Category Archives: Customer Service

Sky downgrade their “Mid” package from 40GB to 10GB per month – FAIL

How to lose customers in 15 months

We’ve been Sky subscribers since February 2008. We moved to Sky because the reception from Freeview was (and still is) frankly appalling – it was great for many months during 2007…then had a bad period after summer 2007…then was great over Christmas 2007…then it was plain useless in January 2008. Naturally I tried a few options: a new aerial, checked the transmitter information and tried a different receiver unit. Nothing worked well enough to rely on. Sky seemed to be the solution to our problems. However it wasn’t without sacrifice, or so I thought…

The sacrifice: I was paying Zen Internet £29.99 per month for their 0.5MB broadband package – yes, that was perhaps a tad expensive, however it just worked, perfectly. After doing my sums, it looked like I could get Sky TV for £16 per month, plus £5 for their “Mid” broadband package (offering a 40GB per month cap). Add in a couple of “mixes” for a £1 a pop and I was up at £23 per month. The apparent win: TV and Internet for a £6.99 per month saving. What could go wrong?

Indeed, what could go wrong? Broadband speeds had increased to from 0.5MB up to 2MB+, a win! And all those Sky TV channels too, a huge win! And more episodes of Star Trek than I’ll ever have time to watch, huge win, for me at least! However, the winning was short-lived. The broadband connection has suffered from a lot of downtime – that green Skype icon went grey all too often. I had no such problems with Zen Internet. The TV subscription wasn’t without its problems too, as we’ll see later in this rant.

Well, in November 2009 Sky wrote to me advising that the price of their Broadband Mid package was to double. The cost was £5, it was going up to £10. I hadn’t even been with them a full nine months and they hit me with a price rise of 100%. Utterly scandalous. However, in the grand scheme of things, and this is something that Sky presumably knew, £10 is still reasonably good value for a 40GB monthly package. I did complain to Mark Anderson ( – granted I did get an e-mail back from some sort of ‘escalated help desk’, but it rather lamely asked me for my postal address.

Sent: Tue 02/12/2008 21:49

Dear Mr Anderson

Thank you for your letter of November 2008 advising me of a £5 or 100% rise in the cost of Sky Broadband.

I realise that £5 is very competitive and that was one of the two reasons we switched to your TV and Broadband services.

However, in the 10 months that we’ve been customers, the cost of the TV service has risen and now the cost of the broadband provision is rising.

Further, I record a lot of Star Trek on the Sky+ unit, however it won’t let me use the COPY option to move the episodes to DVD – because 80GB of personal space is not nearly enough. With no means of recording the episodes for watching later, it really means I personally don’t have much use for the Sky+ box…I don’t have time to watch what I’ve recorded and I can’t move the recorded content to DVD overnight…there is no point in recording anything.

If memory serves me, it’s a 12 month contract that I’m signed up for. Sending out a 100% price hike notification at this stage in the contract is just plain crazy.

Please be advised that I will be re-considering my options at the end of January 2009…you would be surprised how many friends and colleagues are telling me how good FreeSat is…Humax do wonderful HDD recorders too…

…and I’ve been chatting to other Sky “Mid” users, they haven’t received their 100% price hike notification yet…I do hope that you’ve not been selective about who is being subjected to the price hike?


To make matters worse, during November 2008 there was the great copy protection fiasco, which severely limited my use of the Sky+ service. I was not at all happy about that, so much so, The Guardian picked up on it and quoted a large chunk of that blog entry.

Last week, at the end of June 2009, Sky’s Mark Anderson wrote to me again. This time he was advising of ANOTHER price hike. In a nutshell, my Sky TV subscription was about to rise, making a total of £30 per month. Again, a scandalous mid-contract price rise. Of secondary concern, the font size used in Sky letters is very small – I can still read it with ease, however I’m sure that some subscribers might struggle. The letter itself makes no mention what changes to expect, but refers to an “enclosed leaflet”. Clever. Very clever. And utterly scandalous.

The leaflet that accompanied the letter was titled: “Sky Broadband now even better”, “All for the same low price”. Here’s a snapshot of what it looked like:

Looks like it’s just a re-branding, nothing to worry about…

…until you look closer. The 40GB monthly cap Sky Mid package is being re-branded to Everyday…with a monthly cap of 10GB.

It has something to do with “bring the usage allowance in line with what the majority of customers actually use”…HELLO? Granted Sky rather wisely included a paragraph stating that we could cancel the broadband portion of the contract without charge (well, thanks for that, from the company who raise their prices mid-contract). I am an individual, I do not like be grouped into a pot and treated like the “majority of customers”. I chose the 40GB package for a reason: it was ideal for my needs. Sky, you have moved the goal posts, changed the size of the nets and made the pitch four times wider at your end. Have I told you that this is scandalous? Utterly scandalous.

[UPDATE 07/07/2007 – after checking out the speed test here:, it turns out I’m not even getting the average speeds for my package. Yet “more for less”.]

Given my distance from the BT exchange, it’s unlikely I’ll ever see more than 2700Kbps (via download and 160Kbps upload speeds. Therefore, the other so-called upgrades do not appeal or apply to me.

So now I am paying 30% more than I was 15 months ago FOR LESS. A lot less as it happens: where did Sky channel 795 go? I’m trying to learn Spanish and may well have chosen to pay the extra £1 per month just for a single channel…however it has vanished from the channel line up. Scandalous, utterly scandalous. “Paying more for less”, that should be Sky’s tag line: I’m not the first person to say this, but Mark, I’m sorry to say this: you’re charlatans. [Update 06/07/2009 – Channel 795 has reappeared. However, let’s not forget this thing called Sky Anytime – it takes up 80GB of my 160GB of space, it records channels that I cannot get with my subscription: more “getting less”]

“Sky Believe in better” – I will be switching broadband provider as soon as possible and will be reconsidering our TV options too – that is something you can put money on, you had better believe it. FreeSat and Freeview may cost me upfront, but at least they don’t demand money downstream. I’ll be ‘phoning 08705 515 515 to request my MAC key next week.

Sky: Paying more for less.

Murphy’s Week – 23/06/08

On Monday…
Flight delays.  Once again I find myself shocked and surprised at the audacity of my fellow traveller.  I have started being very selective in my choice of seat – more often than not I am sitting beyond row 13 as the rear of the aircraft often boards first.  Boarding first has its advantages – for me, it lets me get first pick of the overhead lockers.  The overhead locker is important – after the LHR T5 fiasco, I no longer carry hold luggage for anything other than family trips and where I’m away for more than 5-6 days.  On this occasion, I had secured my bag in the overhead locker, however in order to allow the gentleman in the opposite aisle seat to do likewise, I had moved one row back and was standing behind my allocated seat.  Like a torpedo aimed at the rear of the aircraft, an OAP with ruler-like precision clearly thought we were invisible – she was exercising her “right” to move toward the rear whilst preventing others moving forward.  The chap opposite just shook his head; I was frankly stunned.  However, it happens more often than not.

On Tuesday…
I read an interesting piece in The New Statesman magazine by Shazia Mirza.  Shazia closes her article with the phrase “Google me then”.  It seems that the brand name Google has become the Hoover of the 21st century.  Hoover make vacuum cleaners (amongst other things) – however a lot of folks say “let’s Hoover the carpet” when they don’t own a Hoover product.  People are now using the word Google in place of “search” or “look on the Internet” – I guess this is the kudos associated with being [close to] first to market.  Kudos to The New Statesman for opening up their back issues for free viewing.

I travelled home this evening.  After the T5 opening fiasco, I bought myself a “right sized” cabin bag that is able to hold 4-5 days worth of wearables and all my gadgets and laptop. Usually this bag goes through security without question.  Not tonight.  Fortunately I had a little time to spare, so the full bag search that followed didn’t hold me back too much.  Apparently, I had a corkscrew in my bag…given the amount of travelling I do, that’s the last thing I would pack.  Besides, there are equally as dangerous items that are allowed in the cabin: BA meals are on glass plates, coffee/tea served in china mugs, propelling pencils, broken credit cards….)  Anyway, I digress.  A full bag search involved decanting everything into three trays: one for clothing, books, etc. the other two for electrical goods.  Oddly enough, no corkscrew was found. 20 minutes of time consumed though.

Dell’s D430 laptop is rather neat. I was able to get some typing done mid-flight…whilst the food tray was still in place.  If ever I need to buy a laptop myself, the small foot-print devices will be high on my list of choices.  I found that using Dark Room (thanks to @dchristiansen for the recommendation) helps focus the mind and hinders anybody looking over your shoulder hoping to read what you’re typing.

On Friday…Blackpool – Arrival
Hotel check-in. Discover that the hotel has mysteriously lost its liquor license and is unable to serve booze until further notice.  Some early warning would have been appreciated, I could have brought my own booze down with me.

That night we discover that our “family room” is an oven.  The one fan that is in the room is not suitable – largely because the “family” bit of the room was actually bunk beds in a separate room – which in its own right is actually pretty good. Kudos to the hotel reception though, they quickly brought up a second fan and an extension cable.

On Saturday….Blackpool – Day 1
At Blackpool Pleasure Beach…

It seems that the thrill I get from rollercoasters is getting hard to find in Blackpool.  I’ve done the Pepsi Max Big One, Avalanche, the Big Dipper, Space Invader 2, Infusion and the Tango Ice Blast – none of which are really able to float my boat.  I guess I have to go to Cedar Point and try the Top Thrill Dragster.  Space Invader 2 was a disappointment.  The queue took 45 minutes to process for what was a 2 minute ride.

A lot of places in Blackpool stop serving food at 2000.  Even on a Saturday.  This caused some problems.  Room service in our hotel (no liquor license, remember) managed to offer French Fries and rounds of sandwiches.  My wife ordered two portions of fries and two rounds on white bread…and received one round on white bread, the other on brown bread.  Still it was good service otherwise.  My dinner came from the local Nisa…a BLT, a bag of ice and a couple of tins of beer!

On Sunday…Blackpool – Day 2
Today we took a tram south towards Blackpool Tower.  I don’t think I’d ever reached the top of the tower before, so today was a “tick box moment” (BucketList—).  I took our son all the way to the top of the tower – he was un-fazed by the transparent (but heavily scratched) floor at 380ft- the Walk of Faith as it’s known.  The view from the top was worth it, as was the time spent in the tower facility itself (£10 for adults and £5 for children).

Later today we went to Sealife, just next door to Blackpool Tower.  We had a couple of buy one get one free passes so the entry cost was very acceptable: £12.50 for adults.  There are plenty of fish and other sea creatures to look at here and there’s plenty of information to read and take it too.  The only thing I didn’t like about my Sealife experience was the “exit strategy” – getting out was a maze of stairs and doors, not really very disabled-person-friendly (we had a pushchair).  There is a lift at the start, however that would mean going against the flow of visitors (it’s like Ikea should be, it’s best to go through the exhibit in one direction only).  The exit itself is weird: you end up coming out of the Dr. Who shop…

Photos here.

The Yates Wine Lodge “experience”
Looking for a dinner venue…  After a rather successful day taking in the sights, we found ourselves looking for a place to have an early evening meal.  Now, picture the scene: wife, 3 year old son, mother-in-law and invited guest, the centre of Blackpool, around 1730 in the evening.  We wander around for a bit, pass through the Winter Gardens, everything was closing up. 

We move on to the likes of Talbot Street where I spot an O’Neill’s Irish bar – a decent pint I think to myself.  Wrong: “no children allowed on any part of the premises”.  Too bad, we’ll take our custom elsewhere, now and in the future – one sign kills your custom. 

Less than 100 yards away, we find a Yates Wine Lodge (Blackpool North).  Now these places have a pretty good name.  My wife, mother-in-law and guest decided to have the Sunday roast.  It was Sunday, in England after all – they do roast very well.  Not at Yates, “roast is off today”.  OK, we’ll take three gammon steaks instead, and a bottle of Echo Falls Merlot.  The server turns around, looks in the ‘fridge, consults with his boss then says “No Merlot, we have what you see in the fridge, Rose and the white”.   Right, I keep my red wine in the same fridge as my white and rose.

However, whilst attempting to order food and drinks, the server took a call on his “radio” – he excused himself and disappeared.  Moments later, he appeared from the kitchen carrying three plates of hot food, clearly destined for another customer.  Hold on, we were mid-order. 

We concede and choose the Echo Falls Rose.  The bottle duly appears at the bar, closely followed by three glasses.  Three rather dirty glasses.  I reject the glasses and ask for clean ones…hey, I had the mother-in-law with me! 

Meanwhile, the server (behind the bar) is trying to process my credit card…my BAA credit card with pictures of foreign national on it.  The server had some issue using the credit card so was forced to call in the manager.  Now, the manager’s appearance was so similar to the pub manager bloke in Men Behaving Badly – it was uncanny.  He looked at my credit card and went for the swipe card that authenticated him for that till.  You won’t believe what he said next: “a credit card with foreign people on it, we don’t want that in here”.  Of course, he didn’t realise that I was right beside him when he said this…the server however, did.  The manager left the scene, with my eyes following his every move – I was very tempted to take my business elsewhere.  By now, the server was shaking, probably wondering what I was about to do.  You know, I’d love to be a ghost customer in these situations – working for head office, weeding out the establishments that fail to meet even the most basic of customer service standards.

The food itself was perfectly acceptable, even though the garlic bread with cheese was cold.  However the toilet was unclean, there was a lack of toilet paper and there were many flying and crawling insects.  Similarly, the cleanliness of the area around and behind the bar itself was unacceptable.  We cleaned the table with a wet wipe, it was demonstrated that the tables needed cleaned rather than dusted down.

We’re unlikely to use this chain of eateries in the future.

Here’s a photograph of the said establishment.

Blackpool 2008 Summary
Blackpool opening hours: they suck. 

Sealife: good value, worth it.

Staff on the trams, they’re pretty damn good. 

Yates Wine Lodge Blackpool North sucks.  Tweet 1Tweet 2. Tweet 3.

Blackpool Tower: good value, worth it.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach: expensive, consistency between the ticket selling facilities needs to be achieved though.  My son’s wristband wasn’t put on tightly so I went to the nearest ticket booth to have it re-issued – I was told to go back to the main entrance!  At the main entrance they asked for the original receipt – which was with my mother-in-law elsewhere in the facility.  Thankfully they re-issued it after I explained who much effort it would take to find her quickly.  Something needs to be done to manage the queuing situation: waiting 45 minutes for a 2 minute ride takes a lot of time out of your day…

Here’s a call I received a few years ago…

A few years ago I was both developer and help-desk for an application that I wrote. If I’m being honest, the application didn’t require that much support, hardly any in fact. So when help-desk calls came in, it was usually shortly after a new feature had been implemented or when the client PC suffered some sort of physical outage.

You can probably imagine my surprise when I received a call from one of my fellow employees using a tone of voice that I would only use with a vendor who had seriously hacked me off and perhaps had failed to respond to repeated requests for information. I was so surprised, I had to record it and let his boss hear it. Frankly, it’s no way to talk to a colleague, especially a colleague who thought nothing of just jumping in the car and trundling out to site (20 miles)…not just to sort out issues with the aforementioned application, but to sort out whatever other problems existed too (because that’s the kind of guy I am…I fix problems).

Anyway, here’s the call!

And here’s the transcript:

Hello Craig, it’s <>, I think you’ve got the number, but I’ll give you it again, it’s 01324 <>.

I’ll get you to give me a call as soon as you can, that’s like today, within the hour, thanks bye.

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Gig: Bryan Adams: Edinburgh: 21 July 2007

For the third time this year I found myself at Murrayfield. Two gigs and one rugby match. I don’t know what was worse, watching Scotland getting beating by Italy in a matter of minutes or the two gigs.

The first gig, back in May was a truly bizarre mix of tribute bands: The Beatles, Abba, Queen and Led Zeppelin…that was 50% “ok” for me. Except that it wasn’t, Led Zeppelin (tribute) weren’t at all good and Queen (tribute) was recognisable, but nowhere near as good as One Night of Queen from 2006.

Today’s gig, Bryan Adams, should have been a “dead cert”. After all, I’d seen him live in 1991 at the Milton Keynes bowl (along with Thunder and three other metal acts that can’t have been that memorable). Sixteen years ago, he played to a full stadium, glorious sunshine. Today, he played to a pitch load of wet fans and some less wet fans in the lower east stand – no sign of the summer sunshine that we should have at this time of year. With the weather we’re having, anybody would think that we’ve done something to alter the weather over the last forty-fifty years.

After this disastrous gig, I have a number of recommendations:

1. Umbrellas should not be allowed. If the band don’t need them, why should you?

2. Camera ‘phones should be banned. It felt like everybody had one of these damn things, filming and photographing, all I could see was a huge array of 2″ screens. People: you are there for the gig – why spend half of the gig trying to get a handful of shots on a low-resolution camera? Not 10 years ago, cameras were banned at gigs, heavyweight bouncer-types would descend upon you and relieve you of your spool (film).

3. Open-air venues only work if the sound system is designed and installed by people who are expert at it. The sound system use at this event and the tribute acts was appalling. Unless you were close to the front at the centre, which was impossible for Silver ticket holders for reasons I will discuss in a moment, the sound was grossly unbalanced, tinny and very distant. I’d like to bet that Metallica at Wembley earlier this month sounded awesome…I won’t be missing my next opportunity to see them live. I was thwarted from getting to the gig because of the excessive cost of that “Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” show in the West End – my missus wanted to go to that whilst I was getting a sore neck at the ‘tallica gig. I lost out because of the cost of some other show…how does that work? [rhetoric, of course]. I digress.

4. Scam 1. Never have seen a sizeable square shaped area in front of the main stage reserved for people who bought Gold or VIP tickets. That’s just extortion. I don’t believe for one minute that Bryan Adams would entertain scamming his true fans in this way. I believe that it was a venue scam, designed purely to raise more cash to compensate an ailing events business. With the exception of Yngwie Malmsteen (great video here), I’ve never attended a gig that wasn’t sold out…except at Murrayfield. Don’t scam fans.

5. Scam 2. Just after the ticket desk, there was a portacabin with a banner: “food/drink tokens, 3 for £10”. Naturally we challenged the vendor, “what, can’t we just pay with cash money?” I’m sure you can imagine the response: “no, but you can buy tokens inside, but there will be a queue”. So we bought a 9 tokens for £30. One token == one beer OR one item of food OR two soft drinks. Net result after we got home – three tokens left over. So the venue/event organisers scammed us out of an extra tenner. Well done. This act alone is enough to make me never attend a gig at your venue again. And since everything was served in plastic bottles, I do wonder what the plastic recycle policy is at such an event? Don’t scam fans.

[photo via here]

Oh, I almost forgot, the music. Adams did the right thing by opening the gig via the centre stage, as can be seen the photograph above. This meant that the Gold/VIPs folks got a raw deal. However it didn’t last, after a couple of tracks he retreated to the main stage, only to return to the centre stage for the third encore which saw him hand pick the local talent from the audience. Incidentally, the centre stage performance was much better than the main stage, even though the main stage speakers were still in use. Centre stage performances, a’la Def Leppard at the Glasgow SECC, are far better, giving the whole audience a sense of involvement – event organisers, please note.

I couldn’t help but notice what I thought was miming on more than one occasion, it turns out I wasn’t alone in my thoughts about this either. This was confirmed when I spotted Adams running from one side to the other, no microphone in sight, yet still the vocals could be heard…I got the impression that Adams’ primary guitarist (almost a look-a-like) was also chipping in as and when required. Summer of 69 arrived fairly early in the set…which was odd, perhaps because that was one of the few songs I was there for. Anyway, I put up with the rain, the idiots with umbrellas, the pratts with their camera ‘phones, the selfish fans who put their 5 foot tall offspring on their shoulders thus blocking the view for a lot of folks behind them, including my party.

Overall, Adams stage performance was pretty damn good given the weather. However, I don’t think those were his speakers of choice. The event sound did not fill much past the main stage and lacked any depth or power. The light show was basic, little use of the late evening darkness was made. That said, the centre stage lighting was reasonable.

So I’m sorry MurrayFieldLive, I won’t be back at a gig until things change for the better. The truth hurts, but honesty is my only excuse. I’m gonna get me some of those “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” icons from somewhere…

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UK credit card marketing

If you live in the UK you’re probably quite used to receiving junk mail. For me, and I know that I’m not alone here, a lot of the junk mail I get emanates from credit card providers. It seems that everybody else’s credit card is better than the one I have currently. There’s the usual carrot and stick, offers of 0% interest for 12 months (longer with some of the more desperate providers), cashback or famous-name High Street store vouchers, etc.

I don’t like naming names, but Capital One would appear to be the worst culprits. I think it was one of their envelopes that has a return address on the back of it – it has a disclaimer stating that a fee will be charged if the item is returned. I find that astounding, albeit I won’t be paying the fee, whoever attempts to deliver it will probably have to, and even then it’ll be very much subject to a response of “two fingers“, “up yours” or “not on your nelly” from the person attempting the return delivery. This weekend, I spent many hours in my study clearing out old magazines, old mail, etc. I lost count of the number of Capital One envelopes that I had to process. I say “process” because I had to open each one – there’s a plastic replica of the “credit card you could have” inside most of the envelopes. My shredder doesn’t like plastic, nor does my paper recycling facility.

Now this presents another problem: a large proportion of the general public will probably just throw the whole envelope in to the general trash. This then opens them up to possible identity theft. This has negative effects for both the individual concerned and the credit card company. Granted, in order to successfully apply for a credit card you do need more information than is present on those forms the credit card company pre-print for you, but it’s a start. The prospective credit card company have essentially established a relationship with you by pre-printing some information on the forms. By making it as easy as possible for you complete the form, they are of course hoping to get you to sign on the dotted line and join their debt mountain.

What’s the solution? Well, I believe that the credit card companies should pull together and rationalise their junk mailings. They should offer their own Mailing Preference Service – and we should be able to register with our current credit card provider. This would mean a huge reduction in the amount of pure junk mail that is sent around the UK and as a side-effect, will see a very small reduction in indentity theft and case of credit card fraud. This approach does have a downside: our current credit card providers will have to wise up and offer existing customers better deals. Existing customers get it in the neck: rarely do they get preferential APRs or 0% offers. But at least they would get to keep their customers, and that has to be a good thing, surely?

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UK Pensions – State of the Nation

I received a letter from the company that I am hoping will be able to provide me with a pension later in my life. I was a little bit stunned by its contents. Here’s a snippet:

I’m a little worried that the procedures required to prevent such an error were not already in place. It begs the questions: what other procedures are not in place and what other mistakes could happen? And given that this is an illustration of what I might get from my fund, how do they know that it’s precisely 15% higher than it should be? And why should I really care? After all, they could have corrected this supposed error over the course of the next 20 years and I would have been none the wiser.

Frankly, the UK’s pension industry seem to go out of their way to confuse and baffle the general public (of which you and I are members). They [the pension providers] make transfers between policies and providers either impossible or very costly, frequently citing government regulations for their inflexibility and inability to honour the customer’s requests. Since we are no longer in a job-for-life culture, this means most of us have at least one pension fund for each job that we’ve had. I’ve given up trying to consolidate some of the small pension funds, every time I’ve tried: no can do.

The UK pension providers and those who are responsible for writing the government legislation behind the crazy rules that make the pension industry so rigid, so inflexibile and so incapable, really need a rocket up their backsides to make them realise how daft they’re being. They’ve created a real mess with today’s pension industry. Either they realise this and go about sorting it out, or they should hand over their operations to some folks who do know what they’re doing (although, I can’t say that I know who those folks might be, sorry!)

Perhaps I’ll just have to hope that I win the lottery or the premium bonds?

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Hailing a private hire cab…

We (my travel colleague) and I stayed at a TravelLodge in Portsmouth. The TravelLodge was, as they all tend to be, basic, but comfortable and satisfactory.

We left the hotel, carefully positioning ourselves using the triangulation manoeuvre: find three well known objects and put yourself in the middle of them, it makes it easier for taxi drivers to find you. However, there were two private hire cars right in front of us. So, because we can’t “flag down” or hail private hire cars, we rang the number on the side of the car. Imagine my surprise to hear an answerphone message! We asked the private hire driver to radio his office and to advise them to pick up the ‘phone…but this was to no avail.

So we dialled another private hire firm and gave them the triangulation point. “5-10 minutes” was the waiting time we were quoted. We waited for 15 minutes. Then a licensed black cab came along…which we are allowed to hail.

So we hailed it, got in and sat down just as the private hire car arrived behind us. Naturally, we ducked down in the seats exclaiming “drive, driver, drive!”

DG834G != WGT624

A week past Saturday I advised my client to purchase NetGear’s DG834G wireless adsl modem firewall router from PC store that has stores in the UK yet uses ‘World’ in its branding.

Unfortunately, the unit only worked for a couple of days before it was classed as Dead On Arrival. Not to worry, I advised my client to return to the same store and ask for another identical replacement. This is actually a rather nice little unit – it’s a V2 release, it’s white and it’s smaller than my V1 edition (which has been working well since January 2004, I’m very pleased with it).

Last Saturday, I drove the 140 or so miles (round trip) to install the replacement.

Imagine my horror when I discovered that the replacement was a WGT624 wireless firewall router. No built-in ADSL modem. This unit required an ASDL modem for it to work in a similar fashion to the DG834G unit.

So how did my client end up with the wrong product? Well, as you might imagine, it boils down to customer service: the lack of it.

The sales bloke in the world of PCs was keen to extol the virtues of the WGT624: it was 108mbps vs the 54mbps of the DG834G. And it was only a tenner more expensive. What he forgot to mention was that my client would have needed to purchase an ASDL modem too. May be he didn’t forget, may be he didn’t know?

So, my client and I returned to the offending store, WGT624 in hand. We hunted down the sales bloke, who happened to be chatting to the duty manager at the time. The sales bloke was allegedly busy, so the duty manager offered to take over: result! Or so I thought. He then proceeded to pass it over to a different sales bloke who was a little unhelpful (although I think it was their stock system that couldn’t help him) and was unable to confirm if the DG834G was available in a nearby store.

Whilst I was a little reluctant, we ended up replacing the NetGear kit with DLink’s DSM-604T which does include a firewall, despite the box stating just wireless adsl router. Sorry NetGear, but the said store didn’t seem to carry much stock of anything: what it did carry was a very confusing mix of wireless hardware.

The moral of this story: only purchase things from this worldly-wise PC store if you fully understand what you are buying, don’t rely on the staff helping you. My client happily admits that he doesn’t know enough about IT, but he doesn’t need to, that’s what I do for him. He’s now a happy client, which is good for me, but not so good for the PC store in question.