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Monday, 12 November 2012

Follow up on @Amazon #FAIL and now @CurrysPCWorldUK wasted a really good opportunity to shine

Thank you to all of you who took the time to read and comment on my last post with the Amazon on-line "support" conversation. So here is the update to that story.

After getting hacked off by the shoddy treatment, I decided to email Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com Inc - his email is not difficult to find on-line. 

If you can't get help on the front line: I always suggest to start at the top of the corporate pyramid and work your way down, rather than spending months in a complaints procedure system that is purely designed to get you, the complainant to give up.

Baptiste, Amazon Executive Customer Relations, did reply on behalf of Jeff Bezos. And as much as he is well trained in giving out corporate apologies to a level that they come across as being insincere. It only took a couple of emails back and forth before he agreed that their description was confusing and he came to this conclusion:

"The reason why our Express Delivery option remains available after the deadline for next-day delivery has passed is to allow our customers to start placing their orders for delivery on the following day. I understand that you find the wording of this delivery method confusing. Your comments have been forwarded to our relevant department for consideration. Customer feedback such as yours helps us to continue improving the service we provide. We appreciate the time you've taken to write to us." 
(In all fairness this is taken by me out of context as a summary of those emails - nevertheless, it does confirm that next-day delivery has nothing to do with Amazon getting you the goods the next day)

Baptiste has also recommended internally that additional training should be provided to the people involved with my initial contact.

However, this didn't solve my problem of needing a USB 3.0 1TB Hard Disk by Friday the second of November (Next day). As luck would have it, I was going to St. Albans, which has the Abbey View Retail Park, which has a Currys (PC World). As luck would have it Currys website showed that a Western Digital Mypassport 1TB in stock. And only at £10.00 more expensive than Amazon, excluding delivery, but not the cheaper Samsung that I had originally wanted. Beggars can't be choosers...
 
On the train up to St Albans I used the Currys web-portal to reserve the drive and have it made ready for collection. This is a really cool feature that the likes of Argos is also using in order to compete on delivery times with the likes of Amazon.

Good News is that I have got the drive! However, I am not going to rush back to Currys; On arrival at about 16.35, there was 5 Currys employees on the shop floor and 1 customer + me. Not a single person of the 4 people doing nothing approached me to ask if they could be of help. Tired of waiting, I interrupted a person on the sales desk. He must have been doing something far more important than serving customers... 

Haven got the reference number and identified the on-line order, he went in search of the reserved Hard Disk. This took him to the back office, where it should have been, but wasn't. Then to the person with the keys for shop cupboard, and finally he located the drive next to all the other drives. Follow on, there was no realattempt to up-sell for a carry cases etc. It was a transaction that took four times longer than it should have done. The whole process made a total mockery out of Currys PC-Worlds advantage over the likes of Amazon and other web only stores.

Must apologise here, but I really don't get it: How on the same day that Comet went down into administration, can the competition can be so complacent?

For those retailers who are interested in improving I am a great fan of "Smart Retail:Practical Winning Ideas and Strategies from the Most Successful Retailers in the World" by Richard Hammond - a real bible for retailers:

Smart Retail: Practical Winning Ideas and Strategies from the Most Successful Retailers in the World
http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/richard+hammond/smart+retail/8033420/


Following back onto the story with Amazon customer service; it later transpired that as much as they have in writing promises not to take the money out of the bank account, they were three days later still having my money in a "holding" position. Whether on purpose or not, Amazon had "forgotten" to tell my UK bank that the transaction had been voided. As a direct result I was not able to access the money on my bank account.


The questions are now: 
Do I vote with my feet and close the Amazon account?
Is there a UK retailer (store or on-line) who can compete with Amazon in price and service?

Please do tell

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Live Chat with @amazon #Blog #Bezos

What should one expect when ordering an item from Amazon or anyone of the other online retailers - service? correct promise of delivery time? honesty? 

I've emailed Jeff Bezos directly with my complaint. Amazon Online Chat support "hung up" on me when I asked three times to speak with a supervisor - they were advised that this blog would be happening. And I have suggested that I should be making purchases elsewhere, rather than continuously be upset about getting a different and later date of delivery, once the payment has been taken by Amazon.

Don't worry, you won't miss the fun, here is the entire chat (not including the order number or full name of Amazon employee):



You are now connected to Kriszanne from Amazon.co.uk.

Me: I need my USB drive tomorrow and paid extra for the privilege - why then am I on completing payment being told that the drive will be delayed?  14:26:42

Me:Please help!14:26:42
Kriszanne: Thank you for choosing Amazon Chat, my name is Kriszanne. I'll be happy to help you. Can I have your name please? 14:26:54
Me: Mads 14:27:16
Kriszanne: Please allow me to apologise for the issue you have experienced with your order.  14:27:20
Kriszanne Dawn:Can you please confirm the order number so I can check on it?14:27:35
Me: 026-XXXXXXX-XXXXXXX 14:28:01
Kriszanne: Thank you, I will check on the details of the order for you. 14:29:37
Kriszanne Dawn:Sorry to keep you waitng. 14:31:50
Kriszanne Dawn:I have checked on the order and Ican confirm that there was no delay in processing the order and the estimated delivery date we have for the order is 3 November 2012. 14:32:23
Me: That is not next day guaranteed delivery before 13.00 - that is two days. 14:33:23
Kriszanne: I apoloogise for this Mads, the current offer we have in the website is Want guaranteed delivery by Saturday, 3 November? 14:34:21
Kriszanne Dawn:Order it in the next 21 hours and 55 minutes, and choose One-Day Delivery at checkout. 14:34:21
Kriszanne Dawn:Your order is expected to be dispatched by 2 November 2012 for a delivery on the 3rd. 14:35:05
Me: And that is not OK - it is in my opinion false and misleading - there is only one next day, and that is tomorrow! 14:35:41
Kriszanne: I understand how you feel about this however please note that Delivery estimates we have for our orders are dependent as to when the order will be dispatched and not when the order is placed. 14:37:55
Me: Can you please put a supervisor on the line - I prefer someone who can understand the concept of "misleading and false advertising" - thank you 14:39:11
Kriszanne: I hope you understand that as we do not have all items in stock in one fulfillment centre we will endeavour to source your item first and dispatch it according to the delivery method you have specified for the order. 14:39:20
Kriszanne Dawn:Since express delivery means next day delivery before 1 PM we have expected your order to be dispatched by 2 November 2012 for a delivery the next day. 14:40:13
Me: No, that is overcharging for a service that you are knowingly not able to deliver 14:40:25
Me:With all the smart people programming at Amazon, it should be possible not to have false choices on the menu?14:41:23
Me:Manager please14:41:37
Kriszanne: I understand that, however please be advised that we currently do not have any managers available only supervisor. 14:43:23
Kriszanne Dawn:Please also note that they will also advise you the same. Dispatch estimates is different from the delivery estimates we have in the website.
Me: I am about to tweet and blog - because this is not the first time that Amazon misleads its customers, and I should not have to ask 3 times to speak with a superior! 14:45:43

Kriszanne: I understand your concern about this issue. 14:47:48

Kriszanne: I will try to check with my supervisor. 14:48:02

Kriszanne: One moment please.

Kriszanne from Amazon.co.uk is no longer connected

Monday, 30 July 2012

Butterflies & people in religious and emotional despair by @1MaxMalik #SUFP #goodread

This the review that was originally posted on the Amazon website, unfortunately they're not allowing me to post the links:

"The Butterfly Hunter" by Max Malik 

This book is beautifully written with many passionate descriptions of the people, their senses, language, food and locations. It takes us across several continents on journey in search of right and wrong, faith and extremist, love and corruption.

Normally I read Sci-fi and pop-crime/action/war thrillers. Despite all the deaths and violence "The Butterfly Hunter" is much more of a political religious romantic story that really digs into the souls and thoughts of the characters and provides an understanding for what drives them and others to the extremes, that we're all faced with in real-live today. We get much more of a vivid insight to the minds of extremist masterminds, than the government agencies who are working against them.

Coming from a very save upbringing in the countryside of my native place of Denmark where there was no pressure to join or follow any faith, if at all. The descriptions and quotes from the Quran was very new to me, and more so the whole ideology surrounding it and how its message was used for making terrorists and peace keepers out of the same mould - and not unlike how most other religeous bible and scriptures are used today.

NO! We are made to, even forced to understand and think about the fine line between practising faith and enforcing terror. It is fascinating to follow the conversion of two people; one a white middle class young woman, and the other; a drug dealer, pimp and bad son into something new. Which I (you) the reader had to decide whether one liked or disliked.

And in the end, extremist or not, it turns out that we're all human.



The book can be found on  Amazon here:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Butterfly-Hunter-Max-Malik/dp/1908248602/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343651232&sr=8-1

Disclosure:

If it had not been for chance meeting with the author Max Malik earlier this year, I would never have had the enjoyment of finding his book. He took part in a series of videos to encourage more dialogue.
You can see some of them here:
How Powerful are British Pakistanis? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f215NrXJI9E
Part of the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office competition: Speaking up for Pakistan: voices from the UK:
http://ukinpakistan.fco.gov.uk/en/about-us/working-with-pakistan/SUFP/

Friday, 27 July 2012

A true pulling teeth out survey from #tfl, #aegon & #mayor for London

Hopefully this will help you save alot of time + bring a smile to your face.

An open letter to tfl, the Mayor & Aegon in response to their http://www.tfl-olympic-survey.co.uk/ survey email:

Dear tfl,

There should be a law against these kind of stupidity long-winded surveys – this survey is of an epic Kafkaesque proportion!

Aecom and tfl has wasted time that I’ll never get to see again in my lifetime, and that could have been spent better on watching paint dry or the Olympic torch pass by.

Frankly, every single executive within City-hall, Transport For London and Aecom should be forced to take this survey – it is utter nonsense, and will provide plenty of material for stand-up comedians for centuries to come.

Couldn’t John M. Dionisio and his friends at Aecom (who only has one public account: investor relations – so they clearly don’t know how to use a computer at that firm – or they don’t want employees to use email…), could they not just have asked:
What route are you taking on a daily basis?
Will it change because of the Olympics?
And have we done enough to help you get through London?


If there ever was a reason not to ever take a tfl survey again, then this is a good one!!!
Shame on you for wasting other peoples time!

Have a nice weekend & I am actually looking forward to a fabulous Olympic experience!

All the Best
Mads

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Who is going to save the UK’s #economy? @UKGovNews @IMFNews or the Pension Funds

It has been proven that I am no financial expert and the workings of balancing a country’s budget could very well be way over my head, but that won’t stop me having an opinion:

This week there has been more nervous financial news coming out of the Southern European members of the Euro. And whilst everybody is saying drop the currency the head of the IMF, managing director Christine Lagarde and her colleagues decided to offer some dangerous advice to the UK:

1)    Drop the interest rate below 0.5%,

2)    make it easier to borrow money,

3)    and follow the on-going advice of Labour (the Masters of mismanagement) and drop the level of VAT.
(More information can be found in this BBC article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18158226)

HELLO!

Have these people lost the plot!?

By dropping interest rates, the economy will punish the savers even further. The Pension Funds are going to be encouraged to make bigger gambles in order to make up for the shortfall of an ageing population, and in the end they might lose all of the money due to the instability of those hazardous investments – we have just been here recently.

By putting British businesses into a debt, that will undoubtedly have high interest payments attached to it, the UK economy will never recover.

And by lowering the VAT rate, the consumer will get back to the Labour fuelled bonanza of overvaluing the private housing market and spending all the new found riches on foreign holidays and imported luxury goods.

Quite frankly: This is a state sponsored financial recipe for destroying a country, keeping unemployment high and ensuring that the United Kingdom will not even have the muscle to be represented in the G100 (Last bit is a joke, but if our GDP falls to that of Honduras, it won’t be a laughing matter for the residents of the UK)

One cannot criticise or chastise without offering a suggested solution, so here is mine:

1)    Raise VAT to 25%. Some of Europe’s richest countries have VAT income above 20% and since the UK are charging no or reduced VAT on food and no VAT on books, it is fair to say that the poor and rich income house-holds will be equally hit. This will also help put a stop on the import of unnecessary luxury goods, by reducing the money spent.

2)    This one parliament will not be able to legislate for, because it would create a riot + trouble in the EU courts. However, there is economist who has suggested that if a country’s population were to invest a substantial part of their own savings in their government bonds, that this would be one of the fastest ways to bring down a trade deficit and government borrowing.

And to top this up, if UK pension funds were to invest in UK only companies and jobs, then that would bring unemployment down, give the government course for raising the interest rates and become a real good long term strategy for anyone wanting to have a pension in the UK. All around, it would help turn the financial wheels faster and hopefully also finance the re-establishment of this country as a leading manufacturing powerbase. With the low value of the Pound and the high unemployment, now would be the time to seize that opportunity.

Just look at this Bloomberg Report: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-23/pfa-pension-ekf-boost-export-finance-to-help-vestas-renewables.html where the Danish PFA Pension fund is helping companies like Vestas to win contracts through offering to invest/lend money to the buyer of the turbines. (Yes, I am Danish of origin, but we still have to look at the concept)

3)    Drop all VAT on building/converting homes to a Passive House (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_house). The UK has a real chance to become the leader in Clean Technologies, and the huge side bonus is to be less reliant on overseas supply of energy, all whilst potentially generating a million new jobs. Since laws have already been passed in the UK on building Carbon Neutral residential and commercial properties, this is not something that will need a lot of effort.

To make it work; one of the stipulations could be that in order for the owner/investor to claim the VAT back, all resources for the build has to be sourced within a 25-50 mile radius of the site. And a full account has to be produced for all expenditure. This is a smart way to reduce imported goods and services, whilst also hopefully stamping out the “cash in hand” economy. A Win-Win-Win for the employee (of which there should be many more generated, who will be paying NI & PAYE), the investor and the government.

4)    Most governments are afraid of letting businesses enjoy themselves, so much that it has nearly become a crime to sit down for lunch or a coffee. The world has moved on from the beer fuelled legless lunches to sensible meetings where you can actually remember what was discussed and agreed. However, it is clear that when business people get to meet, this is where magic is potentially created.

My challenge to the UK government is: Allow SME’s to make a £1,000-£5,000/month tax deductible UK entertainment for the purpose of business. This will help create and save many jobs in the catering sector, whilst also positively encourage business expansion through development of direct sales and strategic relationships. And for the naysayers, do remember this: A business can only make a tax deduction on money they’ve actually earned.
Please, Please do comment on this article below. And yes, if you have a good idea, this is the time to share it!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

All Travel leads to EmoR Station - Transport comments inspired by @HeathrowAirport, @British_Airways, @AllisterHeath and @DougRichard

Great minds has come together to create a major new transport hub for London: EmoR Station (With the sub tag-line of "All travel leads to EmoR")

Following the recent arguments for expanding Heathrow so it can handle all of Europe's planes, it has been decided that this ingenious model should be applied to all of London's transport: A real showcase for modern transport!

The Queen will agree to dig up the whole of Hyde Park and give it over to EmoR Station to be the central termination point for all Busses, Underground lines and Railway services in and out of London.

This station, in populist talk named "The Giganteum", will every day have over 8 Million Rail, Bus and Underground passenger pass through its doors. It will be an amazing display of engineering to pass all 8 Million passenger journeys every day from one mode of transport to another, but according to the developers "To have one place where all our travellers can switch to other destinations, puts us well in front of Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris".


Centric to this masterpiece will be the arrival hall of Eurostar, with its UK Border controls it will ensure that every single person passing through EmoR Station has a valid passport and a ticket - you don't need to be a Eurostar passenger to enjoy this service.

And to complete this feast of London transport; an army of British Rail mangers will be pulled back out of retirement to work under RMT's Bob Crow - Let's face it, strikes are soo much easier to manage if you only have them in one place...
  
What will finance this adventure? All the current land of London railway stations will be given over to the building of mini shards - developing the former Liverpool Street station, Paddington, Kings Cross, Waterloo, Victoria and more will help to finance the Emor Station.

It all sounds so possible, doesn't it just?

The London Heathrow Debate:

Has in my opinion recently been clouded some really silly arguments for expanding the airport, rather than doing some actual good for the traveller, the community and the financial development of the UK.

Spanish BAA wants it because they are not likely to be allowed to manage any kind of new Airport - or they would have to sell off Heathrow.

British Airways (IAG) CEO Willie Walsh only wants the Heathrow expansion because he is afraid that if it doesn't expand that he might have to share an office at Stanstead Airport with Ryanair's O'Leary. It could also be a calculated move based on the fact that it normally takes UK politicians 15 years to agree on  anything, and therefor he is protecting his landing slots at Heathrow by supporting an expansion that may never happen. (Actually, there is a  very good FT article where Mr. Walsh is more interested in developing a big airport than Heathrow - however, his message is clearly not reported accurately by the wider media... http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4b07cb12-62f3-11e1-b837-00144feabdc0.html

Jokes aside: What is a big concern about the Heathrow debate are that no one is talking seriously about flying bigger planes, increase turn-around times through development of the current infrastructure at Heathrow or indeed develop alternative modes of transport like a high speed rail link.

Surely it must be cheaper and easier to develop a bullet train that will connect the five terminals with the two at Gatvick (could be named 6 & 7). And that it can also take travellers straight from Gatwick, through Heathrow and Birmingham onto Manchester faster than one can do by flying? The connection between the two London hubs could easily be faster than than that of travelling the travelators at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.

Yes, I know that the likes of City AM are objecting to a fast railway link out of London (this is the one thing I do disagree with Allister Heath on). Just look at how this country totally messed up financial development by initially ignoring important infrastructure developments to destinations such as the Channel Tunnel and indeed, Canary Wharf. In the process investors in progress lost serious amounts of money, because the management of "Victorian England" knew better than to support them.

And finally, even though Canary Wharf this week became the UK's biggest centre of Wealth Creation, all of the Heathrow campaigners still wants the finance folk to travel to end of the world (West of West London) in order to catch a plane - granted, Cross Rail will fix some of that irritation, but if one is to think big and think job creation on an even larger scale, would it not be better and easier to follow Boris's favoured model of a Thames estuary airport?

What we all know and agree on is that movement of people and goods creates money and thereby wealth. It is imperative that London and England gets serious about developing a new transport system that is build for just that purpose, such as a High Speed rail links and a Thames estuary Airport. Tfl and their task master has already proved that with continued investment, we today has a London transport system that is better than anyone in living memory can remember - We should not loose sight of that achievement, and we must not go for the half baked options that only serve certain individuals, rather than the good of all.

Ooh, and in regards to Doug Richard - he has been publicly sharing some real positive comments, so let's promote him to be the UK Travel Tsar.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

@BBCPanorama: Murdoch's @NDS_Group alledgedly hacked @ITV

From the outset please note that I have not as of yet watched the BBC One Panorama programme: Murdoch's TV Pirates, Broadcast on Monday the 26 March 2012

According to the BBC News website the premise is that a Murdoch firm used the Thoic hacker site to target pay-TV rival http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17494723

ITV Digital's former chief technical officer, Simon Dore, told the programme that piracy was "the killer blow for the business, there is no question".
"The business had its issues aside from the piracy... but those issues I believe would have been solvable by careful and good management. The real killer, the hole beneath the water line, was the piracy. We couldn't recover from that."

My comment to that is: If you make a turd, then you get a turd!

ITV/On-Digital had really bad programming and no service for customers. In all likelihood it actually added viewers to News Corporation's programme platforms:

At the time I was living in Central London, and in my opinion On-Digital would not honour their commitment to installing a receiver on our flat, because I was on the 4th floor. I.e. any building above basement level would not be honoured, or so it felt at the time. So from the outset, I could not even watch the service.

However, ultimately it came down to bad programming, including spending over £300 Million on lower-division football. At the time it was amazing that the Digital service provider would be so stupid to think that a sport, that is only watched by 40% of the population, which again only prefers to watch the "high-value" matches on the SKY platform, would actually return any kind of value to the ITV shareholders. If that money instead had been used on entertainment and drama, the story could have been a very different one...

It goes without saying, that if NDS has acted in a criminal way to ultimately cheat English stake- & shareholders of the hit companies of the demise of ITV Digital, then those shareholders will have a Multi Million Pound claim against News Corporation.

However, one has to be careful not to jump on the current Murdoch bashing bandwagon. As much as one might not like their riches, one also has to accept that as a large Corporation it has employed a number of individuals who were either misguided in loyalty or lacked judgement - either way, it is OK to say "No" if you think that you are being asked to commit a criminal offence...

There is more excellent information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITV_Digital Where if you read the small print, you'll see that this is not the first time that NDS is accused of wrong-doing other broadcasters in Europe.