August 14, 2007
With the much needed increase in media exposure and discussion of green issues, a new problem has come to light. That of “green fatigue”. By that I mean are people getting tired of hearing the green message? Whilst it’s easy and quick to make small changes to your lifestyle and help the environment, is the constant stream of green messages reducing their effect?
Which environmental issues are the important ones? Who is telling the truth? What do their claims actually mean? What is “green”?
Green encompasses everything from turning lights off to recycling and reducing your carbon footprint. What is a high level of being green and what a low? Which companies are independent and which are not? How do you know that planting a tree in Africa is actually a good thing? How do you know what a business claims are its green credentials are actually true and/or worthwhile?
It’s a very difficult balance to get right and there is currently no easy answer to any of these questions. Retailers are spending millions promoting their green credentials (Marks & Spencer in the UK are reportedly investing £200m to become a “greener business”), but is it a genuine effort to become green, or a marketing ploy to attract savvy consumers such as yourself? Can profit and shareholder driven companies actually be beneficial to the planet? Or at the least, less harmful?
With all the talk about green energy, carbon footprint labels, even green stocks and shares and green washing powder it’s easy to be confused or miss the point. For example, due to strict EU laws, most washing detergents in the EU aren’t (too) bad for the environment and much better than they used to be. Turning your machine down to 30 degrees celcius will have a much bigger impact than changing your washing powder. It’s all about direction and magnitude. Not all of our 100 ways to save the planet have equal effort or equal reward, but small efforts moving in the right direction will lead to bigger rewards.
The almost constant promotion of a company’s green credentials are not equal. Carbon offsetting (I have my own issues with that – to be discussed later!) is not the same as reducing energy consumption. Just because a company laudes the fact it now has 100 electric or hybrid vehicles doesn’t mean it has sound environmental policies in other areas. What is its position on recycling? What steps is it taking to not use energy at all (reduce) and reuse?
“Green fatigue” may affect some of us, but I actually view this as a good thing. I look forward to the day when you can’t move for green messages, where every company is doing all it can to reduce its impact on the environment, and who cares how much they shout about it? If people like YOU keep supporting companies that do respect and support the place in which they live, then maybe one day we will get there.
Do you agree or disagree? Please let us know by leaving a comment below. If you’d prefer you can contact us privately.
March 20, 2007
The Home Office Guide “Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship” talks about pubs. It says:
“It is sometimes difficult to get served when pubs are busy: people do not queue, but the bar staff will try and serve those who have been waiting longest at the bar first.”
Whilst true, it doesn’t explain why. Why don’t we queue in pubs? We queue pretty much everywhere else, and you would think a place where people have consumed a large amount of alcohol is the ideal place for a bit of order and queuing. You don’t get a scrum at the front of the Post Office or HMV, each shouting at the counter staff in order to get served first. Starbucks would be a nightmare, with the caffeine deprived hoardes fighting out for their grande double mocha-hoca-choca-machino.
There are a couple of pubs that I know of that actually have queue barriers in place, I don’t know why it hasn’t caught on. You can even buy a pub queue management system with buttons on the bar that the bar staff can clear once serve in order, a bit like Argos. Until these do catch on, here’s some advice below.
February 22, 2007
I usually use water. And sometimes soap.
However, it seems there are people out there who believe soap is sufficient. I attempted to use the taps at a Bar 38 the other day after using the toilet, only to have no water to wash my hands. Bar 38 has a mixed hand washing area, the men and women’s are off to either side and in the middle is a large, er, fountain thing, meant for hand washing.
Walking the 5 yards to the soap dispenser and back, then having no water had me wondering whether I was just missing a trick. Was there a hidden button? Was there a switch on the floor, or were they knee operated like at Yo! Sushi? No, there was just no water (and no staff downstairs to ask). With one last Herculean effort I managed to actually dismantle the entire top of the basin section, however unfortunately I hadn’t broken it and was not greeted with a rush of water a la a fire hydrant in an American movie.
It has happened to me before, I had almost exactly the same experience as Mr Angry on a Virgin train journey a few weeks ago. Whilst he explains it more eloquently than I can hope to, essentially he went to the toilet (bathroom if you’re American), put soap on his hands, only to find out (surprise) there was no running water once again.
I resolved the matter in a similar manner, using cheap toilet paper to scrap the soap off my hands and smell of cheap soap for many an hour afterwards. Not enjoyable. However it reminds me of a journey my friend took on one of the “new fancy trains” when Virgin first released them many years ago. He used one of the 2 fancy disabled toilets that are bigger than my flat but more complicated to operate. A series of indicator lights locks and unlocks the automatic door. The lack of a big lock to turn manually means my wife won’t use those facilities in case it pops open at any time. My friend had the opposite problem, it wouldn’t unlock.
Now, not the worst problem in the world as, frankly, if you need the loo, there’s not far to go. However soon a small band of helpful (or full bladdered) people and train staff outside banded together and attempted to force the door open. Nearly 45 minutes later there was no luck and whilst sat on the toilet (presumably with the lid down), my mate had an idea. Taking his belt off an using the, er, spoke thingy of the belt he wedged it in the door at various points in an attempt to do some lock-picking.
Suddenly the door burst (i.e. slowy rotated) open and the end to all his pain was here. Not quite. An old lady who had been waiting and was now quite desperate wished to use the facility. Citing queues at other facilities, she was going to risk using the “toilet of doom” as it had no doubt been monikered. However, wisely cautious of the door locking her in, she asked our hero if he wouldn’t mind holding the door open with his foot whilst she went to the toilet. And there followed 3 minutes of hell, listening to an old lady pee.
Let that be some sort of lesson to you all.
February 20, 2007
Whilst I’m sure everyone has a fantastic story to tell (and please do) about customer service, this happened to me last week. For many a long year I have received my internet connection from Orange. Of course they were originally called Freeserve and didn’t have offshore call centres and the same name as a fruit and a colour.
Soon after paying per minute for dial-up, they offered a fixed rate (Anytime) package. Then Wanadoo came along bought them up and brought me broadband. Then they rebranded to their parent company Orange, and despite this I continued happily paying my coppers for an excellent service.
Recently I bought Sky+ and with the launch of their broadband offer I thought I’d switch. Orange were very helpful, and informed me they don’t give refunds for cancellation part way through a month. Eh? I have to pay for a service I don’t want, despite giving my required 30 days notice? Apparently so, it’s may fault for not cancelling on my billing date. Anyway, too tired to argue I carried on. A couple of days before my contract expired, I received the expected “retention” phone call from Orange.
Firstly I was amazed to be speaking to someone based in the UK. I have no issue at all with offshore call centres except a) I always think a company selling a product in a country should be brave enough to employ some of it’s workforce, and b) when going off script, an offshore operator, who’s first language is not English, has immense trouble understanding what an emmersion heater or flange is, for example. To that matter, so do I….
Anyway, the conversation then proceeded along these lines:
Orange: Which package are you currently on?
Me: Er, you called me, so don’t you know?
Orange: Is it the Â£19.99 package?
Me: No, it’s Â£17.99 a month, 8Mbps, 20GB limit package.
Orange: Can I ask who you are switching to?
Orange: And what have they offered you?
Me: I think I’ll be switching to the Â£5 per month, 8Mbps, 40GB limit package.
Orange: OK, well we have a special retention package that is not available to regular customers, but as you’ve been a valuable customer then we wish to keep you.
Me: Sounds good.
Orange: Would you be interested in our Â£12.99 a month, 2Mbps package?
Orange: Would you be interested in our Â£12.99 a month, 2Mbps package?
Me: Why would I be? It’s over twice the price for a worse service.
Orange: Well if you ever want to come back to us then then please let us know.
Me: Is that it? Hello? Hello….?
Bizarre. They could have kept my business, and whilst not make a huge profit on me, a small profit is better than no profit at all. If you owned a business and someone who worked for you did that, I’d be very annoyed, wouldn’t you?
February 17, 2007
If you’ve paid any attention to my ranting, you’ll know I wrote to Asda to tell them of my disappointment my favorite curry has gone awol.
Well they’ve written back to me:
Thank you for your message.
Thank you for taking the time to contact us.
I am very sorry to hear of your disappointment I have passed your comments onto the relevant team here at ASDA House as a suggestion to have it back in your store. We are always pleased to receive feedback from our customers and I am grateful to you for taking the time to contact us.
I hope we can look forward to serving you at ASDA again soon and if I can help any further, please let me know.
ASDA Customer Relations
That’s customer “unsatisfaction” I reckon.
February 11, 2007
A fellow employee down at the mine had an interesting journey to work the other day and I thought it was worth sharing. Please make sure you’re not eating (those exclamation marks don’t agree with me):
I got off the train last night and I was walking along the platform when I spotted a woman teetering on the edge of the platform. Thinking she may be about to jump I slowed down thinking I’ll grab her as she falls only to witness her projectile vomit down on to the track ‘The Exorcist stylie’!! I quickened my pace while I tried to keep my own stomach steady and then told a Network Rail guy that a very sick lady down there needs some help.
Then this morning I was sat innocently reading my Metro and after just setting off a man stood by the glass partition was feeling a little off (can you see what’s coming!?) – instead of letting the glass take the brunt of the waterfall of vomit which shot out of his mouth at a million miles a hour he kindly put his face around the glass and showered 5 people – one poor lady was dripping. I was sat next to victim number 5 thanking my lucky stars that none of it went on me. It was however flowing down the carriage so I had to lift my feet to let it pass. I got off at the next station only to get on the wrong bloody train and end up at Waterloo!!
They say these things come in threes.
Actually TG has some great vomiting stories. Remind me to share them with you sometime.
February 9, 2007
You may remember me being slightly annoyed thanks to Asda discontinuing a favourite curry of mine and Marks and Spencer stopping stocking a favourite apple of mine. Well they’ve definitely done it. M&S may do a lovely white chocolate chip cookie but that’s not very healthy and all I want is a Braeburn apple. Well I can’t.
They’ve definitely stopped selling them now. Buggers. I’ll take my business elsewhere to errr Tesco. That’ll show precisely no-one but I’ll feel morally superior and have an apple I like.
But I have written to Asda to ask them about the curry. I wrote:
Just a quick query I was hoping someone could answer. For the last three or four years I’ve been shopping at Asda and every time picking up my favourite curry at the Curry Pot. Until recently. Not only has the Curry Pot gone, but also my favourite curry – Prawn Tikka Masala.
I want to ask why? Fair enough if it’s better to be pre-packaged but discontinuing my favourite curry and not offering an alternative – why? There was a prawn and coriander dish one time I was there but it wasn’t a curry really and last time that had gone too. In fact there was only choices of chicken or lamb and I don’t eat meat.
The curry range is one of the reasons I went to Asda (that and chav watching which is starting to become tiresome) and now I no longer feel the imperative to go and would like to know why you’ve discontinued this dish. Kind regards
I’m awaiting the reply.