In a sign that the recession is affecting all areas of society, roadside windscreen washers are now routinely charging a sympathetic eyebrow raise, with some charging as little as stony-faced indifference.
As well as the rate drop, customer expectations have increased with many windscreen washers literally “going the extra mile” by clinging to the bonnet of the car after the lights have changed and continuing washing. Even this extra service seldom reaps more than an audible grunt or a bored look from a child in the backseat.
Veteran fly windscreen washer Jed Evans said things have definitely changed for the worse: “When I started out it was the golden days – a good job meant you might get a sarcastic remark like “you missed a bit”, a squirt from a small child’s water pistol, or, if you were really lucky, a full-on punch up complete with swearing of naval proportions. But now people treat you as if you are invisible even when you pop in the passenger window to do a spot of vacuuming on the go.”
Mr Evans says things are getting so bad he is considering changing careers to get the proper level of derision and abuse that was once the windscreen washer norm: “Either inner-city teaching or foxhunting look promising”.
Oxford University economist Rob Macnab said a number of factors have combined to produce “market failure” in the roadside windscreen washing industry – the main ones being the austerity policies of the Conservative / Lib Dem coalition, an oversupply of washers, and the fact that drivers now realise they can push the squirty button on their windscreen wiper controls.