No! Here’s the thing with Ad Blockers!

Here’s The Thing With Ad Blockers

We get it: Ads aren’t what you’re here for. But ads help us keep the lights on.
So, add us to your ad blocker’s whitelist or pay $1 per week for an ad-free version of WIRED. Either way, you are supporting our journalism. We’d really appreciate it.

No! Here’s the thing with Ad Blockers!

You really don’t get it! We don’t visit your sites for the ads – we visit them for the content. I visit hundreds of websites and I’m sorry but if you insist on placing copious quantities of auto-running ads on your pages then more fool you. First it was Forbes telling me:

“We noticed you still have ad blocker enabled. By turning it off or whitelisting Forbes.com, you can continue to our site and receive the Forbes ad-light experience.”

BTW the text relating to the ad-light experience can only be viewed by hovering over the link – here’s what you then see.

forbes.fw

Even they describe it as a “less intrusive advertising experience” FFS!  They expect me to “enjoy” that?

Well now I’ve noticed that Wired have joined the ad blocker spoiler party – that’s their stuff in the opening paragraph.

I totally understand that these guys are delivering “free” content to me.  I appreciate that and I’m quite prepared to see a few non-invasive ads to help them pay for their expenses but I do not want the following – free or paid for:

  • Slow loading pages that refuse to display the content YOU want until THEY’VE loaded all the ads THEY want you to see.
  • Ads that auto-run annoying videos which have audio tracks – even if you’re already listening to some audio for the content you actually WANT to hear!
  • Adverts that load and block your view of the content you want to see, and then make you struggle and waste valuable time trying to find the miniscule “x” to turn the damn thing off!

Not only does this sort of website p*ss me off – I stop visiting it completely – so even your acceptable ads don’t get shown and you have to charge your advertisers more to make ends meet and they end up saying – WTF – you haven’t got much of an audience anymore, your page views are in decline – I’m outta here!  And your business fails…

And my view on that?

Tough luck suckers!

 

When technology doesn’t improve things

3056730-inline-i-2-silk-labs-wants“You have to fumble out your smartphone and turn it on and type in your PIN code and launch an app,” he says. “We just made your experience four steps worse than flipping a light switch next to you.”

Andreas Gal is describing what it’s like to turn on a Wi-Fi-enabled light using your phone, and he’s making it sound like a major step backwards rather than the way of the future…..that’s on this website.  And he’s so right!  How many times have you got so frustrated with technology when it doesn’t work properly – it may be “cool” to a geeky mate of yours but yea gods what a palaver it can be some times.

Unfortunately the article doesn’t really provide a solution to the problem but at least it realises that IT IS A PROBLEM!

Amazon-Echo-1 I’m having plenty of fun with my Amazon Echo – not just because of all the Easter Eggs built in but it is just easy to say stuff like “Alexa, play Submotion Orchestra on Spotify” and hey presto it does just that 🙂

Hopefully those laggards in the US will “get it” that making it open to the wider world – yes there is sentient life outside of the USA you muppets (probably far more than inside to be frank!) will actually be beneficial to them as well as us and then we can all enjoy our Amazon Prime accounts!!!

I learnt the lesson many years ago when Dr Edwin Turner – distinguished ICL Fellow, brain the size of a planet and the man who thought of the screenfridge decades ago – said that people will always take the route of least resistance.  So if you are adding steps to a process you can bet your bottom dollar that it won’t get used!!

Wise us you tech gurus out there!!

 

 

Why is this still relevant today?

It’s a shame but it’s true.  This report from Quantcast lays it out – without pulling any punches!
 “FinanForensic-Science-365-739262cial services organisations live and die on the customer experience they provide. 66% of consumers switch brands due to poor customer service; 82% of those that switched said the brand could have done something to stop them leaving.”
(Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey, November 2013. )
The emergence of the always-on consumer has forced finance marketers to rethink how their customers undertake the journey to purchase.  The modern consumer moves between devices seamlessly, and the real-time nature of programmatic advertising allows the marketer to understand how the consumer is interacting with their brand and advertise to them at the right time on the right device.
 Will they ever learn…..?

CRM – it’s supposed to be multi-channel you muppets! (Scottish Power)

muppet1You all know what a CRM system is don’t you – it’s a “Customer Relationship Management” system – it helps you deal with customers in the right way…….

Well as some of you will no doubt already know I’ve had a few run ins with Scottish Power and here as well – dear god they are really shite at this CRM stuff you know.  It’s not just me that thinks that way either…

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-3127083/Britain-s-bungling-energy-giant-gets-wrong-January-Scottish-Power-won-wooden-spoon-promised-improve-complaints-coming.html

Scottish Power gets ‘record number of complaints’

Well the saga continues.  Clearly my letter to Lynda Clayton back in 2015 hasn’t worked – after all she’s still the Customer Services Director – how did that happen!!

Despite changing to a new provider a year ago I am still having to deal with their inability to do several things you would think a large company might have got sorted by now:

  1. Communicate with me via a channel which I can easily reply to them via – “donotreply@scottishpower.co.uk” is not good.
  2. Stop asking me to log into my account to read a message when the system doesn’t allow me to set up an online account in the first place because I have 2 meters at my property – a night storage one and a general electricity one. I was promised that this would have been sorted almost 18 months ago…..nada!
  3. Calculate my bill properly – in the past year, since I have switched provider, I have had 3 separate and completely different “final” bills – they varied by 300%!  Interestingly the last one was the highest one!
  4. Respond to emails and tweets I manage to send to them promptly – the last email has still not been responded to and the most recent tweets has taken about 9 days to be answered.
  5. Don’t expect me to be left hanging on the phone for over 30 minutes while I wait for one of their operators to get round to talking to me – if my call WAS important you’d answer faster! Too many calls?  Get more operators FFS – or improve your service!

I could go on but I thought I’d just copy and paste their most recent threat –  note that it ignores any communication I have had with them – CRM – it’s supposed to be multi-channel you muppets!

Is this acceptable behaviour from a large company?  I wonder what the board of directors would think about it?


 

The Board of Directors is currently made up of the following directors:

Title Type Of Director
Mr. Ignacio S. Galán  Chairman Non-Independent, Non-Executive
Lord John Kerr of Kinlochard GCMG  Vice Chairman Independent, Non-Executive
Mr. José Miguel Alcolea  Member Non-Independent, Non-Executive
Mr. José Sáinz Armada  Member Non-Independent, Non-Executive
Mr. Juan Carlos Rebollo  Member Non-Independent, Non-Executive
Ms. Susan Deacon  Member Independent, Non-Executive
Mr. Keith Anderson  Chief Corporate Officer Non-Independent, Executive
Sir Tom Farmer CBE  Member Independent, Non-Executive
Professor Sir Jim McDonald Member Independent, Non-Executive

The Secretary of the Board of Directors is Ms. Marion Venman.


muppet2Perhaps it’s time to raise another complaint with OfGen or maybe add some more pithy comments to the Scottish Power Facebook page – yeah they don’t respond to them either.  Twitter?  Well this post will end up on my Twitter feed and I know they’re monitoring it – perhaps they’ll respond – who knows – they clearly don’t care – except about getting money and threatening customers….

I’d quite like to see them here….

Oh and here’s the letter threat…sorry it’s an email!!


From: Scottish Power [mailto:donotreply@scottishpower.co.uk]
Sent: 26 January 2016 04:03
To:
Subject: ***SPAM*** Make your final payment to avoid charges and credit default

 

Urgent action required

 

Make your final payment to avoid charges and credit default

 

Dear   Mr XXXXX

 

You still haven’t made your final electricity payment. If you do not pay or make a repayment arrangement, we can register a credit default against you and add collection charges to your account.

 

Please make a payment online of £xxx.xx as soon as possible or by calling us on our 24 hour payment line on 0800 001 5115.

 

Or you can call us on 0800 001 5168 to discuss an affordable payment arrangement. We’re open Monday to Friday 8am – 7pm.

 

More ways to pay and what can happen if you don’t pay can be found in My Messages.

 

Yours sincerely
Lynda Clayton

Customer Service Director

 

P.S. Already made a payment? We will update your account as soon as we receive this payment. Please ignore this letter.

 

Account: 93619097028

Postcode: **** 0BS

 

 

 

 

Make Your Payment

 

 

 

 

For security, full details of this message can be found when you log in to
My Messages

 

 

 

Any questions?

 

View our help & advice

 

 

Energy efficiency

 

Find out more

 

 

Proud to Support

 

Cancer Research UK

 

 

 

Stay connected

 

 

 

Download the app

 

 

 

 

This is a service message containing important information about your ScottishPower account. Please do not reply to this email as it is sent from an unmanned mailbox.

 

We understand the importance of keeping your personal details safe. To find out more, visit www.getsafeonline.org

 

Scottish Power Limited. Registered Office: 1 Atlantic Quay, Glasgow G2 8SP. Registered in Scotland No: 193794

 

But what I’d just like to say to Scottish Power is this…..

muppets3

 

Amazon – not the friend of geeks

Sadly it is true!  The global brand – remember that “GLOBAL” brand that Jezz Bezos has built is a sham, a piffling little national operator that can’t seem to get it’s act together!

Hi folks, yes I’m back! 🙂

In a world where you have to be global to be any good it seems that our schizophrenic friends at Amazon don’t know wtf is going on!  Allow me to elucidate….

Amazon has an excellent – and well deserved – reputation for allowing you buy stuff and get it physically delivered to your doorstep.  Let’s be honest, if you’re reading this you’ve used their service before, probably loads of times.  Over 15 years ago we used to test just how fast they were – I even managed to order a book at 4pm and got it delivered by 1st class post (hah, try that now!) the following morning..honest guv, I did!

Since those very early days they’ve added just about everything you could possible think of to their range of products.  One obvious thing where they have totally disrupted the market is books – audio-books.


They’ve also got into technology and as you know I love a bit of tech!

So it should come as no surprise to you that I own a Fire TV stick AND an Amazon Echo.

The Echo is awesome but unfortunately as they don’t yet sell it direct here in the UK – why not FFS! – I had to buy it in the States and get it shipped over, just like many other people.  Whilst I was aware that not all of its functionality would work here in the UK I was ever hopeful.

Unfortunately it appears that the Echo is linked to their US servers so it sees me living NOT in the USA and blocks a lot of my requests – including my Amazon Prime account.  So I’m paying them £99 per year or whatever it is to get them to store some of my music, allow me to purchase music – from them, etc etc but I can’t play any of it using the Echo.

Why I hear you cry?  Surely Amazon is a global brand and that should be easy-peasey? Sadly that isn’t the case – because my Prime account is a UK account and not a global account.  The technology won’t allow me to transfer music I’ve already paid them for once across to a new US account – not that I am prepared to pay them double anyway – doh!

Now the ability to ask a box some questions and get a response may not be your cup of teas but as you can see from the image it does a lot of stuff (well, if you live in the USA!) and they seem to keep adding new features to it see below:

What’s new?

Kindle Books by Alexa

Alexa can now read your Kindle books out loud, using the same text-to-speech technology that already reads Wikipedia articles, news articles, and calendar entries. Relax with your latest book or have Alexa help with bedtime stories for the kids. You can switch seamlessly between listening and reading—start an eBook on your Echo, then continue reading on your Kindle, tablet, or smartphone, right where you left off.

Find out which of your eBooks Alexa can read by opening the Alexa app and tapping “Kindle Books.” Or just ask:

  • “Alexa, read my Kindle book.”
  • “Alexa, read [Kindle book title].”
  • “Alexa, skip back.”
  • “Alexa, pause.”

Don’t have any Kindle books yet? Get started with a free collection of excerpts from Star Wars novels. And don’t forget, you can always listen to professionally narrated audiobooks on your Echo from Audible.

To learn more about this feature, go to Read Kindle Books with Alexa.

Oh did I forget to say I’ve got a Kindle?  Well 2 actually.  And yes I’ve bought quite a few books from them and had them downloaded to my Kindle…..well now we reach an interesting conundrum.

If I wanted to I could ask my Echo to read my Kindle books to me and it would!  Look here’s part of the list of books that I can get it to read to me…..

books.fw

This is a screengrab taken from the Alexa website 🙂

So it appears that Amazon has got it cracked in regard to the printed word AND the digital word – it’s global!

BUT….

Music is different!  They don’t seem to be able to get their s**t together at all.

As you might expect I have previously contacted Amazon to highlight this incongruity and to ask when they might sell the device in the UK  thus opening up it’s full functionality to me…..

I love the geekiness of this device, the sound is good enough, it’s funny – just look at the number of easter eggs it has built in, it’s practical – timer and countdown applications, it syncs with your Google calendar as well.

So, I wonder to myself…

  • Is Amazon a global brand?
  • Do they really want to provide a complete hardware/software ecosystem?
  • Or are they just taking the ****?

They have to wise up to the fact that they are competing with Apple and Google – two fiercely competitive and land-grabbing organisations.  The last thing that Bezos and Co want, surely, is to become the next Betamax, the next AOL or the next Yahoo!!

This is most definitely NOT a case of “act in haste, repent at leisure” – rather the opposite!!

Microsoft mishap as Band breaks up!

I know it’s been a while…but my focus has had to be elsewhere – that’s not to say I’ve been ignoring the wearable world – far from it – just check out my twitter feed and pinterest page – so there! Anyway the reason for writing this is to take you through the way a large multi-national corporation, keen to be seem as one of the leaders in wearable technology, handles an issue with their product – just as the new version of it is about to be launched onto the market.  I’ll summarise it for you – it’s not good at all!

broken_band

I bought this back in April, in fact as soon as it became available in the UK-  it looked like it would cover most if not all of the bases I wanted to track.  It did! I also loved the alerts that it gave me – but I didn’t particularly like the fit – I’ve written about the band – its good points and its bad points over the past months.

On balance I liked it enough to pre-order the Band 2 on the basis that it would address some of the comfort issues from Band 1 and it might even be a little bit water resistant too – and possibly actually allow me to see my VO2 Max score – it had stubbornly refused to show me this – apparently there are a chunk of people similarly disappointed out there!!

 

Anyway as I say I ordered the new version on 14th October and was delighted to see this along with my order confirmation email:

Save


up to £70

Trade up your Microsoft Band for the NEW Band 2 and receive up to £70. Take advantage of this great offer after you receive your Band 2*. Learn more >


 

Fantastic!!!  This was especially good news as I had already had to contact customer service to let them know that the paint was peeling of the battery covers – and as they said as long as it powers up you will qualify for the cash back!  Great!
Actually – not so great because shortly after that I noticed that it had started to give me weird calories burnt readings – bike rides which normally showed over 100 calories burnt now said 11!!
And then it got even worse – I was reaching into my overcoat pocket and the band just fell apart!  See the image above!  A fairly fatal collapse-  it no longer powers up and yes..it appears my cash back has gone as well…I sent them the following email along with the image – see above!!  I was not impressed by their response…

The situation has got a lot worse!!! The band has now simply broken apart!!!  See the image attached.  It was starting to work poorly – it only registered 11 calories for a bike ride that would normally have used over 100 and tonight it has literally fallen to pieces.

You will see that I have already ordered a new Band 2
Microsoft Store – Order Confirmation (Order #XXXXXXXXXXX)‏
However it appears that I am no longer in a position to send this one back for the £70 cashback – through no fault of my own – as it no longer powers up.
Frankly I think you should be refunding me the whole amount I paid for the Band 1 as it has never given me a VO2 max calculation and has as you already know started to show appalling signs of wear and tear.
I would therefore be very interested to hear how you want to deal with this….. Clearly 7 months before it literally falls to pieces is NOT an acceptable position – I’m sure trading standards would have a view on that!!
Please advise urgently as to your proposed course of action to resolve this serious issue.

Yours more than a little disappointed with Microsoft.

Microsoft, or rather Jess from the Band Service and Support Team responded….my formatting…
Good Morning Paul,
 
Thank you for your email and images,
 
I am very sorry to hear this has happened to you.
 
In regards to the upgrade your band would need to be in full working conditon to be eligeble for the trade up with the Store.
 
In regards to your band currently as the clasp has entirely broken off the band, this is considered excessive damage and is not covered under the Standard warranty. This is part of our terms & conditions and will not affect your rights. I can certainly set up an exchange for an out of warranty repair if this is something you would like to proceed with.
 
For a refund that would need to be done through the store as I am only technical support and at this present moment the only option I would be able to offer you is an out of warranty exchange. I understand your V02 max has never worked and that issue is still ongoing with our development support team. I cannot gaurentee a refund is possible as I am not 100% on the stores polices in regards to refunds as it is a different department.
 
If you would like to proceed with a refund you would need to contact the store by phone on 0800 026 0329 or by chat at  http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msuk/en_GB/home (the black rectangle on the right hand side.)
 
Kind regards
Jess
Band Service and Support Team
For more information on self-help resources, our services or to contact us, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-band/en-gb/support .
Did you know you can register your Band, request a service repair and check the status of a repair on-line? Go to: http://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-band/en-gb/support/service-order

 

As you can infer from my earlier statement I was less than impressed…I wrote back…

Er, this happened in perfectly normal life. Clearly the item either had a design fault or it had a defect in the build quality.  Given that it is only 7 months old I think it is down to you to replace it.
It is most definitely in warranty!
Please get someone to contact me to arrange an exchange or a refund. 
And then further….
“The extent of the damage”../given that the device is meant to be worn during normal daily life I think that getting something out of an overcoat pocket is a perfectly normal thing to be doing and therefore the extent of the damage must mean there had to be a flaw in either the design or the manufacture…given that the device had already started to give unexpected readings I’d venture that it was failing!!

I then inquired what they meant by an “out of warranty exchange”..and got this in reply…

“An out of warranty exchange would be a paid for exchange, I have just checked through my hardware prices within my tools and currently the price for an Out Of Warranty band is approx. £110.00 incl. VAT.”
Well at this point dear reader I began to lose the plot…that isn’t an out of warranty exchange – that’s charging me over the market price for a new band!  As of the time of writing this Currys are offering me a new one for £79.99
Well dear reader – should I cancel my order for the Band 2 – clearly if the build quality of these bands is a concern – not just for me it seems…?
Or should I give Microsoft the opportunity to honour the UK trading standards legislation and ensure that the products they sell are fit for purpose and not likely to fall apart….if they are prepared to honour the cash back that would suffice.  If they continue with this “out of warranty” garbage I really think Trading Standards may need to hear about it!

 

 

 

October “Rant-Fest”

Ladies and gentlemen, many apologies for my absence but c’est la vie!  Now I’m back with a bumper multi-target rant for you all to enjoy.  So this October “Rant-Fest” contains a couple of pops at the government’s idiotic approach to big society, the A34 as it goes past Oxford and the Daily Mail’s online site!  Enough to keep you going for a while?  I think so!!


OK – Big Society – aka how can  the Tory government give you the impression that they’re spending less on public services when in fact it’s all going to their cronies in the private sector.

2 classic examples of bonkers budgeting in as many days.  Yesterday we had a press conference from Clive Grunshaw, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire and Steve Finnigan, Chief Constable, Lancashire Constabulary about  ‘CATASTROPHIC’ PROPOSED GOVERNMENT FUNDING CUTS

Lancashire Police will “not be viable” after 2020 because of cuts to funding, the chief constable has warned.

It’s happening elsewhere too – today we have an announcement that nn RAF air rescue team based at Chivenor in north Devon has handed over its role to a private firm.

Bristow took over from the military at RMB Chivenor at 13:00 BST and will fly out of St Athan in south Wales.

Astonishingly and extremely concerning is the fact that the handover was delayed by four days because Bristow said it needed extra time.  Needed extra time?  I’m sure those people in need of rescue from today onwards are delighted to hear that phrase.

Aberdeen-based Bristow has won a 10-year contract to take over the service, which is being privatised around the UK.  The £1.6bn search and rescue deal with Bristow ends 70 years of search and rescue from the RAF and Royal Navy.

£1.6bn!!

Yea gods the mind boggles at the potential waste of skills, resources and the decline in the quality of the service that will be provided!


The A34 to the west of Oxford – or specifically the cretins that are responsible for the planning and delivery of road improvements in this area.  Basic physics will tell you that if you have a circular pipe of diameter let’s say “2 lanes” and you also have a another pipe of  let’s say “2 lanes” again and you want the flow from both of them to go through a single pipe of say “2 lanes” you’re going to have problems at peak flow times.

So why do you not plan to increase capacity in the area where this is likely to happen?

Because you’re cretins that’s why!

So not only do thousands of motorists like me on their way to work in the morning end up spending too much time crawling from jam to jam we are all increasing our petrol consumption alarmingly and adding to the levels of pollution as well!  Now for a council that is so right on they want you park outside the city and pay for the privilege of getting on a bus to get in this seems counter-productive.

The issue is compounded by the apparent lethargy of the contractors to finish existing road improvements- I believe the end date for some work going on on the ring road to the north of Oxford is November 2016 – 2016!!!


Finally, and I apologise for having visited the site in the first place, I have to blame Google for this, let’s look at the Daily Mail’s website.  We all know it’s a right wing rag so the political bias of its owners and editors – neither are the sort of people you’d want your daughter to bring home are they? – aside it’s the prurient nature of its celeb reporting on the home page that is so revolting – specifically the section they headline as “Don’t Miss” it’s just trash!  It’s offensive, idiotic, rude, dumb- in fact everything you’d use to describe a daily mail reader!


Right I’m outta here!

Postscript on BT and femtocells

Well of course I had a conversation with BT about it….and here it is!

It starts off with me telling them my mobile coverage is poor…

Nicola: Hello. I’m Nicola. Thanks for that information, I’ll check it and get back to you in a moment.

Nicola: Hi Paul May I take your postcode?

paul west: XXXX XXX

paul west: The signal is poor west of the road but non-existent east of the road! Guess which side I live on!

paul west: Given that I have BT Broadband – which is also no more than 3mb at its best and obviously a BT phone line and BT Sport I’d really expect better from you!

paul west: All the other networks seem to have a reasonable signal but not you – why is that?

Nicola: I am sorry that you are unhappy with the coverage. I have checked your postcode on the EE coverage checker and it estimates 3 bars but this can be subject to other factors such as thick walls, trees and interference

Interesting she didn’t use the BT coverage checker…!

 

paul west: No it doesn’t say that at all. If you do as I suggest – as in actually look at the map itself – (ed. this was actually using a different coverage checker to be fair!) – not the inaccurate text to the left of the map you’ll see there is NO coverage at all. When will you be improving this? It seems unfair to be paying full price for a network I cannot use for almost 50% of the time?

paul west: I note that you are also hassling me to resign a BT Sport contract with you – 5 months at least before my existing contract finishes…

Nicola: We are notifying all our customers about the upcoming BT Sport packages as we are the only place to see the Champions League games and we need to notify customers of changes to pricing etc…..Regrettably I am unable to reduce the price of your BT Mobile plan. We cannot guarantee 100% coverage in all areas. I have checked your account and can see that you have been able to use the Mobile data allowance that we offer with your sim

Oh dear she let’s her self wide open for the next bit!

 

paul west: In fact you’ll see that I’m able to use less than half of that allowance – and I’ve only been able to use 81 minutes out of 500 – clearly if your network functioned as advertised at my home I’d have used more!

OK here I offer her a way out….

paul west: Do you – like your competitors – offer a “femtocell” a localised signal booster which is linked to my (BT) broadband account? If not when do you plan to improve the quality of service – as in actually provide me with a service – at my home?

Nicola: We use EE and there are EE signal boosters in the market that you can purchase however we do not supply them here at the moment

Just try and find somewhere where you can actually buy them

paul west: So I have to buy one!!! Vodafone provide them by allowing a discount to match the purchase price off the bill – shouldn’t you be doing the same?

Nicola: I can note your feedback on this. we arent supplying them at the moment but perhaps we will when we acquire EE

paul west: So will you give me a discount off my bill because I HAVE to buy one to be able to use that part of the service I am paying for for 50% of the time?

Nicola: no sorry I am unable to do that

So how do think that makes me feel?

Yep that’s right – really really p*ssed off!  Churn baby churn!

Lies, damn lies, and mobile network coverage

Look I know we’ve all been talking about the way that broadband companies advertise their services in a distinctly dodgy way but the same is true for mobile operators!  Like plenty of other people if I could ditch my home phone for my mobile I would!  The trouble is where I live – and that accounts for approx 50% of my time the mobile signal is just about non-existant.  Believe me I’ve tried most if not all of the operators.

The only time is seemed to work well was when I got a Vodafone Sure Signal-  a femtocell which boosts the signal in your house and then uses your broadband channel to route the signal back to the network – brilliant – only it’s stopped working! Vodafone were really good about it – they gave me the device in order to keep me as a customer.  Well here’s their coverage below – so hardly surprising they’ve been so good!

voda.fw

Well I’ve now moved over to BT Mobile – and I have to say all this crap about EE (the network they bought) having the widest coverage is laughable – the quality of signal I’m getting just about everywhere is much, much worse than Vodafone.  Here’s BT Mobile’s view of what I’m getting…

BT.fw

Now according to that graph I should be getting a “Good” signal when actually I’m getting NO signal at all inside the house and frankly it’s barely any better outside – do you remember the days of trying to get your phone as high as possible so you could send a text?  Well that’s what I’m having to do!!

So I thought maybe I should check out O2 – perhaps being more dog (WTF!) might help….

o2.fw

Nope it still won’t work indoors!  Blimey do I feel that I live in the 3rd world? Yes sirree!

Now you would have thought that technology would have sorted this out by now – not enough reason to build a new mast well provide boosters to fill in the – now what did BT call them when they announced the deal to take over EE – “not spots” – yes that was it!  Indeed EE allegedly have their own version of the Sure Signal – “Signal Box” – costing anywhere from £14.99 (and discounted to free) to £89!

WTF!  £89 to pay to get the service you’re already paying for – in your dreams!

I’ve got one word to say to the people who run these mobile networks “CHURN”!  Why are churn rates so high?  Because your network coverage is S**T!

This is increasingly important when we know damn well that the operators are seeking to develop one stop multi-media services – BT Broadband (shite), BT Sport (hassling you to pay more for it suddenly) and BT fixed line – yes guys when will you upgrade the local exchange?  The worse the service these players deliver on one of more of these elements – oh dear BT big trouble ahead – the greater the likelihood that they will fail.

Do I want to watch all the champions league goals – yes I do but it won’t be the end of the world if I don’t, and right now I think I’m not going to renew my contract with them.  I’ll also not renew my SIM only mobile contract with them and that leaves Broadband and home phone as the only elements I’ll be using….

I wonder what SKY are offering as a phone/broadband package….?  I can see BT ending up like the Post Office – not fit for purpose!

I’ve just lost my Virgin-ity

OK thought that might make you read a bit further!!

I’m part of the generation that has grown up and got old with Virgin – the brand.  I’ve been an ardent supporter of “the beardyman” and his record label, his airline and basically just about anything to do with his brand (not Virgin bride though – that was too scary!).  Sadly I’ve just come to to the conclusion that things ain’t what they’re supposed to be.

richard_branson

Specifically I’ve just confirmed to Virginmoney that I will no longer actively be using their services – which is a shame, but they have been making so many mistakes since they took over running things from MBNA that it isn’t worth it anymore.  I’m sure the man himself will be p*ssed off if he ever gets to listen to my phone calls with them….

I’ll give you a bit more detail here so you can see I’m not making any snap, unreasonable decisions.

A few years ago when my wife was ill we decided it would be a good idea if I had a credit card registered in my own name, rather than our joint accounts – after a look around I decided I’d go for the Virgin card as I was a Virgin supporter.

Well everything had been running well with the card – hardly surprising when you learn that it was actually run by MBNA who are one of the leaders in the co-branded card market – they’re big and they’re good at what they do.

I got a letter a couple of months ago from Virgin saying they were taking over responsibility for running the service, fine I thought, and I even agreed to change to paying my monthly bill by direct debit – I’d been doing a manual bank transfer for years!  It had been working fine – then in late March I noticed late payment and interest charges on my account – it transpires that the money left my account ok but took several days to be credited to the Virgin account – I was not happy! However after calling them they agreed to refund these charges – well, that’s the Virgin way I thought – even though it did take almost 2 minutes to get to the point where you’re actually waiting for someone to talk to you!

Anyway the letter about the changeover had told me what to do, so I went online and set up the DD, and thought no more about it…..

And then I checked my account around the 18th of April only to discover more late payment and interest charges – WTF!  I checked with my bank to make sure I’d done things correctly and yes they informed me that the DD had been set up on the 30th March and was fine from their end – it was just that Virgin hadn’t requested any money!   It took a couple of calls but again Virgin realised that the DD hadn’t been set up properly at their end, but was now OK and on the next payment due date 18th May they’d take the 2 months money – minus any charges still showing on the account.  They agreed it was their responsibility that things had gone wrong and were helpful enough to tell em that any negative marks that would be showing on my credit score would be removed – it might take 60 days but they’d be erased – as was right and proper.

So I had a problem yesterday buying something on eBay -but put it down to the new eBay checkout – it’s sh*te!  But this lunchtime when I went to pay for my petrol the card was declined…..oh dear.

When I called them I was passed through to the “special team” and a young lady informed me that my card had been stopped as it was a month in arrears…..I suggested, politely (honest!) that she should read the notes on the file – I hung on for about 5 minutes and she came back and didn’t offer me anything new other than to suggest that she could get the team to call me this evening to go through what had gone wrong and what they were doing about it (the DD!).  This wasn’t of any use to me – and she went off again to speak to her manager…another 4 minutes and she came back – with again nothing new – no offer to reinstate my card immediately – nothing!

So I hope you think it’s fair that I told them that I would not be using the card anymore – well I can’t currently – and that I would wait for the DD to take the money from my account – this month and then the following month and after that I will cancel the DD and that will be that.

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I really, really am disappointed by Virgin on this – they have had the chance to resolve it and failed abysmally – I can’t trust them with my money if this is the way they treat it – they don’t appear to be able to manage a financial services system.

So if anyone knows of a good deal – a really good deal, on new credit cards then I’m up for it!