Management

Honesty is the best Policy...or not?

I have been having a great time uncovering, albeit by accident, some interesting practices by Broadband Providers. The companies in question are Plusnet and Sky.

You will all know Sky, because they are very famous and owned by the Murdoch Empire, but Plusnet only emerged a few years ago and not many people know that they are owned by BT! Yep BT broadband trading under a different name, just to fool us all.

Anyway it all started when I wanted to challenge Plusnet, why they haven't been able to give me lower prices as per their advertised rates on their website and also in their advertising on bill boards and TV. It's something I have challenged them on, from time to time, and the last time actually was over a year ago. But more about that in a bit.

Firstly I needed to do my research and as I detest Talk Talk the other leading broadband provider, (just had enough of their door to door cold calling techniques) and we are Sky TV customers (and I don't really want to be), they are showing some great offers on their website (Sky).

So I did my research and to my absolute amazement they are offering existing Sky customers £7.50 for Unlimited Broadband and 3 months free! But you have to purchase Sky Talk line rental as well, which includes free evening and weekend calls, so that's ok and they are showing that at £4.75 per month.

And here is the picture of my basket to prove to you that it's very very clear. A total of £12.25 per month and on top of that 3 months free!!

Are you still following me?

Basically by moving to Sky, we could save ourselves over £200 per year, OMG that's an amazing deal, or so I thought!

I nearly hit the purchase button, I was very close, but I decided to get one stage further in the checkout process and saw this...

As you can see it's still showing me the same figures £7.50 and £4.75, but can you see that other statement at the end 'when your offer finishes', suggesting that the price increases to £49.50? (It does include our Sky TV, don't worry about that it's the increase of £7.50 that is important to focus on.

So how was this calculated then?  Cut a long story short, I decided to call them and check it out and after 20 minutes getting nowhere in India, they transferred me to the UK and the agent confirmed to me, after speaking to 2 other colleagues as she had a tough time figuring it out as well, that they had discounted the Sky Talk by £7.50 per month to allow for the free broadband for 3 months.  So they had hidden the discount inside the Sky Talk rate for 3 months.

Why the ... did they do it in this way?  This is surely completely misleading the customer!  Making me think they I am going to get a really low rate but really after 3 months the Sky Talk rate goes up, which means the original £12.25 per month become £19.75.  Not such a great deal after all!

'Honesty is the best policy', so why did they not show honestly how the calculations work?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45Q13-poFBg

OK, on to Plusnet. Back in August 2010, I asked them why I was not able to get their cheap rates as advertised everywhere. They told me (a bit technical now), that my exchange was in what's called a market 1 and it needed to be market 3.  Basically it means that it needed more suppliers at the exchange and at least 3 of them need to have their equipment installed. All of this info I learned is available on www.samknows.com.  A great site with loads of detail about your exchange, and well worth reviewing in order to challenge your provider.  See the video a little bit further below.

Ok so then I asked them, when were they planning to put their equipment in the exchange and of course they were not, as they use the core BT network, after all they are owned by them!

So probably no chance of getting a cheaper rate then, so I left it.

Until now that is. See I decided to share with them the fact that Sky are able to give me unlimited Broadband for £7.50 per month and Sky and Talk Talk do actually have their equipment installed at the exchange.

Now instead of me writing what was said, I thought it would be interesting for you to read the full text of correspondence that went on between us.

22.11.11 2.48pm

I have noticed that you are offering some amazing deals at the moment. And although I have been in touch with you previously, we continue not to be eligible for these prices!  We are paying £17.99 for 60GB Broadband, plus £11.99 line rental. You are offering the Broadband now for £11.49, that's a saving of £6.50 per month and over the year of £78. I really believe that we are at a significant disadvantage staying with you.  As I am a Sky TV customer, I can get unlimited monthly broadband for £7.50 per month and line rental for £4.75 per month.  That is just £12.25 per month compared to your £29.98 per month. That is a massive saving of £212.76 per year! £17.73 per month!  Can you think of one reason why I shouldn't switch away from you?  I am really looking forward to hearing your recommendation on how I should proceed.

22.11.11 3.04pm!

Thank you for getting in touch. I can confirm you are now eligible for Plusnet Extra at £11.49 per month due to market area change. You were previously in a market 1 area meaning your price was higher, you are now in a market 2 area reducing costs.  To find out how this affects you please visit - http://www.plus.net/support/broadband/products/low_cost_areas.shtml If you choose to take up this new lower price service your monthly costs will be: Line rental - £11.99 (£12.99 as of 06/12/11) Plusnet Extra - £11.49 Total cost - £23.48 (£24.48 as of 06/12/11)

22.11.11 7.03pm

Thank you Kelly for coming back so quickly.  That's really interesting. In the past I was advised that I was not able to get cheaper prices. Here is one of the responses I received from Nick Godbehere, back in August 2010, when I tried previously to get cheaper prices from you.  "Thank you for your query. An exchange has to have at least 5 suppliers to be in a market 3 area. The rule is set in place by ofcom that lines with less than 5 available broadband service providers".  So it's now interesting to learn that a market 2 area now can give me cheaper prices!  Would you please be so kind as to confirm, when the exchange when to market 2?  If not I can find out from Samknows if need be.  Obviously you will be so kind as to give me a refund for the length of time that I could have had cheaper prices.  And you will obviously change the account on the cheaper prices immediately.  Looking forward to your response.

A short video explaining how to make use of Samknows and to learn about the differences between market areas and the resulting prices that you will pay for your Broadband.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5k-5K9Ycxco

23.11.11 9.35am

Hello, I just received confirmation from Samknows that my exchange went to market 2 in December 2010.  According to my calculations, that will be a refund of: 10 months @ £6.50 = £65.00 providing that today's bill will be at the cheaper price.  Looking forward to your confirmation.

23.11.11 11.21am

Thank you for getting back to us.  The most we can refund regarding market changes is 3 moths. We can either provide you either a 3 month discount of £6.50 or a refund of £19.50. Please advise how you wish to proceed.  Please do not hesitate to get back in touch online at http://contactus.plus.net or by phone on 0800 432 0200 if we can be of further assistance.

23.11.11 11.33am

Please advise why you are only able to provide 3 months refund?  I have been asking about a discounted price since August 2010, without success.  Surely it is down to you to advise your customers that there was a market change and change their prices, as otherwise you are effectively stealing from your customers.  I wonder what Ofcom will have to say about this?  I look forward to a more positive response please advise who else does this need to be escalated to?

23.11.11 2.49pm

Up until July this year the only areas we had the lower prices in were those designated as Market 3 exchanges. From July 2011 we allowed new customers signing up in Market 2 areas to obtain the lower price too. Your exchange is currently set as Market 2.  As we've only been offering the lower prices on Market 2 exchanges since July, this is the maximum period we can backdate any discounts to you for. The changes took effect in the August bills so that's 4 months discounts we can give you at £6.50 per month.  I've applied these to your account for the next 4 months on top of ongoing reduction you're now entitled to following the Market classification change in July.

23.11.11 4.16pm

Thank you and of course I am grateful for the 4 months instead of 3. It does beg the question though why I was not offered 4 months by Phil and zero by Kelly?  My I remind you that the only reason you are now offering me cheaper rates is because I advised Plusnet yesterday that I was looking to move to Sky.  Now I am no expert, however I am being advised by Samknowsbroadband that the change to Market 2 took effect in December 2010. And they sent me this link as reference: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/wba/wba-statement/.  I have today spoken with Ofcom and lodged a complaint about this and have written to your Customer Services Director, of which letter is attached. You can look through tickets that I have raised back in August 2010, where I have been asking about why I was not able to receive cheaper rates, so you can look in the archives to read all those.  As a company you are really not portraying a good image for the Broadband supplier market and I thought Plusnet were different to all the others and clearly you are not.  I am not satisfied with the 4 months refund and if indeed the market 2 rules changed in December 2010, I expect a full 10 month refund accordingly.

23.11.11 5.24pm

Your exchange did indeed change to Market 2 back in December 2010, however at that time our prices for Market 2 customers were the same as for Market 1 (the higher value).  It was only in July this year that we made the decision to move Market 2 prices to match those of Market 3 (the lower value).  This is the reason that I've only offered 4 months as this is the timescale that Market 2 customers have had the cheaper price.  With regards to rules for the pricing in each Market area, that's up to us (Plusnet) to set what we sell these at to our customers and as I've said in my previous reply and this reply we didn't lower the price for Market 2 until July this year.

And it continued on Twitter too...

Plusnet's slogan 'Good Honest Broadband from Yorkshire' is very far fetched indeed, don't you think?

Sky's slogan 'Happily ever After', yes indeed after we have misled you and increase your rates 'after'!

Please share this article with all and every broadband user, so that they too can challenge their supplier for the best possible rates!

Good luck...

Lord Digby Jones | Fix Britain and Standing for Mayor

John Duckers reports on a speech by Lord Digby Jones on whether he intends to stand for Birmingham mayor. LORD Jones of Birmingham says an elected mayor for the city is not enough – we need an elected mayor for the West Midlands.

Speaking to Birmingham Business Breakfast Club at the Botanical Gardens, he insisted he had not yet decided whether he would stand because of the lack of clarity over the powers available.

"I am not too sure an elected mayor for Birmingham is what we should be campaigning about," he told the 120-strong gathering.

"We should be campaigning about an elected mayor for the West Midlands. The issues are about the region; not just Birmingham."

An elected mayor should govern for Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry, with each of the constituent cities able to elect a representative to the mayor's cabinet.

What would the powers of an elected mayor be, he asked?

Would a mayor be able to go into schools and say 'This is how it is going to be' in a bid to address poor literacy and numeracy standards?

Controversially, Lord Jones would stop the benefits of parents whose children failed to reach basic levels, offering them only food coupons so they wouldn't go hungry.

Would an elected mayor be able to implement an integrated transport system to reflect expansion of the airport, HS2 and possibly a Crossrail for Birmingham? Or would elected mayors be mere "glorified council leaders"?

"They should have the same powers as Boris Johnson in London and Alex Salmond in Scotland. There are 5.3 million people in the West Midlands, the same size as Scotland.

"I want these questions answered before I make a decision on whether to stand. I genuinely don't know. I have not made up my mind."

But he quipped: "I would make a lousy politician.....because I tell the truth."

He said he was in favour of HS2 but only if the route was changed to go through the existing "pollution corridor" along the M40 and Chiltern rail line.

And if that meant spending a bit more to sort out bends and inclines, then it should be done.

But he was cautious on how many jobs would come to the region as a result.

"It will create jobs here but it won't create long term sustainable jobs. Birmingham, and particularly south Birmingham, will become the northernmost suburb of London. A lot of work will go down south."

Lord Jones was one of the four founders of the BBBC in 1983 and was quickly bantering with old legal mate John James.

To get the club running, it was decided the four would all bring a chum to the next get-together and Digby invited John.

"It was a case of either JJ got up and came to the breakfast or he got up and went home."

To read John Duckers blog follow this link: http://www.duckersanddiving.co.uk

To hear the full speech, please listen to the recording below.

Steve Dineen | 'The Future is Social' | 11.11.11

Steve Dineen, Executive Chairman of Fusion Universal, talks at the 'The Future is Social" event at Mahiki London on 11.11.11. Explains why workplace learning has to adopt a new way of learning and demonstrates how 'Fuse' has been developed to facilitate this.  It's 25 minutes long, but well worth listening to.  Steve has an amazing vision.  He talks about and introduces some videos, and as it is just an audio recording, they have obviously been left out.  Enjoy!

Steve Dineen | 'The Future is Social' | 11.11.11 by Stayingaliveuk on Mixcloud

Leadership in Troubled Times?

20111107-200926.jpg Are you a leader? In case you need some help with the answer...yes you are! We are all leaders in some way, whether it is at work, in the home, at your sports club, in your charity or community. We all have a leadership role to play in our lives.

But...

We don't all recognise the leader inside of us, do you?

And...

We do recognise who the leaders are in our governments and in the corporate world. And we do love to judge, blame and call them from time to time a silly name. Well someone needs to be the leader, the one who leads the way, the person that sets her/himself up to be shouted at. Actually I pity them, because they have a thankless task and often we do not really appreciate them.

So why do they decide to become a leader and seeing as you ARE a leader in your life, what makes you decide to be one too? Have a think about it and when you can answer this question for yourself, you will have a better idea why the leaders in our world have chosen to become one. Exclude the dictators, but even so, we all have a small dictator inside of us!

And now comes the 'trillion dollar' question. Do you believe our leaders will lead us out of these troubled times? And if you don't believe they can, why don't you think they can? Answers on a postcard please!

Well if you do decide to answer this question, feel free to make your comments on this blog post.

The current unprecedented economic downturn has never been experienced by our leaders, so they don't have all the answers. I remember from my days in corporate management, being a board director, that many employees complained about the directors, but were never willing to offer any alternative opinions or solutions.

So here's my advice to you. Time to be a leader, whether it's in your private life or work life, start if you have not already done so by offering alternative opinions and solutions. You have a voice and make sure it's heard, make sure it's constructive and share it with others to get a consensus view before submitting your ideas.

Leaders need other leaders to step forward and assist them with new ideas. They haven't got all the answers and if handled properly and providing they are a good leader, they will take your ideas on board and develop them further.

Go on do it today, be brave, be bold, be a LEADER!

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Scott Watson on Female Unemployment

Shock statistics have painted a grim picture of retail unemployment particularly among female workers.  A recent study undertaken by analysts Ssentif has shown that unemployment among female retail workers has risen by an astonishing 27% in the last 12 months.

With high street retail giants such as Habitat and Jane Norman entering into administration, 126,000 former retail workers are now claiming job seekers allowance up from 94,000 one year ago.

Human Resources expert Scott Watson says that companies should be legally obliged have a duty to their redundant staff to up skill their job hunting skills in a proactive effort to help them exit unemployment more quickly.

'Of course companies needing to make job cuts or entering administration need to rein in costs.  This does though need to be balanced with corporate social responsibility for those staff who are affected.  He continues, 'This will not only help the economy to regenerate but also help skills transference in to other more buoyant sectors'.

'During the 1980's the mass closure of coal mines throughout the North resulted in the emergence of new service centre economies such as the call centre industry. Even with the current economic climate, this skills transference can be replicated in today's challenging job's market, ' Watson added.

Scott and his team have started a ground breaking online service for job hunters, called MyOnlineJobCoach, which provides expert advice on how to prepare and secure your next career move.  Fascinating concept and at a fraction of the cost (Normally £87 but via here Just £47 for 12 months) of what outplacement companies charge you for that advice.

A must for corporates who are making redundancies or putting people in the "at risk" category.

Although corporates may not be able to do anything about the economic issues, they could provide their redundant employees with a 'feel-good factor', by providing access to a site where they have over 40 videos with practical and sound advice.

Scott Watson is an international human resources expert who advises organisations including DHL, GE, AXA amongst many others.  He is author of the book 'Win Every Time - Essential Lessons For Existing and Emerging Leaders'.  Scott has personally trained over 10,000 individuals across the globe to enhance their effectiveness.

Phone Hacking | Murdoch | UK Government | Met Police | News of The World

OK I have been thinking how all this reminds me of something, something very familiar, something that started in a comic strip many years ago, something we have all been exposed to in our lives. Yes it's Superman, Batman and Robin, Cat Woman and I am sure you can think of many more. So here are some of the characters, can you think of any others?

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Lex Luthor's son = James Murdoch
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Daily Planet = News of the World
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Batman = David Cameron
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Robin = Nick Clegg
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Superman = Ed Milliband
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Police Commissioner Gordon = Sir Paul Stephenson
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Cat Woman = Rebecca Brookes

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