Downing Street

4 Clearly does not go into 1

Does anyone think that the current situation regarding COVID restrictions is a complete and utter farce?  4 clearly does not go into 1.

“What I am I on about now?”, I hear you say.

To alleviate your misery and anxiety (I think there is enough of that already), I will tell you. The situation with the differing lock down restrictions in the 4 countries of our once fantastic United Kingdom.

Politicians not delivering on their promise

Despite the politicians making statements that they would attempt to closely align. And Despite the World Health Organisation saying that it’s too late for lockdowns, each of the four countries are implementing wildly different lockdown rules.

Remember clear and simple?

If this is their idea of clear and simple messaging then they clearly don’t need the great British press to help confuse the issue (although I suspect the press will continue their games).


Whether you support devolution or not, there can be no greater example of it not working.

Even within England, the government and the local authorities are not working the same. Why is each and every tier 3 proposal a negotiation? It is utter madness!

My area

In the area that I reside, the negotiations are taking so long we have gone down 8 places in the COVID league tables at the time of writing/recording this. Give it another week and we won’t need to go up to tier 3. Oh, wait, that can’t be true because no one knows how you get down a tier.

Support is fading fast

I have previously been vocal in support of the government. I have been on record saying that whilst every political party have made mistakes, as long as they were trying to do the right thing, then I could accept mistakes. After all, there is no rule book for this situation.

Like many others, my patience is wearing very thin. For me it’s not about if lockdowns are needed, nor indeed if they work (there are plenty of opinions both scientific and political on that point) but the political and bureaucratic stupidity that surrounds it.

COVID politics

Throughout the pandemic, Nicola sturgeon has been playing political games and point scoring over Westminster . The timing of her press conferences and the comments make that clear. The refusal between the administration’s to conform on 1 standard is the icing in the cake!

I am utterly sick and tired of the political posturing. The ability for them to work together does not seem to exist. For me, they are ALL equally to blame. This is not a time for political point scoring. This should be the time for a single common approach. Be that local restrictions to a United Kingdom standard through national lock downs to letting the virus do its thing and beefing up the NHS to cope. I am almost at the point where I don’t care.

I say almost, because I certainly do care. But I want the elected leaders to do just that – Lead!

My plea to the “Leaders”

Again, as I so often do, I make a plea.

This time it is to our elected leaders. Please put aside your political differences and work together. Now, more than ever, the British public deserve clear, consistent and definite moves made based on the best advice available.

Further more, when you make rules, give it sufficient time to see if they are working before bringing in more. Surely, you want to know which rule is making the difference!

Stay Safe, even though 4 clearly does not go into 1.



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Stick with me


A single word in the English dictionary, but with such powerful meaning: Loyalty

Not only powerful, but desperately important, both in friendship and in business.


Can you imagine not knowing if you’re your friend will be your friend tomorrow? I have often written or spoke about the importance of friendship and real friends. Equally in tough times, showing loyalty to a small local business is so very important.

I am going to discuss both types of loyalty as they mean so much to me.


When it comes to friendship, I judge a real friend to be a person that you know will be there for you during thick and thin, good times and bad. You know that no matter how the friendship started, that person will be there for you. That is true loyalty. Loyalty that can’t be measured, nor should you feel the need to measure it. I will repeat what I have said in previous blogs, if you have 2 such friends, you are rich indeed.

Give and take

As with anything in life, it is not just about accepting loyalty. Giving loyalty is possibly even more important. It may not always be easy. They do say that a friend in need is a pain! I don’t consider this to be true. A friend in need who comes to you for help is a friend that recognises the friendship and loyalty. They trust you will be there for them. That alone is recognition that they value the friendship and know you will be there for them. There can be no greater complement.


In my opinion, it would be true to say that human friendship and loyalty is simple and clear cut. The world of business loyalty is far more complex and confusing.

As with loyalty in friendships, loyalty in business is a two way street.

You know who you are loyal to

If you are like me, there are certain businesses or brands that you trust implicitly. It may be a small local shop. Perhaps your local boozer. Maybe it is a big chain store.

The loyalty that you have is likely to have been built up over a long period of time. Months, years or perhaps even decades.

I am absolutely certain that you can name half a dozen such businesses that you will go out of your way to use. Those businesses will have served you well. Been there when you expected them to be. They will provide the service that you have come to know and appreciate.

That loyalty will have been hard earned by those businesses. Perhaps long hours. They may have tolerated you when you perhaps unknowingly upset them. It is possible that they helped you even when they knew you were wrong.

For their hard work, you choose to use that business or service over others when you can. You probably go out of your way to use them and support them.

In other words, they work hard for your loyalty and you choose to give it.

Some don’t get it

In other words, they work hard for your loyalty and you choose to give it.

How many times do you have to change company when they don’t recognise your loyalty? Perhaps when they give a better to deal to a new customer than they would to a long term customer. In 20+ years of owning a house, I think I have changed my insurance and utility providers in all but one year. Why? Simple, they are not willing to work for that loyalty, nor recognise it. Where is the loyalty in that? It is the same with banks and building societies, after an introductory period, the interest rates will rise or drop depending on the product.

For me, this defies any sort of logic. Surely it is better (and cheaper) to keep the customers they have. Attracting new customers is expensive and time consuming so why do they choose to alienate the customers who may become loyal if they were treated fairly.

Lies, Damn lies and statistics

Sure, in business it may look better on the balance sheet and reporting to show that they have gained x number of customers and hope that those customers will fall onto the ‘normal’ rates after a period of time. It’s what the shareholders like to see. What doesn’t show on a balance sheet is customer good will. They figures won’t show how much it cost to acquire those customers with cheap deals, advertising, on boarding etc. In many ways, what the shareholders are told goes back to the topic of lies, damn lies and statistics.

From my perspective, the best customers a business can have a rare loyal ones. They will promote your company more than a disgruntled one will. They will also respond with loyalty if, as a company, they earn it.

That has got to be better for customer and company alike. Surely that must be true. Put even in more simplistic terms, is it not just doing what is right?

In both of these scenarios, there is probably more to discuss and consider than I have time for in this blog and podcast. My view may be overly simplistic, potentially flawed in someways. It is however The rule that I live by. I want to offer my loyalty if I can and I so very much appreciate the loyalty that I believe I can count on and trust.

If the local community and high street achieved such levels of loyalty in terms of community and business, how wonderful would it be? The stress and pressures of life would reduce. Perhaps we would even be happier in our lives.

My plea to you

As is often the case,  I am finishing this weeks entry with a plea to all the people who read or listen to this. The please is simply to try and offer loyalty whenever you feel you can. Both to your closest friends and the those small local businesses that are close to you.



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Lies, Damn lies and statistics

Lies, Damn lies and statistics

In a blog and podcast a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Great British press. Their ability to fill hours of broadcast time and newspaper columns with no facts at all is really quite staggering. However, if you ask for the plain facts, then you are opening your arms to a deluge of statistics. Not just statistics, but lies, damn lies and statistics!

Statistics are dangerous. Sounds like an odd statement? Perhaps, but please hear me out.

Stats will tell you anything you want

I do believe that you can find statistics that you can use to prove anything that you want to. Equally, you can find statistics that will disprove it.

Not only this, but people often don’t know what the statistics represent. Nor do they always understand what is good and bad. I see this almost every day of my working life.

At it’s simplest, I could say to you that 50% of the people in a pub like me. Conversely, 50% of the people in the pub don’t like me. Perhaps an overly simplistic example, but you get what I mean.

So why do I chose to discuss this topic right now? Well right now, we need clear and concise information.

No News and statistics overload

When I spoke about the Great British Press talking about no facts for hours on end I stated that I wanted facts rather than rumour. Equally, I don’t want statistics overload. Nor do I want more ambiguity and confusion. We have enough ambiguity and confusion right now!

If you look on the internet for statistics on Coronavirus, you will find them. Boy, will you find them. But what are they telling us? If you know, then you are probably a better person than me.

Whilst the topic can cover anything, it is pertinent to discuss the covid stats.

We are deluged with graphs and charts. The media is full of them. But you don’t need to look to far to see that the stats presented are rarely independent. Lets face it, bad news and sensationalism sells newspapers. They attract audiences. The press flood us with shock and awe almost to the level of doomsday prophesies. Infections are going through the roof, hospitals admissions are rising after only a day or two of new rules. Sound familiar?

If you look at what the stats are, spend some time thinking about them, understanding them, you soon learn that they don’t always make sense. Yet how many people actually do that? Who takes a look at the charts and then just listens to the commentary? They believe what they are told, not always what they say.

So what do we do?

Firstly, identify the question that you want an answer to. Don’t think about the answer that you want, be open minded.

Next, do your own research and build the understanding of what information you need to help you answer your question.

Then, source the data from a reliable source that you trust. Stick with that data. Understand the data.

The data you want, may not always give you a happy answer. If you expect that you will start looking for different data that will tell you want to hear. What’s the point in that?

We need News, Facts and sensible stats. Let’s avoid Lies, Damn lies and statistics.


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Rail Tracks

Rail Unions

Before I start talking about Rail Unions, I would like to make it clear that I am not against unions as such.

The concept of a union is great. Throughout our working lives, we all need support at some time or other. Having someone there to support help and represent you is without doubt a good thing.

Having said that, there are also bad sides to our unions.

I really do not understand why the unions deem it necessary to link to a political party nor why they think that strike action is a suitable action.

So why do I rant about this now?

The answer is simple. I have been affected by a strike. Yes, in the middle of a pandemic the RMT union has called a strike. Of all the things a staycation might be impacted by in the current climate, this is not one I expected.

I have had to make alternative arrangements at an additional cost to myself. If this was due to the pandemic I would have accepted. To say I am livid about this would be an understatement.

Strike action

It may be an unpopular view in some quarters, but I believe strike action is disruptive, counterproductive and childish!


A strike disrupts the lives of the people who pay the wages of the staff and funds the union – the customers. Why would anyone think that this might be a good idea? Personally, I go out of my way to look after my customers. After all, they provide my livelihood.


Whatever the grievance maybe, I don’t believe losing money, continuity of pension payments and all the associated hardships that it would bring to the staff and families can be justified. Not only this, but it alienates people who may otherwise support them.


Do you remember when you were a kid? Perhaps playing a board game with the parents. When you were not winning or getting your own way you would have a tantrum. Throw the board in the air and say, “I’m not playing anymore”. 

There are distinct similarities between a child losing a game and strike action. i.e. lets have a strop and not play anymore!


As professional adults, in a safety critical role, surely a childish attitude is not normal. For me, this is an internal discussion between employer and employee. Anyone who has been in work for a number of years will no doubt have had disagreements with their seniors. The question of it is appropriate to air your grievances in front of both your customers and the public does not seem a professional way of proceeding. Most assuredly it is not something I would contemplate.


The best way to resolve the issue is to talk it through sensibly and find the middle ground. Threatening to eject you toys from the pram and storming out does no one any good.

I am sure the union leaders would say they have tried to talk. Compromise has been attempted. However, I believe that ultimately they are failed politicians and want to try and play in that arena. The staff just become a pawn in their attempt to make a political point.


My plea to the unions and their members. Don’t take strike action. No one gains. If you win some benefit, you do so at what cost? Please resolve your difference in an adult and discrete way. I don’t want to know you troubles, I have enough of my own and you are only adding to them.

You have a great opportunity and responsibility as a union to help and support your members. But do it in a positive and constructive way. You are not politicians. 

Rail Unions – Grow up.

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Customer Service Revisited

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post that talked about Customer Service. It is now time to cover this once more – Customer service revisited.

In the first article, I asked the simple question, should getting good customer service be a battle?

The obvious answer, is “No, it should not be a battle”. I whole heartedly agree with such an answer.

Some companies have it right but it goes without saying that many companies get it wrong.

I like to think that I am fair and balanced when it comes to recognising and commenting and such things. 

In the last week, I have witnessed the rather excellent, and the downright ugly. I will discuss both.

It should be noted, that both these interactions with customer services took place over the increasingly popular online chat. I actually don’t mind these as they do offer convenience. Sure, you don’t get the human interaction, the body language or the tome of voice, but it can be rather convenient

The Good

I would first like to discuss the good.

The company concerned is an internet service provider. In-fact, they host some of my web sites.

I have had cause to contact them twice in the last week. In the first instance I raised a case online as I had some queries which were not particularly urgent. The second contact was via the online chat as I was having technical difficulties that I needed help on.

In both instances, I got very prompt responses. The raised case was answered in about 15 minutes. Via online chat the technician was instantly available and stayed with me until the problem was resolved. I could absolutely ask for nothing more.

In both cases the representatives were friendly, courteous, helpful and went over an above to help out. Fantastic.

The bad and the ugly

The UK’s mobile telephone companies are not known for their high quality customer service. Researching on the internet it is usually scored low. That may be unfair in some cases, however it does tally with most experiences that I have had.

The issue I encountered was one of a service that I had taken out was not up to the expectations that had been set, rightly or wrongly in my mind by their representatives.

When I contacted them regarding the subject, I was instantly made aware that this was not going to be a good experience and indeed it wasn’t, or should I say still isn’t!

Wrong attitude

The attitude of the representative(s) was instantly aggressive. Immediately, they were checking logs of conversation’s and chats that had happened. This instantly tells me that they are not interested in helping, nor are they interested in listening. All they were bothered about was protecting themselves and their interests. This is know as an ‘Inside out’ company. I.e. one that exists to serve its own purposes not to serve the customers.

The conversation continued and because they found no log of the conversation that set my expectations they effectively accused me of lying! Whilst they never used the words, the insinuation was there.

However, I persisted, never losing my calm or being abusive, I just wanted them to take ownership of the issue. The first agent hung up on me. Without delay, I instantly reconnected and the second agent hung up on me after telling me I needed to phone another department in the morning.

It was only on my 3rd attempt that I got a manager who did take a level of ownership and logged the complaint.

Two very very different experiences.


What causes me much puzzlement is why. Why would a company be aggressive and defensive and the other extremely helpful.

I really wish I knew the answer to that question.

A key differentiator

I often shop and give business to those companies that excel at customer service. It is important to me. So very important. I guess I just want an easy life!

Who would you choose?

So which company will I recommend? Which company would I actively tell people to avoid?

I think the answer to that question is obvious. Not only that, but I now want to quit the company with poor service. So not only will I warn people against them, they will be losing my business.


Word of mouth recommendation is one of the most powerful promoters or detractors. For those that get the service right it is a massively positive effect. The converse is unfortunately true.

It comes from the top

I do not blame the staff on the front line, the execs and so called customer service experts that set the standards, process and procedures are to blame. I am sure those people working for the bad company would help me if they could.

To all my listeners, I would repeat what I said earlier in the year. Stand up for yourself. Do not be wronged or tolerate poor service. Equally, celebrate the good.

Vote with your money and your opinion.

Stand up for good

Perhaps if more people take a stand against the poor service, those companies will be hit where it hurts – in their wallet and will do something about it.

It should not be a battle. Customer service should be easy. Seamless. Those companies are out there. Please support them.


Thank you for reading ‘Customer Service Revisited’.


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