Monday, January 29, 2007

Broadband: yes please. Criticism: no thanks.

Apparently "Ireland Offline" (Irelands self-appointed broadband users lobby-group) can't take criticism.
Someone dared to ask them what their goals were and what they had achieved so far.
Now, in my opinion, that is a perfectly reasonable question for someone to ask.
IOFFl seems to think otherwise.
See here what ensued.
It is clear to me that IOFFL has been talking to a lot of people but that it has had very little effect. This seems to frustrate it's members a lot and they seem to refuse to admit this.
Time for some fresh blood methinks....


kick it on

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Is Secondlife a scam?

I don't get the "buzz" about Secondlife.
I can see the value & attraction in extending your network through the variety of online communities however I think that interacting with other people through the medium of an online virtual world populated of badly rendered versions of people's dream-persona is just plain sad.
Apparently there are people who spend days wandering around this environment and become absolutely addicted to it. They create detailed characters (avatars), interacts with other inhabbitants, build homes, businesses, towns and even cities.
They date, have intercourse and get married.
To all those people I have only one thing to say: GET A LIFE!
There's a whole real world right outside your frontdoor full of real people that are rendered in a much higher definition, have an superior GUI and who also have nams that don't sound like they're straight out of some 70's German existentialist movie.
And the intercourse is better in the real world too!

On top of that there is a rumour going around that you can make money on SecondLife. This has spawned a whole herd of would be internet-entepreneurs that cannot cut it in real life. Apparently you can set up shop in this virtual environment and flog your wares. Other inhabitants pay you in "Linden-dollars". People are filling their (virtual) pockets with these Linden-dollars. But the last time I checked Linden-dollars weren't a recognised currency on the international Foreign exchange markets. So in order to get some kind of tangible revenue out of you SecondLife business you need to be able to withdraw and exchange that money.
And that's where the problem lies.
Randolph Harrison has a very informative and insightfull article on his blog.
It basically shows that the way Secondlife operates is very much like a pyramid scheme.
I suggest that you read the article but I will give you a few quotes as a taster:

Multiply all these micropayments among Linden’s claim of millions of customers, tens of thousands of which are online at any given time, and SecondLife supposedly represents a very real economy generating hundreds of thousands of real dollars of commerce, daily. Linden self reports an astonishing L$314,101,463 were earned in December 2006. That’s $1,163,338 USD of value by Linden’s average “exchange rate” of SLL/USD. But more about exchange rates later.

I discovered that the interest rates being paid by these banks, when calculate by interest-rate-parity against the USD, were mispriced allowing for a whopping 2,786.32% return arbitrage opportunity. Over some months we sunk the better part of $10,000 USD into SecondLife, borrowing from banks, lending to banks, and entering into various types of virtual financial arrangements with virtual businesses.

Put simply, you can seldom trust those with whom you’re doing business in SecondLife. Even supposedly well established, well regarded business citizens are prone to defaulting on any obligations which prove inconvenient. Whole banks will disappear over night, along with your L$ balance. Private businesses will simply refuse to make good on financial contracts. And individuals, pretty much all of whose real world identities are carefully guarded anonymous secrets, sometimes even will openly default, without recourse.

This game was just a pyramid scheme.
SecondLife is not a dramatic taste of our future, in which markets are virtual, currency is free from government control, taxes are non-existent, and normal people can become real millionaires simply by clicking their mouse a few times.
SecondLife isn’t even a simple virtual economy, with legitimate buying and selling, and opportunity for those who would compete.
No, SecondLife is a classic pyramid scheme. Or, more of an Amway-like pyramid: partially legitimate, partially ponzi. Sure, there are plenty of legitimate SecondLife customers who just like to go there to get their kicks, spend a couple dollars, and be on their way.

Make up your own mind...


kick it on

Monday, January 22, 2007

Dave's not here...

I decided to take a trip to Roscrea's McDonalds again yesterday.
It's a 45 minute (one-way) trip but seeing that I am trying to educate my kids about good nutrition I make the effort.
Now, I have posted about my experiences with this restaurant on previous occasions and have been quite please with the level of service implemented by one of their managers.
Had my experience been the same yesterday I wouldn't have been posting here today.
When I entered the "establishment" yesterday I noticed that Dave wasn't on duty. But surely that shouldn't be a worry. The other managers must have noticed Dave's efficiency and taken some pointers.
Not at all....
While the place was packed and people were lining up all the way back to the door the manager on duty though that it was acceptable to stand at one of the checkouts and discuss the intricacies of Saturdays hurling match with one of his buddy's. Occasionally he would contribute to the productivity by lobbing a few sachets of ketchup onto some trays from as far as 6 feet away (obviously trying to display his great aim and ball-handling skills).
My order was taken by Amanda. Now I have had the "pleasure" before of being "served" by Amanda. She performs her job with all the enthousiasm of a aging prostitute in a Mogadishu brothel.
She avoids eye contact with the customer, grunts in repsonse to an order. Insists on referring to a latte as a coffee (and subsequently serves me a coffee) and will stack your whole order on one tray. Even if your order consists of 6 meals.
All because: "sure, it'll be grand"....
The manager contributed by throwing 15 packets of ketchup and the same number of salt-sachets on my tray.
Halfway during my mail I decided to avail of their free WiFi because I hadn't fed my email addiction for some time. When asking at the counter for a voucher so that I could use the service I was met with a blank stare reminiscent of the eyes of a week old piece of roadkill. The same response when I asked for a refill for my wife's latte. Eventually the "body" behind the counter filled the latte cup with plain coffee and asked the manager for a voucher for "d'internet".
Cue a sigh and a grunted "i'll get it in a minute".
Apparently they keep the vouchers in a locked safe in the office. Because, hey, god forbid someone might want to use a service that is advertised.
When the requested voucher still hadn't materialised after 5 minutes I walked away to finish my meal.
A few minutes later a "hostess" walked by so I decided to ask her if she could get one of the vouchers for me. My question was answered with a pause followed by "me don't speak English".
Now this really gets on my tits.
If she doesn't speak English:
1)How did she get the job?
2)Why is she allowed to mingle with English speaking customers?

Don't get me wrong; the woman in question has been working in that particular McDonalds in that particular position for at least a year. I seriously doubt if I would have gotten the same answer if I had asked her if she wanted a better paid job...

Anyway, Dave if you read this please pass some of your "magic" on to the other staff.
It's great, it's refreshing and it makes everybody's life a little bit more enjoyable.

And, please have a talk with Amanda. I'm sure that I am not the only on sick of her attitude...


kick it on

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

UPS's service stinks too...

I recently posted about FedEx's bad service.
Apparently they are not alone...

I had a parcel shipped to us from a customer in Leeds (UK) yesterday.
The parcel was collected in Leeds at 18:53 yesterday evening.
From there on it was forwarded by plane to Cologne, Germany (?!) and went on to Dublin. From Dublin it was sent to Shannon where it arrived at 6:01 this morning.
That's under 12 hours, including the detour via Germany.
Not bad at all.
Now when will I receive it? Apparently sometime tomorrow afternoon...
Yes, that's right.
12 hours to get from Leeds to Shannon but another 30 hours or so to get from Shannon to Nenagh.
Well apparently UPS does not deliver to my address because it is outside of a major urban centre.
Shock horror!
They forward the shipment to Interlink's depot in Athlone (probably passing Nenagh on the way). Interlink send it to their depot in Nenagh from where it will be delivered sometime tomorrow afternoon...
This is just un-f*cking believeable.
My 3 year old can run a better logistic system than that...


kick it on

Monday, January 15, 2007

Fedex kisses my arse ;-)

I posted some weeks ago on how I was having huge problems shipping a simple parcel with Fedex.
The post got a fair bit of exposure and I noticed a lot of hits comming from Fedexs' network. However the lack of response from Fedex was dissapointing.
Until today!
I received a letter in the post from Colin Groves, head of customer service FedEx UK & Ireland.
Rather than comment on it I will quote the full letter here:

11 January 2006

Dear Mr. XXXXX

Your email referencing the entry in your blog has been passed for my attention, and I was concerned to learn of the problems you have encountered with our service.

From the information provided , I have reviewed the causes of the delay. On 2 occasions, primarily due to human error, the instructions to mak a collection were not communicated to the on-road Courier. As you were aware, on the third occasion a shortfall of resource was cited as the reason for the failed collection attempt.

The explanation is frankly unacceptable and you have every reason to expect better from our company. Attempts to recover the situation could have been made in each case. had our partner operation in Ireland advised our Customer Service team. They did not, and I understand that this only added to your frustration.

I apologise for this unaacceptable situation and can assure you that I am working closely with both our Customer Service team here in England, and our service provider in Ireland to address these issues.

We recognise that where we are able to directly serve the customer, satisfaction increases, meeting our goal to provide a professional and reliable service. As a result, I am sure that you will be pleased to learn that from 26 February, FedEx will begin to operate in Nenagh from the FedEx facility in Shannon, no longer relying on a service partner for collections and deliveries. This development is a key part of our Ireland expansion plan, which we believe will bring enhanced service benefits to our customers.

Whilst an apology after the event is no consolation, I appreciate the inconvenience these events have caused, and arangements have been amde for the transportation charges related to this shipment to be credited in full.

Yours sincerely, Colin Groves
Head of Customer Service
FedEx Express, UK & Ireland

cc: David J Bronczek, President CEO FedEx Express
Robert W Elliot, Regional President, FedEx Express EMA
Mrs A Schuett-Fahrenk, Vice President Customer Experience EMEA
Adam Koffles, Managing Director, Customer Experience NEu & EMEA
David Canava, managing Director, Operations

While it is good of FedEx to respond and send me a letter apologising for the shoddy service it still doesn't make up for me having to explain this to a new (and possibly very big) customer. The shipment was sent on my customers account so while they get a refund I get nothing but an apology...
Also I spent two days during the holiday season waiting in our office for the driver to collect the shipment while we were actually closed for business.
Now if Fedex promised me a nice discount on all future shipments I woud be a happy camper!


kick it on

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I'm not the only one loving it..

I recently posted about the excellent service I received in the McDonalds restaurant in Roscrea.
It seems that I am not alone. I have come across a number of other blog-posts and forum discussions illustrating the premium customer service that McDonalds is providing.
Have a look here, here and here.

Comment of the year goes to this one:
"I know people think that they are creating business for it in the long term but would we not be better off if McDonalds took over the running of the Irish public health system as well as care for the elderly ???

People in A & E could get a special McTrolley meal while waiting for the doctor. People waiting for a trolley might get a McBack of an ambulance meal in the car park. You might get a McGeriatric in a home. The possibilities are just endless.......

They just could not make a bigger pudding of it than the current crew"

I also think that McDonalds should promote Dave in the Roscrea branch or at least give him a bonus. The guy obviously deserves it!
Just please do not promote him to a different restaurant!