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.
Don’t get me wrong, I ain’t no politico. My general view on politicians is best expressed by the quote; “The desire to become a politician should automatically disqualify that person from ever being one” which is variously attributed to several people including even Billy Connolly. I wish there was a box on the ballot that says “None Of The Above”. As @Sophie_Gee wryly observed though, “what if that is the majority option?”. Hmm, let me think on that. I may be a while.
Nonetheless, the Tea Party which seems to be the deeply right-wing and religiously biased (flawed?) equivalent of the Monster Raving Loony Party has failed, through the failure of everybody’s favourite Mormon bishop to become El Presidente, to even get a sniff at proper power and the mere sight of “The Football“. Obama is indeed the Least Worst Option so we can all breathe a bit easier for the next 3.5 years.
Day 2 and I feel like a kid being made to write the “what I did on my holidays” post half-term standard fodder.
Today I applied to Sophos for a v interesting looking role as the Sales Enablement Program Manager – Learning & Development. Looks v interesting, plays v well to my strengths and is relatively local. I don’t mind business travel but at this stage in life am not looking to relocate as that is for peeps without kids at a non-boarding school.
The interesting thing to see is whether I am even spoken to, as my CV is coming to the UK HR Dept via a friend of a friend in Vancouver. I have never ever ever received a reply to an application via Linkedin as my CV isn’t a nice boilerplate example of I did this and then this and then this where the respective “thises” have been a steady progression along an A-B-C-D sort of obvious line. I like to think I have had an interesting and informative life but we’ll see what Sophos think.
So it’s a cheap an easy title? I am sitting in bed when I remembered that I was talked into once a day blogging in November by Musings From the Sofa. This is for NaBloPoMo – stupid sounding name imho. Blovember, much better.
Day 1 and there is project slippage. Hi ho. We’ll see what gives in a week. Nothing of note today apart from staying in touch with friends and recovering from yesterday. I bought a pair of orange and blue trainers for £25.The orange is so bright I can find them in the dark as they seem to emit their own energy. Most odd. They didn’t have a Chernobyl glow in daylight.
Yesterday was pretty cool. I stepped into something I hadn’t done for 10 years and it came back more naturally then I had hoped. My old boss from 14y year ago is the CEO of a firm with one of those – picked from the air, sounds kinda tecchie and most importantly the domain name is available – names. Flexiant. I really enjoyed it as it was especially challenging as it was a seasoned and experienced audience. If you don’t get credibility in the first 5 minutes the next 10 hours are hellish. I did, they weren’t.
Off to bed. More tomorrow.
Estate Agents used to strut around when selling houses as they couldn’t shift them fast enough. You snooze, you lose was the general feeling. These days in the UK the property sales market is v. v. weak yet the Lettings market is incredibly robust. Rents are high reflecting high demand and limited supply much as you learnt in Economics 101. As the estate Agents are no longer wallowing around in fat sale commissions and are relying on income from their lettings side they have decided that they obviously can’t keep sticking it to the Landlords who have the power to choose who represents them but instead they will screw the person with no options. To whit: the renter.
I am renting a property right now and not only do I pay a deposit – very understandable – but I pay a mixture of other non-refundable fees that are the Estate Agents cost of doing business. They have worked out that they can not only pass these costs on for things like reference checks but hell, why not skim a bit on the side and round it up a little? They farm out reference checks to a third party on-line but it is apparently £60 per check. £60, give me a break. After all, they want the house, we’re the agents, demand is high, it’ll rent regardless…drop your trousers sir. The “screw you” attitude gets better. I pay a deposit over the phone with my Debit Card and they even want to pass on the 30 pence (50 cents) handling charge on a £320.00 transaction. Talk about being nickeled and dimed to death.
The complete absurdity of the total lack of business acumen (not my job ‘guv, rules are rules) displayed by the chap in the office that obviously isn’t his? When I ask about my receipt the clown offers to post it. At least a £1 operation. I declined and tried to make the point that I wasn’t going to be petty and he could staple it to the inevitable hard copy of the rental agreement. Deaf ears, he just didn’t see.
When I go to the supermarket I don’t stand at the till and pay a further cleaning charge, staff pension supplement, stacking fee etc etc. What you see is what you pay. All those things are the cost of doing business. estate Agents are always mystified as to why they are considered in such a poor light. I wonder why no-one wants to sit by them at a dinner party? I wonder.
PS: Kiss me first in the title stems from the crude but apt saying; I like to be kissed when I am screwed.
Prompted by me remarking that GP surgeries never seemed to operate hours to cater for working folk and not just people with nothing better to do with their time, a British friend that lived in the US for 7 years and is relatively recently back remarked to me, “I miss dealing with companies/service providers that see it as their goal to serve me and accommodate my needs and that don’t expect me to modify my life around their inflexibility”…or similar.
In the UK it is my experience that something as simple as seeing your GP at a time to suit a working person (like they are, grrrr….) is fraught with difficulty. Evenings or Saturday’s? Novel huh?
We pay for this – not as directly as money changing hands between us but through pretty high taxes. Who’s zoomin who?
A day of two halves on the customer service front. Firstly, I was killing time in Zappi’s Bike Cafe which makes the most excellent coffee in Oxford. It is inside Bike Zone and I meandered into the bike store part with both time to kill and the rarest of animals – cash in my pocket. There isn’t a riper time to relieve me of cash for bike ephemera that when I am a bit bored and am holding the folding. So…I am standing in the middle of a small shop floor. There are the usual spanner jockeys behind the counter but walking around in front of me is someone who is clearly the boss, he knows it and doesn’t deal with trivia like customers standing there in front of him. He was stepping around me fer gawdsake… I was feeling rather silly actually as I was obviously getting in the way of him making scathing remarks to the spanner jockeys about their pathetic efforts to fill the shelves with stock.
On the other hand I was blown away by a call I received from the Sales Director of Avon Tyres. I had rung Avon to query why my new winter tyres, despite being stickered as Avon Ice Touring ST, were all saying Cooper Weathermaster on the sides. Odd. We agreed that as Cooper owns the Avon brand that although the labelling was wrong the items were essentially the same. Despite being offered the opportunity to have them changed I declined saying it was a lot of hassle and that why didn’t he just organise a voucher or something. Kevin replied that I was to call him when I was changing back to summer tyres and he’d organise the Avon’s of my choice to be delivered to Merit Tyre in Witney at 50% off. Wow! Who can say fairer than that. That simple gesture has just secured me as an Avon customer for good.
On 27th May 2012 I crashed my bicycle all by myself resulting in a snapped femur, a rather badly broken collarbone and numerous scrapes etc. I was rapidly scooped off the road by an ambulance crew (there were 3 ambos in total, but that is a story for another day) and delivered to the John Radcliffe A+E which, rather fortuitously it happens, is a designated trauma Centre for SE England. I then had a 6 hour operation performed by the President of the British Trauma Society no less. Isn’t the NHS a great thing? Nye Bevin, you rocked. Net result; one shiny new Dynamic Hip Screw and a chunk of temporary metal in the shoulder. Only down side is that DHS isn’t titanium. Still, it was ALL FREE. Even the morphine. Now there is a drug I could happily develop an addiction too. Gosh, it didn’t hurt and I remember very little. Government supplied pharmaceutical grade heroin. What’s not to like about that? Overall I am a pretty happy customer.
Oh yeah, I was a shocking state when I left the hospital. I had a four-footed cane, had lost 3/4 stone, couldn’t even lift my leg up from the floor and could barely do anything for myself and was forced to be waited on hand and foot. Sounds cool but like international business travel it wears thin pretty quickly. I like to do things for myself. It’s a control thing. In the interests of completeness I also have pretty mild MS – doesn’t really bug me so I don’t count it. Nor should you.
Soooo, much physio (thank you BUPA – the NHS is not so hot on follow-up) etc and I am getting better. I still walk with a roll though it is getting slowly better. I am terrible at doing the exact exercises instead preferring to “do stuff” that works the muscles in question.
Yesterday was my best expression of that yet. I cycled an entire and very hilly 65 mile sportive w. no stopping, walking or any other form of wimping out. The words of a pretty hardcore friend kept running through my head. To whit: “Dry your eyes, Princess”. The last third was pretty heavy going as the most exercise I had done in the preceding time was a couple of short (12 mile) rides into Oxford from home. Zappi’s Gran (Medio in my case) Fondo was the event I took part in. Not only are the benefits physical but the mental rush upon completion and even now is pretty powerful. I want more. Gimme more. Indeed, it’s hands down better than morphine.
I reckon that more people would have better lives if they got up off their backsides and indulged in a little activity that pushed them. They’d be pleasantly surprise. How much taxpayers money is wasted on our wonderful NHS because some people don’t, in the words of my mate, “Dry your eyes, Princess” and push themselves just a tiny bit, once even?
No it’s not. The first post is just an attempt to bring some really simple clarity to a topic that seems – in business circles – to have a lot of smoke and mirrors applied to it. I suppose that if you make your audience blind then you can charge to clear the air. Hey, welcome to the world of average Management Consulting!
Very sadly – for me – I was lying awake at 0530h thinking about the previous post of Strategy vs Tactics. It’s not simple and I think that the other key point to make is that you can also have a sub-strategy to achieve your overall strategy. I have even heard the overall strategic objective of being “there” instead of “here” not being referred to as strategy but a goal. I think these kind of differences are semantics and tend to involve more smoke and more mirrors. Use the term you are comfortable with but understand that the tactics – individual actions – differ.
There is of course the way that you go about achieving the overall strategic objective. I would also call this a strategy. E.g.: do you batter the front door down or tiptoe around the side and look for an open window? I am not trying to teach you individual strategies here – this is the Sun Tzu stuff I referred to in the previous post – suffice it to say that most people seem to go for the batter the door down approach when there are many many more elegant and efficient ways to achieve your strategic goal. They have a problem for some in that they are inherently more intellectually demanding and less about brute force.
Ask yourself, are you smart or just massively strong?