera. I dunno why, because they are supposed to be free for anyone to take. Even so, for some reason the store security guards don't want people to have them.
It's all a swizz
After the sale of the Statue of Liberty to a Liberian road sweeper, the catalogue is one of the greatest cons known to man. The designers are guilty of making the items for sale look desirable on paper when in actual fact, much like supermodel Jordan, they are made from cheap plastic and are heavily inflated. Due to the magic of computer airbrushing, that real farting Homer Simpson action figure looks like the perfect gift for your little brother in the actual catalogue. When the item arrives, however, you find a self-assembly kit full of nails, holes, small meaningless ingestible parts and a set of instructions in Japanese. That £9.99 you paid now seems less justified and more like the cry for help it actually was.
Uses for the Argos Catalogue
As every self-respecting tramp, cheapskate and general citizen of the United Kingdom knows, the Argos catalogue is a handy item with many uses, not only in the home but outside as well.
Parents: is your kid pestering you for that £500 Argos wendy house with the floral patterns and fully furnished interior? Worried you can't afford it? Worry no more. Collect two hundred Argos catalogues and you will have enough building material to create one yourself, only with "electric hair curler and automatic bread maker" patterned wallpaper. Which is even better!
Alternatively you could pile your mighty catalogue collection in a doorway and wait for your child to crash through it. The subsequent crushing will solve many of your problems, with the added plus of life insurance claims.
As all Argos catalogues are 65% recyclable, other retail superstores make use of discarded catalogues. The Tesco Value Ferrari is made up of 85% genuine Argos catalogue, as are Morrisons Bettabuy "30 for 20p" fish fingers.
The Argos Game
The rules are simple:
- Classical Game: One person holds the catalogue. The second suggests a page number and item number. If then, the person can correctly guess the price, the person holding the catalogue buys him the item.
- Advanced Game: Same as the Classical Game, but the person holding the Catalogue chooses the page number and item number. The other player, again, has to guess the price in order to win the item.
- Extreme Super-Duper Ultimate Game: In this version, the person holding the Catalogue beats the other player to death with a hammer. This is generally considered the most fun version of the Argos Game and is the one most often found being played in competitive circles.
To date, no one has managed to win, but the game is still in its infancy and many more have yet to be exposed to this addictive game.
Argos's main market force comes directly from
lefttakeovers of other catalogue companies, which it ingests on an almost monthly basis. However this can not sustain the company permanently. Usually, Argos sell most of their goods to kids pestering their mums for a new Action Man or Barbie doll, because a cat-shaped lamp shade teaches them to shut up nicely. During most of the year, that is, all months except December, Argos have to resort to other techniques to pulp the customer into submission sell their crap.
During the mid 2000s, customers began to notice that Argos was selling so much that the catalogue was becoming so big that only Arnold Schwarzenegger could carry one as far as the door without collapsing like Cristiano Ronaldo. To combat this, Argos began to distribute bags with every catalogue to ease the strain of carrying such a grand tome. Now customers can get blisters on their fingers rather than pulling their arm muscles, and then when they get home, they have a bag to be sick in.
As Argos's success grew, consumer watchdog groups were becoming worried that the items such as samurai swords began appearing in the children's toys section when chainsaws and battle axes didn't. As a result, Trading Standards decided it was time to take action against the company.
This was a long way from Argos's last lawsuit, when a disgruntled parent successfully sued the company for making their child believe they could actually fly if they bought a Superman suit and cape. The child was relatively unharmed, sustaining only a bruised knee from the incident, but Argos suffered a loss of £30,000 as a result of the heavily publicised trial.
There are two types of employees that Argos exploit, widely summarised as those the public see and those they do not. The workers on public view are a strange breed. It would seem that every clock in the store always displays ten past ten. This is because all Argos workers are frozen in time, August 23rd 1976 to be exact: the precise moment when customer service died. Alternatively, this could be due to the fact they can't be arsed replacing the batteries every three hours. 
The employees the public do not see are usually lurking in the vast, dark, contentless expanse that is the Argos warehouse. These warehouses, which are connected to the back of the shops, do not actually store the goods for sale, but a complex labyrinth of chip butty eating hunch-backed tramps and workers having a fag break.
Argos customer are a strange breed in and of themselves. Primarily of the chav class, Argos customers are drawn to the stores because they offer them a rare opportunity to consider themselves well-read. The majority of customers are also appreciative of the chance to steal pens, buy hideous jewellery, or allow their young to run riot.
It is a curious fact that many Argos customers are illiterate; indeed, they are often unable even to copy the catalogue number of their desired rubbish accurately onto the order forms. Instead, their rudimentary writing abilities allow them only to scrawl the insurance code and, upon reaching the tills, they proceed to insist that they wrote the 'right' number, reacting very much like enraged gorillas when confronted with their own stupidity.
Argos customers show also a deficiency in their sight, summarily refusing to look at the time-saving "quick pay" machines, perhaps knowing that their hand-eye coordination skills are inadequate for them to think and press buttons at the same time. Instead they prefer to confront cashiers face-to-face in order to display their primitive culture, lack of basic manners and often share their pungent odours.
- The Royal Family have been known to shop at Argos. Really. I saw Ricky Tomlinson in there the other day.
- Argos started off as a small country in a flat in north east London.
- Argos is not to be confused with the Greek region of Argos, though it is rather hard to tell the difference between the two, what with the ancient ruins and reams of old people pottering about.
- For Chav culture, Argos is the equivalent of Harrods, where they can procure (read: steal) some amazing and eyepopping bling-bling.
- Professor Stephen Hawking mentions the multi-dimensional nature of the Argos Warehouse in his best-selling work A Brief History of Time. In his third theory, he suggests that the closer an observer approaches the delivery-bay doors, the longer the sixteen-day money-back guarantee appears (except jewellery).
- Figures correct at the time of going to press, fish perhaps less so.
- Lazy sods. As if they don't get paid enough for it.