Category Archives: life the universe and everything

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 & 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!

 

 

Indoor voice please or just pay me £50

Why is it that when you’ve paid £60 £70 £80 or even more to go and see an open air concert that you seen to be surrounded by assholes who just seem to want to have very loud conversations about stuff that’s got absolutely nothing to do with the concert.

Yesterday we were at British Summer Time and it seemed no matter where we stood the loudmouths were there, right next to us!!

Listening to Eric Clapton, playing an acoustic number, and behind me I heard this woman say “ah this is my favourite” and then she went on to chat about I don’t know what it was it was but it was irrelevant, nothing to do with the music!!

So why do people do this?

Do they just not speak to people in their normal daily life, so when they go to big open-air gigs they have to shout at each other to hear themselves over the music, despite standing right next to each other!!

I’d like to take them back to Barney the giant purple dinosaur from whichever television children’s television programme it was – maybe some of these people need to use their indoor voices outdoors!

I do have a plan though….

I’m going to hire Hyde Park, put in place all the necessary infrastructure – security, food, drinks, toilets, a big PA but I’m not going to book any acts, no way José!! I’ll arrange to play my Spotify library, or some other licensed music playlist, over the PA so there’s plenty of music going on for people to talk other…and then I’m going to charge people a flat £50 to get in.

Kerching… 🙂

NSU, a barium enema and the trumpster

I just found this on the Northern Exposure wiki – hey we’re talking top TV from the turn of the century – you really need to check it out…..

“Joel Fleischman is a nebbishy Jewish doctor from New York City, and a fresh faced medical school graduate. He’s also about to begin the four year service contract he promised to the state of Alaska, who financed his education. But he just happened to forget reading some of the stipulations in his contract, that has assigned him to the small post of Cicely, Alaska. A town of 215 people that welcomes it’s newest resident with open arms. As he contends with the daily lives and rituals of these all too normal and trusting folk, Joel just might realize that Cicely’s quieter ways are probably more civilized than the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Made up of Cicely’s various residents, patients and friends of Fleischman include wealthy former astronaut Maurice Minnifield; feisty pilot Maggie O’Connell; mayor and saloon owner Holling Vincoeur; his sweet, naive waitress girlfriend Shelly Tambo (who’s old enough to be his daughter); intellectual ex-con and disc jockey Chris Stevens; Joel’s far wiser and very quiet receptionist Marilyn Whirlwind; kindly store owner Ruth-Anne Miller, and avid film buff Ed Chigliak.”

It’s a snippet of a conversation between Joel the NY doc dumped into Cicely Alaska and Chris Stevens the local philiosopher, Harley Davidson rider and radio DJ.

Joel: Nonspecific urethritis. Ya hear what I’m sayin’? Ya hear what I’m talkin’ about? It’s not catchy, but you ought to keep the falcon under wraps for a awhile. Otherwise, we’re gonna have to clip his wings. Ya hear what I’m sayin’, Valentino.
Chris: Yeah, I hear ya. (car horn honks)
Joel: Hey! Hey! I’m crossin’ here! I’m crossin’ here! You don’t talk to a learned physician that way! Same to you, pal! Can’t wait to get that jerk in the examining room. I got a barium enema with his name on it. Yeah, let me take you to Donald Trump. He’s a friend of mine.
Chris: You know Donald Trump?
Joel: Oh, yeah. I started him out in the business, actually.
Chris: Whoo, boy!

I just love the juxtaposition of nonspecific urethritis, a barium enema and the Trumpster!

Now wouldn’t that be fun?  Perhaps someone could arrange that for the 13th?

Halfalogue is still too much!!

Have you noticed this? There’s a rash of people wandering around wearing earphones – not the big ol’ over the ear jobbies, but the little ones with the thin white cord – AND talking very loudly to someone who one assumes is on the other end of the phone. Now is it just me or do you think these people are behaving like dumb apes? Clearly if there’s no phone conversation happening then they’re just mad, M.A.D, mad!

I’m sure we can all remember the marvellous Dom Joly’s take on this – I’ll admit to copying it on the New York subway one January many years ago – much to the bemusement of the Americans who hadn’t seen Trigger Happy TV back then!!

Well it is still going on and in some ways it’s much worse. Worse you say? Even though the adoption of mobile phones is almost total? Yes definitely worse.

The advancement of technology is such that you no longer need to physically hold aphone to your ear to have the conversation and the adoption of mobile technology as the premier communication channel means that all sorts of inane conversations are happening – all around you…look!

And that’s partly why the situation has got worse. It used to be that telling someone, loudly, on your mobile phone was seen by the people did it as a symbol of success, of power and their own importance. Well not anymore! The routine day to day banality that you can overhear is mind-numbingly tedious- it’s verbal diarrhea of the worst kind!!

In a study published sometime in 2010 this phenomenon was termed a “halfalogue”  and that sums it up brilliantly – you have to listen, well whilst the individual is in earshot anyway, to one half of a dialogue and the study found that to be extremely distracting – no sh*t Sherlock!   And believe me since 2010 it’s got a lot worse – as Deloitte showed in their 2017 survey

So why do these people do it?

In 2013 Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. wrote the following:

“…people feel that talking on the cell phone somehow isolates them from the people in their immediate vicinity. The deeper they get into their conversations, the more removed they feel from those who are physically present and the more engaged they become in the conversation itself. Unfortunately for them, and for their unwilling listeners, they are anything but isolated.”

Too damn right Dr Whitbourne!!

Is there a solution?  Well clearly there are tactics to stop this…


…this video has been watched over 15million times!!

But humour aside thankfully we can turn to “The Gentleman’s Gazette” for a solution written back in December 2015.

Cell Phone Etiquette Guidelines

  • Employ the Golden Rule: treat others as you want to be treated. Expect that less self-aware companions may not reciprocate.
    Treat in-person interactions as sacrosanct.
  • Is something worth leaving the room for? You probably wouldn’t excuse yourself from a room just to peruse news updates, so save anything not requiring an immediate response for later.
  • That being said, excuse yourself when needed. If you get an urgent work call at dinner with friends, take it in another room or outside the restaurant to avoid holding up everyone else’s conversation.
  • In the office, mirror the behavior of an esteemed colleague if no cell phone policy has been created. However, keep your ringer off and your phone in your pocket during conversations and meetings.
  • Avoid talking on your phone in close quarters with strangers – elevators, planes, bathrooms, trains, etc., where other people will be forced to hear your every word.

#sorted!

Dreaming spires but traffic’s a nightmare

Why is Oxford such a pain to visit?

I mean it really is dreadful – it may those tourist friendly photogenic spires but unless you live in the centre of town it is certainly not people friendly!

Now I’m sure that the”liberal elite” that came up with the traffic management system have already started braying about air quality and reduced car crashes, well let me tell you if we take a wider range of quality of life measures then Oxford stinks!!

On Saturday for a bit of kulture innit, we went to the American Modernists exhibition at the Ashmolean. Top down through the country lanes to the Peartree park and ride where you have to pay to park AND then pay again for the bus to the city centre (!!!).

The exhibition was cool, as was a bit of post culture shopping (cafe frappe anyone?). Now those of you in the know will just have to patient for the next bit…on George St there are 3 bus stops for the out of town traffic…counting down from Debenhams end they are B3 and then in 10 yards B2. Unfortunately B1 is another 250 yards further down.  In the time it took us to walk from 2 to 1 three (3) number 300s passed us by. The last 2 were one behind the other.

I tried to flag down the final one but all I got was a desultry guesture pointing back down the road to the B1 bus stop….

Those of you who know me can imagine my reaction to this…and can you imagine my reaction when we had to wait 25 minutes for the next 300 to arrive…the timetable said it should have been 10 minutes.  I mean what is the fucking point of sending 3 together…are they afraid of getting mugged outside the Ashmolean or Browns??

And frankly if you ever try to drive into the centre the traffic lights are so badly phased and the car parks so limited your stress levels will be off the scale.

So my plan is simple. I’m going to buy the only vehicle that can fuck with both the buses and the minds of the wishy washy liberal planners – an Audi Q7, they can both go swivel!!

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?

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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…