Just take my damn money…please!

Look I’m all in favour of Tim Berners-Lee’s idea that the World wide Web should be free for everybody but sadly there are too many people out there today who insist on screwing it up by riddling the useful content with shite, highly intrusive, extremely irrelevant and hugely irritating advertising!  It’s got so bad that I’m coming round to the idea that for some things I’d actually be prepared to pay a monthly fee to make these damn pieces of time-wasting crap disappear!

..and don’t think I’m not talking about you Spotify – you’ve got the nerve to take my money and then send me crap about new releases by those artists who are able to pay you enough to invade my privacy on their behalf!

There are a number of aspects to this…

  1. what am I prepared to pay for
  2. how much will I be prepared to pay
  3. why online advertising is so shite, highly intrusive, extremely irrelevant and hugely irritating.

Let’s start with the “What”:

The birthplace of the web was CERN – Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist at CERN, invented the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989. The web was originally conceived and developed to meet the demand for automatic information-sharing between scientists in universities and institutes around the world.  See that…the sharing of information.  And the definition of sharing is?

To allow someone to use or enjoy something that one possesses. 

No mention of charging for it anywhere is there?  That came a lot later when less pure minds that Sir Tim’s decided that all these people provided an opportunity to make money – and lots of it, shed-loads of it in fact – big huge aircraft-hanger sized shed-loads of wonga!  And like me, Sir Tim’s not a happy man, although his beef is probably purer than mine which is just about advertising.  He’s more concerned with the rollback of net neutrality protections, the proliferation of fake news, propaganda and the web’s increasing polarisation!

“Gas is a utility, so is clean water, and connectivity should be too,” said Berners-Lee. “It’s part of life and shouldn’t have an attitude about what you use it for – just like water.”

So what am I prepared to pay for?

Stuff that I want to consume – stuff that entertains me like music, (that’s why I pay Spotify each month for a service I can’t stream to my hi-fi because the quality is designed for mobile phones and my GigaClear 50MB broadband is so flaky – and the router is a piece of poo! – that streaming hi-res is a non-starter!) and I’ll happily pay Amazon for the ability to read a book while I’m on holiday (Agios Stefanos NW Corfu since you’re asking!) or maybe to stream a movie as part of my Prime subscription – that’s cool, I’m happy to do that.

I’ll even pay for knowledge or software that helps me to consume and to create – such as specific training or apps from Adobe or even bloody Microsoft’s Office 365!

But I won’t pay for news!

That should be part of Sir Tim’s original idea about sharing information.  The WWW is meant to be a tool to enable us ALL to understand what’s going on in the world, to bring us closer together (yeah well done Boris you twat!) and generally make the world a better place.   However I WILL accept a limited amount of advertising to get this as I realise that information providers (except the BBC and I already pay my licence fee £150+) aren’t charities – they need to make money to pay their staff!  But I won’t pay them a subscription as it’s not worth it – not to me anyway!

And how much will I pay?

Well, this is more of a case of how much am I already paying!!  If you total up your household outgoings on things like your TV licence, SKY, broadband, mobile phone data, Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime etc etc you’ll be amazed by the figure you get to.  I reckon I’m spending over £1,000 per year!  And I’ve cut back!  It’s easy to spend more than £1,500, maybe even £2k!!  OK, don’t be pedantic, I know that SKY tends to be delivered over satellite – it’s the overall cost of accessing content that’s important here!

As these things are pretty much standard across UK households today, and with the average take home pay of <£21k per annum, you’re likely to be spending over 7% of your annual income on this stuff – maybe as much as 10%.  Now 7% may not sound a lot but imagine if your salary was cut by 7% – how much harder would that make life?? Exactly!

The huge expansion of the digital world has made it particularly hard for some companies, notably newspapers, and apart from the rag that is the Daily Mail they aren’t really succeeding (The Mail was always full of small ads anyway so it was a natural development for them, and their readership).   And I’m not going to help them by paying to get past their firewalls while the likes of Twitter are around – it’s quicker, more opinions so you can read both sides of an argument and of course it’s free – except for the sneaky ads!!

In fact it’s Twitter, or rather another player in the arena of social media that provided the straw that has broken the camel’s back –  so to speak.

So I’m now at the stage where I would be happy to pay for access to certain social media applications (it begins with a “F”) in order to avoid bloody advertising – if nothing else I’m sure the saving in blood pressure medicine would offset it!! (Relax that’s just an analogy I’m not on beta-blockers or anything similar)

So, why is online advertising so shite, highly intrusive, extremely irrelevant and hugely irritating?

….to the extent that now I’ll even pay to avoid it!

Well let’s go back to a bit of online business 101.

First off, if you’ve got that great idea, you want everyone to know about it and the web is really helpful here, as it allows you to reach a lot of people.  Let’s say these people like your great idea and flock to it – hey presto you have what is called in the trade “an audience” or lots of “eyeballs”.  So whereas people used to have to stick posters up in the street, things developed as people could get newspapers to print stories about their great ideas which other people then thought, hey if they like that maybe they’ll like mine to so I’ll make sure information about my great idea is in there too.  Next came TV which offered an even bigger channel to the audience and even more people started to “advertise” their great ideas, although now there so many great ideas – they weren’t all great!

With the growth of the web a number of great ideas got really, really, popular – like billions of people popular!  And the people who owned these great ideas thought to themselves…hmm I can make money out of this – it’s called “monetization” by the way!  So they started to allow advertising on their great ideas.

Look at possibly the best great idea ever – Google!  Originally just lists of stuff that matched your search term. Then 3 “sponsored” results appeared at the top of the page.  Today?  Maybe on the first page you’ll be lucky enough to find 3 “natural results” amongst the 20+ “sponsored” ones – that’s what Google calls advertising btw!  And Google make a massively, gigantic shed-load of money from it – as do some other great ideas.

What they also do is get make of these ads pop up on other websites you might visit – and have you noticed the order in which websites load?  The site’s branding is followed by all the adverts and only then does the content you actually wanted in the first place appear – naughty, naughty!  In other words it’s highly intrusive and hugely irritating!

But what about extreme irrelevance?  Surely, you shout, they’ve got algorithms that make sure that the advertising you see is relevant to you!  It’s true that if you search for something via Google or Bing (does anybody actually use Bing? And what a stupid name!) you’ll be bombarded with ads for whatever that was for ages – EVEN AFTER YOU’VE BOUGHT IT!  How relevant is that?  And let’s not even go into the activities of travel sites that rack up the prices if you leave and then come back!!

OK time to get to the absolute nub of this rant!  Facebook, yes Marky boy this one’s on you, recently decided to make life difficult for their profile users.

“As of August 1, Facebook no longer allows third-party platforms to post to personal Facebook profiles. As a result, Hootsuite no longer supports scheduling and posting to personal Facebook profiles.”

They wanted to stop us using the likes of Hootsuite, WordPress et al to automate/schedule our posting to our personal profiles.  They still allow scheduling to “pages” just not “profiles”.  So what do I do?  I choose to create a page from my profile, and to be fair it didn’t take too long to achieve that but once I’d “published” it, the troubles started.

Clearly Facebook believes that if you’ve got a page you’ve got money to spend, so they put an “advert” on your news feed (which only you can see) prompting you to spend money promoting your page.  Now that’s fair enough, their business model is about making money so I let the first one go..and the second, and the third.

But when I realised that they were bloating my news feed with multiple – and here I mean it might be one of their ads every 3 real posts – adverts, on and on and on.  Different creative suggestions but loads and loads and loads.

Now in amongst the reams of “help” they allegedly provide there is absolutely NOTHING about how to stop this.  Basically I don’t think you can and frankly I’m, not prepared to hang around to see if they eventually give up, so I’m deleting my page – screw ’em!

I’m going to publish my content elsewhere, I’m going to prompt readers of my social media diatribes to read the content on other platforms and even though they won’t give a damn – I’ll feel a lot better – and that’s the important thing here 🙂

What would really help me, and I’m sure millions of other people, is if some philanthropist kinda person decided it would be really cool to provide an open source advertising free or a subscription based social media channel.  I’m pretty sure that it would have a rapid uptake.  If Camelot allows me to win the Euromillions lottery this Friday I promise I’ll have one built and if Sir Tim permits I’ll call it TimsWeb, or Tim’s Place or Worldies or something similar!

 

 

The “A” to “B” of advertising standards

So, it seems that the UK Government has got it in for Amazon, and despite me thinking that Bezos is not a very nice man, and that his company’s customer service can be really poor at times, I don’t think this attack is fair.

It seems that one of their adverts has been banned for being misleading.  Now I find it interesting that they can take action against one of the world’s largest companies yet they seem unable to apply the same logic, values and even advertising laws to the Brexit debate.

I’m referring to those adverts, speeches the bus even which all displayed the line about giving the £350m we paid the EU to the NHS.

I find it especially interesting as we all now that that claim was a lie!  So, not even misleading, but a downright lie!

Do you remember it now?

Well apparently the UK advertising regulator (ASA) has said that it received 280 complaints, mostly from Amazon Prime customers who reported not receiving their packages within a day.  The basic premise of the Prime delivery service is that you WILL get your package within a day – and from personal experience – it works!  However these 280 good fellows weren’t satisfied so they complained and, well looky here, the ASA agreed!

From memory trading standards and advertising laws do allow for a degree of flexibility, you don’t have to deliver what you promise EVERY TIME, just most of the time – missing a few is fine.  It seems that Amazon does pretty well, in 2017, Amazon shipped over 5 billion items worldwide through Prime – almost one for every person alive!  So you’re roughly talking about 280 complaints based on 50+ million deliveries in the UK.

If that was my business I’d be deliriously happy – if I was a lawyer I’d consider that claiming a one day service was ok with that data – proving it beyond any reasonable doubt.  But not the ASA.

Interestingly the most complained about ad last year was a KFC one – 755 said it was disrespectful to chickens and distressing for vegetarians.  Thankfully the ASA thought this lot were barking mad and let it go.

They felt the same way about 8 of the top 10 most complained about ads actually – the other 2 were withdrawn so never investigated…so lesbian kissing, gay men kissing, a woman in a wheelchair eating maltesers and having a spasm were fine (and I’m totally in agreement with that!) but only, apparently, achieving a 99.999% delivery on your promise just isn’t good enough!!

BUT!!!

..downright lies ARE ok!  The UK Statistics Authority no longer says that the £350m claim is potentially misleading, but misleading plain and simple – Nigel Farage has admitted that it was a “mistake” to promise that £350million a week would be spent on the NHS if the UK backed a Brexit vote, and Treasury figures clearly show Britain’s EU budget rebate was £4.9bn. Deduct that from £17.8bn and you get £12.9bn – or £248m a week. This is the sum now recognised by the independent fact-checking organisation Full Facts!

So nobody took any action.  The misleading claim was allowed to continue to be broadcast within any retraction demanded, no penalties applied and Boris and his chums simply allowed to ride roughshod over the general public.

I mean c’mon – what’s the bloody ASA for if it isn’t for this?  Would you rather have 280 unhappy people or would you rather **** the country for decades to come?

Don’t answer that because we already know that Jacob Rees-Mogg has shifted his companies finances away from the UK – and guess where – yup, the bloody EU!

Oh c’mon Boris, p*** off!

According to the BBC – “Paris baulks at ‘horrible’ eco-friendly public urinals” and frankly Scarlet – I’m not surprised.  The city has always had a relaxed attitude to us chaps taking a leak – I remember the intrigue of entering the metal confines of the old circular “pissoirs”.   However, I thought with the advent of the advanced passenger toilets that Jean-Claud DeCaux delivered many years ago that progress had been made that enabled both chaps and chapesses to answer the call of nature, but obviously there’s a recidivist majority on the city council!

Apparently if these devices weren’t in place les gentilshommes would be pointing Percy at almost any thing they found on the streets – apparently lampposts are a particular favourite!  Sacre nom de Dieu!

Is this what the Common Market has become?  Have the pressures on the Economic Union meant that a combination of eco-madness and the desire to cut costs has really gone this far?  (I note that the end product of these “devices” is designed to aid fertilization of the city’s flower beds…!)

Personally I think Boris and Steve Bannon could be behind this.  It’s the sort of bonkers, barking-mad scheme that their deluded minds would dream up to make the British public believe that being part of Europe is wrong.

My response to that can be summed up by a conversation my partner and I had with a young lady in the queue for the Portaloos at last year’s Common People festival in the refined confines of Oxford during which she happily confided to us that she had had sex in a Portaloo – at a previous event I hasten to add!! So I’m calling them out on this one – it won’t work – we’re far more liberated than that (well some of us are anyway)!!

Furthermore I’d like to see Boris taking SteveO’s place in one of those memorable early Jackass stunts – c’mon Boris, are you man enough?

Not my kind of Summer Dream!!

More of a nightmare!! Poor service, slow service, food not as described, how’s that for starters?

OK finally got round to completing this one.  As regular readers of my various social media missives will now I love Agios Stefanos (NW Corfu)!  It’s my second home.  The mix of sun, sea, sand, scenery, food and friends – from home and from there, all work together to make a heady mix that soothes and stimulates the senses – at the same time.

But it isn’t perfect – and we all know that – even if on “some other places” you aren’t allowed to say so!!  It’s like the buildings – there are loads that they just haven’t got round to completing yet.  They have excellent, long term disputes about stuff – hey, the Avliotes by-pass has actually been totally completed – even down to 50kph speed limit that totally nobody respects!

The Greeks have a more relaxed attitude to life, although when they are speaking to each other you’d think the 3rd world war is about to break out – but relax, it won’t, it’s cool.

That said there are 4 things this year that aren’t perfect – there maybe more but hey; I didn’t experience them…anyway.

  1. The litter – guys you really, really need to sort this one out.  Even the temporary refuse stores you guys put in place to cope with things while the negotiations continue are overflowing – literally onto the road near to Kassiopi.
  2. The weed on the beach – not the lack of long haired dope sellers but the naturally occurring weed that just keeps on coming.  You need to be a bit quicker in rounding that up and disposing of it – the likes of Mistral and the Waves had their beach fronts blighted by build up of weed and then by the tyre tracks from the digger.
  3. Vehicles on the road – there are way more than just a couple of years ago.  Some of them, these new quad-bikes, are the size of small cars themselves and seemingly driven by complete novices with no regard for other road users. The parking coming into Afionas is now mental – one Sunday we simply turned around! And it’s not as if the restaurants up there are benefiting – the visitors weren’t in them!
  4. The service at Summer Dreams.

This last one was not good at all. It’s turned into a pizza place with a fancy new pizza oven clearly on display.  Unfortunately the service wasn’t as new and sparkling.  To start with when we ordered – one of our party likes chilli (a lot) and asked for extra chillies on his choice of pizza. It already had chillies in the list of ingredients.
When the waitress said “are you sure” he naturally replied Yes – this is man with a cast-iron stomach.  An hour later after we’d chased them for service and when the pizzas finally arrived the foreheads of 2 of the party showed signs of distress.

This was a surprise indeed.

On further investigation of the pizza we discovered that instead of extra chillies the tomato base appeared to have been replaced by lashing of hot chilli sauce! I mean of course the rest of us were howling with laughter but in all seriousness this was a reckless piece of work by the restaurant.  You either get your menu written up correctly informing the customer that this has chilli sauce on it and is already very hot or you start behaving responsibly.  This felt like someone trying to get their own back on customers.

Now ok it may have been a genuine mistake but it wasn’t the only one.  I ordered a pizza with Parmesan and rocket.  From my recollection Parmesan doesn’t melt in quite the same way that say Cheddar does and rocket isn’t invisible…

While we were waiting for our food to arrive I heard someone who had ordered a take-away asking where it was…and the poor girl behind the bar was not being helped by the other two waiting staff – they just stood around waiting for her to complete each individual order..

And with no expectations about service times being set by the waiting staff I’m sorry Summer Dreams but you do not get a recommendation this year.  Hopefully by next year you will have sorted things out – I’d like all my meals to be fantastic!

Duty free shopping – an exposé?

Good morning campers (something I’ll never do…camping that is!). This is just a tease for my next post 🙂

I’m heading off to sunny Corfu this afternoon, traveling with my partner AND only hand luggage (!) and this will mean that some shopping for essential items may be required at Gatwick airport. I fully expect to find some disparity between the prices charged on our friendly high streets and the supposedly duty free shops – so I thought I’d provide a few examples…

So watch this space 😉

Ok here’s a shot from Boots on the High Street in Weybridge. Let’s see what its like at Gatwick a little later 😉

Ok people it wasn’t as dramatic as I thought. I mean if felt like some really cheap unbranded stuff was very expensive but the little travel packs were the same price.

Now that in itself is a bit of a rip as its supposed to be duty free, so you’d expect things to be 20% cheaper!!!

And then deal at the airport is 4 for the price of 3. The offer on the high street is 3 for 2….. Hmmm that makes even more of a rip.

And here’s another thing, why can’t you buy P20 suntan lotion in 100ml bottles on the high street.

So the moral of this story is, don’t believe the duty free hype, it’s a bit of a con really..

Faster isn’t always better – but it certainly helps!

Many (yea gods many, many!) years ago in the days of “The six million dollar manMad Magazine brought an issue with a parody of it and somewhere along the way Steve Austin was shown on a hospital operating table, with people saying how much stronger and faster he’s going to be and a curvaceous nurse with a knowing smile says “Faster isn’t always better” – you get the drift – hey it was the 1970’s!!

Anyway this is about the speed of response and how it seems that, as the technology to speed up communication has improved, think SMS, email, mobile phones, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, SnapChat etc etc, the response time experienced by people seeking a response (quickly) has actually increased – dramatically.  And this seems true across the board – I’m thinking from parent to child communication all the way to business to customer communication!  It’s an inverse relationship!

Interestingly it appears that when you are instigating the communication the response time you experience is generally poor, yet when the other person instigates it, if you dare to delay your response by a nano-second (ok maybe a bit longer) then they’re hassling you for an answer.  Maybe this is me feeling paranoid – maybe not 🙂

Anyway….

You will have realised that a great deal of this site’s tilting at windmills revolves around the issue of customer service, and just how damn important it is – to the customer.  In the business world it seems that technology is enabling companies to de-personalise and automate their customer service – I mean just how hard has it become to find a telephone number to speak to some companies (Ryanair you’re the worst here!) and worse still thanks to ChatBots you can think you’re talking to a real person and then discover it’s a machine – this is particular technique sued by those companies who phone you up and say “I understand that you’ve been involved in a accident recently” and when you say “Yes” – because you want to waste their time 🙂 you get transferred to a real person….

So if we accept that businesses are looking to reduce their costs by automating customer service then let’s see how well they’re doing – on maintaining levels of customer service.  Let’s start with online contact forms..

 

Web forms:

Basically a total waste of your time and effort.  I’ve recently tried to contact a range of organisation such as local authorities, building companies and phone repair services using web forms and I’ve heard nada – so unless you’re looking to apply for a Visa for the UK then I’d pass on these if I were you.

Email

Do you remember when email as really cool – it changed communication speeds dramatically from days to minutes, seconds even – but sadly that’s not the same now.  How many of you get emails from companies which when you look at the details find that the address it came from is do_not_reply@ – that’s just taking the p*ss!  And when you do find an email address to send something to you’re lucky if you get the usual autoresponder saying we’ll respond to your email in 5 working days (if we can be bothered!) and then when they respond they either ignore the points you raise or worse still provide some generic garbage – you know who you are!  So again don’t use – unless it’s your only option.

SMS

I used to work in the mobile commerce “space” man… and we used to promote SMS as the most intrusive channel of communication – and that’s true as mobile phones become ever more indispensible, they’re usually switched on they buzz to tell you you’ve got a message. Sadly that buzz doesn’t come in the form of an electric shock to make the person or company respond.  In this instance the younger the person the slower their response is – my boss responds pdq – my kids can take hours – and I really mean hours (even overnight) to respond. But woe betide if I fail to respond to a message from them – they’ll be badgering me in no time at all – kids, pah!  SMS is much more likely to be used in a family, friends, associates circle scenario rather than with organisations so bear that in mind when you choose this medium.

WhatsApp etc

I’m just lumping them all in together because I’m old! Well actually I’m leaving Twitter till last.  Basically most of these channels are turning into broadcast media for large companies – have you spotted that yet kids? There are more and more AND MORE adverts filling up screen space where you want to communicate.  Actually there’s a lot of individual broadcasting going on as well – my life is better than your life stuff – here’s another amazing place I’ve been to (but inferring that you haven’t) – we’re all guilty of this – yup me too 😦 Anyway this ends up with these channels becoming more ephemeral as people get bored quicker (‘coz their attention spans are getting shorter) and move onto something new.

So, is there no hope for us? Well in relation to communicating with our kids – probably not BUT and it’s a BIG BUT holding the corporate to bear is something that we still can do!  Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I give you…

Twitter!

Yup Twitter – it’s brilliant for this. At it’s heart it’s a broadcast medium so everyone in your circle can see what you think – and being limited to 280 characters means you have to pithy and keep to the point – perfectly matching those short attention spans.  Better still most companies have their own Twitter feeds which they’d like to use to broadcast their tedious advertising to you but it means, in return, you can call them out.

The larger the company the more paranoid they are about seeing their brand name associated with some “bad press” – have you noticed how quickly they want you to DM them so it becomes a 1 to 1 conversation? And have you noticed that they tend to respond quickly?  Yes they do, don’t they 🙂

The really big players and I’ll cite BT here as an example of good use of social media for customer service actually took notice of my tweet and went to the trouble of getting someone from their customer service team to call me – yes a human responded by phone! That’s joined up service (shame their broadband network is so crap though!).

Insurance companies, energy suppliers – they do not like being slagged off (entirely justifiably though) on Twitter.  So dear reader my top tip for getting a rapid response from companies is to find their twitter account and then use it.  As for communication with kids – sorry the only way to do that I think is via financial means – bribery or the witholding of funds is usually a good ploy!

 

A witch hunt led by a major witch!

Is the EU actually as bad as Trump &amp; Boris?

I’ll lay my cards on the table right away here – I voted to remain, I’d like to see a new referendum because the lying cheating ba****ds in Vote Leave cheated us out of our democratic rights, Trump is an apology for a human being – and Boris is a self centred piece of s**t – but clearly the EU or at least Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager can be put up beside them as a grade “A” witch!

OK so now you know my position on things I can get into the meat of this particular windmill I’m tilting at!

Please will bureaucrats in Brussels (and elsewhere) stop treating us like little children and accept that we do actually have free will and are not all total f***wits who can’t be allowed to think for ourselves!

I’ve just read on the BBC news website that the EU could be about to charge Google up to 10% of its turnover because it’s become too successful in the search market.  Apparently because Android (Google’s OS), and Chrome (their web browser) are so closely integrated that with their dominance of the EU handset market it’s unfair on the likes of Microsoft, Apple and others – well tough titties – that’s what competition is all about.

The decision is in €4.3bn – WTF? I certainly hope they do challenge it law – this is totally and absolutely ludicrous.  Maybe Google should counter-sue for defamation of character.  I’m looking forward to Trump’s view on this one!!

The commission made three specific allegations of anti-competitive behaviour, saying Google was:

  • requiring Android handset and tablet manufacturers to set its search engine as the default and pre-install the Chrome browser before allowing them to offer access to its Play app store
  • preventing manufacturers from selling mobile devices powered by rival operating systems based on Android’s open source code
  • giving device manufacturers and mobile networks financial incentives to provide its own search service as the sole pre-installed option

FFS – look if you (Ms Commissioner) want you can be just like all the other Apple fanboys you see hanging out trying to look cool (and failing desperately) in Apple stores across the land – you’re OS will be iOS, your browser will be Safari, and you will only be able to do minimal things to personalise your device, most of which will cost you money – you can however choose your search partner although last year Apple took the decision to replace Bing as their default search provider with….Google.

Or you (Ms Commissioner) could follow the Microsoft route – who have already been fined for their dependence on using IE as the default browser (I’m now getting irritated by the almost constant messages about how fast Edge, their new browser, is when compared to Chrome) but would you really want to use Bing as your preferred search engine?  Have you seen all the garbage advertising that you get bombarded with?  No thank you.

I choose, note that – “I choose” – to use Android/Chrome/Google. I can personalise my device way more than with other competing OS’s, I get fast high quality search results – or if I want I change the browser and the search provider on my Android device – simply, quickly and easily – and FREE!

So perhaps Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager – who was so embarrassed about the upcoming fine she was not prepared to announce it before Trump’s visit would reel her neck in – no wonder she looks so sheepish:

“The Android ruling was originally expected earlier this month, but Reuters reported that it had been postponed to avoid a clash with President Trump’s visit to Europe.”

Competition is about being better, faster, cheaper – or some combination of those three – if your company can’t compete because it’s none of those don’t go running to the bureaucrats because they’re not on your side – I mean let’s take a look at the Commissioner herself – where does she stand?…

According to her Wikipedia page…

Between 2011 and 2014, Vestager led Denmark’s campaign against Basel III liquidity rules, arguing in favor of allowing banks to use 75 percent more in covered bonds to fill liquidity buffers than allowed under Basel III rules; at the time Denmark’s $550 billion mortgage-backed covered bond market, part of the country’s two-century-old mortgage system, was the world’s largest per capita.

..and this…

In January 2015, Vestager ordered Cyprus Airways to pay back over 65 million euros in illegal state aid received in 2012 and 2013 as part of a restructuring package; as a consequence, Cyprus suspended operations at its flag carrier resulting in 550 job losses and reduced competition.

Yeah right – power to the people and all that – NOT!

Listen Commissioner, we are not mindless morons (no, not even the Fanboys), we are free to make our own choices and with 2 major operating systems (OK Sailfish you just aren’t popular enough to be considered – sorry), multiple search engine options including DuckDuckGo and countless different browsers in the mobile world we do have choice.  Even if Android phones do come preloaded with Chrome and default to Google as the search provider – so what?  We can change that – if we want to!

So bugger off and focus on sorting important stuff out like global warming, reducing the number of pigs with their snouts in the Brussels trough (I’m thinking of you here Farage!) and generally making life better for us – not limiting our freedoms.

…and I’d still vote to stay if given the chance again – but certainly not for here – this is a witch hunt led by a major witch!

Are you sure eSure?

You won’t believe this but this is on the eSure.com website:

esure has become one of the UK’s leading direct insurers through years of hard work and listening to our customers.

It’s the second bit that I find particularly humorous – actually it’s worse than that it’s a downright lie!

You may read my previous post on the subject of insurance – you lucky, lucky, people – well I’ve got an update for you, in fact a couple right from the horse’s mouth – although the quality of the content is closer to what comes out of the other end of the horse’s body!!

Regular readers will know that I specifically asked eSure for the details on how they had managed to calculate an increase of 20% on one of my car policies yet a decrease of 2.5% on the other.  Well as trailed they have replied.  Let’s start with Leigh’s response….

“We are writing with reference to the above numbered policy and further to your recent telephone conversation.

There are many reasons as to why a policy premium could go up after a change of vehicle. Some include the Brake Horse Power being higher than the original vehicle. The grouping of the vehicle also changes the price and could effect the premiums. Also if the new vehicle is no longer in manufacture, the parts could be harder to find and this would also effect the premiums. I hope this information helps you.

We trust this answers your query. If you have any further queries, please call our Customer Support Department on the number detailed above.”

I have responded to let Leigh know that as I hadn’t changed vehicle this explanation was irrelevant and inaccurate – I asked him again to explain the difference…

This time Liam responded, bless him, he must have been very very busy, or perhaps he couldn’t keep a straight face whilst typing, or perhaps he has ADHD…

“We take into consideration a variety of factors when calculating our insurance premiums, many of which you as a customer cannot directly influence.  As a result, insurance premiums can fluctuate when seemingly no details have changed and unfortunately due to underlying industry pressures insurance premiums have increased this year.

As a direct insurer we always offer the best possible premium from the outset and the premium offered this year is correct.

To help you understand, the cost and frequency of motor insurance claims being made, in particular personal injury claims, is driving premium increases.  We do appreciate you personally have not made a claim with us but insurance is a pool and as such these claims affect everyone.  However, those who have made claims would see significantly higher premium increases than”

As you can see he was unable to finish his sentence.  But Liam, dear chap, allow me to point out the failed logic in your response….If “these claims affect everyone” why hasn’t my other policy increased, after all you say in your very first paragraph “due to underlying industry pressures insurance premiums have increased this year” so I am at a loss to understand the logic you guys have used – can you explain?

The only factor I am see here that separates the two policies is the “no fault claim” – or rather as it actually was the “notification”.  I’m sure any “reasonable” person, such as the “man on the Clapham omnibus” would agree.  Is there a reason why you cannot see this?  The nice man at the AA was able to – so once again I ask you is it the impact of the “notification” that has increased my policy, and if so, how do you justify this when you already cover off the risk of being on the road by requesting the amount of miles I do and the reasons I might be on the road which have a time component (“drivetime”) that allows you to calculate an overall risk.

I challenge you eSure – I think you – and to fair the rest of the insurance industry – is ripping customers off by in effect “double-charging”.  How will you plead when this matter goes before the Financial Ombudsman, and how do you think he’ll react to your spurious attempts to fob me off which seem to be amateur in the extreme?

Warning – Emporio Armani jeans half life could be only 3 months!!

Well according to the man at Emporio Armani in House of Fraser Kingston they do.  OK so he didn’t actually say those words but when I was looking through the sale there were a selection of J45 jeans marked down by 50% but sadly there weren’t any in my size.

I noticed that there were more jeans towards the back of their space in store so I checked them out – but although I found a pair of the same J45 jeans in my size they were priced at £150.  That’s their full price – although friends you can find the same jeans online for less in the Armani sale and even less by googling for them!!

Being a simple customer looking for a pair of jeans I asked the assistant and the reason he gave me for these jeans being t the higher price was that they were “new season stock”.

Not different, not an updated design with fancy 2018 labelling – nope – exactly the same jeans – just the fact that these at the back of the store, in my bloody size, were “new season stock”.

I had to laugh, well it’s a laughable policy.  I totally charging more for the new season lines – because they are the latest design and the most desirable BUT these were exactly the same item. Therefore I can only come to one of 2 conclusions:

  1. This is a dumb policy by Emporio Armani that is designed to irritate customers and hasten the final closure of the likes of House of Fraser and Debenhams as they totally fail to keep pace with the needs and wants of the high street shopper..or
  2. Emporio Armani J45 jeans are a bit like Tesco’s salad – they have a shelf life – and worryingly, given the 50% reduction after a year (max!) of sitting in the stock room they have deteriorated so much that the only worth half their original value – a half life of a year.

Actually it could be even worse – what if the new season is the Autumn season just replacing the Summer season!! That would make their half life 3 months!  Georgio must be bricking it in case anyone else finds out – so you’d better warn your firends!!

Insurance – it’s a rip-off, FACT!

Yep it’s true, your insurance company is a rip-off merchant – they all are – and if you speak to nice man at the AA he agrees with you!

Evidence?  Oh you want evidence do you?  Right then…

Just recently I received renewal letters (well actually I didn’t, I got a letter and some emails that said I would be sent them) for 2 car insurance policies I hold. Actuallyl I had to log in to my “account” and then download the pdfs of the renewal “invitations”, as they are called these days.  On that description – invitation is hardly the correct word, especially if you’re promised one via email or letter and they never arrive!!  I prefer the term “warning letter” as in if you do nothing we’ll just take your money!

I noticed that one of these policies showed an increase of 20% in the premium and further to that it showed the details of a “no fault” claim (there was no “claim” they were informed for information purposes only (a 3rd party company dealt with things) and it also stated in a box called “Recovery made” the word YES!  Now this was plainly wrong so I decided to call the insurer to try and understand things better…that was a mistake!

The very nice man on the other end of the phone simply couldn’t or wouldn’t give me a reason as to why my premium had increased by 20% – I have to say at this point that in a previous year I had been given reasons why the premium had changed so I wasn’t buying this lack of information.  Whilst this call was ongoing I also read the other policy renewal invitation and to my “surprise” it showed that the premium had actually fallen by 2.5%!  WTF!!! Naturally I enquired as to why this might be – all the while the nagging thought that the bastards had upped my premium because of this “no-fault claim”!   So I pressured for an answer, I want to have the details.

He said he would need to place me on hold, briefly, while he discussed the matter with his boss. Well it was a bit longer than “briefly” but eventually he came back and gave a list of factors that the underwriters had told him – inflation, the fact that my car was no longer made which made the parts more expensive, the rate of crime etc etc.  Given that the other policy had shown a decline it was a simple matter to rebutt the majority of these and the only obvious factor that might have had an impact would be the price of car parts – but since the car had stopped being made in 2008 this also seemed unlikely.

As it was clear, to me, that the increase was purely down to the incident in March of last year (interestingly this was before last year’s renewal which didn’t show a 20% increase – rather a significant decrease!) which presumably had finally filtered through their system and perhaps some form of “recovery” was indeed made – albeit not to my knowledge!!

I have asked them to supply me the details of why the think my premium should be increased by 20% and will in all likelihood pass the information to the insurance ombudsman for action.

So why am I taking this hard line and calling all insurance companies rip-off merchants?  Well that’s simple.

Well my next move was to tell eSure – yes it was them – to *** off and cancel both policies and then hit the search engines looking for a new deal.

Having entered all my details into multiple comparison sites ( I did try Direct Line but their premium was just a joke – how they can justify their advertising claims to Trading and Advertising Standards departments I do not know!) it seemed that the AA was the best deal.  I clicked to complete the deal on the AA site but I got a message saying that their system had thrown a wobbly so I’d need to call – so I called.

The very nice man from the AA took the quote number and got the details pdq.  He was able to tell me that the date I’d entered for the end of my existing policy was out by one day so he amended that and then said OK he had to things check against an industry database…..guess what…he informed me that the no-fault claim was there and then quoted me a price which was 20% more than the price I’d been quoted online!

I expressed my concern that the information on the database was causing the extra cost to em – and he agreed, said the same thing had happened to him last year and said he agreed with me that this was rather sharp practice.  So there we have it the reason my premium was increased.  I’m still going to see what bullshit eSure come out with to support their version of events and yes I’ll still send the information off to the ombudsman.

Why?  Well in a no-fault situation when you’re either happily driving along the road or as in my case stationary in a line of traffic you are not causing anyone any problems – it just happens that you are on the road.  Now when you request your policy you have to input how many miles you will be doing in a year and unsurprisingly the more you do the higher your premium – well that’s perfectly logical – there’s more chance of you being in an accident the more time/miles you spend/drive on the road.  So why isn’t this where the risk of a no-fault accident is covered off?

Well basically because they can get away with it – they are able to rip you off by effectively charging twice for the same risk – being on the highway and obeying all the laws!

Personally I think that stinks, I think it’s profiteering and it’s a total rip-off and I don’t believe that the insurance industry should be able to get away with it any longer – that’s why I shall be bringing this matter to the attention of the Financial Ombudsman – if you want to do the same here’s how!