Category Archives: Communications

Such a simple idea

So why hasn’t it been done?

Safe with charging point

OK, you’re at the hotel and your phone/tablet needs charging but you’ve to be elsewhere right now. A situation common enough. Do you a) take the phone with you and hope the battery lasts? or b) put it on charge in the room – and hope no-one steals it while you’re out?

Most hotels provide in-room safes so that valuables can be left securely, yet it’s hardly secure to leave an expensive phone/tablet charging on a table. Should it get stolen the first thing the hotel would say is “Why wasn’t it in the safe?”

The solution seems, to me at least, very obvious. It’s hardly a mammoth task to install an electrical socket (& vent) into the safe.

Any hotel that did provide such a facility would have a USP to encourage guests and would almost certainly quickly recoup any costs through increased visitor numbers. I know that, personally, given the choice between a hotel with the facility to securely charge my phone and one without, I’d pick the “with” every time.

So why isn’t it available?

May I suggest readers do as I’ve done and request each hotel that they visit installs such a facility. With enough requests commonsense might just prevail.

BlackBerry Bombard Users With Ads

THEN CHARGE TO REMOVE THEM!

BBM Rip OffBlackberry, the company behind the messaging application BBM, have hit on a money-making idea that really annoys users.

Sponsored content (in others words adverts) appear in channel feeds, but if you don’t want to see these ads then, at one time, you could simply block them. Simple, ad gone!

Not any more. Blackberry weren’t making enough dosh.

Obviously users didn’t like the ads so blocked them, so Blackberry responded by removing the option to block these annoying adverts, UNLESS you pay!

That’s correct. When pressed BBM support replied, in a private message so that most people wouldn’t see it, with “Advertisements can be removed from BBM for $0.99 USD per month with the No Ads subscription. This subscription removes all ads from your feed, and you will no longer receive sponsored invites from our partners.

They may argue that $0.99 / month is a small amount, but multiply that by the hundreds of millions of users! A tidy profit, just for annoying people!

Companies that use such tactics deserve to lose customers, and they’ve certainly lost this one. BBM isn’t worth the hassle!

Life Revolves

NOT AROUND SOCIAL MEDIA

Not so SocialContrary to the belief of many social media is NOT the be-all & end-all!

Yes, it has a place in the modern world, but that’s just the point “in the world not the centre of it! Yet for many their lives revolve around Twitter, Facebook & the rest, spending every waking minute updating, tweeting, posting, etc. It’d take surgical intervention to part these people from their smartphones/tablets. Thing is, most of the time it’s pure dribble that’s being spouted, though it obviously keeps them entertained. Why must they rely so heavily on cyberspace? Have they never heard that it’s better to kept quiet and let others think you’re a fool than to speak and prove them right? Are their lives really so dull that they can’t exist in the real world?

While you ponder that I’m off actually living!

The answer to all issues

ACCORDING TO TECHNICAL SUPPORT PEOPLE

Factory ResetPhones, laptops and tablets will have been on many peoples Christmas lists and, as seems all too common, many of these will develop faults, often very soon after switch on, and usually when you’ve managed to load them up with all your important information. Worry not though, there’s always the warranty.

A call to the technical support line will soon have things working again – you hope.

Things are rarely that straight forward unfortunately. When you do manage to illicit a response it’s usually the same one, no matter which manufacturer you’re dealing with.

“Try a factory reset”. It’s the first thing they come up with. Never mind that you’ve spent ages inputting all your data, and getting the thing to look and feel just how you like it. All that time and effort is going down the drain. Yes, a reset does that! Even if you’re able to make a back up first, it’s still going to take some time to restore things, and that “reset” isn’t even guaranteed to cure the problem.

So, why is it the first thing those tech people think of? It’s like it’s the only reply button in front of them! It never occurs to them to try to work through a problem to determine the cause. Simply hit the button! Well that’s rubbish; those same tech people would be rather annoyed if, having taken their car to a garage because of a slight problem, the mechanic told them to have a new engine fitted!

Personally I’ve had these issues with Samsung, HTC and Medion amongst others, and it’s not good enough. These tech departments shouldn’t need to use a sledge hammer to crack a walnut, if they were any good…

Company survival

Purely by volume

To care or not to careI’m sure we’ve all experienced problems after buying something, i.e. mobile phones, TV’s, furniture, even cars. Something goes wrong with the product. The ideal remedy is to take it back and get an on-the-spot repair, exchange or refund. Unfortunately though it’s not always that straightforward, particularly in todays online shopping culture.

While most people will accept that products can fail, equally they expect the people behind the products to put it right. He’s where the “customer service” department comes in – and often where the real problems begin!

So, you phone up and get the dreaded “press this, press that” menu (always designed to speed things up for you of course), then as “all our agents are currently busy…” you’re held in a queue, frequently for a long time. When someone does finally answer, invariably with a foreign accent which is hard to understand, you explain the problem, usually more than once. More often than not the call ends with you going off to try something they suggested; which never works. So, you phone again, and repeat the whole process to a different agent. Or maybe you decide it’s less stressful to use their “contact us” email form. Big mistake that! All that happens then is you get back the auto-acknowledgement saying how important your message is – then nothing more!

The point here is “why are customer service people the same the world over?” It doesn’t matter which company you deal with, the CS department will almost always be a source of despair. So, “why?”, and just as importantly, “how do these companies stay in business?”

Quantity over Quality!

If all companies provide the same low level of service, where do customers turn? Simple, they get fed up and move to a different company, but it’s this constant turn-over of customers, between companies, which keeps the vicious circle going – and the standards low.SurvivalRegretfully, the days when “service” meant genuine concern for customers and a desire to maintain or even enhance a company’s reputation seem to have disappeared. It’s now just a rat-race, with a “win some, lose some” approach, and who loses? The customers, naturally.

You might think this poor attitude is limited to the bigger companies, but unfortunately not, even though reputation is even more valuable to the small fry. To illustrate my point, an outfit producing a barcode app for mobiles responds to customer queries simply by criticising reviews. It offers no explanation, let alone help, and tells the customer to “move along”! The name of this particular bunch to avoid, “ZXing Team”. Remember it, and stay well clear. They probably won’t be around long anyway, with that attitude!

Tweets

WHILE ON THE MOVE…???

We all know the message (even though many still ignore it!); “don’t use your mobile phone whilst driving”. This is the UK government line which, in theory, is supported by all agencies. Or is it?

Anyone on Twitter will probably have come across feeds from the Highways Agency and/or Police (or similar), whereby current status messages are broadcast, informing the travelling public of ongoing situations. These are clearly aimed at keeping motorists safe by giving them advance warning of problems on route, i.e. debris in road, lane blocked by RTC, etc.

But think for a moment about exactly what could be happening. Drivers travelling along checking their mobile at every “alert tone”, just in case it’s something ahead they should know about. Is that really safe?

OK, it could be that a passenger is doing the checking, just maybe…

I’m not suggesting that traffic info such as this shouldn’t be broadcast; of course in general it’s beneficial. I’m merely playing devil’s advocate for a moment to highlight situations of potential danger. Arguably the most essential component in any vehicle is common-sense, so the next time you’re in the car be sure you have a good supply with you!

“Drive 2 Arrive”

Still very much needed

SO WHY PUSH IT OUT?

Long live faxTrends come and go. Time was when virtually all communications, particularly for business, used the good old letter, even though it was sometimes slow and delivery not guaranteed. There was of course the phone, but that was not really appropriate for many situations. Since that time we’ve seen the advent of electronic communication; Email being the one that everyone will think of. But let’s not forget there’s also another – the facsimile. It has all the advantages of a letter, with the speed of a phone call and confirmed delivery of email.

Fax machines were once expensive and not for the general public, but that changed. Nowadays fax machines can be bought very cheaply, and many “multi-function” office machines include fax capabilities, even home printers have it – some with colour. Fax is in the realms of the ordinary person.

So why have many companies dropped it altogether? I believe it’s a deliberate ploy to discourage contact.

Many companies just don’t give out their fax number, they only want contact through an online form, where often a lot of unnecessary information has to be entered before the form will submit. This is possibly so that they can bombard us with junk mail, though they’d say it’s to discourage spam (E-junk!) and improve communications. “Improve” for who?

How often have you used such a contact form only to get back an “auto-reply”, and then nothing else?

A fax is somewhat different in that it’s not so easy to auto-ignore, and that, I believe, is why many companies don’t want them!

Rather than “bring back the fax”, let’s not let it go in the first place!