Blovember #13 – Rollers, Google, Death

I have a very, very, nice bike from @SpinBling. However, I can’t afford to follow Rule #12 so that, coupled with the crappy salty roads, cold temperatures and the steady thrum of rain on the Velux in my office caused my mind to turn towards indoor training aids. Sod Rule #9. I hate turbo-trainers as they are just so so dull. On the other hand, rollers look far more interesting and involving.

When I shared this thought with my go to geeky cycling buds (Dave Newton and my darling brother Chris)  it was met variously with a “Just don’t do it, ever.” from Newt and the more pithy and direct brotherly love response from Chris of, “can I have them when you are dead?”. Not even a “please”. Red rags and all that so now I am looking seriously into them. I fancy a set of cheap ones that can be eBay’d if it doesn’t work out so set about looking online.

My research soon turned to YouTube videos from newbies to people pulling stunts. All the videos shared a common theme though and that was that the banner ads were all an assortment of funeral planning offers.

Does Google know something?

Blovember #12 – Two Certain Things

Death & Taxes

If you are Starbucks, Google, Microsoft or Amazon – and many others I am sure –  then apparently the latter barely applies in the UK. In a cunning wheeze you don’t actually trade in the UK so report and pay tax on very little apparent trading activity. I have a hard time blaming the companies as they are operating legally within the law. We all know the law is an ass so I hold HMG accountable for poor rules. With a properly structured tax system the dodges wouldn’t be possible and there wouldn’t be the discussions, which in true John Humphrys style, seem to imply deep guilt on the part of the practitioners. Where does the BBC get its left-leaning reputation from?

Apparently the British and German Chancellors are talking about a sales-tax to prevent companies hiding behind off-shore shell companies. Oh yay, again it is the consumer that pays  for the failings of the government. Remind me; what exactly is VAT at 20% if not a sales tax?

Rather than the rules being changed to state that if you conduct business in the UK then you are required to report ALL of the business carried on within these borders we receive a fudge. Now I’ll get to pay sales-tax on products from firms that already pay tax in the UK. Double bubble for the government, again.

At least death will be a sweet release from all this taxation nonsense and we can all be certain of that. For those unfortunate enough to stay alive then R4 is covering Nadie Dorries on IACGMEOH.
14.11.12 – Just read this: http://www.futurebook.net/content/amazon-dock Very good

Blovember #10 – It’s a cop out

I am going to cop out and write about cooking, which is too easy for me as I love food. It’s the weekend and not only do I have things I *ought* to be doing but instead I am sitting here wrapped in a nice post-gluttony glow having made and then pigged out on an unfeasibly large rosti with two soft fried eggs and smothered in chipotle sauce. Burp.

Apart from the butter, olive oil, tons of ground pepper and a big pinch of sea salt and  6-8 grated medium sized spuds it was transformed into a dish of health with the addition of finely diced cooked Kale – it’s green, it’s a veg, it must be good for you – and a smashed clove of garlic.Coupled with 3/4 litre of fresh orange juice I reckon I must be well over half way to my 5-a-day.

There would have been more, much more, garlic but we were down to one poxy little clove. How’s that for poor forward planning? I’ll go and iron my hands straight away.

Sensational Swiss Rosti

PS: Soft fried eggs. Not in any oil. I’ll explain how tomorrow.

Blovember #8 – Not Bovvered…

When a fairly young, groovy and ethical brand like Clipper Tea has an email address of  thisiswhatithink@clipper-teas.com you kind of expect a reply to a polite email with a very polite gripe. So far at 1 3/4 days I haven’t even received an acknowledgement. I’d set up my “reach out to my customers” email address with an automated reply setting expectations for a human reply. If you are a small firm – why not give yourself up to 5 working days? Hardly unreasonable is it?

Before I wrote this I checked the email address, time of sending, any bounceback etc. There is nothing to indicate it hasn’t been received. I am trying not to leap to judgement but due to the website being up I am guessing there hasn’t been a catastrophic IT outage. I think the issue is a human one, which is sad. @clipperteas C-, could do better

In the interests of big/small balance I ought to note that Mercedes Benz Oxford also disappointed the other day. Made me wait 15 min to see a “specialist” after saying “someone will be right out” and not “it’ll be 15 min if you don’t mind holding on Sir”. I then end up explaining the difference between camber and toe-in to a real mouth-breather and am left wondering about said individual’s area of specialism. It sure as hell wasn’t wheel alignment on an E-class, that much I know for sure. Not making me want to rush there for a service anytime soon. I was then called by an “expert” who then perpetuated the whole thing by giving duff information. I know because I had the car on an inspection pit today w. a man that services coaches and builds race cars as a hobby. We looked and looked and looked for 20 min. No adjustment bolts for setting the rear wheel camber on an E-Class Estate. No shims either  and according to The Internet there is no way to adjust the rear camber on a W211 except by buying aftermarket kits. @mercedesbenz_ir – D, be straight w. customers.

Addendum: after a v nice lunch with #MusingsFromTheSofa the point was made to me that I was failing to make a point about MB Oxford. I agree that I meandered around and that, at best, the point was inferred. I apologise. The point was to contrast that even the big guys like Mercedes were not necessarily better than the little guys like Clipper Tea. In both instances I expect to be not only satisfied but hopefully delighted. Both obviously lack a Social Media Strategy or I expect to have been contacted in some form by now….

Blovember #6 – Why wait for poor service?

I have just read a rant on Facebook where a customer of BestBuy in Calgary felt very hard done by because the staff in-store were rubbish and despite nothing else to do they ignored them whilst standing around doing nowt. They waited 5-9 minutes apparently. Not only does such a statement imply that the complainant is pretty bad at judging the passing of time it also says to me that they had nothing better to do than wait and work themselves up whilst plotting their punitive retaliation (embarrass them using social media). there is nothing to suggest they even attempted to escalate the issue at a store level.

Whilst this is just rubbish service I don’t think you have earned the right to complain if you did nothing. There will be a manager on duty and I’ll bet that summoning them – the mere act of – will be a bit of a rocket to the lazy assistants. As a manager I’d dearly like to know if my customers are not receiving a level of service that delights them. As a manager I can’t improve it for you or other customers if you wait, bottle up your unhappiness and then snipe at us using Facebook (despite the dire threats to splash the entire world of social media with this example of egregious treatment they posted it on the US BestBuy page and not the Canadian one. BestBuy politely pointed this out. I only saw it because a contact reposted it.).
Staff make mistakes, staff are sometimes lazy, offensive, bring personal issues to work etc etc. All to be avoided but the fact is they do happen. There is a difference between a one-off and repetitive crap behaviour. Maybe the manager needs replacing? Who knows if you don’t bring it up.

By all means expect and demand high levels of service but don’t shy away from bringing it up with first-line  management if you don’t get it. Being a customer in the real world isn’t a completely one-way track. Do your bit before you take to the airwaves to shout about your unhappiness. Try being part of the solution and not just part of the problem. No change will come if you shirk your responsibilities as a customer.

Blovember #5 – Don’t get me going

Organised religion. The mix of church and state in the UK that is enshrined in law. The plain pig-headed refusal to acknowledge facts, or more precisely the cherry picking of facts.

Newsflash – you can’t pick the facts you want to support your argument and then choose to ignore the ones that torpedo views based on faith. Really. Just really. It’s what 6 year olds do. Grow-up.

The old maxim applies here: “Never argue with an idiot because they’ll just drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

Have you ever tried to have an argument (not a row, an intellectual argument) with a religious believer? Yes but, Yes but, yes but ad infinitum. I am not patient enough and have to bite my hand to avoid being offensive. It doesn’t always work.

It’s the election of the leader of the free world tomorrow. One would like to think that religion won’t have any part in it. Ho ho. Some hope. The winner gets to be in charge of serious weaponry and I’d like to think that they will take decisions based on proven facts and not an alleged  god whispering in their ear as they pray for guidance.

Pray for me as I am obviously one of those deluded lost souls that places my faith in science over mythical Sky Pilots. Silly I know, but there you go.

Blovember #4 – just missing the chestnuts…

…because I am sitting in front of an open fire. Doh.

It is between 2 and 4 degrees outside and wet as well. The kind of damp and chill you to the core sort of cold without even needing a wind. It might be the leaner post-hospital me of 11st of nothing that just feels the cold more easily.

Desperate measures – well 1.5:1 may be required; Whisky Mac (a.k.a. Winter Warmer) 1.5 parts blended (read cheap) whisky to 1 part green ginger wine. Bring it on.

bottle top
bottle top (Photo credit: jovike)