Sunday, November 30, 2014

Interesting times...

The 2015 election is set to be the most intersting and unpredictable in most living memories.

It's not just that UKIP has become credible, but also that the influence of duplicitous global corporations is greater than ever this time around - and has been called out many times for the negative contribution this makes to all our lives over the past 5 years.

And what a shabby bunch they all seem to be, united in their efforts to trick and exploit their customers at any cost to their integrity, and old-fashioned ideas of customer service.

TMP just got a trial phone SIM with EE (27m customers!)  in the effort to escape the awfulness of Vodafone. And another saga of custiomer woe  has commenced: £11.50 quoted overon the phone, turns out to be £17 in reality.

At least the call centres are all in the UK – for business users. Which is a pretty bald declaration that Indian call centres are for the lower classes of punter! The duplicity about availability of thr signal box local femtocell is also bordering on criminal deception, but I did enjoy this comment in the EE forums:

And although a SureSignal device uses the consumers’ own boadband  bandwidth to backhaul to Vodafone, they still charge any minutes used against your phone allowance! 

People who live in glass houses, etc.
The UK manifestations of these global organisations all have elements that function just barely enough to stay in business. But that’s about it – we seem to have lost the skills in this benighted country to get and keep any sort of “complete act” together. It seems to be a combination of the import of workers that barely speak English, the export of call centres to lands where they barely speak English, and the import of foreign senior managers. With most big UK companies now under foreign ownership, maybe that’s because imported CEOs that are willing to desert the land of their birth are sending signals that the job and the money is their allegiance and motivation, not local loyalties?
Why did the BoE have to import Mark Carney (although that presently looks like a good move) – maybe because he had not spent the past 15 years being smothered in the politically correct BS of the UK and Blair’s Stepford Civil Service.
But the totality of the present situation is that government (US and UK especially) has done deals with the various behemoths and allowed them to operate as cartels, and then agree amongst themselves to reduce customer service to a production line of barely functional web forms – where the victims usually get tripped up by inept web design and grim phone service. You know the sort of things – endless tedious forms that time out before you can finish them…

Once the almost universally deficient corporate support policies are exhausted, then the “official” complaints and ombudsman procedures slow everything down to a glacial pace - using excuses ranging from health and safety to data protection to try and shoo away as many potential complaints as possible.

And it works!

Most people now realise after a few encounters with call centres that they must be grateful for whatever crumbs of relief they can get, and accept that the full service as advertised is simply never going to happen. Although probably 99% of consumers wll regard formal complaining as futile... a tweet can help let off steam...

The way that phone companies like 02, EE, Vodafone and Three refuse to operate a 24x7x365 service can only be the result of collusion not to raise the industry bar on customer service. They all operate with call distributed centres in many time zones anyway. When TMP is in power, all "out of hours" service calls will be automatically routed to the private numbers of the Chairman and Dorectors.

And just as most people now believe that all professional politicians  are as bad as each other, so we believe that these corporate vampires are all as bad as each other, and that there is little to gain from shopping around.
The brazen way that cellphone companies use social media to pretend they are doing a great job mostly serves to raise blood pressure. The back-banter from customers who disagree is amusing, but confirms that many users are not impressed. The use of freefone numbers to call sales, and chargeable calls for support simply ought to be outlawed; I rate it as an abomination that is well up there with Wonga and other sharks.
This piece by Assange on Google is interesting reading, and has many current Ukraine overtones:
Assange and his various issues aside, Google is plainly acting beyond the remit the “public” imagines it patrols, and like the rest of the US tech behemoths, beyond the reach of anything approaching democratic accountability.
In the bigger picture, the main thing I detect is that “we the people” are becoming exhausted at the futility of trying to deal with the cynicism and indifference of these apparently unaccountable “computer says” operations in a very similar way that we are fed up with politics, politicians and bankers.  The famous Peter Finch “Mad as Hell” scene springs to mind. You might want to remind yourself…  (George Carlin was a great act with a similar dystopian theme that spans both sides of the Atlantic very well: – well worth watching his entire canon, if you can get it onto your iPhone to watch on a plane.)
The nearest we presently have to a leader with the charisma and the bottle to go “slightly postal” is Nigel Farage, and despite being rounded on by a curious alliance of the media, even with hardly any policies, he is going from strength to strength. The prospect of a steady drip feed of more defector by elections to pave the way to next May, is doubtless not very welcome at Conservative HQ.
If Alan Johnson ever changed his mind and replaced Milliband, then it would be “end of days” for DC and his youthful coterie. Surely Labour’s death wish is not as inescapable as they make out?  And then I can see someone (presently most likely Boris Johnson?) feeling obliged to rescue the remnants of a post apocalypse Conservative party, and cutting the almost inevitable UKIP deals.
The fact that UKIP is doing this well with precious few policies on view ought to further unnerve the establishment. This is proof of the disconnect with established politics and the emergence of “none of the above”, where the disenchanted masses are prepared to back little more than an idea that has found its time, and is resonating.
So things could get quite exciting by next May; this is not going to be a boring election.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

It's all to play for...

It's time to get mad. Peter Fich's character knew it back in 1976, and it seems nothing has changed.

There is a real mood in the UK to tackle the dissonance with the Westminster/media bubble and a desire to properly sort it out and remind just who is whose "obedient servants". Yes, the peasants are revolting. Polls suggest that UKIP could get >30% next May - and maybe there could be 100+ defections after Mark Reckless romps home in the coming by-election, as the most threatened Tory (and now even Labour MPs) jump before they are binned by their electors.

A dissident Scotland has already been handed a fabulous collection of concessions funded by the English - and now looks set to hold teh balance in the next UK parliament with SNP MPs of all things.

TMP thinks that many English voters are going to vote for candidates more than parties for the first time ever - and well loved MPs will sense this and gain confidence. There is a lot to be said for standing away from tribal party politics and its association with the hated "bubble" this time, and the tools of social media allows the individual MP to make much more of a direct impact than ever before. Party "machines" are now seen as downright embarrassing in many situations. Which labour MP wants Ed Milliband to show up to endorse them?

There remains the concern that the "vote UKIP wake up with Ed" threat will intervene at the last moment, so maybe stalwart party supporters weary of Dave's pseudo Blairism and Ed's clusterf*ck shambles - that has done so much to fuel UKIP - can avoid feeling like full-on "switchers", but would vote for those stalwart local MPs who have the confidence to stand as an independent conservative or labour candidate, representing their voters, and reserving the right to use their judgement on any post-election coalition deals and "alignments".

Such freelance MPs could also now very simply ask their electors to endorse that decision in an instant local referendum, which is as easily organsied as an X factor phone vote.

Popualism and people pwoer is a very scary proposition for the establishment.