Worst marketing email ever?

Update – 2007–02–27

The post below prompted an exchange of emails between myself and the companies proprietor, Peter Thomson. Peter was keen to resolve the issues I’d listed and from his initial comment on the site I emailed him further details. A full investigation was then undertaken and our replies via email are now listed in the comments.

Peter has done an excellent job of taking our complaint seriously and replying to all of the issues we had. Furthermore he took full responsibility and refunded the remainder of what we’d paid and you can’t say fairer than that. I think in our particular case we were just very unlucky with the service we received.


Valentines-eporttravelI received this wonderful shambles of an email today (pictured right) from eporttraveluk.com, the company we “hired” taxi’s from for our wedding / honeymoon back in September.

Whilst they may say they “love our customers”, that isn’t what we think of them. Far from it. The taxi that took us to the airport was nearly an hour late picking us up and probably would have been longer since the taxi driver was lost and I had to go out and find him to go give him directions to our house!

The taxi in the opposite direction was even worse. It was no where to be seen and when we rang to check they thought we landed the following day. It then arrived over an hour later and the driver then drove like an arsehole at over 100mph on the motorway, only slowing down when he saw the police. My 80 year old grandparents were visibly shaken afterwards.

I actually think they want to kill off their customers by leaving them at the airport to drink the diabolical coffee (it’s like warmed up pee that’s stewed for several days and then mixed with grit).

But lets ignore my rantings. If you received this email what would you think? It’s spam? It’s a joke? You’d probably not give it a second thought, but to me it’s a really weird thing to do, email people on Valentines day like that.

I suppose I should mention that we were refunded half of what we paid for the half arsed job they managed, but I would highly recommend not using their services.

Yay for SiteGround!

My website was shifted to a shiny new server (Dual Core Xeon 2.4 Ghz with 4GB of RAM) last night since SiteGround noticed that it was running slowly under it’s old home, which is very nice of them.

Only snag appears to have been someone posting a comment during the move which appears to have been lost, which is a tad unlucky.

The competitive world of SSL Certificates…

At work we have an SSL enabled site which basically means we’ve been stupid enough to pay hundreds of pounds for a text file that makes your web browser display a pad lock. I’m sure there’s some fancy pansy technology behind all the gubbins running it, but from my end it’s pretty simple stuff.

SSL certificates are issued for set periods (usually in years) and our said cert was up for renewal next month. VeriSign, the world’s larger supplier of text files, let me know about this last month by email and post. Repeatedly. And it’s pestering paid off handsomely because I renewed it for 3 years just to stop them pestering me any time soon.

I kind of wondered how many more emails and letters (and god forbid phone calls) I would have received if I’d have left it and renewed the day before it expired. But of course if I had, sods lord would have reared it’s ugly misshapen head and a delay would have occurred and our Citrix hosting would have fallen over in steaming pile as a result. A public stoning would then be in order and I don’t want to go through that again.

But the story doesn’t stop there, I got a cold call today from Digi-Sign also telling me our certificate was about to expire. Wonderful! I’m glad everybody knows. There was then some confusion whilst she explained she was from Digi-Sign and not VeriSign, and that we were using VeriSign and not Digi-Sign, but she wanted us to switch to Digi-Sign from VeriSign… and DigiVigiPigiSign something.

Anyway, whilst I enjoyed listening to her dulcet Irish tones I had to eventually admit I’d renewed last Friday. It felt like cheating, but you know you have to honest in these things. There was obvious disappointment, shortly followed by disbelieve and then the realisation that she was too late. Such is life.

So now I know why they cost so much. They really are just text files and a fancy padlock. What you’re actually paying for is to keep the marketing and sales departments afloat that try to keep you as a customer. Great!

And on a complete tangent, I really dislike companies that ring me up for “a chat”. It seems that whenever I evaluate software someone inevitably rings up and asks me how the “experience is going”. By doing that you’ve just lost some of my interest in the software. Just don’t do it.

Whenever I try software out personally I usually put in details along the lines of Mr. Squirrel at the Tree Tops so I don’t get followed up. Unfortunately, if it’s work related, I have to be sensible… although there was that one time when I did enter stupid details but by accident put in our real phone number and so someone rung up asking for Mr. Ironside in the Wheelchair Department. Oops.

The Equalizer!

Whilst reading up on Lucky Number Slevin on IMDB I noticed that the director of said film, Paul McGuigan, is going to direct the film version of The Equalizer.

Yep, The Equalizer, the 80’s TV series starting Edward Woodward as a troubleshooter for hire, which incidentally has one of the greatest TV intro’s of all time:

This used to scare the shit out of me as a young un’ when I stayed up late to watch it. The music (written by Stewart Copeland, the curly haired drummer from The Police no less) set the tone perfectly and it still sounds damn cool now! It also has a feel of the original Terminator film to me.

Anyway, on my YouTube travels I also found this outtakes footage of the The Equalizer which has some great one liners in. Ah, the memories :).

Btw, gotta love the new “Insert YouTube Video…” option in BlogJet 2.0. Makes it so damn easy!

Lucky Number Slevin

After spending most of yesterday at work writing a report to calculate the average tonnage of waffles consumed over a selectable period, I thought, for a change we rent out a film. However, this is not an exercise I look forward since wifey and I can never decide on what to get from the local Blockbuster. I usually pick something that’s violent whilst my better half picks a romcom or some true life heart rendering crap, but to my surprise, we managed to agree on Lucky Number Slevin, and what a cracking choice it was.

The premise is pretty simple:

A case of mistaken identity lands Slevin (Josh Hartnett) into the middle of a war being plotted by two of the city’s most rival crime bosses: The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley) and The Boss (Morgan Freeman). Slevin is under constant surveillance by relentless Detective Brikowski (Stanley Tucci) as well as the infamous assassin Goodkat (Bruce Willis) and finds himself having to hatch his own ingenious plot to get them before they get him.

The first 20 minutes are complete wtf territory whilst your brain tries to glue together the pieces, but once over that hump it flows pretty well. There’s plenty of twists and turns and due to my waffle overloaded state I didn’t “get it” until about 10 minutes from the end. On the IMDB comments there is a comparison with Snatch, which I can see. There’s the whole gangsters with attitude thing going on and sometimes quick exchanges of dialogue but it hasn’t got that Brit grit edge that Snatch has but it’s more the highly stylised sets that work here instead (I mean, what is with the choice of wallpaper?!).

As you can see from the plot overview, there’s a top cast, but there is one omission, Lucy Liu, who puts in an excellent turn as a fairly dizzy free spirit who tries to help Slevin with his predicament. Harnett, Willis and Sir Ben all put in good performances whilst Morgan Freeman is perhaps a little unconvincing as a hardman, but his charm makes up for it.

I can’t really say much more without giving the story away, other than, it’s highly recommended.

I suck at blogging (or do I?)

I’m almost as bad as RPG and Bal ¬_¬. Anyhoo, what has been the cause of the lack of blog chatter? Well, three things: Xbox, Work and Xbox.

Work has been been a bit of pain of late, not because of it being work, but because I’ve been fixing, installing and tinkering with various bits of software and hardware instead of programming. As I mentioned previously I was at work a week ago last Saturday rebuilding a replacement server for the one that had lost its marbles.

Well yesterday, whilst I was working at home waiting for a new shed to arrive (the old one was another victim of the bad weather. The new one is a shiny metal one, or it will be when Kate and I put it together. I don’t possess Vonduresque building skills, so it may take a while), I was rebuilding the injured party since new parts for it arrived in the post on Tuesday. One SATA RAID controller and one 160GB SATA HDD. The controller, scarily, costs more than twice what the HDD does and is also more expensive than a Geforce 7950GT. Why, I don’t know, give it’s just a PCI card with fancy sockets.

But it’s not just been the hardware that’s been an arse, it’s the software too. Microsoft Exchange and Veritas BackupExec in particular. Words cannot accurately describe the utter contempt I hold for them. There are times when software seems to be designed to be needless hard to use or completely dumb in telling you what problems it’s having. I could rant for hours on the subject, but for the sake of my sanity, won’t.

But enough of work, outside of it because of the above fun, I’ve not much felt like sitting in front of my laptop writing updates. Instead I’ve been giving the 360 a kicking. However single player Gears of War has been pounded into a bloody pulp, Project Gotham has been aced, Burnout Revenge the same and Test Drive Unlimited has lost it’s shine a bit for the time being. So I got Oblivion and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 Super Mega Squirrel Edition last week to keep me busy.

Oblivion is an odd one. It’s a proper RPG like days of old. Lots of text to read, a proper story to follow and gazillions of attributes to tweak. Gom appears to be loving it going by his achievement record, but 6 hours play was enough. I think though that I’ve been spoilt by playing Blizzard games, like Diablo and WoW. They’re more arcady RPG’s with the emphasis on action.

Actually, I totally forgot that Oblivion was unlike WoW. I went thundering into a bunch of enemies and obviously got decked. There I was expecting to be revived in some local graveyard but was instead prompted to pick which save game I’d like to load up. Feck and biscuits. An hours gameplay lost.

The main thing with Oblivion is that it’s slow going in parts. Kinda like eating a steak but getting stuck on some gristle and you just end up chewing. You know there’s more good stuff to come, but you’d rather have a Big Mac instead. Hence the Tiger Woods purchase.

Now I’d played the demo and was totally addicted. A chap at work loves Links on the PC (I used to play it for hours back in the DOS days) and it got me interested again. There’s plenty of courses (like St. Andrews, Firestone CC, Spyglass Hill) and it looks pretty damn good. One thing I really like is the way the golf swing is done. You move the left thumbstick back to start the back swing that mash it forwards to finish it off. If you don’t do it in a straight line it’ll go off sideways. It’s clever stuff.

Thing is, it’s a total time sink. I ended up playing til 3 in the morning last Saturday. 9 holes takes 20 to 30 minutes whilst 18 is double that. You really have to practice to get the hang of the controls. I’m getting there but I still suck at getting out of bunkers.

I’ve also yet to play online because I know I’ll get my arse kicked by some 12 year old who has the kind of thumb dexterity I can only dream of. I think finishing the PGA Tour and Tiger Challenge cup would be a good idea first.