Category Archives: big brands

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!

 

 

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!

 

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!

 

 

Amazon Fire issues – is there an Echo in here?

OK here’s the advice from Amazon on closing your account….


About Closing Your Account

After your account is closed, it’s no longer accessible by you or anyone else. You won’t be able to access your order history or print a proof of purchase or an invoice.

Consequently you will no longer have access to:

  • Your customer profile including your reviews, discussion posts and customer images
  • Your Amazon.co.uk Marketplace account
  • Digital content related to Amazon Music, or your Amazon Appstore purchases
  • Content and subscriptions for Kindle
  • Accounts at Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Amazon.com.br, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.it or Amazon.es
  • Your account at Amazon Local UK and Amazon Payments
  • Your Amazon.co.uk Partner Program account, if applicable, or your Amazon.co.uk Associates account
  • Your Audible.co.uk account and audio books from Audible.co.uk
  • Your account at LOVEFiLM, or your Amazon Video account
  • Your Lists, if applicable, or About You page
  • Your Account at Amazon.co.uk
  • Your access to Author Central and related author’s pages

Note: If you own a Kindle and have your account closed, you’ll no longer have access to any Kindle content and subscriptions via this account. Consequently, we’d suggest that you download and save any content that you haven’t already downloaded or permanently saved on your Kindle before you have your account closed.

To close your account, please contact us to request that your account be closed.

Note: If you contact us to close your account, please let us know that you’ve read and understood the above information and that you agree to the terms of closing your account. This will mean that your request can be dealt with more quickly.

If you want to change your e-mail address or remove a payment method from your account, you don’t need to close your account. For more information on updating your account, go to Change Your Account Settings.


And here’s the problem….I have several Amazon devices which I’ve bought over the years.  You have to connect them to your account…ok so far?  Well not exactly…..

The Echo and the Echo Dots all connect fine, as do the Fire TV sticks unfortunately a pair of Echo Spots had to be returned and now a recent Fire 7 tablet is likely to go the same way.

I thought the problem lay with the Spots but clearly it’s a bigger issue.

Once you’ve allegedly “connected” to your Amazon account you should be able to enjoy all the smart home stuff that’s around the house already….er nope!  Well not with the Spots and now not with the Fire 7.   The Fire 7 is supposed to have Alexa built in – indeed it does!!  It quite happily tells you the temperature and the weather forecast but woe betide you should ask it to turn on or off some lights – no chance there – no smart devices connected!

The Alexa website and mobile apps show that the Fire 7 is there – but that it is offline…er, it can’t be if it can tell me the weather….

I’ve tried before to get assistance from Amazon (a total waste of time and effort!) but since I’d got another device type to exhibit the same problem I figured their might be a .com/.co.uk account issue here.  Hence why I’d like to get rid of the .com one – obviously being in the UK I don’t use it – and see if this solved the issue.  I’d already tried to change the email address on my .com account but this also changed it on my .co.uk account…

So WTF to do?  Surely I can’t be the only person experiencing this – I’m not!!  So why is Amazon being so unhelpful and reading the help above so intransigent?

Well clearly because they can – assholes!

 

Remixes – good thing or bad thing?

I was on my way to work this morning, driving down a particularly quiet M4 and listening to the Chris Evans Breakfast show on Radio 2 – which is quite often my wont! The “long song gong” went just after 8 and Chris informed us listeners that we were going to here the whole 6 minutes and 7 seconds of Unfinished Sympathy…hooray I thought…unfortunately the euphoria lasted about 6.07 seconds!!

What started playing wasn’t the 1991 classic but something else – apparently according to a quick search on Spotify the Paul Oakenfold remix – no no NO, Chris, wrong wrong WRONG!!!

I don’t want to hear his remix, nor the Nellee Hooper one (not even the 12″ one) – I want the one that has got over 30m plays on Spotify – that was originally released back in 1991! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MassiveAttack-UnfinishedSympathy.ogg It’s the one I remember from the first time around.

Now I’m not against a good remix – after all a remix can turn an average/good song into an absolute classic (I believe the youf call them “bangers”) – take the case of Republica’s Ready to Go… The original is a very keyboard heavy song that is interesting but not stunning – a remix by renowned American producer Ben Grosse, switching its keyboard focus for driving guitars, is just about the best song ever for driving along an open road. I defy you to keep still and stop your toes tapping – it just can’t be done.

A quick bit of googling and hey presto there are loads of people who are clearly making a damn fine living from remixing… “list of famous remixers” not that I’ve heard of any of them!! Although I have heard of Nelle Hooper – what that man did with 6 Underground by the Sneaker Pimps is stunning

On the other side though to add balance Fatboy Slim and Simon Thornton’s remix of the Mock Turtles “Can you dig it” is an abomination – sound weird sucking noises that have been added to spoil the original clean cut!!

So in summary the message here is – think very carefully Mr/Mrs Mixer before you decide to do your own “thang” with a tune – sometimes less is actually more!!

Amazon doesn’t like criticism

tenor

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Amazon is definitely getting a bit touchy.  They really don’t like criticism – even when it’s totally justified.

Your review could not be posted.

Thanks for submitting a customer review on Amazon. Your review could not be posted to the website in its current form. While we appreciate your time and comments, reviews must adhere to the following guidelines:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/review-guidelines

As you will have seen from my previous post I’ve been having a bit of an issue with my new Echo spot – as in it doesn’t work properly – neither the original one nor the replacement they sent me are working properly.  I’ve been waiting now since 24th January to get a working unit and I’ve been pretty patient – given that they’ve got £120 of my money!!  I did warn them that I might give it a 1 start review and I have just done so..but as you can see they won’t publish it…so I will 🙂

  from paul west on 05 February 2018

Don’t buy it until they’ve sorted out the bugs

I was really looking forward to receiving my Spot, I pre-ordered it and it arrived on Jan 24th. But things have gone downhill from that point. It was a real pain to get it to connect to my wifi network and then when I’d done that, and could see it was listed in my phone’s Alexa app (and in the web app too) I couldn’t get it go change from “offline” – even though it would do the basic things like tell me the weather. A replacement unit which arrived on the 26th has suffered the same issues. Issues which I’m still waiting to hear back from Amazon about. It’s been several days since they last told me they hadn’t sorted it. Over to you Amazon…when are you going to sort it?

In the meantime DON’T BUY IT!

Now that strikes me a pretty factual, it covers my experience with the device and it isn’t profane…so pretty much in line with their guidelines, and here those are.

We encourage you to revise your review and submit it again. A few common issues to keep in mind:

  • Your review should focus on specific features of the product and your experience with it. Feedback on the seller or your shipment experience should be provided at www.amazon.co.uk/feedback.
  • We do not allow profane or obscene content. This applies to adult products too.
  • Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively are considered spam.
  • Please do not include URLs external to Amazon or personally identifiable content in your review.

So Amazon – back to you.  I’ll be posting this on social media – that seems fair – well if you’re going to ignore my review I feel a bit disappointed, a bit cheated, and £120 out of pocket right now.

Tagged , ,

Amazon fails to deliver

Has the mighty behemoth finally reached tipping the point?  Have their systems finally fallen apart at the seams?  Has their desire to deliver profits and cash flow begun to impact on customer experience?

Untitled-1.fw

Well in my recent experience there is evidence to support the propositions set out in the 2nd and 3rd questions – and frankly given their dominance in the marketplace – that’s very worrying!

Up till now I’ve been an avid supporter for Amazon for over 10 years – I love their product – I’ve loved their delivery service but in the past 48 hours I’m beginning to think that all is not well on the Bezos front.

First off, I pre-ordered an Echo Spot (I’ve already got an Echo and a couple of Dots) and, as expected, it arrived on the expected day. Connecting it to my wifi network wasn’t the simplest of things but eventually I managed it.  It then asked me to download the latest version of the Alexa app and install it….well my app is already up to date… hmmmm!

Image result for Echo SpotI could see it listed in the list of devices but it said that it was offline…well it wasn’t ‘coz I could get it to do some stuff like play TuneIn music or set an alarm.  But when I asked it to play something from my Spotify account the problem emerged.  It asked me to connect my Spotify Premium account to my Amazon Prime account…er, they are already…. so it transpires that the device, although connected to my Amazon account is operating as a standalone device which I’m unable to configure or make appear online so I can control the other elements of my “smart” home.  I even went through the [process of factory resetting it and reconnecting it all over again!!  Cue phone call to Amazon customer services.

Now they are really polite, and apologetic and, through the dark arts they perform, were able to “see” my Spot and even extract connection logs to investigate but you know what?  This smacks of a company rushing a product to market without fully testing it.  I wonder if other UK users are suffering similar issues, although a quick Google doesn’t offer anything but hey it only hit customers yesterday!!

So I’m waiting for them to investigate the problem and get back to me – but hey if I don’t hear by tomorrow they have it back!!

So that’s the first problem…. The second revolves around a present for my daughter.

I ordered an Amazon product which was shown as being out of stock but available at the end of the month.  As I’m seeing my daughter this weekend for an early birthday celebration (she’s working on the actual day) I arranged for it to be delivered to her home address as the predicted availability date was after this weekend but still in time for her birthday.

Cool tech savvy dad – huh?

The next thing is that I get an email saying the delivery date is now before this weekend!  so what does one do?  Well obviously you see if you can change the delivery address – natch!  Just one slight problem…you can’t do it on the Amazon website… Luckily, after a bit of digging on the site I managed to establish a chat session and was reassured that this wasn’t a problem and that the nice lady from Amazon would be tracking the issue personally and sort it.

Move forward 24 hours.

I get an email from Amazon saying that the item has been despatched and guess what?  Yup, the delivery address has NOT been changed.  Cue second chat session.  Again very polite but basically asking me to wait 24-48 hours for an update by email….what?  If nothing changes it might have been delivered in 24 hours!!  And I would miss out on the pleasure of being able to hand it to my daughter and see her open the present.

The new polite person is unable to do anything as the old polite person is following this issue personally and he isn’t able to connect me to her…so basically I’m stuffed, though I’m still bemused as to why I can’t change the delivery address before the item has been despatched yet I can cancel the whole order – doh!

Maybe amazon is like a rubber balloon.  It’s growth as it has been inflated has been phenomenal (isn’t Bezos now the world’s richest person?) but maybe it’s sprung a small leak – now that could go one of two ways…..

Either the balloon slowly shrivels up and dies or it explodes into a million pieces….well all I can say is that now you have been warned.

26th January update – and guess what?  They delivered it to my daughter’s address – despite being asked specifically not to and promising to sort it…