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Your shout: Samantha Baines - ‘I’d want my £3.50 back as well’

Samantha Baines

It turns out, love does cost a thing – Londoners are just being too polite

Here’s a tale for our times. Earlier this week an Islington woman went on a coffee-shop date which lasted a mere 32 minutes as her suitor had an Ocado delivery booked (we all know how hard it is to get a convenient delivery time). But at least she got a free coffee out of it… or did she? Messages sent after the date reveal that she didn't fancy the guy, and declined the offer of a home-cooked dinner at his (despite the promise of those Ocado-delivered goodies). As things weren't going any further the man asked her to put £3.50 back into his account for the coffee he bought her.

While at first this seems like a douche move on his part, this parable does make you think: why shouldn't he ask for a refund? For me, if I'd just done a big grocery shop, £3.50 could be the difference between a dry bus ride home from a date or a windy, rain-soaked trudge back to safety – you know, the kind where even your knickers somehow end up wet. 

Just what is the price of love in London? £3.50 might sound cheap now, but all those failed dates add up, until you find your caffeine-fuelled love binge, with endless swipes right, has left you crying over your bank statement – and into some empty Ocado bags (which cost you 5p each). He even told her, ‘I don't like wasting money’. Is that so wrong at a time when the average age for buying a first house has risen to 31? He’s just saying what we would all love to say when you feel like someone has messed you around. Go back through your dating history and add up all those coffees, dinners, presents and cinema tickets that you would, deep down, love a refund for. I could go on holiday to Greece with the proceeds. For a month. 

What’s even more frustrating is that, with London’s population at an all-time high of 8.6 million, it's still so hard to find anyone you want to spend your £3.50 on. In fact, coffee cost starts to look like an effective scale of interest: ‘What him? Yeah he's all right – worth a Pret filter and a love bar, I suppose.’

Aren’t we just shocked that this guy said it out loud? Well, it wasn't out loud, it was via Tinder and maybe that has something to do with it. Having an app for dating is like getting embroiled in a bidding war on eBay: yes, sometimes it works out and you get what you want, but sometimes we just like the competition of it all. When that online purchase – in my case a novelty can opener – arrives on your doorstep looking nothing like the eBay pictures, it is disappointing, and you might give it one chance at opening a can, but then you throw it in the bottom drawer. Of course you'd love a refund, but you can't be bothered with the forms and the fuss of posting it back, plus you feel silly asking as it's only £3.50. You are right, no one wants to be compared to a novelty can opener, but time is still money and I don't want to be wasting either. 

Sir David Attenborough told us in this week's ‘The Hunt’ that for the polar bear, only one in ten hunts is successful. Which are pretty poor odds and can be fatal for the animal as it uses up it's dwindling energy. Whether man, woman or polar bear, we need to more selective about who we spend our energy and hard earned cash on. 

My advice to her: refund him £1.75. After all, it takes two to Tinder.

Want more ranting and raving? Read Mark Wilding's column on misogynistic coffee signs.

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