Friday, 12 September 2008

Burn Baby, Burn!

Would you believe someone set the council flats next door on fire yesterday? Now, while I can understand WHY someone might feel like this was a good idea (they really are a BLIGHT on the landscape of an otherwise rather beautiful row of Victorian houses and, of course ,MY CHURCH!), I am a little confused as to why I saw or heard nothing until a very polite policewoman came knocking on my door!

This brings me to ask a rather pertinent question as to the City Father's planning (or lack thereof) policies? I have to assume that back in the dark and unenlightened times of the 1970's, building by-laws didn't exist. Every time I walk down my street I look at this abomination of architectural disaster and wonder how it was EVER allowed to be built in such an otherwise beautiful area? It brings down the whole tone of the area - not only in its own ugliness but also in the usually ugly people who live there.

Now, before you all jump on me for making unkind comments on the unfortunate appearance of my neighbours, it wasn't their looks I was commenting on but rather their souls. The type of people who usually end up in ugly council flats are mostly of the ugly soul variety too. They seem to be uncouth, loud and without charm or manners. Certainly the ones living next door to me fall into that category.

This moves me onto another line of good British thought. Many of my neighbours are foreigners, and what a lovely bunch they are for the most. We don't always understand each other as we nod, smile and say good morning but we are always polite and friendly. These are the supposed 'dregs' of lesser countries, mostly eastern European. Don't you know they come here to steal the jobs from the poor, under priviledged British working class? The same poor, under priviledged occupants that set the council flats on fire next door? The ones that have never had a job in their life and have no intention of getting one either - after all, it may interfere with their loud, obnoxious lifestyles at the tax payer's expense (that's right folks - tax payers like you and me!).

Which brings me full circle - burn baby, BURN!

Coffee anyone?

Monday, 8 September 2008

SKY Digital - are they serious?

It's been a frustrating few weeks trying to get my newly transferred Sky broadband connection up and running. This is my first serious contact with the faceless mega-corporations of the civilised west and I am less than impressed! If anything could've made me pack my bags and scuttle back to supposedly backward Zambia, SKY certainly came very close. I think I can safely say that I have NEVER had such ineffective service (or should I say lack of service!) ever, anywhere!

My sorry saga all started after we bought our own little bit of heaven (an apartment in a converted church actually) and started the application to have our broadband service transferred from out rented house to the new premises. All seemed pretty straight forward when talking to a Sky representative on the phone and we proceeded to follow her instructions, expecting to be properly connected after the promised 10 days. Well, what she neglected to tell us was that it took 10 days to disconnect from the first premise and a further 10 days to reconnect at the new place! Mind you, it took us two days and several long telephone calls to find out this important piece of information when the internet didn't kick in on the expected due date. This was just a taster of the irritation and frustrations to come!

Another 10 days later and we STILL had no promised connection. This is when the real fun started! I've lost count of the number of telephone calls made and the many different Sky employees I spoke to. I got to visit call centres in Mumbai, Northern Ireland and Scotland. I wrote down the names of dozens of technical support people (each call was dealt with by someone different!) and repeated my story with ever increasing irritation from one department to another for 3 weeks, each time spending at least 30 minutes on hold between departments. I had 'tickets' opened and closed, I had 'ping' tests, 'line' tests and many unfulfilled promises of 'call backs' - all to no avail!

I begged, I pleaded and I threatened. Slowly and insidiously they wore me down with their "I'm sorry but I can only pass you on to our ....... department for action - do you mind being put on hold?" Of course I minded but what bloody choice did I have? One 'on hold' session lasted 58 minutes and 12 seconds (I know this because I timed it) before my phone ran out of battery power and went dead! Finally I wrote a stinker of an email to them and then discovered that there are NO facilities to email complaints! I googled and found websites with thousands of dissatisfied Sky customers and chat rooms to commiserate in. It was in one of these that I eventually found an email address for them and sent my email off. All I have received so far is a computer generated standard reply....thanking me for my feedback!

We do have a happy ending but not due to any brilliant service provided by Sky. The First Born Son went onto the BT website and discovered that we could ask for a line test directly, which we did on Saturday night. About midday on Sunday we got a call back from them and about 10 minutes later my broadband was connected and WORKING!

While I have to admit that nearly every person I spoke to in Sky was pleasant, sympathetic and friendly, they were of absolutely no use in helping me to solve my problem. They were a product of this impersonal and faceless system that just kept me running round in circles with no obvious recourse. I think I can safely say it was the most appalling experience I have ever had dealing with a company, anywhere in the world!

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Poor neglected blog.....

My poor neglected blog! I really do feel terribly guilty about it but somehow circumstances have dictated that I hardly ever get the chance to visit it, let alone write in it these days.

Take my efforts to get re-connected on my SKY Broadband since we moved into our new, now permanent home. Having given them official notice of intent to move home on the 1st August, I see we are now on the 6th September and STILL not connected! Technically, according to them, we were connected on the 21st August and I have been fighting with them ever since. I have NEVER known such a fiasco in my life, not even in my darkest internet days in Zambia, where they at least had a genuine reason for the poor connection - someone forgot to fill the generator up with diesel again! Here in this civilised part of the western world however, they seem incapable of finding the problem let alone fixing it. They also seem unable to answer a telephone, provide a service and use a phone to phone you back? I know there is quite a high rate of illiteracy in the UK but I would have expected Internet Technicians to be able to use a telephone at least?

As you can tell, my frustration levels are increasing daily with calls to Sky TV/Broadband being the most useless method of getting hold of someone who can actually fix a problem while costing a great deal of money in the process. Something that they really don't care about as they put you on hold, yet again, for hours on end. You think I am exaggerating? I timed my 'on hold' session yesterday morning - the phone line went dead after 58mins 12secs!

So far I have chatted with several friendly but hard to understand people in Mumbai. I have visited with many cheerful people in Northern Ireland and taken delight in talking to some very sympathetic people in Scotland BUT.....the bottom line is I STILL HAVE NO BROADBAND! I am in despair - I have no idea what to do next!

Any helpful (and legal!) suggestions would be welcomed!