Lamb Chopped!

September 17, 2007

WoolworthsHaving two little children, you really learn to appreciate the benefits of supermarket internet shopping.  No waiting in checkout queues, no cleaning up after your loved ones destroy each aisle, no whinging for chocolate and sweeties (not that my little cherubs ever get up to that kind of mischief!!).  Gotta love it.   Sure, internet shopping is pain in the arse to get up and running to begin with (this is an issue in itself), but once you have your “base shop” in place, it’s relative plain sailing from there on in.

Or so I thought…

I ordered a shop the other day, and fancied a bit of lamb.  Imagine my surprise, then, when I got home to find a shelf and a half of my fridge fully dedicated to lamb!  Yes, I’d accidentally ordered 80 lamb cutlets instead of 10.  I’d ordered 8 x 10 pack of cutlets instead of what I thought was 8 lamb cutlets…  Doh!
Okay, so I’m a stupid oaf, but you would have thought that they would have put in place some checks to make sure that daft people like me don’t order silly things.  That’s not a difficult thing to do.  You know, just a simple “are really sure you want 80 lamb cutlets?” would suffice.   80 lamb cutlets is not “normal behaviour” is it?

This is not the first time (proving once again my oafness).  In the past, I’ve accidentally ordered 20 cigarette lighters!!  Yes, twenty!!  Don’t ask me how.  It just happened.

There must be a better online grocery experience…..

Lamb cutlets?  Lighters?  Barbeque round at my place anyone?

I can confidently say that I have just had one of the most frustrating customer experiences of my life.

Wednesday 6pm

I arrived home on Wednesday evening to find my broadband connection down. We’d seen a TelstraClear van on our driveway earlier in the day, and we’d received a call that afternoon from someone wanting to schedule a modem upgrade. Broadband was still down though. “No problems”, I thought. “I’ll give TelstraClear a call”.

I gave up the first couple of times as I had been kept on hold more than 20 minutes each time, but without any message telling me what the wait times were.

Wednesday 9pm

I tried again later on that night, and finally got through after 40 minutes. No apparent problems, according to the kind lady. So I asked her if she could give me a time for this supposed upgrade. I was told that I would have to be referred to another “business unit” and that their wait time was 79 (yes, seventy nine) minutes! Bugger that. She said I should try calling later.  So I did.  At 10pm (hold time of 40 mins), 11pm (hold time of 40 mins), and then at 6am (closed!), and 7.30am (hold time of 40 mins).   I wasn’t prepared to stick it out.

Thursday 9am

I tried at work the next day. Twice. Both times I was told the wait time was 15-20 minutes. Both times I waited about 30 minutes, but to no avail. Thank god for handsfree!

Thursday 10.30am

And then I remembered I could send an email as I was at work! Within 15 minutes of sending the email I got back a response. Not the response I was after, but one nevertheless. Subsequent emails went… unanswered. Back to the phones. More long wait times. Getting angry now.

Thursday 9pm

Tried later that night. More long wait times. Bugger that. 50 minutes +. Finally sat it out and got through. Still no apparent problems, and everything should be working. But it’s not. At least they confirm a time for my modem upgrade – sometime between 9 and 12 Saturday morning.

9am Saturday

Nothing.

10am Saturday

Nothing. Decided to call TelstraClear to ask for an update

10.30am Saturday

woohoo, only a 30 minute wait. She can’t get hold of the technician dispatched, but will call me back with an update.

12:00noon Saturday

He’s running late

13:15 Saturday

Technician turns up, does something at the Telegraph pole, swaps out modem. Fixed.

The Summary

I cannot believe how much time I spent on hold (broadband is important!).  Over three hours, for a massive total of three conversations. That’s just totally unacceptable. Once I endured the wait, the service was actually quite good.  Which was the only saving grace from me hurling multiple expletives down the phone.

Let’s face it – it all comes down to penny-pinching.  This is going too far.  I’m content to wait 5-10 minutes, or be offered a callback service.   But this was nowhere near that.   I never have to wait more than a couple of minutes when I call my electricity supplier, so what’s so different with these guys?

Call Guinness

I’d love to hear about other on-hold stories.  Can anyone else out there beat my call waiting record?   I might have to call Guinness.

Joost I got an invite to Joost today, and had to say that I was pretty excited.  There’s been a bit of
buzz around lately so I was keen on giving it a test drive.

The interface is fantastic, more akin to something on the PS3 or the XBOX360 as opposed to something you’d expect on the web.

Setup is easy.  Finding content is easy.   You can definately understand why some people are wetting their pants over this one.

However, I had two major gripes, which means for me that the jury is still out.

  • Too slowwwwwwwww.   I’ve tried it on my iMac.  I’ve tried it on my Macbook.  It just feels a little bit too clunky.  Not only did I find the interface sluggish, I found that my broadband connection was not fast enough (I’m supposedly on a 2MB download speed). 
  • Crap content.  I don’t care if you have the worlds biggest plasma TV on your wall with the highest resolution and the best surround sound.  If all you can watch is the Guinness Book of Friggin’ Records then it just ain’t gonna cut the mustard.   I have enough crap TV through my cable.  Why would I want more?

I think once the broadband speeds sort themselves out, and good content gets itself onto Joost (or any other on demand IPTV initiative) then we’ll see some real traction.

Until then, it’s just a geek toy as far as I’m concerned.  Albeit, a very nice looking geek toy.

Before my two beloved daughters were unleashed on this planet, I used to be an avid gamer.   I still try and squeeze in a bit of “thumb action” once they’ve all gone to bed!

I was thinking that the evolution of gaming isn’t too far removed from the evolution of IT applications.  Okay, maybe I’m pushing it – but read it and hopefully you’ll see where I’m coming from.

One of my passions is soccer games.   I started off with a Vic 20, complete with a whopping 5KB of RAM, but as far as I remember I never had a soccer game for it.

Then I upgraded to a Commodore 64.  A brilliant little machine.  It had a decent soccer game in Emlyn Hughes international soccer.

Emlyn

Just like those other Commodore fanboys (as opposed to Sinclair spectrum fanboys), I upgraded to the Amiga.

This brought a plethora of quality soccer games, my favourite of which had to be Kick-Off.  But there were other notable mentions in Emlyn Hughes (Amiga Version), Sensible Soccer, and Kick-Off2&3.  The beauty of Kick-Off was that it encapsulated the very randomness and spontaneous nature of “the beautiful game”.  Not a single goal was the same.  You could pull off incredibly dirty tackles.  You could literally pull a goal off from anywhere.  Magic.  It was just breathtakingly simple.

KickOff  Sensi

Then the Playstation ushered in a changing of the guard.  The switch to 3D and TV style coverage.  Through the various iterations of the console we’ve seen the Actua Soccer series, a gazillion FIFA soccer titles, and we’re now up to episode 6 of the brilliant Pro Evolution Soccer.  You can even play online with players around the world and participate in remote tournaments (Soccer 2.0).

Fifa  ProEvo

Over the years, I have to say that my favourite was Kick-Off on the Amiga.  Simple graphics and simple sound, but spontaneous and unpredictable gameplay that really worked.  It was gameplay that gave users the next best experience to scoring a real life goal (not that I experience that very often).  It was simply magic.

The Lesson

It’s not about the graphics. It’s not about the full motion video.  It’s not about the teams that are licensed.  It’s all about the end user experience.  Concentrate on those parts that really touch a chord with your users.  And implement them very very well.   That’s why FIFA doesn’t do it for me.  Too slow.  Too much on the surface.  Nothing under it.  It’s just not true to the game of football. (non footy fans, at this point you’re thinking I’m crazy).

Another lesson – everyone has different tastes.   Some people want the glitz and glam.  Some people just don’t want deep gameplay – they just want a quick fix.  The sales prove it.  There’s plenty of niches to full.  When the next “EA Sports” of web apps comes along, don’t run off scared.

After all, if Burnley can beat Liverpool, then anything is possible!

[even if it was a long time ago]