Monday, December 28, 2015

Gender issues?

So I've been looking on ebay for a travel bag that I can take in a Ryanair cabin - don't get me started on how Ryanair's permitted size is a couple of centimetres smaller than the size of bag allowed on other airlines, as in: the bag I have taken around the world in the cabin of 'proper' airlines. 

However, that is not the purpose of this story. Because of my searches on ebay, that company 'targeted' me for other products. Well ... I say 'targeted', but really I mean 'fired off some very loose shots in my general direction'. 

This is what I got when I clicked on an ebay 'Pre-Loved Bags for Him' ad. 

Even two of the bags I've not hi-lighted seem to be rather feminine - though this is likely due to another bug-bear of mine: ebay advertisers scatter-gunning key terms for searches [a scatter gun is the opposite of a rifle, as in 'not targeted']. 

And while I'm on the subject of selling on ebay - I can't be the only person looking for bags that are allowed in aircraft cabins, so including the dimensions in the description is a bit on the important side. And to the seller of a bag I was willing to pay £100 for if it was the 'right' size ... ignoring two requests from me for its dimensions has cost you a potential sale. 

Ho hum 

Oh, a footnote to this is I eventually found a suitable bage at a reasonable price ... in a shop, that is; a retail outlet in a physical building where I was able to pick up and measure the bag prior to purchase.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sorry, you're too late

So I thought, I known - I'll go somewhere sunny for Christmas. But it was Sunday December 20th, so it would be a last minute booking. So I went to Trouble was, I could only book a date from the 24th. Presumably there are no flights leaving the Uk on Monday 21st, Tuesday 22nd or Wednesday 23rd?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Let them eat cake

In my books I advise having a 'local' person check translations for global websites. Here's and example from ebay where a term has got lost in translation ... 

 PS if the title of this post has confused you - Google it, it's your history lesson for the day :-)

Thursday, December 10, 2015


For reasons I won't go into [it was professional  :-) ] - I searched for "Katherine Jenkins" on Google - and near the top of the SERP was this:
Now ... this may not be representative of the songstresses Tweets - but this is not what social media is all about. Nor is it good social media marketing.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Hmmm, perhaps a little insensitive

Only a couple of weeks after the Paris atrocities, the normally excellent, sent an email with this headline:

However, by accident or design, the linked-to article was:

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

It's the thought that counts

OK, so the value is negligable, but at least they made the effort. It was also a day early, but let's not get too picky :-)

But Google did get the right day ...

Sunday, November 15, 2015

It's all Dutch to me

On my way back from Romania [see previous post]  I found myself - oh joy of joys - in Schiphol airport for 6 hours. Now, as airports go, it is as good as any [I've been there more times than I care to remember] - and like many places, it now offers free wifi [well, an hour free, after that you pay].

Naturally, you have to register - but the form was only available in Dutch. So when I couldn't make it work, I couldn't find out why.

eBay: just because I'm in Romania ...

... doesn't mean I can suddenly speak Romanian. As seen in a email to me while I was out of the UK.

There's got to be a way round this hasn't there? oh, and by the way eBay - Romania might be in the EU ... but they do not use the Euro.

As a footnote: Romanians will readily admit that their country is being slow in moving from the Communist era and there are many things that could be better. However - in my experience of four cities in the country - their WIFI knocks spots off that in many countries. And in three of the four hotels I stayed in no password was needed to access the WIFI ... it was just there when you wanted it.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Burying their heads in the sand?

After the tragic loss of life when a Russian airliner crashed in the Sinai desert, last night the UK government suspended all UK flights to or from Sharm el-Sheikh airport.

The story was of interest to me because I’m supposed to be going to Sharm next month – so I took a look at the websites of the three main UK tour operators for holidays in Egypt.

OK, so they may be using social media as their primary platform for communication on the issue, but not everyone uses the likes of Facebook and Twitter – so I would have expected better than this …

The first is from market leader, Thomson Holidays. Look carefully and you will see a link. Would you have seen it if I hadn't put a green ring around it? I didn't.

At least Thomas Cook have made the effort to but a bespoke header, but it still hardly shouts at you ... 

But worst is the company who actually specialise in holidays to Egypt. No matter how hard you look you won't see any mention of the flight ban because their is none - despite the fact that they must have customers 'stranded' in Sharm and many others due to fly out this week. 

UPDATE Nov 8th

Well, at least RedSea have got round to mentioning the problem - but it's not shouting off the page either. And the phones being out-of-order seems a little 'convenient'.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Ryanair: what complaint?

In a recent TV advert, Ryanair went to great efforts to shout about a Civil Aviation Authority [CAA] report which said the budget airline received fewer complaints than any other.

So .... me and some chums were off to Gdansk for a long weekend. The Ryanair flights were booked by one of the group - but I wanted extra legroom on the flights there and back so I went to the [note: it's on a dot come, not or .ie] to make the purchase. 

Everything went well until I got to the page where I chose my seat - and was able to see the price. 

Note how it is shown as 10.99 USD [United States Dollars]. An obvious bug? I thought so, but should I report it? Look what happened to someone who did a few years ago: Ryanair website bug: blogger called 'idiot and liar'.

Now ... I knew the price was around 10 pounds - which I was willing to pay - so I clicked on through to 'buy' and paid by PayPal. And if the charge had been 2 x £10.99 [£21.98] that would have been an end to it. But when I got my PayPal receipt, it was for £22.42. 

So ... I went to the Ryanair website and used the 'chat' facility [not considered to be a 'complaint' on that platform], and started a chat with 'Nandor'. I decided that I would start with the issue of the price being shown in USD. 

Notice how Nandor tells me I am wrong about the price being in USD, and ignores the issue of me being charged £22.42. His response to my reply was along the lines of the 'idiot and liar' case from the past ...

Having told me what I had seen [and recorded in a screenshot] was not possible, and that I could not pay a USD fee [he's obviously never purchased something online from the USA], he then referred me to the 'ryanair seat price.doc' - which was priced in pounds.

So ... I decided to take up his invitation, and filled in a 'contact form' [still not a 'complaint' for the CAA?]. I repeated what I had said in the 'chat'. And the reply was ...

I think my reply to 'Tudor' needs no explanation:

However - the reply was a 'standard' list of webpage addresses for the various range of complaints eg late flight, lost baggage etc etc. The closest one for my problem was 'Compliments or general complaints and queries, please click here '. And when I clicked on it I found myself back at the blank form I had completed previously, to which 'Tudor' had replied. 

So I filled it in again,  but started with the reference number of the earlier form:

And do you know what? Big drum roll ...

Yep, no response. Does that mean the 'complaint' never existed?

So, could it be then that Ryanair get fewer complaints by the way they record them? Or not record them. For example; in this case, my 'complaint' was not treated as a complaint - but a request for information on the cost of seats with extra legroom.

I would normally use this as an exercise for students and ask them how Ryanair should have responded? But in this case, how about something like ...

OOPS ... we seem to have a glitch in our system, I'll let our tech team know. As you were shown the price in dollars that is what we should have charged you. At today's exchange rate that is £14.32. Also, the extra 44p is the charge for using PayPal - this is identified on the payment page, maybe we need to make the notice more obvious :-). I'll arrange for this to be waived in this instance also. You will receive a refund of £8.10 into you PayPal account shortly. I hope you had a good trip to Poland.

And do you know what? If that is what had happened, this post would be about how well Ryanair responded to a 'complaint' - and not the opposite. And if this gets listed high on Google [it might] ... that would have been £8.10 well spent.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Flying local

My complaints about KLM sending me offers to fly from anywhere-but-my-local-airport since this blog began 8 years ago [see poor geography], but they seem to have got their act in order with this latest email ...

However, if I want to be picky - why fill my email viewing pane with that picture which actually adds nothing to the offer or the appeal of the offer [in my books I condemn the use of 'hero shots'].

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

you're not welcome

I received this email this morning.

If you are relatively new to the Internet you may not have seen similar messages to this before - but 10 years or so ago they were common. And they were a BAD then as they are now. 

Could you ever imaging a doorman at a fashion store turning away a customer saying that that 'you can't come in here that handbag is so last year', or a petrol station refusing to sell petrol to older cars? Well, that's just as ridiculous as having E-on tell me I have to change my computer to enter their website.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A slip up from Amazon

Usually an example of good practice, Amazon got this wrong. I received an email from them - no problem with this, in moderation it is sound marketing ...

However, check out the price - it's in dollars. Suspicious, I clicked on the 'learn more' link, and was taken to the US site -  where I can't make a purchase. 

Of course, if I wanted to buy the product I could cut and paste the title into the website and buy it there - but that is not a good buyer experience.

Monday, June 22, 2015

How to fulfill an order

I ordered a book for work - and the day before it was due to be delivered I got this email ...

I was impressed. But why? Shouldn't this be the norm?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Intrusive advertising

So I spotted a link to an article on the Nottingham Post's website which took my interest. Pity the newspaper have not quite got to grips with the business model of selling advertising AROUND content, not over it - and no, this ad could not be deleted or moved. Ho humm.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Just a bit iffy ...

So I had ordered some hankies [a chap can't have too many hankies] from a 'shop' on eBay. Before they arrived, this notice appeared on 'my eBay' ...

This, I thought, does not bode well, it looks like the seller has been up to no good. Take note of the two messages from eBay. Ah well, it was goodbye hankies - but it wasn't a significant sum of money and I use PayPal, so I'll get it back anyway.

But hey-ho ... the hankies arrived. But in the packaging was an A4 printed message, which read:



There was then a contact email address. 


I checked the website on the domain of that email address and it is an empty shop i.e. an online shopfront with no products.

So here's the thing. Buying a business in order to 'inherit' the goodwill and brand history that goes with it is a standard method of doing business [it's why BMW bought MINI].

However, this organization is seeking to buy businesses that have ceased trading but have some 'juice' with eBay i.e. a good sales record with plenty of good feedback.

Now, am I just being a bit of an old cynic - but why would a legitimate business want to do that?

And would I like to buy something from an eBay seller that has been 'resurrected' by a new owner who has already had eBay close them down?  Probably not ... if I knew.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

More [advertising] money than gas

Well ...  spring has sprung - and I was looking for a refill for my patio heater's gas bottle. So I searched on Google, and got ...

But when I clicked on the ad [remember, the seller has placed that ad, so they paid for my click], I got this ...

Ho hum

PS ... in case you are wondering why I clicked on the most expensive ad - I clicked on them all as none said if delivery costs were included.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A monster of a deal?

I clicked on an ad from It would seem someone can't add up. If I wanted to be really picky - as the advert said 'from £109', I think this might be committing an offense under some law or other.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Argos : closed for business?

In a distant and different lifetime, I worked in retail. If we wanted to re-merchandise a shop we did it during the night when it was closed. So why has this changed in the digital age?

PS - I'm not even going to comment about the coding error half way down the right hand site [follow my arrow].

Whoa ... update: two minutes after I did the screensave image above, the Argos homepage changed to this ...

So, Argos ... make your mind up: 'improving' or 'busy' - neither is really acceptable, but either is more acceptable than telling stories to customers.

PS guess where I am NOT going to buy the product I originally went to for?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Words sell

I was looking on ebay to buy some snowdrops. Two suppliers were offering exactly the same deal - which one do you think got my order?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

What the Tweet?

So I posted a link on Facebook to an article I thought students would find interesting

... and using witchcraft, my Facebook post are automatically sent as Tweets. And sometimes people like the message so they 'favourite' them.

But take a look at the times on my Facebook page and the email I received telling me I had been 'favourited'. Yep in only a few seconds one person [I have made him/her anonymous so they do not benefit from this post] had read my Tweet, read the article - and 'favourited' my tweet.

Errr, no - it was obviously automated. Why would he/she do that? 

And people wonder why I am often skeptical about the use of social media for marketing.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A flight back to the future?

I'm off to Egypt in a week or so's time.That would be at the end of January 2015. Take note of the date on the voucher emailed to me by Thomas Cook. Ho hum.