Archive for the 'Life' Category


Customer Service – some get it, others don’t

I’ve had one of those experiences this morning that entirely lifts your day, which is curious because it started with a very expensive piece of my kit going wrong.
Back in November I bought a 42 inch Toshiba Regza TFT TV, which is amazing. Yes Sky looks like the best of Enid Blyton sent through a wood chipper, but that’s Sky’s fault not the Tosh. But shortly after Christmas is developed a minor fault where a thin black line appeared down the centre of the screen. At first we tried to ignore it, but eventually I decided to get it sorted out, as the TV came from John Lewis is a five year warranty.
This is doing Customer Services Right:

Rang with the problem, told that the TV engineering company would ring me tomorrow.
Engineers rang as promised and said they’d be here on Thursday.
8.30am Thursday they rang to give me a two hour windows (9-11) that the engineer would call
9.20am Engineer arrived, assessed problem
9.30am Engineer called John Lewis arranged replacement screen for Friday and collection of broken screen, with same early call and two hour window promised.
9.35am He left, leaving me with complete confidence that I’m going to get my screen fixed, and that I’m not going to be without a TV in the meanwhile. Result!

And now to bring balance to the universe, how to do Customer Services wrong!

Saw a wardrobe in Homebase that I wanted, tried to buy it, couldn’t…it was the last one.
Homebase sales staff said I could buy it online and get it delivered, so went home.
Went online and found item, £25 more…but thought what the hell and ordered it.
After the order was taken the web page told me that I would be rung and a delivery date arranged.
A month later no phone call received, so I sent an email asking the situation.
Automated response, no reply
Two weeks later I sent an email to customer services at Homebase asking why they didn’t reply to emails.
I got another automated response it read…
Thank you for your enquiry. Your email has been given a reference …
We aim to answer all emails within 2 days.

That was 27 days ago. No reply.
Rang Homebase two weeks ago and asked where the item was.
Promised on the phone that the item would be with me on the 1st of September, at the very latest.
On the 1st of September received a letter explaining the item was out of stock and that it would take longer, no delivery date provided.

If anyone from Homebase is reading this, YOU ARE CRAP! (and no, I’m not expecting a reply)

But they’re not alone.

I noticed that the pieces I wrote on the BBC Series Jekyll, so I thought it might be of interest to my readers to review the DVD boxset.
So I contacted the BBC on that basis.
The BBC press office replied,’If you are a journalist, we are considering your inquiry and will respond as soon as we can.’
Well I am a journalist, and they haven’t after 3 weeks.
I think what galls me more here is that I’m indirectly paying for them to be rubbish!

And last but not least, Pipex

I’ve posted a number of times about my fun with their ADSL service, which after years of being excellent went pair shaped about two months ago.
I’m not going to repeat the entire sordid tale here again, but I’ve now had at least two Pipex representatives promise to ring me back but never did. My ADSL still doesn’t function like it once did, and they’ve ignored at least two emails I’ve sent.
When I get cable in, and then tell them I’m terminating my contract I’m sure they’ll have plenty to say, but when I’ve got a problem they’re less interested it seems. Customer service is something that they’re heard about, but not really understood it seems.


Are Journalists threatened by Bloggers?

Last week I went an event called PlayBite, which was to bring Journo’s and various hardware makers together for mutual benefit. There I was able to talk to Seagate, Toshiba, Belkin, ZyXEL and others about current and upcoming products and potentially plan some reviews in advance.
Good stuff. But what was also interesting was the questionnaire they asked me to complete as I left, which seemed to be concerned about the impact of Blogging on us erstwhile hacks!
I know that some people are very worried about this, and I can understand why, but myself I’m not. You see I don’t see bloggers are actually a threat to conventional journalism, but another potential outlet for people with genuine writing skills. By day I’m a ink journalist, meaning by work is printed and distributed, in much the same way that it’s been for hundreds of years. Yes it’s all composited on computer, and sent to a computerised press, but it’s an ink and paper deal like it’s been since Caxton.
Luckily I work for a weekly mag, so there isn’t a huge time difference between the actual events we discuss and them going into print. It’s not got the instant appeal of a blog or online mag, but sometimes it’s good to let a little time go by without spouting, to get a better handle on the underlying story.
So will this type of product go away entirely and be replaced by Bloggs? I don’t think so, not in the short to medium term. If you go back in time you’ll find that people predicted the demise of print when Radio and TV was invented, and again when the Internet took hold. But it’s still going, and many of the daily still sell more than a million copies!
Now I’m writing a Blog, and it’s given me a whole new perspective. This is an immediate medium that allows me to talk about things that don’t generally fit into either the readership or interest of the print publications I produce for. It also doesn’t currently pay me anything, but it’s a ‘work in progress’ so I’ll accept that for the moment. At some point I’ll expect it to pay it’s way for the time I spend on it, or I’ll reduce the amount I do.
Looking at what other Bloggers are doing, I don’t see anything different from what most journalists do, which is the see an idea or a story and then find their own angle. The Blogs that do well are either written skilfully or have imagination, despite what some think there is no ‘free lunch’ for the Blogger. Those that manage to get large numbers of people reading them have had to work hard to achieve that. Their are millions of bloggs that are read by few people, and some that will never get thousands of people a day tuning in.
The medium might have changed, but the rules remain the same. If you can produce material that people like or interests them then you’ve got a future, if you don’t you haven’t.
I think those in the printed press that feel the Bloggers are going to consume their occupations, by offering something similar for free are missing the point, I’d suggest.
In the same way that a picture taken with a mobile phone isn’t going to make you Photographer of the year. Those with genuine skills will shine through, irrespective of how they’re labelled.
The interest I’m seeing is that marketing people like the ‘new and exciting’ aspect of commercial Blogs, which they see as easier to influence than the battle hardened hacks they’re used to dealing with. Once the Web 2.0 world has matured a little, I think they’ll find it isn’t any different, and many of those hacks are the same people they will deal with in a new context.
In the meanwhile, I’ll just keep writing…for any medium that has an outlet.


Nintendo DS Trashed…Grrrr..

Cracked DS

Children , who’d want them? This is the handiwork of mine, when combined with their cousin. Anyone fixed anything like this? Is it just a replacement screen or should I just bin it?

UPDATE: Ordered the parts…so tomorrow I get to find out if it’s fixable…if it is I’ll put the details up here.


Satellite Pro or is that Slow?

It’s one of the few decent days weather we’ve had this summer, so I’m sat out in the back garden. So I can work I’ve brought out with me a Celeron M powered Toshiba Satellite Pro. I’ve used systems like this one before and they can be quite snappy, but this one is like sludge working to rule! The reason being that the people who set it up put 512MB’s of RAM in it, which would have been fine for Windows XP, except they put Vista Business Basic on it. Doh! As the video sub-system takes some memory, you’re actually quite heavily in deficit before your opened any applications. I’ve turned off all the visual junk, installed Firefox, and now I can use WordPress without huge drive swapping delays. I may have to go and spend on some extra RAM for this if it’s to do much more than slow me down.


Ten More Bizarre Facts About me

As  a follow up to by first collection of strange facts, I’ve selected another Ten More Bizarre Facts About me, some of which are truly weird.


Thunderflies are go!

ThripI’ve just had a bizarre conversation with long time friend of mine Gary Allen about Thunderflies (also referred to as Thrips from the order Thysanoptera), and the trouble they can cause. It’s annoying enough to have them craw on your skin in the summer, but Gary’s having issues with them go into the space between the matrix and the backlight on his TFT. At first he assumed that the two dead pixels that moved where the result of PSS, or Post Stella Shock. But it turns out that this tiny little beetles just love to scurry around inside thin-film-transistor displays!
The trouble is getting them out, before they die and become a permanent visual fixture. His idea, for which I take no responsibility was to train Ninja Thunderflies to go in and kick out the blighters. My idea, which isn’t much better, was to use a powerful microscope to paint lipstick on a Thunderfly and use them as a romantic lure, in the manner of those Bugs Bunny cartoon’s where he does the same.
As neither of these plans seems like a sure-fire way to extradite the little blighter’s, we’re open to ideas about how to solve this problem. So tell us if you have any ideas.
This link shows it’s just not us with this issue.


Pipex, I love you really….

Having called my ISP everything under the sun, I’ve finally worked out after a totally frustrating day what’s been going on with my Internet connection!
It turns out that the cable that carries my telephone connection to the second floor must be cracked some and corrosion is causing my unexplained drop-outs.  Or this is what I concluded when I moved the router down to the Master Socket and discovered that it worked perfectly there!

I now have to replace this cable, as at the moment I’ve got a long piece of CAT 5 running down the stairs.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be ready to start blogging at full speed again! When I’ve fixed the cable, and apologised to Pipex…