29 August 2011

To boldly go...

I recently upgraded to a BlackBerry Torch 9800 and I have to say, in a small nutshell, it's the worst BlackBerry I've ever used. Really bad on so many levels. I won't go into that now but suffice to say I have tried to have it swapped out.

I phoned VODASHOP Westwood (the store in question) and requested the procedural information to swap out a handset for a new model if it's within seven days (which in my case it is). The manager said it's not possible to exchange a handset unless it's faulty, in which case you still get a replacement model of the same type in return. I then politely referred him to the Consumer Protection Act and said it was, by law, possible to exchange a handset for another one. He insisted that even though there is a CPA, I have already signed all relevant CPA documents when I upgraded so I am bound by the contract.

(boxing gloves were lying next to my desk but I resisted putting them on)

I politely pointed out he was incorrect and added that I was simply not prepared to fight about it. I could get lawyers involved and it would just become messy for everyone and rather I just wanted to know if there was a stress-free way for me to be assisted and he said he was very sorry but no. Fine. I'm not bothered about it - I am not keen on bringing in the law either; my energy is far too sapped for that. The Old Bryan would have fought tooth and nail but the New (Older) Bryan is more mellow.

As I was about to go the manager asked for my information and said he would put out some feelers to see if anyone would be able to help with a new 9780 Bold for me as a swap out and I said that was great but that I wouldn't hold my hopes out. We departed on very amicable terms with him promising to help me get a replacement if he could and me promising not to fight them for breach of CPA.

The moral of the story? You can get a lot of cover through the CPA and if anyone at a store tries to be obtuse then just thrust those three magical letters and stand steadfast behind it. If they insist you're wrong, insist back that they are wrong, even if you're not sure, and chances are 99% of the time they'll back down because they won't want to have hefty penalties or law suits on their hands. Just act confident (even if you're not sure) and you can get your way now and get the quality customer service you deserve*.

* I am not trying to advocate petty intimidation or arm-twisting but rather encouraging you to use the CPA that is there to protect you and to hopefully encourage most retailers to improve their customer service to the level we, as consumers, are entitled to.

27 August 2011

Last Night was FRIDAY!!

Have to admit that I appreciated this video. Lots of cameo's, one-liners, and Katy Perry starring alongside Rebecca Black (who, incidentally, is "a nice girl"). Good effort Katy Perry ;)

She's even created her very own alter-ego, Kathy Beth Terry with a Twitter and Facebook account - very inventive!

22 August 2011

The dot DEALS blow-out

Here's me just throwing out some thoughts and observations. And maybe a prediction or two.

These social deals that are doing the rounds as GROUPON, MYCITYDEAL, TWANGOO, WICOUNT, etc. (they vary from country to country but I'm speaking specifically from a South African perspective here) have practically ballooned in the past year and I can't see how this is a sustainable model at all.

To start, we've got the actual concept of the system - a supplier engages one of the various deals providers to promote their product and then gives away their product at a tremendously below-margin price while still paying the deals provider for the advertising service.

There are already problems with this model. Firstly, how do you know which provider to pick? Everyone probably has the same audience by now (come on, admit it - you've signed up to more than one deal service already, haven't you?) and the audience is becoming saturated. For a provider to outdo another provider they need to claim a larger portion of the audience pool but there's a limited number in the pool to begin with. By now I'm fairly sure 80% of the entire target audience has been snapped up by one (or more) of the deals providers so their life expectancy based on this fact must be severely limited.

Secondly, how can a supplier survive as a business if they're selling off their products at well below cost to scores (or hundreds) of consumers? The third problem stems from the second problem, and that's the problem of commission. Not only do the suppliers have to see a value in selling a hundred products at below-cost pricing but they have to still pay the deals provider for the service which even further erodes their cashflow.

The concept of aggressive marketing isn't new by any stretch but the next challenge is ensuring that your potential clients don't just sit around lurking and waiting for you to set up a social deal just for them to snatch it up - it's almost like we're creating a generation of lazy consumers that will rather wait and hold out for a deal than buy something at full price. A risky business.

I haven't even mentioned the email farming that's taking place so there's a lot more to this whole story but I won't bore you with the details. Instead, I'll just finish off with this observation (which has led to my prediction): how often do you receive adverts for weight-loss, hair treatments or gym sessions? Now compare that to how often you actually find a really good deal nowadays. See where this is going?

19 August 2011

Remove "Could not reconnect all network drives" message

If you suffer from the problem of a recurring "Could not reconnect all network drives" message that pops up every time you boot your computer, there is a way to remove it. It wasn't as straight forward as I had thought but it is actually possible and quite simple if you're command-line savvy. Here are the steps (even for the non-command-line savvy people out there):

  1. START
  2. Run --> CMD
  3. net use * /delete /y
Then you should find the old recursive mappings that still work will still work on reboot and there won't be this error message any more for the mappings that have failed. Let me know if it doesn't work for you!

Google 2-step Verification

I stumbled upon Google 2-step Verification for the first time today and I was immediately tempted to use it. For me, Google is pretty much a digital copy of my life. I'm not particularly nervous that Google knows almost everything about me because I'm not all that memorable (maybe AdSense will one day change that ;)) but nonetheless my life is important to me and if it were to fall into the wrong hands it could spell the end of my / the world.

Essentially Google 2-step Verification puts in another layer of security in addition to what you know: what you have. The principle is simple: when you authenticate with what you know (your password) it will also prompt you to give another bit of code from what you have (your phone). This can be done either through SMS, voice message, or a random generator if you have the right handset.

There are a whole bunch of complexities when using Google 2-step Verification, including having to authorise certain applications again and relying quite heavily on your phone to be able to do simple things but I've decided to try it out for a month or two and see if I can cope with the added layers of security. I'll report back soon, either because it's become virtually impossible to cope with it or because I love it. If you don't hear back from me it will probably mean it changed my life without me knowing about it (which is almost as good as me loving it).

I've set it up on my BlackBerry to generate authentication codes and have my wife as a backup. When I travel back to New York I'll also have access to once-off codes just in case my BlackBerry fails me.

Until later, then...

To monetize or not to monetize?

I hit my blog account this morning and Google popped up with this fairly tempting offer:

I don't really know what to say - Google thinks my blog is popular! Now all I have to do is make it even more popular (I'll reconsider AdSense when I'm getting around 100 hits a day) and then maybe you can all help me pay for my next holiday to New York City :)

I'm not a total sellout though, so only when I hit a decent turnover of visitors and produce something meaningful will I consider it. Nice to know that Google cares though. And that they're watching me.


17 August 2011

Virgin Cult Oil??

I didn't think I'd ever see the day when Pick 'n' Pay would be supporting the virgin-kidnapping antics of cults but if they're going to promote their new range of products then what better way than to offer an extra virgin with their cult oil, I suppose?

Maybe someone should get the Dragnet crew onto the case!

14 August 2011

Nando's outdoes themselves - AGAIN!

Most people know I'm a Nando's fanatic. I mean, it's arguably the healthiest takeaway there is, not to mention their peri-peri sauce helps to burn fat and reduce cholesterol (the properties of their variant of chilli used in the sauce).

I'm a massive fan of the strips, rice, veg meal box for R24.95 and I also get the added bonus of cash back if I use my DISCOVERY credit card (12% back at the moment). Add on to that my peri-peri passionate card and every four meals I score a freebie!

Tonight it was the free burger or large salad to take home. I flashed my loyalty card and the manageress came by a while later to point out the card is no longer valid; Nando's has cancelled the promotion. She showed me the fine print and I couldn't argue with her (not that I would have if there was a legitimate cut-off date anyway).

To my surprise she then flashed up a free burger on the till and paid for it herself!! She said she would honour the voucher herself even though Nando's head-office wouldn't allow her to do it at Nando's cost. I was stunned into silence and I am overly impressed! I didn't ask for it and she volunteered it of her own accord!

To the manageress of Nando's WESTWOOD - thank you! Awesome service! I am definitely a loyal patron!

R25 has earned you my loyalty, card or not :)