Frustrated man, Nigel Clarke, has launched a website listing the call centre menu sequences for accessing a myriad of services, in a bid to cut out loads of wasted hours in our lives. He kicked off his project after losing the will to live while on the phone to various companies.
Not surprising as some automated menus have nearly 80 options.
Clarke uses the example of speaking to an adviser at HMRC, which only requires pressing four buttons but takes six minutes to get through each menu level.
Mr Clarke said of his pleasepress1.com site, that it is a “labour of love” which he built after seven years of creating post-it notes of sequences he used regularly. Using Skype and recording software, he amassed a huge amount of sequences, which sounds furiously sad, but great for us if we want to speed up the process of ringing a company.
So, if you need to reporting a water leak to Lloyds TSB’s home insurance department, instead of actually listening, you can now simply dial 1, 3, 2, 1, 1, 5, 4 instead of navigating 78 menu options.
“The companies have these systems in place for a reason,” said Mr Clarke. ”I’m not against the system, but I am against bad design. No menu is best – but if it is a necessity then design it properly. I think two levels maximum is ideal. Some stretch to three. You don’t really want much more than that.”
Let us know how you get on with it, should you use it.
Remember when festivals were full of young people with flowers painted on their boobs, indulging in free love? Well, now they’re more likely to be full of tedious over 30s with John Lewis picnic equipment and an endless supply of Dorset Cereal, according to a new survey by MSN.
It’s hardly surprising when you find out that the average cost for a British festival is now a staggering £423.01 – that’s including tickets, transport, camping equipment, bottles of Williams Brothers craft beer, crap straw hats and ukelele maintenance.
As festival goers are older these days, there’s also been an increasing trend towards older headline acts. It seems that when you hit 36 it’s impossible to process new things, so campers are much happier to see established acts from back in the days when they were happy and had an intact hairline. In fact, 43% of the 2000 festival goers polled said they preferred to see acts that had been around a decade or more.
The average age of festival punters who go to T In The Park is 37, with Glastonbury at 36 and Reading and Leeds at a relatively sprightly 35 years and eight months.
So come on, Reef – start rehearsing ‘Place Your Hands’ – you’ve got work to do.
Who would come in last place in a Which! poll of Britain’s best stores? I can think of a few. BHS, Primark, those dodgy shops that sell a baffling array of crossbows, bongs and Betty Boop lighters.
But no. The UK’s worst store – according to Which!- is WH Smith. Meanwhile bath bomb botherers Lush come in second from the top, even though just walking in there causes the hairs in your nostrils to perish from the stench of all those naff toiletries, piled up like glittery purple turds. (In first place was the Apple store, but…WHATEVA.)
In the survey TK Maxx was third from bottom, with EE shops second from last. Also, it seems that Brits love a pound shop – Poundland did better than French Connection and Harvey Nichols, and 99p Stores was rated higher than House of Fraser. Obviously the people in this survey have some kind of an aversion to nice stuff.
Really, though, it all seems a little unfair on WH Smith, which surely isn’t THAT bad. Anyway, if it goes under, where am I going to get a large bucket of Buxton water and a copy of the Daily Telegraph?
You’ve got to hand it to the French. Since the nineties, they have taken steps to protect their cultural media, by requiring radio stations to play a certain percentage of songs in French (as otherwise, who would?) and slapping levies on film and television companies that go towards producing French films and TV programmes. Some of them are even good (Spiral. Contains Gregory Fitoussi)
Now, however, the French are concerned that today’s new media, with streaming services and tablet technology, means that lots of people are watching media with no payback for l’exception culturelle. So the French Government have had a new plan.
Humourously and originally nicknamed the iTax, the proposals outlined in a new report want to charge a 1% tax on sales of smartphones and tablets as a way of drawing companies like Apple and Google, and other dubiously-located tech companies within the French tax net, playing the cultural card as validation.
“Today we have extremely sophisticated technological equipment that is extremely expensive to buy, but which contributes nothing to the financing of the works that circulate on that same equipment,” said Culture Minister Aurelie Filipetti said following the release of the report.
“Companies that make these tablets must, in a minor way, be made to contribute part of the revenue from their sales to help creators.”
At the moment it is unclear whether this could be a sales tax levied on consumers, or a charge for the company making French sales, which could be far harder to enforce. Either way, it will be consumers who end up paying more, even if just to keep preserve multi-million Euro profits, but would it even work?
The French have form with this type of thing, challenging Google over taxing rights of ads placed on Google Adwords by French companies. Instead Google gave them €60million for their cultural coffers to shut them up. And surely French consumers watch their French films and listen to their French music on the same devices as culturally-void US stuff. And no-one seems to have considered the fact that France borders quite a number of non-iTax-charging countries- it’d be very easy just to nip over the border and save yourself a few Euro, thereby damaging French businesses too.
Any detailed proposals adopted will be put forward in a November Budget document. Let’s hope this is one French craze (besides fries, knickers and polishing) that doesn’t catch on over here.
The service, clunkily called Google Play Music All Access, has been unveiled at Google I/O, where it was revealed that you’ll be able to do exactly the same thing as you can do with Spotify. Basically, you can ‘listen now’, search for artists and make mixes and the like.
Chris Yerga, Google’s engineering director, said: “This is radio without rules. It’s as ‘leanback’ as you want to, or as interactive as you want to.”
One crucial difference is that there’s no tie to Facebook, which may be something of a godsend for future users.
In the US, All Access will cost $9.99 a month after a 30-day free trial. Those who sign up before 30th June will get a reduced price of $7.99 per month.
Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI, said: “Streaming is the fastest growing part of the £330m digital music sector in Britain… with more than a million paying subscribers already and millions more enjoying free and ad-supported music. The entry of a player with the reach of Google will persuade many more consumers to experience having millions of songs to play instantly on their phone, tablet or PC.”
Are you convinced enough to quit Spotify or Grooveshark?
Despite making £4.2bn in sales, Amazon are getting grants. And it just so happens that those grants amount to more than the amount of UK corporation tax they’re paying, which is bound to anger people as yet another huge company manages to sidestep their tax obligations.
Their corporation tax bill was £2.44m while the company received £2.5m from the Scottish Government to build a new distribution warehouse in glamorous Dunfermline.
“Amazon’s behaviour is not only unfair, it is anti-competitive, putting British businesses that do pay their proper tax at a disadvantage,” said Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
“Paying £2.4m in tax on £4.2bn of sales is just a joke. What people will find particularly galling is that the amount Amazon is paying in tax is actually less than they are taking from UK taxpayers’ pockets in the form of government grants.”
Amazon manage this tax-diddle because all sales to British customers are put through a Luxembourg affiliate, Amazon EU Sarl. It is funded by fees it receives from Amazon EU and, as these just cover operating costs, there isn’t much for HMRC to tax. So, they’re not breaking the law.
Apple, Starbucks, Google and Microsoft are also doing similar schemes, which is flummoxing MPs who like moaning about it, but not solving it. Amazon are unrepentant, saying: “Amazon pays all applicable taxes in every jurisdiction that it operates within.”
Not everyone is happy with those airport security scanners that take a full image of your body, without clothes. And so, to a man at Portland International Airport who stripped off at security in protest.
The man was arrested for having what god gave him on-show, but a judge acquitted him of public indecency charges. Apparently, he’s got a First Amendment right to protest in the nip, which is interesting news for would-be show-offs and protesters.
It has been reported that, when he went through the nude scanner fully clothed, it was indicated that he may’ve had some explosives on him. To prove otherwise, he stripped off.
The Judge ruled that the man’s body was indeed indecent, however, that doesn’t actually violate any laws. Like a shrieking arsehole, the Judge did suggest the protester get a personal trainer and go on a diet.
With snow and hailstorms in May, you could be forgiven for anticipating another ‘summer’ like last year’s. Coupled with the never-ending winter, it is no wonder people are worried about their energy bills.
But never fear, the Government is here to make sure you pay even more on your future energy bills. Yes, the helpful sorts who added all kinds of green levies to your bill are proposing in new regulation that would ensure energy companies can only offer a limited number of tariffs and that all consumers must be put on the cheapest tariff for them. And all this means £££ on your bill.
The Queen’s Speech last week unveiled a new Energy Bill, which included proposals for a new nuclear, wind and other clean generation subsidy, which will add around £114 to bills by 2030. This is on top of other subsidies of £42 for wind (yes, again*), solar and new technologies and carbon taxes of up to £115 by the same date. The Government’s own figures show average bills are expected to go up by £76 from £1,255 this year to £1,331 in 2020. By 2030, however, the total increase will be £221, up to £1,476. And that’s before the energy companies factor in price rises to maintain their huge profits.
However, the new regulations aimed at making energy providers more ‘responsible’ also backfires on savvy consumers. Requiring the number of tariffs to be minimised will reduce choice and may remove the current best option available to consumers. Forcing suppliers to put everyone on their best tariff is actually likely to result in price rises for up to 1 in 5 consumers- the ones who have already taken the time to shop around.
Government figures (again) show that up to 20% of households could see an immediate £100 increase in energy bills once the number of tariffs is reduced to four, as energy suppliers can’t ‘afford’ to let everyone in on the cheap deals.
“You don’t need a PhD in economics to work out what will happen – the cheapest deals in the market will disappear,” sniffed shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint, who is campaigning instead for a single-unit-price comparator system, something supported by our friends over at Which!
Energy Secretary Ed Daveyhas admitted that bills will rise substantially but claims they would rise even more if the Energy Bill and other policies were not in place. But then he would say that.
A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: “Stuff you.” “We must strike a balance between ensuring all consumers – including the majority that currently don’t switch – are on the cheapest tariff for them, and maintaining competitive pressures on suppliers to compete and innovate to offer attractive deals to consumers.”
* yes, two subsidies for wind power, when we also pay wind farms not to generate electricity on too windy days. Heads wind farmers (and Big Energy) win, tails domestic energy bill payers lose…
Fancy a pizza? Well, forget your usual lard filled crust monstrosity, and chow down on THIS.
It’s the world’s first nutritionally balanced pizza and it’s apparently better for you than a salad. It also contains seaweed, but let’s not think about that for a moment. Instead, let’s focus on the fact that it’s got everything your body needs in the right amounts, and still resembles something you might want to cram down your throat after a busy day.
Created by the appropriately named nutritionist Professor Mike Lean of Glasgow University, the Eat Balanced pizza contains each of the 47 vitamins we all need for optimum health (whatever they are.) The salt in the base comes from Hebridean seaweed, and ground red pepper is added in the tomato sauce for extra Vitamin C, but there’s real mozzarella on top, and it actually looks quite nice. Maybe.
It retails at £3.50 – a bit pricier than your average Goodfellas slop – but what does it taste like? Well, at least Professor Lean is refreshingly honest.
‘You are not sitting on the seats of Sorrento eating it. It is a frozen pizza but it tastes, smells and looks as good as any other frozen pizza.’ He said.
We don’t know what the seats of Sorrento are, either, but hats off to Mike for trying to inject some health into our favourite junk food.
Now all he has to do is add a ring of mozzarella-stuffed hotdog around the side and call it ‘The Terminator.’
Who would have thought that the grey flannel clad customers of The Gap could be so fiercely right on? They’re fuming from the top of their baseball caps to the bottom of their deck shoes about Gap’s unprincipled decision not to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety agreement. And they’ve taken to the Gap Facebook page to kick some serious denim clad butt.
At the moment, under nice pictures of summer espadrilles and the Diane Von Furstenburg collection, there’s an all-out comment war, with thousands of customers around the world urging Gap to sign the agreement, which will ensure better safety regulations in factories.
Gap, along with Walmart are holding out on the agreement after the recent factory collapse that killed 1,127 people. Nice guys, eh? They say they’re a bit scared that signing the agreement would lead to more ligitation from American lawyers seeking compensation for Bangladeshi workers, and they want reduced legal liability.
It’s absolute corporate f***ery of the highest order. What Gap should be more scared of is the pitchfork wielding mob of angry customers, as they desert the company in their droves.
Why don’t we all join in? Come on. Their clothes are crap anyway.
Poundland, whose slogan – if you can call it a slogan – is ‘Everything’s £1’ has started to slash prices in some of its stores to 97p, in a bid to undercut its closest rivals, 99p Stores. Depressed yet?
It seems the battle of the not-quite-a-pound shops has been heating up in such UK hotspots as East Ham and Dudley, and competition to sell mop heads, pegs and One Cup teabags for less than a pound is getting fierce.
Jim McCarthy, chief executive of Poundland, explained the move to Retail Week.
‘It is those early weeks [when a rival opens] that are very important and if you can pop the balloon early we find that doing that rather than nothing at all is helpful,’ Mr McCarthy said.
(Balloons – 97p).
‘And it sends the message that we’re not a soft touch.’ He added.
(Soft Touch toilet paper – 97p).
‘It’s a bit like when a supermarket has a competitor opening nearby. They have hosts of tactics to dampen the impact.’
(5 pack of Tictacs – 97p)
It makes the mind boggle. What must the rubbish they sell actually be worth? 10p? 5p? 1p? If pound shop price wars continue, one day, everything will cost nothing, and we’ll just all stick our heads in a massive branded trough with FREE written on it, and consume knock off Mini Cheddars until we explode.
A former Liberal Democrat – now defected to Labour – is now trying to sell his personalised number plate, LI6 DEM. Obviously, you can’t be a Labour MP and drive around promoting the Lib Dems. Indeed, having a personalised plate like that only ensures that your car can be targeted by eggs much easier.
Anyway, Andrew Duffield paid £250 for his plate nearly twenty years ago, and now he wants to sell it for £500 ”for obvious reasons”.
What with the Liberal Democrats being some of the most unpopular people in Britain currently, he’s not been able to find a buyer.
You might think he could sell it to Nick Clegg, but he’s still trying to shift his that says ‘CL0S3T T0RY’.
Old people, driving their cars, are ace. They wear leather stringback driving gloves, have pristine chamois leather cleaners in the glove box, tartan blankets on the back seat and, best of all, have cateracts so they can’t see where they’re going.
Concerning the latter, some drivers don’t like pensioners on the road. They think they’re a menace, reaching top speeds of 8 mph.
In fact, three-in-five motorists think older drivers should be forced to retake the driving test when they reach 66, according to a survey.
The opinion of the majority of 17 to 24-year-olds, with their trance music and steroids, is that granddad should be retaking his test at the even younger age of 63, according to the findings of Auto Trader.
The poll of 3763 motorists also revealed that 73% felt worried or concerned when they found themselves driving behind an older motorist, while 26% felt unsafe when being driven by someone over the age of 65.
How about a Logan’s Run style future for drivers?