Archive for August, 2009


bbc news Network Rail derail their own PR campaign in 24 hours


picture 26 Network Rail derail their own PR campaign in 24 hours

Thanks to BW reader Daniel

In a move that render such ceremonial guff utterly redundant forever more, that leading chain of bakers, Greggs, has been awarded the freedom of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, their home city.

Getting the freedom of a city usually means you can carry out archaic customs like legally shooting foxes within the city boundaries between the hours of 10am and 4pm, but Greggs will probably snub that and continue to build their pie and pasty empire instead.

They’re even in some of the UK’s airports now, and as Hitler probably surmised, once you’ve got the airports, you’ve got the nation well and truly by the balls. Probably.

One thing Greggs should do is drop the ad campaign starring the risible Paddy McGuinness. We found this spoof commercial on YouTube and we reckon it works much better. Probably true as well.

As surprises go, it’s right up there with the John Thomas scene in The Crying Game. Apple have approved the Spotify iPhone app, even though it threatens to blow iTunes out the water. The app will allow users to sync their iPhone with their Spotify desktop app, allowing them to listen to their own playlists chosen from millions of titles available through Spotify.

spotify app Apple approves Spotify app for iPhone   goodnight iTunes?

The most controversial function of the app is that it allows users to cache full playlists offline, so that several thousand songs can be stored on the iPhone and listened to at any time. Who needs iTunes anymore?

Regardless, tonight PaidContent:UK reports that an Apple spokesperson has said:

“The current status as of right now is it’s been approved and we hope to add the app to the more than 65,000 apps on the app store very soon. We’ve been in constant communication working with the developer and have already notified Spotify that the app will be in the app store very soon.”

While this rather exciting news for music fans (which is free to premium Spotify users who pay £10 a month subscription) we’ll reserve judgement until we see the app. It’s taken a month for Apple to make their minds up about the app, which isn’t the norm since most apps are cleared within a fortnight of submission. And for Apple to be in “constant communication” with Spotify during the approval process is very unusual – Apple rarely, if ever contact developers until they approve or reject the app.

[PaidContent:UK] with screenshots from []

UPDATE 28/8: Whoops, seems like we’ve gatecrashed the party – the eBay ad has been taken down. Now it’s like the whole thing was a dream. If only somebody had taken a screenshot to prove it really existed. Your luck’s in.

Oh eBay, are there no limits to your resourcefulness? Short of allowing the trade of weapons-grade Uranium and live unicorns, you’re up for anything, aren’t you? You’ll even help Lee Thackray attempt to hire a dwarf for a stag night. Brilliant:
41 bst 1251382257325 248x300 Exclusive   will eBay come up short for stag night request?

Good Morning my fellow E-Bayers,

In my hour of need I need your assistance. I am in the market place for a Dwarf/Midget who is up for a laugh on the 26/09/09, in Manchester. I have below set some certain criteria to which I am looking for:

Must be over 18 years old.
Must be Male.
Must be classed as a dwarf/midget.
Must be under 5ft in height.
Be willing to dress up.
Must be prepared to be handcuffed to the stag.
Any extra talents would be good, especially a groovy mover on the dancefloor.

As for payment we are open to neg. (Money will be paid cash on the night)

We have many ideas for my mates Stag doo, but other ideas are welcome.

I am deadly serious about this and would be grateful if any applicants would forward a picture and details to me at

I am sorry if this advert has offended anyone, but needs must!!

Serious people only apply!!

Many Thanks


One quick bit of advice, Lee – best not to put too much detail online – like your name and email address, for example – given there’s every chance your mate will see this and know exactly what you have planned for him. Admittedly the page has only been viewed 24 times at the time of posting, so maybe you’ll be ok. Or maybe the stag will read it and punch you in the balls. Either way, let us know how it pans out and send the photos. Cheers!

[eBay] thanks to Bitterwallet reader Eddy

Wow. DSGi are really, really keen on their FIVES training. If you’re one of the three Bitterwallet readers that doen’t work for PC World or Currys, then you’re missing out on the curious world of rooms, positive body language and NLP – the DSGi sales training known as FIVES, which we explained in detail several months ago.

pc city interior low res 2 300x217 Its FIVES way or the high way at PC World and CurrysObviously every retail business needs to ensure their staff can sell, and sales training isn’t unusual – we’re not suggesting it is. The comments on our previous article were many and varied; some readers thought FIVES was a reasonable and valid training programme, others thought it went too far:

“It is one thing to provide customer service training but mimicing body language and attitude is manipulative and to me objectionable.”

What also came through from the comments was that current staff (plenty of comments were from readers claiming to work for DSGi) viewed FIVES as a structured guide rather than a strict policy that must be followed to the letter:

“Do you really use it word for word? We certainly don’t – there has to be some individuality or else you take away the service element…. if you’re hitting all the targets and not using FIVES, you’ll probably be fine.”

“Yes, Fives works. Yes, Fives gives a structure and guidance. However, it should be there as a tool at the salespersons expense. NOT a requirement.”

It seems DSGi disagree. Not following FIVES to the letter is to be treated as gross misconduct, according to an email sent to store managers and passed onto Bitterwallet. Any member of staffed who is reported as not sticking to the gameplan by a mystery shopper isn’t going to have a happy time of it:

“If they have been in the business for over 6 months and are fives trained then it should be a straight-to-invite disciplinary. This invite can be for bringing the company into disrepute, or failure to follow a reasonable request, or negligence depending upon how poor the shop score was and their attitude when the investigation takes place.

“So for example; bringing the company into disrepute is gross misconduct and its likely outcome would be final written. This would only happen if the score was very poor i.e. 30 or less, and upon investigation the individual said that they “didn’t use or believe in fives as their own method works better for them”. We have heard this from colleagues before.

“If the score was 40+ and the individual just didn’t introduce certain parts of the process, but understood that they should have done at the investigation, then this would be a failure to follow a reasonable request or negligence which would be a written warning and verbal depending on their length of service and seniority in the business.”

There’s no room for manoeuvre whatsoever – not if a member of staff wants to keep their job, and regardless of whether they can actually sell. If you’re a customer, do you rate service at PC World or Currys higher than other retailers? If you’re a member of staff, then welcome back and let us know what you think. Is FIVES too inflexible and does is it really about customer service? Can you sell without resorting to mimicking customers and sliding into NLP?

The Best Western Inn… you’ll never leave!

August 27th, 2009 5 Comments By Paul Smith

You’ll either spend the first night trying to count all the atoms in the trouser press, or you’ll lock yourself in the bathroom for nine hours while your left hand screams and your right hand stares at you:

11816532 5ca1075282 The Best Western Inn... youll never leave!


Commercial Break: Don’t mess with Nessie

August 27th, 2009 4 Comments By Andy Dawson

Breaking news – Google Earth might have spotted the Loch Ness Monster. More breaking news – it looks just like a boat to us. Or possibly a sea monkey that got on the Google Earth camera lens.

It’s certainly not the actual Monster, as Toyota got arguably the closest look at the mysterious beast in these two ads for their Tacoma trucks and Vios cars a couple of years ago.

Seriously, though, what’s become of us? Debating the existence of the Loch Ness Monster in 2009? We’ll be arguing about pizza toppings next…

shoes Bad pennies should be sued by customers, says consumer bodyWe’ve covered plenty of dubious selling practices on Bitterwallet in the past, from sales where the prices of items increase to outrageous postal charges for items marketed as free. What a wonderful world it would be if consumers had the right to sue such companies for taking the piss. There are plenty of stories of people with the stones going to court over such issues, but if compensation became an everyday occurrence we’d see a drastic improvement in the way businesses behaved.

Now Consumer Focus has piped up and said that’s exactly what we should be doing. They reckon we’re losing out on around £3.3 billion because of rotten sales techniques, and claim three out of five consumers have been conned over the past two years, leaving us all an average of £175 out of pocket. We’re not sure of the maths involved there, but Consumer Focus are a statutory body so we’ll take their word for it.

The most common illegal practice unsurprisingly involves premium phone numbers, with folk been told they’ve won a prize but then having to jump through a series of hoops to pay more more in call charges than the value of the prize itself, should it actually exist in the first place. Then there are the sales calls that wear you down until you’ve lost the will to live and sign away your life, and the free products that incur hidden charges. Honestly, they’re all bastards aren’t they?

Despite a mass of trading regulations to protect consumers, the law falls short of giving consumers the right to address the situation and claim compensation in return. Perhaps if the regulations – which are distinctly grey in places and wide open to interpretation in others – were not only more substantial but better enforced, there wouldn’t be the need to consider legal action. As it is most of us would welcome the chance to make shady businesses pay up, so long as we then got to punch them in the balls too. Hard.

[The Guardian]

HotUKDeals Of The Day – Thursday 27th August

August 27th, 2009 4 Comments By Andy Dawson

hukd logob1 HotUKDeals Of The Day   Thursday 27th AugustWhenever we think of the typical Bitterwallet reader, we like to imagine someone who is unlucky enough to catch Swine Flu shortly after heading off on holiday, leading to a long stay cooped up in bed watching DVD box sets.

That’s you? Don’t be so frigging ridiculous. Here’s the best of the latest bargains, care of HotUKDeals.

456225 HotUKDeals Of The Day   Thursday 27th AugustFirst up, we know that lots of you are away on holiday at the moment. Well, that’s the only explanation for the sudden drop in reader numbers over the past couple of weeks that we can think of.

If your holiday is still to come, ensure you don’t take an overloaded suitcase to the airport with this luggage-weighing gizmo – it’ll only cost you a pound and could save you many pounds… or even lives (although we’re not sure how that might work.)

444406 HotUKDeals Of The Day   Thursday 27th AugustNext, while you’re away, you’ll almost certainly come down with Swine Flu and be confined to your bed for the duration of your stay. Ah well, if you survive, there’s always next year.

Why not make the most of your severe illness by taking the complete Cracker DVD box set away with you. Every episode of Jimmy McGovern’s superlative criminal psychologist series for only £17.99. Beats coughing into a rag ALL the time doesn’t it?

455930 HotUKDeals Of The Day   Thursday 27th AugustYour metabolism might take a whacking as a result of your all-night Cracker sessions and there’s a chance that your disease won’t go away quickly. You could find yourself barred from flying home and forced to sweat it out in the sunny resort where the sight of the sunlight makes you puke.

You should probably invest in the first four series of David Simon’s superlative Baltimore cop drama The Wire then. £9.99 per series delivered, with an extra 10% off if you go via Quidco. That should make you feel better.

(deals found by HUKD members chopramo, dontdothatagain and GIANTHANDMAN)

pcworldrex175x125550194cw3 Survey says PC World worst place to buy a PC. Oops.When it comes to rating computer purchase customer service satisfaction, 7,683 Which? magazine panel members have spoken, and guess who came out worst? Step forward PC World and get a slap across the cheek.

Yes, the DSGi brand that everyone hates to love fell horribly short, even though their name suggests they’d be just the kinds of places you’d love to go when you need to buy a computer. The survey gave them a small and twatty customer service score of just 42%.

PC World’s big cousin Currys fared little better, with a crappy 45% score in the survey. In case you were wondering and are one of those positive types who likes to celebrate winners instead of naming and shaming losers, Apple came top with a tidy 88%, with John Lewis just behind them on 73%

Surprised by any of this? Tell us why. Meanwhile, there should be a fresh dollop of DSGi sleaze to follow later in the day…

Spotted in Turkey by keen-eyed Bitterwallet reader Richie, who says: “Before you name your paragliding business, it might be worth doing some historical research into your chosen name. That way you can reduce the chances of scaring away potential customers.”

picture 58 The Turkish business that flies too close to the sun

logo abbey Abbey tells customer to keep his money in a rusty biscuit boxNo, Abbey didn’t really say that. I’ve gone and sexed up that headline like some slithering tabloid hack. Not that it’s a million miles from the truth, according to Bitterwallet reader Gidon:

My debit card has started to crack and before it becomes unusable I decided to ask them to provide me with a replacement. The only way they can do this apparently is by cancelling my current card with immediate effect.

However as I have just explained to the manager this is useless as while I wait for a new card I will be without access to my funds at cash machines. The average delivery time for a new card is over a week.

I was advised to take out all the funds I need for the coming week and leave it at home. I explained to the manager that the purpose of a bank is to hold my funds securely rather than having to hide it under my mattress as she was suggesting.

Banks will automatically send replacement cards when the expiry date on a current card is near; nobody gets in touch to ask if you’d destroy your current card because a replacement is on the way. So why is Abbey telling a customer they can only send a new card if the current card is cancelled? It isn’t lost or stolen.

Two years ago Abbey received a huge number of complaints concerning their lack of care concerning replacement cards; this is a different situation though. It’s been a while since anyone in the office had to do it, so is it routine to have to cancel a debit card before you can order a replacement? Perhaps my Granddad was right to keep his money in a tin on the mantelpiece. Then again he’s now dead, so it didn’t do him any favours, did it readers?


a) everyone is Glasgow can only read phonetically and would be stumped by travel directions spelt correctly

b) the customer service staff at King’s Cross aren’t aware of how patronising this poster, currently on display at the station, actually is

celtic Remember Russ Abbott in a ginger wig? This is about as funny.

A member of staff may have produced it using Microsoft Word in the office this morning, or perhaps it was pasted up by a passing fan. Regardless, it’s on King’s Cross concourse right now. At least Celtic football fans are the shy, retiring type.


Pro-Pak pizza is a recipe for disappointment

August 26th, 2009 21 Comments By Paul Smith

Oh dear, sweet “serving suggestion” – is there any foodstuff you can’t make deliciously appealing? Usually you do nothing more than state the bleeding obvious and patronise the public at large, but occasionally you’re a little more devious in your ambiguous use of illustration and imagination.

In the case of Bitterwallet reader Martin’s pizza, however – the phrase didn’t even appear on the packaging. Not that it mattered; according to manufacturers Pro-Pak, stupidhead Martin should have known that if they show him a photo of a pizza covered with basic pizza toppings, then clearly means they won’t be included on the pizza. Isn’t it obvious? No? No:

“Annabel Karmel is a kid’s food guru, writing lots of bestselling books on cooking for children. She has also put her name on some ready meals now too. Here is an example of the box of one of them:”

pizza before Pro Pak pizza is a recipe for disappointment

“It cost £2.29, so isn’t a value pizza. It didn’t say “serving suggestion” but I’m not an idiot, I knew the pizza wouldn’t be exactly like the box. I did expect the mouth, nose and eyes at least though – pepper, tomato and olives being pretty normal pizza toppings, with the fresher ingredients like the cucumber and cress being what was referred to as “decorate with fresh vegetables” on the box.

“Here is what was inside though:”

pizza after Pro Pak pizza is a recipe for disappointment

“The manufacturers, Pro-Pak, said that the Legoland promotion on the box covered the serving suggestion text, and that “the intention is that youngsters can create a face of their choice, using the pizza as a template”, and besides “sales of these pizzas are high with few complaints of this nature”. That’s all right then – as long as it sells well, you don’t have to give people what they thought they were buying.”

Sorry Pro-Pak, but you really are talking a lot of bollocks. Even if “serving suggestion” was visible, most of the toppings shown are standard for pizza. If we’re to expect nothing but the basic pizza as you suggest, why are there olives? A “teddy bear pizza” suggests we’ll get a pizza that looks like a teddy bear – if not, then you should really refer to it as a “teddy bear-shaped pizza” because that’s what it is. Although you wouldn’t know it to look at the atrocious mash of crap above.

Hats off to Sainsbury’s who were good enough to refund Martin. No doubt they were also wondering why Pro-Pak thought this was acceptable, especially cheese pizzas this size are available from Sainsbury’s and other supermarkets for around 60p each, or roughly half the price Pro-Pak are charging.

Look over here – Brad Pitt is STILL making Japanese ads, presumably for teeming bucketloads of raw yen. In this new double-header for mobile phone compay Softbank, Pitt plays the PA of top Sumo wrestler Musashimaru Koyo. If only it counted towards the Oscars…

His duties include feeding the big man his fish and carrying him around when he goes down with an impromptu case of flip flop-knack. While tending to his pressing mobile phonular needs at all times, obviously.

The ads were made by hip director Spike Jonze, and he and Pitt should both be very proud of the piece of work they’ve pulled on Softbank achieved from an artistic perspective. As far as advertising is concerned it’s duller than a dead monkey one of the truly great campaigns of all time.

Incidentally, while Pitt is married to Angelina Jolie, Musashimaru’s other half is a hula hoop instructor. Hell, them long winter evenings must just fly by…