Product stop press

This blog having temporarily started acting like Which Magazine’s Provisional Wing, I have to draw your attention to another amazing wonder-product….:-) It costs more in a their real-world shops, but you can apparently make a saving if you buy Boots Hot Weather Cooling Spray online. Only £3.89 for 125ml (plus £2.90 delivery charge for delivery in 4 days, though free if you pick it up from your local shop.)

£31.11 per litre. (Not counting delivery costs.)

What’s the magic cooling ingredient?

Hmm, water. Well , “Aqua.” Not even bloody drinking water. Just water in a spray can.

As a random comparison of the cost of fluids, you can buy a 70cl bottle of 10 year-old Isle of Jura single malt whisky from Waitrose for £27.59.

OK, it wouldn’t cool you down much (indeed, it could make you smell pretty rough if you sprayed it on your face on a hot day) but it would be the product of centuries of brewing and distilling skills. It would have had to sit round using up caskspace for a decade. It’s lavishly bottled and packaged. And it manages to pay a huge cut to the revenue and still appear on Waitrose’s online shop for less than the cost of a litre of spray-on water.

Quite apart from the bottles of Evian and Highland Spring, Boots sells expensive water in many more forms. In the homeopathic department, anyway.

Water converted into pill form even. Or “pillules”, “pills” and “tablets.” (The distinction may be technical.)

Their homeopathic remedies actually contain water so expensive that it makes the cooling spray seem relatively cheap. Because they are pills (sorry, pillules) so they are dry, containing only the memory of the water that was used in making them. But that water itself only contains the memory of the active ingredient that was used to make it, many dilutions in its past

But, as the the water’s magical healing powers get stronger with each dilution, doesn’t it follow that you could increase its potency by another order of magnitude by dropping one of these dry pillules in a bath full of water.

The bathwater would then be imbued with the memory of the memory of the memories of the first water, but made even more memorable after conversion into and out of dry water-memory states in the middle stage. And so, these remedies could be strong enough to wipe out all disease on the planet….

New business plan – to take homeopathic remedies and sneakily intensify them by this method, then sell them as being EVEN more effective than the ones you can buy from a high street chemist, if that were indeed possible.

Genius, huh?

Big Brother goes Shopping

Take the cameras that follow us everywhere. Increase their intrusiveness level by a factor of ten and you get an idea of how much staff surveillance a German-based supermarket chain thinks it needs. Lidl has been spying on its German and Czech workers in ways that might shock the most avid defenders of surveillance, according to the Guardian story.

The store employed detectives and used video cameras to gather an alarming amount of personal information about its workers. Information about their finances, their tattoos, their love lives, their friends, how many times they went to the toilet….

Recording how a German employee identified as Frau M spent her break, one report read: “Frau M wanted to make a call with her mobile phone at 14.05 … She received the recorded message that she only had 85 cents left on her prepaid mobile. She managed to reach a friend with whom she would like to cook this evening, but on condition that her wage had been paid into her bank, because she would otherwise not have enough money to go shopping.” (from The Guardian)

The Guardian writer saw this incident in a Czech Republic store as the most shocking:

.. a female worker was forbidden to go to the toilet during working hours. An internal memorandum, which is now the centre of a court case in the republic, allegedly advised staff that “female workers who have their periods may go to the toilet now and again, but to enjoy this privilege they should wear a visible headband.

The story was taken from the German magazine Stern. It appears in the Telegraph and other UK newspapers. There’s more on Lidl on AsdaWatch. Lidl’s Wikipedia page that refers to the Guardian article.

More UK broadband whines

Complaining about Tiscali (regarding the service formerly known as Pipex) is normally T_W’s realm but I’m wading in, on the basis of an article in the Register.

(I can be detached, as well as moderately smug, here. Despite my initial annoyance when Virgin took over the previous Telewest service, of blessed memory, the worst you can say about Virgin broadband is that it seems to have outsourced its tech support and started charging 25p a minute for it.

I found this out when I made a tech support call about a friend’s broken cable broadband service. It was impossible to understand the woman on the other end, who was reading from a pre-set list of actions and made me go through every one at 25p a minute, despite my telling her repeatedly that I had already tried each one of her suggestions several times. In fairness, she only let this farce run for 15 minutes then she called back. So it stopped running up a pound every 4 minutes but the issue was no nearer resolution.

In contrast, Telewest tech support used to be brilliant. The tech support staff understood what you said, took on board your level of knowledge and responded accordingly with suggestions based on their expertise rather than a list of preset steps that only apply if you use Internet Explorer and Windows ffs – the current 25p a minute support.

Anyway, back to Tiscali…..)

Thousands of ex-Pipex customers have been suffering unexplained interruptions in their broadband service in recent weeks, as their new provider Tiscali stealthily works to cut costs.
People suffering a broadband outage as a result of the work are told by customer services, recently outsourced overseas, that their line is undergoing “essential engineering work”. One Reg reader was initially told the downtime was BT’s fault. (from The Register)

This “essential engineering work” seems to involve cutting speeds and service quality, in pursuit of a first-time ever profit for the noxiously-named Tiscali.

Their activities have previously been reported, by the Register, as involving making hundreds of Pipex staff redundant and outsourcing customer care in a bid to make the newly created company saleable in the near future..

There’s a good range of comments on the Register post. Here’s Luke Wells’s comment.

From Pipex to ….. errr … Tiscali
Now it has been a few years since I was a Pipex customer, but when I was a customer, Pipex were known for its rock solid reliable network and high speeds with no limits or throttling.
Tiscali are pretty much well known as a cheap “cut corners” isp with near zero customer service and poor speeds.
You’d think people would notice the change quite quickly.

I suspect they have.

Pipex is Still Terrible

Well, any long time readers of this blog will know I detest Pipex (my ISP – I refuse to link to them). It is terrible. It has abysmal customer service and for most of the summer I was without a connection at all. When they finally got round to fixing it what speed the ADSL used to have was truly gone.

Sadly, thanks to the terms and conditions the ISP is allowed to impose, I am obliged to remain with them for another four months at least. This is gutting when the net connection is barely faster than dial up.

I have spent the first three days of this month trying to connect to to see what my actual transfer speeds were. However, the connection was too slow for the speedtest to run. How bad is that? Fortunately, today things have picked up a little so here is this months graph:

Graph of transfer speeds using the UK ISP Pipex

What is really shocking about this graph, is not just the massive downwards trend it shows, but the fact that the really slow connections aren’t even on it. This graph only shows when the connection speeds were fast enough for me to get the speedtester to run! Very soon the early “fast” days will drop off the graph and it will just be flatlined crap speeds.

It is infuriating that, in this day and age, it seems impossible to get a consistently fast data connection. I am paying for a service which advertises itself as an “8mb connection” yet I barely scrape over 2mb. As soon as I can get out of this contract I am going with Virgin Media Cable broadband.

I have been with Pipex for about five years now – until very recently they were wonderful. I would have recommended them to anyone. However, in the summer they were taken over by Tiscali (who I have hated in the past) and things have plummeted like a lead weight.

Why in the name of Toutatis would Tiscali (who already had a reputation for being crap) buy a good ISP and then turn it to rubbish? What on earth is the point of that? Are these people mad? (Note: Virgin did the same with Blueyonder/Telewest…)

Anyway, before I get ranting about the stupidity of corporate takeovers, I will end here with the exhortation that you never, ever recommend Pipex (or Tiscali) to anyone you have even a passing regard for. Terrible ISP is an understatement.

Are BMS (01706713200) reading this blog?

Now I have mentioned Bury Marketing Sales (BMS) here a few times and it seems there is a bit of a spooky co-incidence when I do. After my last blog post about the pond-scum organisation who were phoning me two or three times a day (from 01706713200), I had a comment on an older post on the same topic.

In this comment, Paul wrote how that, after complaining to BMS customer services he never had any further calls. I wrote that, oddly, I hadn’t had any calls from BMS since my last rant about them (even though calling customer services hadn’t helped me in the slightest). It seems I was being a bit premature.

Since my reply, late last night, BMS have tried to call me six times today. Seriously. The first two I missed because I was no where near my phone, one left a silent voice mail. The next call came while I was driving, I answered (handsfree, of course) and explained I was driving. The sales monster pretty much ignored it and started asking me questions about my handset choices, how long I had left on the contract etc. I continued to explain I wasn’t interested and had requested customer services take me off their war-dialling list. The salesman basically ignored this and carried on trying to convince me to take a new contract so I hung up on them. The last two calls came while I was fairly free so I entertained myself at their expense. Each time they called, I answered but didn’t speak. After about 5 seconds they would say “hello,” at which point I would start banging and crashing bits of metal together. Both times the call was terminated by BMS after 22 seconds (exactly, is that a part of their instructions?) Childish, yes, but it made me laugh.

Anyway, this got me thinking. Are they reading this blog? Have they worked out which number they call is mine (if they hadn’t, they probably have now unless everyone gives them the metal treatment…)? Was my previous comment seen as a challenge? Did they give up on me after my post, only to resume when I goaded them? Are they reading this? How will they react?

Come on BMS, let me know if you are here?

Pipex: Farce upon Farce

Well, my opinion of Pipex was already very low. Before today I had them pegged as a terrible ISP with almost criminally poor customer service and basically inept technical support.

Today, they offended Forseti, and have managed to sink to a lower level on my opinion scale.

I wont fully repeat the tale of farce which has Pipex firmly in my “Bad Shop” category (in fact, I suspect they have more entries there than any other company), but in a nutshell after a month in which they were too inept to get BT out to fix my line (leaving me with no connection), they have still yet to get the service restored to the levels for which I am paying.

On Friday (four days ago), I spoke to technical support, who claimed to have carried out some tests and would now “escalate” the problem to BT. This is pretty much as far as I can push Pipex, as despite my only contract being with them, they do not have any form of service level agreement with BT – ineptitude, basically. Anyway, I was assured by the minimum wage arts student they have working as “technical support” that BT would respond to the fault within 1 – 6 days and get back to me.

Today, I had an SMS text message which informed me that Pipex Technical Support needed to carry out some more tests and could I ring them while I was sitting at the PC. This is a touch problematical, as I was at work miles from my PC, but never mind. Eventually I got home and had logged on by 1930 hrs to call Pipex as requested.

Now the farce got worse.

Every time I ring Pipex it annoys me. First off, it is an 0845 number so it costs money. Then the first thing they ask you is “if you are a residential customer, please enter your phone number now.” When you enter your phone number, you get presented with a list of options which runs “If you are a residential customer, press 1 now…” Why, in the name Kvasir do they ask you to enter your number first? Why?

When you finally get to press 2 for customer services, you are faced with an interminable wait, listening to some bored out of her head woman telling you “Thank you for holding the line. Your call is valuable to us.” Over and over. Why do companies think this is a good thing? What lunatic believes that the call is important or valuable, when you wait half the life of the universe for them to actually answer. And when they do, finally, answer it just gets worse!

After waiting a full 19 minutes (listening to how valuable my call is), the tech support arts student answered and went through the pointless list of “data protection act required verifications.” Finally, she asked me how she could help.

This left me a little confused, because she had just told me she’d called up my details and open tickets, so surely she should know I am calling in response to the text. Anyway, I explained I’d been asked to call and she went away. For four minutes. Eventually she came back and said that the “Technical Support” people (who was I speaking to?) had asked that I be contacted to confirm I wanted this escalating to BT. Slightly stunned, I said “yes” and she typed away and said, thanks – it will now be passed to BT. When I asked what had happened the last time they had promised it would be passed on to BT, she had no idea. She said it hadn’t been logged and didn’t know who had dealt with it. Now, I have the pleasure of another 1 – 6 day wait. Unless they text me half way through and ask if I want it to be sent to BT again…

This level of incompetence is mind boggling. I am at a loss to describe how frustrating, and how bad, Pipex customer service and technical support is. In August, I was given an identical run-around where over the course of a whole month they pretended to send the fault to BT, but never quite got round to it. It looks like this is going to happen again.

Showing that Loki really does have a monumental sense of humour, Pipex’s home page has a blurb which reads:

Pipex - Terrible Service - False Claims

Sadly, this leaves me speechless. If it really is their “customers that matter,” why am I being singled out for this poor treatment. What have I done wrong, which makes Pipex pick me as the only person they are happy to mess around month after month?

If so many people like them “so much they’d recommend” them, why dont they bloody recommend them. I wouldn’t recommend them to Bin Laden…

Pipex are a terrible ISP. Their technical support is so bad it has become funny. Their service is abysmal (for instance, what happened to NNTP access?). In short, Pipex is bad. Do not use Pipex.

Terrible Pipex Service – Fiasco Continues

Well, I will try to keep this short and I promise to try and find a new topic to complain about, but surfing the internet at snails pace is painful.

I mentioned yesterday the fiasco I was having with Pipex, and their final suggestion was to do some tests for 24 hours then call back. Well, I carried out the tests and called them back. If only it had been that simple.

After a short lifetime listening to a bored “we value your call” (obviously they value it, I am paying to call them….) I got through to an operator who went through the questions required by the data protection act (I assume if it wasn’t for that darned act, they would happily give my details out to every one…) and once more I was asked what the problem was.

I explained, in detail, what had happened and the tech support creature started to ask me the standard questions about “had I checked the filters…” (etc). Fighting the urge to scream, I reminded him that I had already gone through all this and I was just calling with the test data so they could escalate it to BT. Rather than ask what the data was, he asked me “what sort of speeds” I had been getting “over the last few weeks.” I was stunned. So much for the 24 hours worth of tests nonsense. Anyway, I told him that before the “fix,” I’d been getting a consistent 4 (and a bit) mbps downstream and the line reported it was an 8mb connection and since BT fixed the exchange I was now on a line which reported itself as 500kbps. Then it got really comical.

The “technician” asked what sort of download speeds I was getting. I said 350 – 400kbps on average. He then explained to me how 350 – 400kbps was “about 4 meg.” This jaw dropping announcement left me silent for a moment or two while it really sunk in that he thought three hundred and fifty kilobytes per second was “about” four megabytes per second. What abstract definition of about do they use at Pipex? When I, politely, explained that 400kbps was “about” half a mbps he went quiet for at least 30 seconds. The silence became painful after a while and I genuinely wasn’t sure if he was still there.

Eventually, he found his voice again and said he would carry out some tests. After a few (silent) minutes where all I could hear was his frantic typing on a keyboard he confirmed the line was reporting it was a 500kbps and he would escalate it to BT – who would deal with it “in 1 – 6 days.” Wonderful, now I know that this time next week I will call Pipex again, who will say “sorry, BT had a problem, they will investigate in 1-6 days” and so on, ad infinitum.

Fundamentally this shows yesterday’s tech “support” person was lying through his teeth when he asked for the tests to be carried out. Today’s person didn’t care about my results and ran the test himself before sending it on to BT.

It amazes me that Pipex is still getting such rave reviews from people when they, basically, have untrained buffoons running their call centres and spend more money getting a low-life Z-lister like David Hasslehoff to front their campaigns than they spend on providing a service. As far as I am concerned Pipex is the worst ISP I have ever used (it is now even worse than Tiscali who used to be top of my List of Hate, comically Pipex’s fall from grace came when Tiscali bought them…) and I have no idea why every few weeks I get an email telling me how popular they are, how good their service is (for everyone else, obviously) and how I should recommend them to my friends. To be honest, there isn’t anyone I hate enough to recommend Pipex to them.

Please, feel free to spread the word.

[tags]Pipex, Bad Shops, Bad Customer Service, Pipex Sucks, Pipex Bad ISP, Bad ISP, ISP, Internet, Rant, Technology, Network, Tiscali, David Hasslehoff, Internet Service Provider, BT, ADSL, DSL, Modem, Networking, Orders of Magnitude, Bad Mathematics, Bad Networking[/tags]

Pipex – Terrible ISP

Long rant – if you are reading this on Planet Atheism / Planet Humanism (or just aren’t interested) and you don’t want to know about my troubles with a UK based ISP please skip this 🙂 If you know anyone thinking of getting a new ISP, simply tell them to avoid Pipex at all costs.

My problems with Pipex continue unabated. I am in the process of trying to move away from them and get Sky Broadband but I am hitting hurdle after hurdle.

Following on from the fiasco where I had an entire month without internet connection, despite repeated false promises by the customer services staff and the only offer Pipex could make to placate me was to promise me an extra months connection for free – when this free month will be is anyone’s guess, I am still being billed each month – the connection still sucks. Pipex technical support have reached new levels of incompetence and it is getting to the point where I am tempted to simply cancel this phone line and get a new one…

Continue reading

01706713200 – BMS – Still Scum

Almost a week ago, I mentioned the problems I have been having with BMS and how they keep phoning me every day from 01706713200. In a nutshell, Bury Marketing Sales (BMS) operate a call centre which basically tries to wear down customers of 3 (telephone provider) until they take up the “Offers.”

Reading round various websites (Google helps) and it seemed that the call centre staff had a tendency to be talkative, which was something I had never experienced. Every single time I answered the phone, all I heard was silence (with call centre background chat) and every time I missed the call, they left me a voice mail which was also about 10 – 20 seconds of silence. I found it quite strange.

On Monday, I had my daily call from 01706713200, I wasn’t too busy, so I answered it. Instead of saying “hello” though, I just accepted the call and waited for about five seconds. Instead of the normal silence, a call centre operator started talking and trying to sell me a new contract. Even when I pointed out my contract was pretty new and had 12 months left to run, he didn’t care. He basically wanted me to take out a second contract with them – when I said it made no sense to have two contracts on one phone with one sim card, he started saying about how different calls would be “routed automatically.” In the end, I tried to be a politely firm as possible but said no thanks. He finished with a “we will call you back to see if you’ve changed your mind.” Blimey.

They certainly kept to their word on this. I now get three or four calls a day. Normally about every two hours between 10am and 3pm. This time it is back to the silent treatment. When I answer there is no one there and when I don’t answer I get silent voice mails. It is like having my own pet stalker (without the fear).

Anyway, on the off chance that there is some one reading this who is in anyway related to marketing or sales: This is NOT the way to do it. At the moment, even if they were offering me the best deal in the world I would turn them down now. It has soured my opinion of 3 (who have apparently sold my details to BMS despite me explicitly saying “no” on the forms) beyond repair and there is no way I will renew my 3 contract when it runs out in two months. (I lied about the 12 months).

For those who are interested (and we get a lot of traffic here on this subject), the registered details of BMS (with Companies House) are:

Bury Marketing and Sales Ltd
47 Sefton Street
Company No. 05802107

Their contact emails are (sales) and (Customer Services) – feel free to sell these addresses on…

If you are feeling aggrieved by their behaviour, you can also fax them on 0845 299 1672, but as this is not a free (or cheap rate) number, I would advise against my initial idea of faxing them mountains of crap.

I have read a few places online where people are suggesting legal action against either BMS (harassment) or 3 (breach of contract), so if you are trying either of these I would love to hear how you get on.

[tags]Bad Shop, BMS, 01706713200, Bury Marketing Sales, 3, Three, Telecoms, Cell Phone, Mobile Phone, Hutchinson 3g, Hutchinson, Bad Privacy, Breach of Contract, Privacy, Consent, Marketing, Bury, Telephone Preference Service, TPS, Rochdale, Company Information, Email Addresses, N Bhatti, Society[/tags]

Evil Shop – 01706713200 – BMS

Another mixed entry for the bad shops routine here. In the past I have gone on about how annoying my Nokia N73 has become, and after some advice I resolved a few of the errors and had a working(ish) phone camera. This happy state of affairs was quite short lived though and once again my phone randomly reboots itself, looses its settings, crashes (which needs the battery to be removed to cure it) and so on. All in all, it is a good phone, but it had a life expectancy of about 6 months. I am not sure if I would buy it again, Nokia phones have the advantage of a known user interface and easy to find attachments (which is why changing the plug was madness!), so I may well buy a new Nokia one day – however, I will certainly look harder at the opposition.

Anyway, in the past I have been reasonably kind towards 3 (the telephone provider, not the number in general…). I have found that they provide a reasonable service although the lack of pre-installed applications is annoying, and the new charging plans for music downloads is madness. Why anyone would pay £1.29 for a music track they could only play on their phone is beyond me – especially as every single track you download (I only use the £5 per month free allowance) has cracks in from the odd compression software. Madness.

However, over the last two and a half months my opinion has changed.

Since around the start of July, my mobile (cell) phone has been getting called a least once a day from 01706713200. Every single time I have answered, no one has spoken. Not a word. Not even the hint of a word. On the times my phone has been off and it has gone straight to voice mail, this number has left me messages. Again, no one speaks but the message is often a few minutes long. Seriously, this has happened every single day.

At first, I was happy to ignore this and I assumed it was just some weird thing going on. However about a week ago, one of the voice mails had people talking in the background and it sounded like a call centre. Toutatis only knows why the operator who called me couldn’t be bothered to talk, but kept the line open for seven and a half minutes.

After this call, I became curious and decided to google the number. Wow. Not exactly lots of results, but reassuring none the less.

It seems this number belongs to a crap-happy call centre owned / run by a company called BMS (Bury Marketing Sales) with the following details (thanks to for the data):

Mr N Bhatti
Unit 5
Canal St
OL11 1AB

If anyone knows this scumbag, please feel free to pass on my regards.

Even more annoying, when you do some more google-searches on this scumbag company you find out I am actually fortunate that they cant bring themselves to speak to me: (same source)

BMS are constantly calling me twice a day. tonight i answered the guy on the phone said ” Hello luv we are calling you on behalf of 3 have you had an upgrade?” I replied no i don’t want an upgrade and asked why they have been calling me for the last two weeks twice a day. He replied ” well i’ll keep phoning you luv until you do alright bye” he then put the phone down before i could reply. I was fuming! First i hate anyone calling me luv on the phone like they know me,who do the think they are? The number was 01706 713200 i tried to call back and they were closed the number is from Rossendale near Rochdale . I then called 3 and complained they told me to register with TPS (telephone preference service)is the central opt out register on which you can record your preference not to receive unsolicited sales but it takes 28days.

Shocking really.

What makes it worse is 3’s reaction. There is no effort or will on behalf of 3 to rectify the problem and, worryingly, 3 appear to be willing to sell on customers details despite (in my case for example) the customer expressly wishing for this not to happen. I was more than slightly careful when I took out my contract and ensured that every box regarding use of my details was properly ticked – like most companies now, 3 have a sneaky way of re-working the tick/no-tick boxes to stop you just ticking them all and assuming that will work.

It seems that 3 are, at best, only paying lip service to their privacy policies and the reality is, I will continue to get these silent calls until I change my number.

I am sure it goes without saying that, when this contract expires, not only will I be looking for a new make of phone but it is more than likely that I will go for a new communications provider.

Pipex Still Sucks

Following up from my previous rant about the terminally bad customer service experience I had with crappy Pipex, I have now had a letter from them explaining some of their “reasoning.” Even after reading this, I can confirm Pipex still suck and Pipex is still a “Bad Shop.”

There are two strands to my current annoyance. The first is a common one in the UK, in that I am paying for an “up to 8MB” broadband service and actually getting half a megabyte. Before this fiasco began, I was averaging around 4Mbps which was acceptable and there certainly have been no new broadband users on the exchange (the area is small enough that I would know). One of two things has happened – either BT have ****ed up when they tried to fix the connection or Pipex have spitefully changed my access without telling me. I have no way of knowing which it is, but before the problem the router I use reported its connection as “8192kbps” every time it connected (this was different to the actual speed I could get from the connection though). Now every time it connects, it reports a speed of “576kbps.” Upstream remains constant. Maybe some one who knows more about these things can tell me what is going on, at the moment I am waiting for Pipex support to come back to me over the problem. (I am not holding my breath…)

Secondly, the letter itself. This is a whole page basically telling me that Pipex pride themselves on their customer service but, basically, this is not Pipex’s fault. While this may well be true, it says nothing and answers none of my questions. Priding themselves on their customer service is irrelevant when their staff are rude and unable to help. It is a nice corporate slogan which looks good on advertisements, but the reality is they have a disgruntled customer and telling me I am in a minority does nothing to assuage that. As for it not being Pipex’s fault, why should I care? My contract is with Pipex not BT – it seems they were too lax (or too cheapskate) to negotiate a service level agreement with BT and as a result are unable to use any leverage with them. Pipex refused to give me any contact details of people at BT who I could complain to (or check on the status of the problem), so to all ends and purposes, Pipex are at fault. If you go to a restaurant and the food tastes poor, do you think the chef would turn round and say it wasn’t his fault the supplier sent bad tasting tomatoes?

The only sliver of light at the end of the tunnel is Pipex have given me a months free line rental, when the month will happen is beyond me as I have no intention of remaining with them. If anyone reading this works in a customer relations / retention type field, please take note. Hollow promises and corporate buzzwords do not make up for crappy service. Pipex should know better, but basically Pipex sucks.

[tags]Pipex, Bad Shops, Bad Customer Service, Technology, ADSL, Internet, ISP, Bad ISP, Bad Service, Internet Access[/tags]

Pipex – Terrible Service (long)

Well, I am back online now after over a month without any method of connecting to the internet. I would like to say about how my ISP (Pipex) provided some wonderful technical support and helped me through the process, going the extra mile to earn the money I pay them each month.

In reality, the opposite is true. I will try to keep this brief as I am angry enough to rant for months over this, and I have every intention of bringing this up on a regular basis to make sure it remains “current” in search engines.

Basically put, Pipex is a “bad shop.” It provides a moderate service which is no longer really cost-effective in the ISP market of the UK. The headline promise is 8mb connection speeds but, so far, I have never got over 3mb. Once upon a time it had a good standard of technical support services, not any more. Pipex technical support and customer services are so bad it defies belief. It is one thing having a hard time helping a customer, it is another to lie and be rude to them. Pipex are terrible. Needless to say I am in the process of changing ISP now. On to the back story for this rant.

On 5 Aug, my internet connection died. No warning, no indication. At first I thought it was a fault or something with the server (the log kept reporting “LCP Down” and “Failed to synchronise”), so I tried to see if this was the case. Sadly, due to the time of day, the only way to see if there was a problem was to log on to Pipex’s website. Hard to do without an internet connection… Continue reading

Jessops is still a bad shop

Jessops is still a bad shop. Last week there came a point at which I was going to write a big, apologetic, post here about how Jessops had redeemed themselves in my eyes. Sadly is it not to be, and they have firmly entrenched themselves in my “Bad Shop” books. Interestingly, today I have a comment from someone who seems to be defending Jessops and I will deal with that in this post. This is quite a convoluted tale of woe but I will try to keep it simple.

First, the comment by Tycoon. For those of you who haven’t read the previous post, and its comments, this is what he wrote:

Once again, this is a typical example of what you think the website tells you, rather what it actually tells you.

1 million other customers who have used the service since it launched a few months ago, didn’t have a problem.

Wow, where do I start with this! Obviously I have no idea if this person works for Jessops or their web site people, but if s/he doesn’t it is an oddly worded comment. I have never engaged Tycoon in discussion before, so I dont know what “once again” is supposed to mean – other than this is a disgruntled help desk employee.

Critically, this is not an example of me making a mistake over what the website was telling me. The website explicitly informed me the items would be ready for collection. However, I have admitted it is possible I made a mistake, and it is. The fact 1 million (or how ever many) other customers have not had a problem is irrelevant. I had a problem and there was no system in place to make it better for me. Does Tycoon have any figures as to how many other online customers have had problems but not bothered to complain about it? Or the people who never got the site to work properly for them in the first place? It strikes me he is more concerned with the least important numbers.

Anyway, this is all in the past and I don’t want to descend into an argument over pedantry. Jessops is still a bad shop.The problem with my order continued and has affected other people I know. Now, there is the outside chance that the two shops in question are just badly managed, or that the people I know are just unlucky, but you have to start to wonder…

Looking at my order first, eventually I received a text message saying the order was ready and I could pick it up. Overjoyed – and tempted to forgive Jessops for my initial ranting – I took time off work, jumped in my car and drove the eternity to the town where Jessops is. I happily paid the £4 parking fee and went to the shop (I could have waited but the next time we were planning to go into town was two weeks away). In all the time between getting the text and arriving at the shop was just under two hours. In the shop there is a huge queue – comically the person at the front was complaining about an online order they had made, but I didn’t get the full details.

When I eventually get served, the assistant brings up a huge box with my name on it and starts to show me the items. Everything is there — except the camera and lens. After a search, the assistant draws a blank and seeks the managers advice. It turns out, they are out of stock of the camera – the last one they had was sold two days previously. So it seems that despite the text message sent to me telling me the order was ready, it actually wasn’t. I am sure this is not a case of me thinking the website was telling me something different to what it was really saying.

Now, at this point, there was nearly a huge row in the shop. I was furious at having taken time off work, driven all the way to town, all on a complete fabrication. Fortunately for my blood pressure, the manager diffused the matter by coming to a deal where I would take away the shop’s display model (heavily shop soiled), then when they had new ones in stock I could exchange it for a new one. This seemed reasonable enough for me, so off I went.

Having forgiven Jessops for their sins, my wife decided to purchase a tripod for me. This was double and triple checked on the website (it was in the collect@store special deals) to ensure it was available. It was, so the order was made. An hour later, my wife duly received the email and text message confirming the tripod was available for collection – so she goes into town to collect it – and ask if the camera was ready for exchange.

Shockingly, two people in front of her in the queue was a gentleman who purchased the last D80 they had in stock (nice of them). Still, no massive deal, so she asked to just collect the tripod. At this point, the assistant apologises and says they don’t have any in stock. He defends himself by saying they are on order and should be in by Saturday. So away she goes – with nothing. When we get home, we check the website – it is still marked as being in stock and check the emails. All point to the tripod being ready that day with no explanation as to why it wasn’t.

Saturday comes, we phone up this time, and neither the tripod nor the camera are in stock but a delivery has arrived and will be unpacked over the course of the day. In the afternoon we phone again – nope, they are not there but a delivery is due on Monday. Today, my wife has called them again and neither the camera nor the tripod are in stock, but a delivery is due… yeah, I am sure you get the point.

Add to this, a friend from work made a collect@store purchase for a Canon EOS400D camera (seeking the £10 saving). He went through the exact steps I did, got the store (a different one than I used) only to find out there were none left in stock but some more were on order. This was four days ago – it still hasn’t arrived and he has given up and bought it elsewhere.

It looks like I will end up doing the same for the tripod. I am still left with an excellent – if shop soiled – camera which I paid full price for and no signs of a possible exchange. The savings from using Jessops are quickly eaten up by the difficulties involved with actually getting hold of the goods. It doesn’t surprise me that Jessops are closing nearly a hundred shops over the country – with this sort of sales skills, I suspect more may go as well. Collect@Store is pointless if it doesn’t work.

Sadly, the staff in Jessops are wonderful (if poor at stock control) and know the subject very well indeed. It will be a shame to see the shops close, but at least then I will no longer be tempted to buy things from them and I can do the sensible choice and shop elsewhere.

[tags]Bad Shops, Jessops, E-Commerce, Camera, Nikon, D80, Digital Camera, Online Shopping[/tags]

Jessops – Bad Shop

The current line of ranting on technological subjects continues… This time it is the result of some mixed experiences with Jessops, a camera retailer with both on- and off-line shops.

Surprisingly for a High Street retailer, Jessops price their camera systems competitively with most online shops. For anyone who has not been unfortunate enough to try an dip their toes into the world of Digital SLR cameras, the whole thing is a muddle of choosing a camera body and lens from an array of options that really are mind boggling. Annoyingly, there are few retailers who provide the best price on everything, one will have very cheap lenses, but expensive camera bodies, another will be cheap bodies but extortionate shipping costs and so on.

As a result of this muddle (and wanting to have my new toy right now!), I eventually came to decide that the best solution would be to buy the camera and a kit lens from Jessops (I went for the Nikon D80 and a Nikkor 18-135mm lens for anyone who cares), then order other bits and pieces from cheaper, online, retailers (Warehouse Express is very good value for lenses). Continue reading

Norber Boulder

Norber Boulder

Norber Boulder,
originally uploaded by Ian G7KXV.

This is a stunning photograph taken in the Yorkshire dales by Ian G7KXV. This really appeals to me as a photo and I love the way the clouds work around the sun and the boulders. Apparently (according to flickr) this was taken with a Nikon D80 DSLR and it has gone a long way to influencing my choice of camera 🙂

Anyway, the main purpose for this post is to whine about flickr. Today I finally cracked and tried to upgrade to a pro account. I dutifully entered all my details as required and pressed “next.” Flickr realised I had made the mistake of selecting “Master Card” when I mean “Visa” and asked me to re-enter the card number. When I did, I was presented with a pop up page telling me that those card details were “already known” to flickr (or Yahoo, not sure which) and could I use a different card.

What madness. What does “already known” mean?

Given the furore about e-Commerce, and the emphasis placed on it by organisations such as flickr (which, surely, would cease to exist without it), why is it so bloody difficult to buy anything?