Tuesday, February 26, 2008

10 good reasons not to blog in a week:

1. Football Manager is too addictive When you manage, against all expectations, to take Sheffield United to the Championship title in your first season, then guide Man City to the top of the Premiership and the quarter finals of European competition the following season, who wouldn’t want to slip an extra couple of hours in? 2. It’s Barack Obama’s fault Having decided to have a second go at reading ‘The Audacity of Hope’, it’s a lot better than I remember the first time around. So when I’m not Guiding Man City through a tricky away tie in the League Cup to Derby, I’m catching up on the thoughts of America’s favourite next president. 3. I’ve been ill It’s a chest infection, I’ve got antibiotics. Nobody argues with the “I’m ill, I’ve got antibiotics” excuse for general lethargy..... 4. Not redecorating a house you want to sell The “I’m ill, I’ve got antibiotics” excuse even works on sceptical wives who’ve invited their brother through for the weekend to help with painting the house. Too ill to paint = too ill to blog. 5. I’ve sold my car For £77.50. But joining a Car Club at long last seems to be working out OK, at least in the short term. Although the idiot who did some gardening in the front seats of the car in Waterloo Place last weekend put a slight dampener on my first hire. 6. I took a Jungian psychology test for work Apparently I’m a fairly classic ENFP (Extrovert-Intuitive-Feeling-Perceptive), but with an out-of-preference Questioning rather than accommodating type. I blame my old job ;) If only someone had told me that I can be “typically tactful, but can be sceptical, confrontational, and outspoken” in addition to the fact that I “may find that your questions are sometimes misinterpreted as oppositional and contentious” before my appraisal at work last week, and then I could have used it in my defence....... 7. I’ve been watching the Sopranos Thank God More4 and Sky+, a combination of sheer wholesome goodness. It’s still as good the second time around. 8. And ‘The Wire’ Thanks to ‘Call the Cops’ in the Guardian Guide for this. This is how TV is supposed to be. 9. My three mobile USB internet card thing is rubbish It just eats data, so a £10 top-up runs out in a few days of surfing on the train. And the service is not as reliable as they promised. So coupled with the fact that FirstScotrail are not as enlightened as National Express East Coast when it comes to free WiFi, I’ve not had the chance to blog from the train as much. Which is a shame, as occasional moments of sunshine like this morning’s visit by Mark, the world’s happiest train conductor, (seriously, it’s amazing how others around you perk up a bit when you’re just outwardly happy and nice to people) definitely deserve recording. 10. Who remembers their own New Year resolutions by the end of February anyway? I didn’t. But I do now.

Monday, February 18, 2008

If in doubt, write a list.....

From Love and Garbage, a meme:

A) Four jobs I have had in my life (other than current job): Door-to-door Book Salesman, Golf Ball Collector at a Driving Range, Rodie for Celine Dion, DJ B.) Four movies I would watch over and over: Goodfellas, Star Wars, Zulu, Fight Club C.) Four places I have lived Edinburgh, Brixton, North Dakota, Wishaw & Bellshill D.) Four TV shows that I watch The Wire, The Sopranos, Prison Break & Entorage E.) Four places I have been: Florence, Nashville, Skye & Cornwall F.) People who e-mail me (regularly): My wife, my mother, my media monitoring service & the automated press release service at my old work (despite repeated requests to unsubscribe!) G.) Four of my favourite foods: Ribeye Steak (medium rare), a nice juicy burger, quail, proper chorizo sausages H. ) Four places I would rather be right now: In bed (in the arms of my wife), in bed (fast asleep), on a golf course, playing high stakes poker J.) Four Things I am looking forward to this year: Continued married bliss, our holiday in Tuscany, playing more golf, watch politics from the outside K.) Four favourite authors: Irvine Welsh, Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac, Hemmingway

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Today was a good day

Today was a good day for many reasons, including:
  • The weather was good. Who doesn’t feel better on a sunny day?
  • I had a good meeting at work. Imagine, a meeting that actually served its purpose and was attended by people you respect, with some clearly defined outcomes that will help me in my job
  • I got to the final 2 players in a big poker game online
  • Debbie and I are still definitely in the honeymoon period....
  • BT’s customer service improved significantly, with the reconnection of my home phone
  • I got a letter from BT (how 20th century!) confirming that I was to receive the £5 off my bill Debbie was promised on the phone last week.

So thank you to Ben and Janet at BT for resolving my situation, and sorry to the BT Customer Services person Debbie spoke to last week who I thought was just useless. She clearly did what she said she’d do. All BT need now is the systems to match the people and everyone will be a satisfied customer.

So, did I mention that it took me 25 minutes on the phone to book my car in for a service this week.............

This is not good. BT's Customer Service is still crap.

So, top marks from Sam at BT's press office, who responded to my email within an hour of arriving at work yesterday, and at least sounded like she/he could/would help. I'm not sure if it was Sam's intervention which prompted my first contact with BT's Customer Complaints staff, but if it was this brave work was in vain. Here's the email the eContact Customer Service team member sent me (in full): Dear Sir/ Madam Thank you for giving me opportunity to assist you. Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience you may have been caused and my thanks for your patience and co operation in this matter. This is in response to your query dated 10/02/08, regarding BT account. I understand that your are enquiring about your BT account. I will be more than happy to assist you, but I am sorry I am unable to understand your real concern. I would like to inform you kindly, elaborate your query . The moment you throw light on issue in question, I will reply to the query accordingly. If you should have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us again via e-mail. Thank you for contacting BT. Yours sincerely, Dxxx Mxxxxxxx eContact Customer Service (I've just spent 5 mintes staring at my computer screen, trying not to swear.) Seriously, is this the best BT can do? So, for the benefit of BT Customer Services, here's the story so far: My phone does not make outgoing calls. That's my real concern. I have paid my bill. I have contacted the automated service, which promised me that I'd be reconnected within 24 hours. I spoke to several customer services reps, some of whom have apologised, and all of whom have promised that my service would be reconnected imminently. I have even been promised a £5 discount on my next bill for the poor service that I've received. So what's the chances of my phone service being fixed today? I'm not sure, but perhaps my email to the Chief Executive will help?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

BT’s Customer Service is crap

Everyone appreciates good service. If I get good service in restaurants I tip well, and I’ll gratefully recommend services to my friends and others if they merit it. It makes me feel good to be able to pass on my good experiences to others. Right now, I can heartily recommend:

· National Express Trains from Edinburgh to Glasgow Central (£5 cheaper and less crowded than FirstScotrail, with Free WiFi)

· Compass, North Charlotte Street, Leith (the food and service are great, and there’s a always a good atmosphere inside)

· Sky+ (this is one of the best things ever invented. Never miss an episode of any of your favourite programmes and always have the option of watching something good you’ve recorded, rather than whatever’s on at the time)

What I can’t recommend to my friends is BT.

It’s not that their product is poor, their wireless broadband service has always been reliable and has never caused me any problems. It’s their customer service. It’s shocking. We’ve not had the use of our phone for outgoing calls a couple of weeks.

I’m not entirely sure of the source of our problem. I recently moved to paperless billing to pay online, as we were a few weeks late with a payment that was due when we were away on honeymoon. So we have no outstanding balance with BT. But our phone still does not work.

I called BT and used their automated service, which confirmed that I’d paid and said we’d be reconnected within 24 hours. 48 hours later I called again, managed to negotiate the automated service to speak to a real human being, and explained my situation again. They promised to reconnect me within 24 hours. Last Thursday, and still no phone, Debbie called. They were in trouble now. She secured a £5 discount on our bill for their poor service and a promise from the lady at BT that the line would be reconnected “in 3-4 hours”.

That’s my girl, I thought. No-one messes with Debbie.

Next morning – still no phone. Debbie calls again. BT Customer services were “very very sorry”. They would “sort it out in a few hours”, he said. I called again tonight to find no customer service staff at home, but a kindly computer who confirmed one again that I had a zero balance and could have my line reconnected ASAP.

BUT STILL NO PHONE SERVICE. NUMEROUS CALLS, SEVERAL APOLOGIES AND A COUPLE OF PROMISES, BUT STILL NO SODDING PHONE. I'VE BEEN PAYING LINE RENTAL THROUGHOUT THIS PROCESS, BUT STILL NO SERVICE.

So, I am doing what a good friend would do, and pointing out BT’s shocking service to you all. I hope that the muppets who have been dealing with my request to date receive the service that they’ve been given to me in every bar and restaurant that they frequent. And I hope that the poor customer service that BT have been displaying is sorted out more quickly now I’ve posted it on Facebook and onto my blog for all the world to see.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Suffering Addicts

You can pick them out quite clearly in the bus queues and on the trains this morning as these functioning addicts trudge to work in the biting cold. It seems as though their collective consciousness has somehow been pervaded by the desert heat, deepening the effects of the freezing North wind as it sweeps in over the Firth of Forth. Their eyes and limbs are heavy as they slog through the crowds to their trains and buses, or sit sedated in the queuing traffic. They are outsiders, who view their own odd, antisocial obsession as a badge of pride even as it takes its inevitable toll on their personal and social lives. 'I remember that from the 80's' is the standard office putdown, a sign of feigned interest and thinly veiled pity for those still stricken by yesterday's phenomena. This morning they seem especially detached as they consider the events of last night. They long to share their bewilderment of their situation, to talk it through with others, but without a way of expressing their feelings and opinions they can't properly crystallise their thoughts and emotions for an external audience. Why? How? And the lack of sleep is not helping. The working day is glaring at them from the near distance, threatening the slumbering drones and they drag themselves through their commute. They'll leave on the dot tonight, as afternoon meetings have been deliberately curtailed or called off. There will be no working late today. The buzz has worn off and the consequences of their addiction have settled on them. The morning after the Superbowl is a bittersweet moment for American football fans from Edinburgh. I’m knackered.

Friday, February 1, 2008

I was wrong

Twice. Firstly, on the US election, just like Joe Strummer, I was wrong - Rudy can fail. Although my post Iowa bet on Hillary to win the nomination looks depressingly accurate......... The mainstream media have had their way and forced both contests down to a straight choice: McCain v Romney and Clinton v Obama. Roll on Super-Duper tuesday! Secondly, my default position on Big Brother contestants has been that they will be self serving arseholes who deserve contempt from the society that they crave recognintion from. Maybe the majority are, but that John Loughton from Big Brother's Celebrity Hijack is a genuinely nice, thoughtful guy. I met him last night at a work event and he was self-effacing, polite, and used the event to promote others, not himself. Despite my preconceptions, I liked him. Good on the big guy, he's an inspiration to the larger man interested in politics!