Archive for the ‘Unclassifiable bluster’ Category

Broadband woes and wows

October 2, 2007

First off, and know this is very self-indulgent. Using a never-read blog to moan about poor customer service. But it’s therapeutic. And it’s either this, or a Falling Down moment!

So, we’re moving into a new house. I want broadband. We’re not in a cabled area. After previous shitty experiences with Be* (possibly unusually, they are well rated) and Bulldog, I thought I’d finally give BT a try.

This was motivated by several things. I admire how they’ve gone about reinventing themselves as a modern communications company, investing billions in IP infrastructure. I quite like the look of their Home Hub. I wanted to try their Home Hub phone, out of professional interest (I work with Skype, so am interested in other VoIP offers). The idea of inclusive minutes on BT Open Zone hotspots appeals, as I work remotely a bit. And, at Albion, we’ve been doing some work with them, on their deal with FON, which is obviously a cool thing to be part of, and I had some loyaty.

The problem was, I just couldn’t get them to take my money. I’ll spare you the full sordid details, but essentially:

  • I called their customer service telephone number, and queued for 40 minutes to get a phone line. The first lady couldn’t complete the job, so I waited on hold for 5 minutes for a man who could. He gave me an order number and a phone number.
  • I visited the website to order broadband. There was no way to enter an order number, and it didn’t recognise my phone number.
  • I called their customer service telephone number, and queued for 90 minutes (yep, and hour and a half) to try and order broadband. The man I got through to didn’t seem sure what he was doing. After putting me on hold for a bit, he came back and said he needed to conference in someone else. When he tried to do this, he instead cut me off, and I was put back to the start of the queue. I waited for 30 minutes, then went off to get a life.
  • I sent an email to the complaints address on their website, detailing the whole sorry saga. Over 24 hours later I got an automated response.
  • My wife spent another 90 minutes queuing in their phone system before she found someone who could tell us what we suspected – that we couldn’t order broadband until our phone number was actually live. No, in fact 48 hours after our hone number is live.

Baffles me why a 21st Century Network can’t turn all the services on a line on at the same time. Does anyone actually get a phone line as a phone line anymore?

Anyway, it looks like I’ve had a lucky escape. Of all the people we spoke to, only one could tell us how long after ordering our broadband would be live, and his answer was a vague “between 2 and 4 weeks”. Which is no good to me at all; I regularly work from home, but can’t without any internet. And the truth seems to be that some people are waiting months to get connected.

So I did some digging around. Moneysupermarket.com gave me useful information about broadband suppliers who service our postcode. And they have user reviews, with enough ratings to be useful. This led me to madasafish. My call to them was picked up after one ring, and a nice lady told me they would have me connected in 5-10 days. I can’t remember quite how, but after some link-following, I clicked on a banner ad (yes, really) for a company called IDNet who promise, in black and white, to make new connections "within 5 working days". I’m looking forward to seeing if either of these two nice small companies can delight me.

I don’t think there are any lessons to learn from this episode. Apart from, you know:

  • Modern life is rubbish. The Man don’t give a f**k. Smash the system. Etc.
  • There are good broadband companies out there, it just takes a while to find them.
  • Professionally, it’s a timely reminder of the perils of working with government-sized companies.

Phew, got that off my chest. Normal silence will now be resumed.
 
I’m just going down to Paddy Power to see if they’ll take a bet that no-one from BT will ever comment on this post.

 

UPDATE – I plumped for Madasafish. I ordered the service on Thursday (and a very pleasant web experience it was too) and they told me I’d have service within 10 days. A courier delivered the free wireless router on Friday. I’ve been away for the weekend, but when I got back last night, the broadband connection was live! That’s 2 working days, or 4 days in total. The connection seems fast and stable. So, in conclusion, and contrary to my rants of recent years, there is a good broadband company. Phew.

 

The “wow” starts when?

January 31, 2007

From Seth Godin’s blog, via the lovely Malthe

 

Apparently wow means ‘excitement, interest, or great pleasure’. Has it ever looked less like the "wow" starts here?!

And why the quotes Bill?

 

The random delights of Schiphol

July 27, 2006

Spent a couple of hours in Schiphol airport night, on the way back from a secret thing. As well as being terribly efficient, it’s also very interesting. I’m not aware of too many airports that have a Meditation centre and a museum…

 

 

And the shops are all generically named. If you squint you can imagine what it would be like to live in a world with no brands…

 

 

And the descriptive approach to labelling continues inside the shops too. My favourite was ‘very old cheese’. I think I’ll be using this photo again; just need to think of the right idea…

 

Endangered savouries

July 24, 2006

Just read an article in the Guardian about ‘classic’ British dishes falling out of favour with the under-25s.

On one level I think it’s a great article. Mostly because the names of some of the out-of-favour foods are so mysterious and evocative:

  • Bath chaps
  • Jugged hare
  • Brawn
  • Bedfordshire clanger (scrag end of mutton with kidneys)
  • Pan haggerty (fried onions and potatoes)
  • Hogs pudding
  • Faggots

 

On the other hand the article really annoyed me, because it’s so obviously inspired by a press release from UKTV Food, but doesn’t take it further. I’d like to read some proper analysis, including:

  • Why food names have become so descriptive (‘on a bed of..’).
  • Why some high-end restaurants are returning to the offal based recipes.
  • Many of the dying-out names are local. Are local recipes dying per say, or are the more palatable ones hanging on? (Burslem oatcakes)

My brand molecule

May 26, 2006

I was travelling around the US last week, doing research groups for Skype, understanding (among other things) the impact of their recent announcement of free calls to any landline or cell phone within the US & Canada.

On the various flights, I read John Grant’s new book, the Brand Innovation Manifesto. As I’ve said to him, it’s the book I’ve wanted to read about brands ever since I started thinking about them.

Part of John’s thinking is that brands are clusters of strategic cultural ideas, and he draws this as a molecule, rather than a traditional layered and hierarchical ‘onion’ model. This is so cool – it is a much better representation of how modern, textured experience brands work. It also reflects something like the reality of how consumers might think about your brand, rather than an over-clever, tortured and abstract set of words.

Anyway, so I’ve been busy playing with some molecules of my own. In fact I’m a little bit addicted; it’s really fun. So much so that I absent-mindedly started writing my own…

 Glyn's brand molecule

Ten things

March 14, 2006
  1. Cuddles
  2. Tall doorways
  3. Côtes du Rhône
  4. Being warm
  5. The Llyn Pensinsula
  6. Slow roast pork belly
  7. The Right Stuff
  8. Apres Ski
  9. Mashups
  10. Brand architecture

I love my laptop

February 24, 2006

Glyn's laptop

I’ve had a laptop for over 10 years, but it’s always been given to me by the company I was working for, and their IT departments always stuffed it full of bloatware to ‘improve’ its performance and limit my access to it.

But now I’ve got my own.

It’s PC, because I couldn’t afford a Mac *and* all the software I need. It’s also a very sensible silver-grey Dell PC. And it took me ages to get set up just like I wanted. But now it’s humming.

It starts fast. It suspends properly when I shut the lid. I’m working on getting all my music ever on it. It hooks up to WiFi easily (and I realised recently that everywhere I’ve wanted WiFi this year now has it). I’ve recovered everything I’ve written professionally from CD backups of laptops past, so I have everything at my fingertips. With Skype I can co-coo with my fiancée or talk to my boss. It’s got all my photos memories on it.

I know it’s odd to say I love a dull little PC, but there is definitely a pleasure (for me at least) in getting something working so well. I’m trying to avoid the temptation to tinker too much; to add that one bit of badly written code that might introduce a glitch and slow it down. And I don’t know what I’d do if somebody nicked it…

Clears throat

February 3, 2006

Ahem.

This feels a bit like speaking to an empty conference hall – an occasional nightmare of mine, back in the days of the first ‘dotcom’ boom, when I used to talk about how the web would change brands.

But if this blog gets off the ground (unlike the previous efforts I’ve left cluttering the web) then I suppose some people might go back and read my first post, so I suppose I better write something of some worth.

A few things have prompted me to have another, hopefully more sustained, go at blogging.

Firstly, after 10 years of employment by very big, big and big-acting companies, I’ve just gone freelance, so I thought I should have a place on the web where prospective employers can get a sense of who I am, what I do and how I think.

Secondly, one of my first post-wage slave jobs is working with the communications agency Albion on their client Skype. So after a few years of creating ideas to help knackered old companies try to sort out their problems, I’m delighted to find myself back helping exciting new companies to make the most of their opportunities. I feel energised about my work in a way I haven’t for a little while now, and this too has inspired me to blog.

Thirdly, having Skype as a client means I need to be playing with all this cool stuff, so I can try and work out what it means to my mum, and how to get her to buy it.

I’ve been using the ideasdepartment.com domain for my personal email for a while, so it made sense to use it for my blog too. Although sitting here now I realise for the first time that it might create certain expectations in a reader…