Remember the old days?

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Very few things make me angry, except for corporate greed caused when succeeding governments allowed the following to happen.

Do you remember when we had neighbourhood police patrolling our streets on foot in two’s? Back then they literally knew everybody in their patch. Consequently crime was low. No longer.

What about when your family doctor came to you if you were sick? Does your doctor still visit you at home?

Do you remember when we used to get bills from utilities like electricity suppliers for the actual amount you had used, back when meter readers were employed?

Sadly all of the above, no longer happens since government changed everything for the worse, no matter whether it be Conservative, Labour, or any coalition of political parties.

Today the only time you will see a policeman, or woman, patrolling the streets is in the centre of town. If you need one where you live, forget it. For today’s police it’s too much like hard work to get out into the suburbs on foot since targets were introduced, and patrolling in police vehicles became the norm.

The same applies to your doctor. Once upon a time they actually cared about their patients. Not so today. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2570597/Three-week-wait-doctor-Millions-patients-denied-prompt-appointment-GP.html  Is it any wonder that with such a long time between you applying – yes I did say applying for an appointment with a general practioner, and you actually getting it, that so many have totally lost all faith in the system, and gone to their nearest Accident and Emergency department? Inevitably when you get there, you are faced with long waiting times, in the worst cases, several days before you are attended too. Is it any wonder that our hospitals are grinding to a standstill when patients can’t get to see their GP within twenty-four hours or less? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30679949

Even our postal service leaves much to be desired since Royal Mail was privatised.

But the worst by far is the electricity providers. Take Scottish and Southern Electricity as a typical example of how what was formerly a public utility run by the government on our behalf, has become yet another greedy corporation.

Once upon a time when we got an electricity bill, we knew that it was only for the actual amount of electricity we had used in any given month, or quarter. No longer. These days the lazy sods can’t even be bothered to come round and actually read each home’s electricity meter. Instead, periodically they send out a letter to their consumers asking us to do their damned job for them. I received another one of these letters yesterday morning. I wouldn’t have a problem with this, except for one tiny point – we are no longer billed for how much electricity we actually use! Instead what we get is a demand for x amount based on guesswork to ensure their shares look good on the share markets of the world!

When they ask that we read our own meters twice, normally with a two hour gap between readings, you know damned well that all they will do is guestimate how much electricity you have used. This is nothing more than a licence to fleece the consumer! To all of them we are nothing more than cash cows to be milked at every opportunity. What really sickens me is that most of us simply do as we are told like sheep. Well I’m no sheep! I flatly refuse to do their job for them. I did it a couple of times in the past with a previous electricity supplier, British Gas, but it made no difference. If anything the amount due increased to ensure their market share.

As for Scottish and Southern’s latest letter, they know what my answer will be. When hell freezes over you bastards. If you were actually going to bill me for the actual amount of electricity I have used, fair enough. But you are not are you?

With the UK general election coming up in May, the only politician I will vote for is the one brave enough to actually do something about returning sanity to all of the above, not just pay lip service to the issues I have raised to receive his, or her, £67,060 pa as a back bencher in the Palace of Westminster. A chance would be a fine thing…

PS – I haven’t even made mention of that other area of corporate greed and sheer incompetence since being privatised – our railways. Whoops, now I have.

😦

Why should any writer bother to update an eBook?

As you will all know, in a recent post I said that I was giving one of my books a much needed spring clean. Thinking about it I sent the following email to Amazon:

Dear Amazon, a thought occurred earlier today. Why is it that when a writer uploads a second, third, fourth, tenth incarnation of their work that the relevant eBook on peoples various Kindles, Kindle for PC and Smart Phone apps, isn’t automatically updated? After all through KDP you always inform us of something that needs changing.

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This morning I received the following reply from Amazon’s eBook publishing arm Kindle Direct Publishing:

Hello Jack,
Thank you for contacting Kindle Direct Publishing.
I understand your concern regarding the automatic updates to books.
At this time, customers who have purchased a Kindle book cannot automatically download the revised content.
Our technical team is aware of this issue and working to automate this process.
Publisher feedback serves an important role in helping us to improve our platform and provide better service.
Thanks for taking time to offer us your thoughts.
Have a nice day!

***

Note the word ‘purchased’.

In other words – go take a hike mister! No writer enjoys being given what amounts to the ‘Bums Rush’, least of all me.

All of this begs the simple question, why if they cannot automatically update, do they bother to notify the author(s) of any given eBook about any errors, insisting they be fixed? You would have thought that rather than merely pay lip service to what amounts to one sided quality control on the part of the author, that they would at least follow through at their end after a writer had taken the time and trouble to do what he or she was asked.

The current KDP publishing system is a total nonsense. Even so I shall continue to clean up Glob’s tales as promised, come hell or high water…

😉

Dumb as a Rock? Far Worse…

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For months now I have been battling with the computer equivalent of an Indian Call Centre, for Amazon UK over a clear fault in the software of the otherwise excellent Kindle for PC Application installed on this laptop.

While I also own a standard Kindle, owing to my age and my less than perfect eyesight, I need a much larger screen to enable me to enlarge the print even more than the stand alone Kindle allows. To that end, I have duplicated all of my physical library of research books into Kindle form on this laptop, merely to have everything necessary for me to write my novels in one place. Clearly a sensible, not to say, practical move on my part. Therefore I am able to use my Kindle for PC app daily as a necessary research tool.

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Now for the real reason for this post.

It all started several months ago after the then latest update for the application was automatically installed. In effect what happened was that the new software inexplicably decided to place gaps at random throughout the text shown on the screen. By that I mean that words were broken up, and larger than standard gaps appeared between words. Each time I sent a message of complaint I received yet another email apologising for the problem and promising that they would look into it and get back to me. Needless to say they didn’t. To say I was less than pleased would be an understatement.

Eventually I found out what the problem was by myself when one day I needed to enlarge one particular passage in one of the books, far more than usual owing to the small font size in the particular eBook. The problem is that in effect when you alter the font size and words per line to make it easier to read, the software employed has the computer equivalent of a hissy fit!

When I once again sent a message to the ignoramuses, via the application’s ‘Contact Us’ button, telling them I had done their work for them by finally being able to clearly establish the exact problem, yet again I received an email thanking me for pointing out the problem and promising to pass on the information to the relevant department within Amazon. Sadly, many months have gone by and the problem still persists after several more automatic updates.

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Next we turn to the software program Amazon employs to run their automatic book information emails. As we all know there are some writers out there who think nothing of stooping to employ an underhand technique known as ‘sock-puppeting’ –  the unscrupulous practice of promoting their own books by writing glowing reviews using a false online identity. Amazon loudly condemns the practice. For that I applaud them.

But, once again the dumb software Amazon employs for attracting reviews tries to get a writer to engage in the practice themselves by asking you to ‘review’ your own work!!! Its pointless trying to complain to anyone in Amazon, because it appears that no one is actually monitoring the software algorithm in use. Plus, the automated emails offer no chance for you to complain, even though you will see the ‘Reply’ button at the bottom of each email.

If you send Amazon a separate email pointing out the problem, all you will get once again is their equivalent of the ‘Indian Call Centre’ which we all dread communicating with, in this case inhabited by yet more ignoramuses with a strict mandate to only pay lip service to a problem; never to fix it!

In both of the examples I have given you, whether you are a reader, or in my case a contributing writer for Amazon, makes absolutely no difference whatsoever. Like all major publishers, they simply don’t give a damn!

Come on Amazon. Who is running your company, dumb software or people? Don’t bother answering that. We already know the answer…

 

And The Award For Sheer Incompetance Goes To…

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If any of you have had similar experiences to mine with Internet providers, leave them as a comment below this article. I would love to hear about them.

I don’t know about you, but if there is one thing I simply cannot tolerate it has to be utter incompetence, combined with mind numbing stupidity.  I am being subjected to both by one internet provider here in the UK, even though as yet I am not connected to their network! When it comes to good customer relations, this particular company leaves much to be desired! Now read on…

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My current provider rips me off financially every month. So after putting up with it for three years – I know I should have changed providers ages ago ( a case of better the devil you know or just laziness on my part), I finally decided to look around for a better deal. Through a good neighbour I found one, or so I thought.

While their offer is hard to beat, when it comes to them actually holding to their side of the deal, they leave a lot to be desired. They promised me faithfully that I would be hooked up to a fibre optic Home hub WiFi system on the ninth of this month, three weeks after my neighbour had called them to set the ball rolling!

To give them their due – one of their engineers did turn up for all of a half hour on the given day. But all he did was replace the face plate to the telephone line junction inside the house. He told me that he could go no further because the house was not connected to the phone line system, claiming that it should have been done on the day before, the eighth.

Sending out a lazy jobsworth was their first mistake. All he had to do was go to the main terminal for the street and sort things out for goodness sake! Mistake number two on their part was thinking that screwing with me was completely acceptable!

As my neighbour was acting on my behalf I told him what had happened. After arguing with one of the company’s faceless moronic bureaucrats in one of its countless offices across the land, he finally got them to send someone to actually connect the house up.

It made a pleasant change when a thoroughly reasonable human being duly turned up on Monday the twelfth to do the business, only to find that the existing phone line to our street was working at its absolute maximum, leaving no room for me. So, he had to install a brand new dedicated phone line into my house. Thankful that at least one employee in the company was showing willing, when he needed a hand I didn’t hesitate to help him out.  Meanwhile my neighbour rang the company office once more to get a revised installation date.

While they rang me on my mobile to inform me that the new line was working and had been allocated its own phone number, to date little else has happened.

The problem is that instead of assigning one person in one branch office to oversee the entire transaction and installation, every time you phone them to stir them into actually going through with their side of the  deal , you wind up talking to yet another apologetic moron in another office!

It will come as no surprise to many when I tell you that the company in question is a privatised former government department.

Its now Sunday the eighteenth. Yet again I have been let down by them. They had promised my neighbour faithfully that they would phone me with their revised installation date between 8 am and 6pm yesterday. Needless to say it didn’t happen!

I will merely say this, there is a highly appropriate saying I remember from my time living in New Zealand that fits this particular company perfectly. It goes something like this –  They couldn’t organise a pissup in a brewery!

One last thing – Before I can go ahead and organise a Direct Debit for them with my bank, I  have to wait until I receive the first bill from them before I get to find out what the account number will be!

Am I going to name the company? No way. The last thing I need right now is to answer a defamation charge in the law courts!

Aargh- give me strength!!!

When Will the World of Business Finally Grasp the Nettle?

A growing number of companies these days totally embrace paperless transactions and billing. 
But there are still some who persist in sending out bills and the like to our households, despite championing this completely logical solution. Unlike physically delivered bills which can get lost due to human error, paperless cannot.
If, like me you now conduct all your business dealings via the internet, you are participating in a brilliant concept. It is fast (practically instantaneous) and it saves millions by not using paper, postage and countless man hours. Even so, banks still want to charge you the customer for pressing a few buttons. In my own bank’s case I was just notified by snail mail, not email you will note, that from the 1st of December, each time I make any kind of telephone payment transaction, they will be charging me £9.50. Currently its £19.50. Fortunately I never make any kind of payment using the telephone…
I deal with two particular utility companies regarding my water supply. One totally embraces the concept of paperless billing, while the other still insists on sending an acknowledgment of payment via snail mail, despite the fact that they have already acknowledged my online payment by sending me a receipt notice via email.
Paying lip service to a logical concept like paperless billing while continuing to use paper is not only counter productive but criminal in this day and age – email acknowledgement costs nothing!
What part of paperless billing don’t they fully get I wonder? 
Even my bank has not yet fully grasped the concept. Every once in a while they will send me a physical copy of a bank statement.
Why for god’s sake, when I have access to all of them online?
Many companies who rely on catalogue sales operate online these days. You go to their site and select what you want, pay for it electronically and wait for it to be delivered to your door. All fine and dandy you would think – right?
Wrong!
When that package arrives, what else could be in it I wonder? If you ordered the darned thing online, why would you possibly want a big heavy paper catalogue? Our supermarkets still insist on sending out their catalogues too, despite knowing that we ordered online!
It is time to end sending out any kind of paper to those of us who have moved with the times and conduct our business online. I can just hear the various legal sections within business bleating pathetically – “But we’re required to by law”.
Absolute bulldust!
Come on people within the business world, it time to quit this half-arsed approach and fully grasp the nettle. Do yourselves a huge favour and like the rest of us, step completely into the 21st century.