I'm on the National Express East Coast train traveling from Edinburgh to London and am delighted to discover that internet access is now free (you had to pay for it on GNER). Calling it "broadband" is a stretch, though - according to BroadbandSpeedchecker it's 136Kpbs Down and 85Kbps Up - but then again I am able to do *this* for free so I shouldn't complain.
Anyway to get the free internet you have to log in with an email address - technically there's no real reason why this is necessary... Once you give your email address you are then offered the usual "can we and some other random people send you spam" tick box. However, it's worded thus:
"If you do not wish to receive ... please untick the box"
For the second time this week such an option has strained my brain trying to figure out whether ticking the box will result in me getting spam or not. Go on, try to figure it out yourself. Methinks the vagueness is intentional...
Royal Bank of Scotland (sorry, RBS...) My VISA card expires on 30 Jun 2008. Having phoned you today (18 June) you tell me that the replacement card was posted yesterday on a service that takes 5 working days. If my existing card expires in a week, why are you sending me my card (1) a week before it expires (2) on a service that takes a week?
This offers no margin for error, and considering how much money we pay you in interest and service charges it's insulting to know you're using the cheapest delivery service you can get away with. (And you refuse to send it anywhere other than my home, requiring my taking a day off work when you have to re-deliver it)
Co-operative Bank My company VISA card expires on 30 June 2008. You have sent me a replacement card with a start date of 1 July 2008. My Inbox is full of emails from companies saying my VISA card is due to expire can I update the details? Am I expected to wait up until midnight on 30 June to update all of these details online, because I can't replace them now in case a payment is made between now and 30 June and is rejected? Would it not have been easier to have a one month overlap?
I often wonder why companies don't employ people to just use their products and services until they break, then feed back to pre-empt problems, instead of waiting for enough people complaining about a problem before they're motivated enough to provide a service that actually works.
It's always been a mystery to me why so many shop signs and café menus have glaring typos and spelling mistakes. Surely the core job requirement for a printer or signmakers is basic grammer and owning a dictionary? (See, I don't even expect them to be able to spell, owning a dictionary would be good enough).
Well, here in Walthamstow I've discovered what I suspect is the source of at least some of these howlers. Would you buy a sign from this company...?
My wife and I mortgaged the house the other week so we could afford to go to the local Vue cinema. I can't believe that anyone in the film industry thinks that a customer being gouged more than a tenner to see a film isn't going to feel resentful and motivated just to buy a camcorded DVD off a bloke on the high street or just download movies from a Bit-Torrent site. Seriously, every time I go to the cinema I feel like I've been mugged.
To add insult to injury, though, I'm then expected to queue for 10 minutes at the food counter because there's only two bored and un-motivated McWorkers serving, and they want to charge me "ONLY £8.08" for two bottles of water and a large popcorn. ONLY?! ONLY!? Some water (that you get out a tap for free) and a handful of corn kernels that have been popped.
First of all, this is absolutely the biggest rip-off in the history of food retailing. There must be a crime being committed here.
Secondly, how on earth did they come up with the bizarre price of £8.08? Is it because the numbers are bisymmetrical? Not that £7.99 would be more of a bargain, but it at least would have had the illusion of being about seven pounds and thus cheaper!
ps We didn't buy the "Sharer Combo". We bring our own water...
Ah, the great engineers of the North of England, how I *loved* to read about them in my Arthur MeeChildren's Enclopedia. Manchester in particular seemed to be the most exciting city in the world, being home to great inventors such as:
Richard Arkwright - builder of steam powered mills
So, they must be swelling with pride in their graves at this idiotic piece of design for Public Transport for Greater Manchester, created by one of the children of the wondrous North of England Industrial Revolution inheritance. It takes a special kind of ineptitude to create a mechanism that cannot possibly work out of only three working parts. Not a child who played with Mecanno then...
The irony is, we've just delivered a programme to the DFES aimed at encouraging kids to do STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) at school.
Am I more disturbed by the existence of a pink child's bed called "Lolita", or the mediahoo-ha that's followed in it's wake?
Actually I'm more disturbed that not a single person in the entire Woolworths organisation is aware of the book or film "Lolita". How can this be? I don't expect everyone to have read the book, or seen the films (to be honest I haven't) but SURELY "Lolita" is a popular culture reference? I know I'm going to sound like my father, but seriously what do they teach people in schools these days?
A spokesman for Woolworth told The Times: “What seems to have happened is the staff who run the website had never heard of Lolita, and to be honest no one else here had either. We had to look it up on Wikipedia. But we certainly know who she is now.”
Wow. That statement didn't come from a humble store-worker not knowing about one of the English language's great pieces of literature. That statement came from a "spokesman" - a person Woolworths entrust as an ambassador of their brand. Personally I've always been rather shy about my ignorance, and, although I use Wikipedia a lot, I wouldn't quote it as an authoritative source...
I'm not going to boycott Woolworths for stocking the Lolita Midsleeper Combi, but this silly-season story has certainly tainted my impression of the quality of the staff at Woolworths. How can I ever trust their judgement about anything? How can I ever trust the quality of their goods? How can I ever trust the opinion of one of their staff? Every aspect of the relationship between a vendor or supplier and a customer is about trust.
Woolworths should sack their ill-educated spokesman. And their staff should read more.
I'm bemused by a "Tube Card" advert currently decorating London Underground trains.
The ad proclaims that "a new Underground movement is starting under the streets of London right now. One that will challenge the established thinking of glib headlines or huge phone numbers."
At least that what is says if you stand six inches away from it (on a moving train?!) and have perfect vision.
The ad, suggesting that the reader could become the Next Great Underground Writer is illustrated by two postage-stamp-sized pictures of - wait a minute until I get out my binoculars, no that doesn't work because the train's shaking too much, I'll go up close and get out my magnifying glass, oh it's William S. Burroughs ("Underground" - geddit?!) and, nope I can't read that other guy's name at all, but he looks a bit like Andy Garcia.
First of all, to compare any kind of advertising copy to the literary works of the opiate-addicted beat writer William S. Burroughs is both both bizarre and extraordinarily arrogant.
Secondly, re the mocking of "glib headlines and huge phone number"
- you know something guys, at least I can read those headlines and
phone numbers. I'm not saying they're great adverts, but glass houses
and all that.
Yes, I get that making Tube Cards is probably considered the job of least stature in ad agencies, which explains why they're generally uninspired and full of typos (my wife's an editor, don't even ask me about her apostrophe adventures with a red marker pen). However this ad by CBS Outdoor with its big white spaces and miniscule text is the clearest example I've ever seen of an advertiser not understanding the medium. In the case of a Tube Card, you've got to be able to read it from the seat opposite - a good six to eight feet away.
As opposed to inspiring me, the ad reminded me of those deliberately bad Advertising Standards Authority posters which ended with the caption "We're here to make advertising better, not to make better advertising. Sorry."
Frankly, it's just a pretentious advert made by an agency who think they're above writing Tube Cards.
Every tap had a "DANGER Hot" sign on it, and by their wear and tear had clearly been there for some time. My wife told me that the ladies toilets were the same.
So, the sticker being there is an acknowledgment by someone that the water coming out of the taps is scalding hot. However, instead of turning down the thermostat, or actually doing something about it, it was deemed easier to just put up warning stickers (which are actually hidden by the mirror jutting out and partially covering the stickers - I had to crouch to take the picture).
But who cares, if someone gets badly burned Odeon's lawyers can say that there were warning stickers so they're not responsible.
Please, can someone tell me how this happens? I took this picture in PC World in Tottenham Hale on Sunday. Two errors in one single word, including the dreaded apostrophe abuse.
I can forgive a poor minimum-wage weekend Sales Assistant not understanding the nuances of iPod vs Ipod, but store signage is surely produced centrally in a marketing department?
What annoys me, though, is wondering how many people were involved in making this sign, from its inception by a grammatically-challenged designer through to the staff who work in the store and stare at it every day. No-one either knew or cared enough to stop this pitiful demonstration of ignorance from being imposed on the public.
Is this a sign of poor education or a "not my job" attitude? Either way, it's plain broken. And yes, it does make me question whether I trust, or want to do business with, PC World.