My Manager Says…

I had an extremely circular conversation with Becky from the Co-Operative car insurance team today. I was very (very) good as I didn’t allow any hint of frustration or incredulity slip into my voice. Nonetheless, having had a 20 min chat with the Co-Op Home Insurance – my home insurance provider – Customer Services team who ended up assuring me in unequivocal terms that the included legal protection policy extended to motor cars and all things related Becky insists that the home insurance part – “nuffink to do wiv us” – are wrong.

“I asked and my manager says no…”.

Can you see how good I was not to get frustrated or be incredulous? The Co-Op is The Co-Op is The Co-Op, end of discussion. The letterheads are similar, the font identical, colours the same etc etc. I already buy insurance from them and they provide the electricity. It’s The Co-Op and that’s as far as I care.

Not for The Co-Op apparently. We are one but we are totally different is how they operate. I suggested to young Becky that she might like to direct her manager towards page 24 of the home insurance policy document which, sadly, I have read. It is very specific in the exclusions and cars ain’t in it. Anywhere. Nein. Nada. Nach. You get the idea. Deaf ears because….wait for it….”my manager says no”.

Gotta love joined up thinking in companies. It is doubly frustrating because I want the Co-Op to be good. I am emotionally invested in their brand, which is something they just don’t seem to get.

After all that the quote was twice that of elsewhere. 25 min on the dog’n’bone, but I did hang out all the washing and do the dishes so not really a loss of time.

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Blovember #21 – Focus, Creativity & Ice Cream

Enough of the foul-mouthed frippery of yesterday. Today I assure the easily offended that this blog shan’t provide. If you want grot then go away now.

I am planning a business and, much like writers block I imagine, I have spent several days just staring at my screen and then having Ice Cream moments instead of really good thought. Makes me think I’m idle, which I’m not.

However, this morning pre-0900h, I sit down and by Jove it just starts flowing outta me. So much so that I suddenly realised what I’d blog about to satisfy the insatiable gods of NaBloPoMo.

Ice Cream – oops, just cleaned a bathroom. Very shiny and clean smelling it is to. I really am a modern man (reaches hand over shoulder to give well-earned pat on back). Metrosexual as well. I so need a good hand moisturiser now. The chemicals are harsh and I am a delicate flower.

Ice Cream – in the meantime I have been reflecting on the name and purpose of dominicshadbolt.com In light of the forthcoming business venture and no longer needing this blog to paint me in a better corporate light (who am I kidding, I’m me) and blur my Internet footprint the What About the Customer name can go.

Ice Cream – as NaBloPoMo – a female web user initiative I find out today, hey for me it’s Blovember so I escape with masculinity intact  – is requiring me to post every day thus driving the randomness of the posts, I am going to rename the blog, snag a new and less austere theme and make a clear separation between my nascent business and the occasional ranting and general life based observations.

Ice Cream – the ranting actually produces results. What a pity that good customer service is driven by a shouty minority with the time and the tools to take their gripes to Twitter? Still, kudos to Plusnet for picking up on it and fixing the problem.

So brain function, focus and productive work eh? It’s all morning for me.

You’ll never guess the time? It’s Ice Cream o’clock.

Blovember #20 – On Swearing

There is a perennial debate about whether using expletives in written or spoken exchange is a sign of intelligence or stupidity. Before writing this I did a bit of digging and this topic has produced much debate through the millennia.

Unsurprisingly, the bible covers this off in typical “this is bad, don’t do it” style. After all, what would one expect from the manual documenting the rules by which religion attempts to control it’s followers. It has also been through so many iterations at the hands of so many special interest groups that it is no surprise that you can find a version that says what you need it to. For example: Ephesians 4:29 apparently tells us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Define unwholesome exactly? This is the nub of the swearing argument as there is no hard and fast list of “unwholesome words”. In some circumstances an appropriately used fuck may help those who listen. However, to paraphrase from the good book; one man’s meat….

Yesterday I used the word fuck in my post and a friend remarked on this possibly not reflecting well on me. In my circles an appropriately deployed fuck is both acceptable and necessary. In theirs it isn’t. That’s the way it is. Ranting and repetitive use of the word fuck, to me, is unnecessary overkill and spoils the effect. To others it fits just so and to them it adds the emphasis they feel is needed.

I can get on my intellectual high horse and look down on them for overuse of the word fuck. Others can do the same to me. If you invest the word fuck (or many others, fuck is a good example) with power to shock and offend then it will do just that. Additionally, you weaken yourself because anyone who wants to try and shock/offend/unbalance can then use this utterance to do so.

My mother, raising three boys as she did, had a great reaction to overhearing one of us say fuck. We were collectively marched to the bookshelf and the Oxford Dictionary of Slang was produced. We were made to look up the word fuck, recite the definition and use it in a variety of sentences. Took the fun right out of it. FYI it is first found in use in 1475 in an old English poem called Flen Flyys. However you slice it there is no denying that  fuck has turned into a very interesting word. I wish my dear Mother also had this explanation from Monty Python:

From unwholesome swearing to reading and research  in one easy step. Fucking cool eh?

Blovember #17 – Not Anymore, Lord Levermore

But it’s not, it’s an intentional typo to get  the title to have a bit of zing. Lord Leverhulme  is the fellow’s name and he is reputed to have said he knew half of his advertising was wasted, but didn’t know which half.

The  bit of the digital revolution that seems to pass people by is just how this has been kicked into the long grass.  All these cool services and all for “free”.  Facebook, Google, Nectar Cards and so on and so forth. They are buying your personal data from you so, as they would put it, they can tailor their specific offerings to you.

Bollocks:  if you’re spending money on advertising you can now get a very granular view of where the money is generating a return. I used to run very efficient Google AdWords. You give data for free, they package it and sell it to me, the business owner, as a product. It’s like being sold a .50 cal sniper rifle. It can do far more than you can ever imagine. My issue was having the time to use the power of the tool amongst all the shag and hassle of running a business. I could tell a huge amount about the users of the site, what pages worked, the route through the site to purchase etc. I could tailor my web offering – how we sold – so much more effectively. And that didn’t rely on me harvesting personal data as you’d already given it to Google. Thanks.

When you participate in a Loyalty Card style scheme you are just doing their job for them. Give it 50y and we’ll all have an implanted chip that we can (you hope) choose who gets to read. Very sci-fi and paranoid sounding I realise. Nonetheless, imagine if your chip can register your physiological reactions to certain stimuli as well as your easily observable habits and send them to a computer?  How saleable is that?

I am not anti all this ever increasing intrusiveness because I believe that in my lifetime at least I’ll get to choose who I give the crown jewels of my personal info to. If I pimp out my data then I expect to know what I am getting. Compelling offers, unique content, personalised marketing, ad spend tracking are all ways the free market operates to sell more for less. Caveat emptor – don’t blame the companies. If you don’t like it then don’t play.

As one Mr Shadbolt Esq put it once:  “If you’re not the customer, you’re the product”.

Blovember #16 – Friday Bits’n’Pieces

So it’s Friday. So don’t expect even a flailing stab at literary competence. A round-up of the week is what’s needed with some fun and illuminative trivia thrown in.

  • I am possibly the most easily distracted and idle person I know. A friend saw a cartoon yesterday and fell about laughing. “That’s you” they choked out between gales of laughter. “That’s so you.” I gave a careful and considered response of, “piss off”, and then started laughing as well.
  • Funny Somewhat Topical Ecard: If I had a dollar for everytime I got distracted, I wish I had some ice cream.
  • You can’t tell but I was just distracted my Mrs S. Sadly she wasn’t offering ice-cream though.
  • Now my whole thread of the wretched post is gone from my head.
  • Check email again.
  • Oh yes, Idle. When I work I really work and in between I am a master time-waster. There ought to be a Guild of Master Time Wasters. I wish I knew how to make myself into a tightly  focused and driven individual.
  • Just connected two people via LinkedIn. Think it is v. cool that technology has made so easy something that was previously nearly impossible.
  • Speak to one of said people. Talk for 20 minutes.
  • I prefer to think of it as multi-tasking with a slight random element.
  • My new helicopter arrives today or tomorrow. Am sure that won’t divert me from planning.
  • Planning – oh yeah, I am starting a business. That’ll have it’s own site and blog so ’nuff said here.
  • Looking forward to collecting my free Calamari from Lou’s between Christmas and New Year. Thank you Facebook.
  • Food, mmmmm.
  • Very modern dilemma – am speaking to my domain name provider to merge all my various domains under one roof and register a few new ones.
  • Dilemma – just been to Wikipedia to ascertain that I have indeed been spelling it incorrectly for many years. Two “m’s”, go figure.
  • Bought some bike rollers this week as I hate turbo-trainers. They turned up yesterday. Slippery buggers. Will take some mastering. In the meantime my friends have not been helpful. See Blovember 13. Bastards.
  • It was my dad’s birthday a few weeks ago – 75, time to get a Honda Jazz as I may have mentioned – and he is rubbish at asking for pressies. Finally we get an answer…floor mats for the Jazz please.
  • I feel a bit dirty writing the search term “Jazz Mats” into Google.

Gotta run. I hear an ice-cream van.

Blovember #15 – Regression to the mean

Everyone has a book inside them. Apparently. I am plumbing the depths of my soul and am damned if I can find mine, let alone a post for today.

No more shockers from the old man but I really ought to call and discover the colour etc and feign interest.  As my first ever girlfriend pointed out; I may inherit it. No, my brother can have it. In this very very funny video you could substitute Honda Jazz for BMW GS.

While I flail about for something entertaining to write about I do recall a chat yesterday with my brother who was kind enough to give me a full description of the possible consequences of of  his strong antibiotics and the fact that he has a bad back. Indeed, he painted an overly graphic picture of a big sneeze triggering uncontrollable shitting whilst howling in pain.  He is a burly man as this woman describes. Howzat for something you didn’t need to know?

Possibly a bit much for a family blog I hear you cry.  I am just illustrating that little of interest happens on a daily basis so a daily post will sometimes be amusing, sometimes banal and occasionally gross.

I have work to do and today the dice landed on gross. Bad luck.

Blovember #14 – Oh The Shame

Yesterday my dad hit me with some shocking news. I guess I have never really thought of my parents as old people. They are very active, don’t have plaid slippers, don’t stoop, own computers that they know how to use and to the best of my knowledge don’t buy the superb value cavalry twill trousers (Two for One whilst our child tailors can still operate machinery) advertised in Saga Magazine.

As I stood with the phone pressed to my head he just hit me with the news. No gentle pre-amble, no kind and softening preparatory words to ease me into it, just the verbal equivalent of  pulling off a plaster very fast. Be a man, son.

“We take delivery of our new Honda Jazz tomorrow…” Well bugger me sideways. I wasn’t expecting that. He’s on his way to new knee number two, smoked very heavily in his 20’s and 30’s when it was  manly and healthy, so osteoarthritis, cancer or even syphilis would  have been less of a shock.

Honda Jazz
Ashamed? Yup.

I howled with a dismay only to be met with a barrage of reliability, TCO and other salient stats. These that had obviously been pre-prepared and committed to a memory that is a long way from failure.

“But it’s an OAP’s car” I protested weakly, again.  To which he replied, “Did you know that  the average age of a Honda Jazz driver is 62?” Then the coup de grace, “I’m 75 so am just getting down with the youth.”