Rants

HKTVMall - customer service

A small follow up to my post on HKTVMall. 

Just to say that their customer service really isn’t great.

I ordered something that was supposed to be available within 4-7 working days.  Then just two days later I noticed that they had updated the order with a delivery date - the following day, at a time when no-one would be home.  So I contacted their customer service.

I opened the chat window and entered my question.  And waited.  And waited.  It took about 25 minutes for someone to respond.

Me: I notice you are planning to deliver this item tomorrow.
HKTVMall: The item will be delivered within 4-7 working days
HKTVMall: Monday to Friday
Me: That’s fine, but your website shows that it will be delivered tomorrow and no-one will be home
HKTVMall: Please wait, I'm checking the item.
HKTVMall: The item hasn’t arrived in our warehouse.
Me: So the information on your website is meaningless?
HKTVMall: The item hasn’t arrived in our warehouse.

That might look like a brief conversation, but it actually took 20 minutes (after the 25 minute wait for someone to appear).  To achieve precisely nothing.

Someone must have decided that they were planning to deliver it the next day, but apparently this information isn’t shared with their Customer Services team.

Needless to say, they did try to make the delivery the following day, and no-one was home.

I’ve had other deliveries that have been later than the (4 hour) timeslot, and others that have been several hours early.  And the previous time I tried to contact their Customer Services it took one hour for them to respond, by which time I had given up (but I hadn't closed the chat window, so I know how long it took). 

Quite a lot of work to be done on customer service, then.    


MTR rules, rules, rules

Last time I was in London, I didn’t swipe my card correctly and so I got charged for several “incomplete journeys”.  I filled in an online form explaining what had happened, and received a refund a day or two later.  Great service.

Then, back in Hong Kong I went to meet my wife on an MTR platform, but she wasn’t feeling well so we exited the station.  I was charged HK$9.8 - it turned out I had been in the station for 22 minutes, and if you enter and leave at the same station more than 20 minutes later they charge you HK$10.

I fully understand why they have this charge, but it is slightly ridiculous because if you want to circumvent it you simply travel (let’s say) from Wan Chai to Tsuen Wan and straight back to Admiralty and you will only pay HK$4.5.

Anyway, I tried to explain the circumstances to the station staff, but of course (this being Hong Kong) they have to fill in a form.  A few days later I get a letter explaining the relevant MTR byelaws and hoping that this clarifies the situation.


Only in Chinese

I received an email from Spotify (entirely in Chinese).  Ignored it.

Turns out that it was telling me that I have to change my password.

But no English translation!!

This is what it says (courtesy of Google translate):

Please update your Spotify account password

Hello Spotify the User:

To protect your Spotify account, we have reset your password. This is because you use the same password for other services data leakage accident occurred, so we think your Spotify have hacked possible.
do not worry! It is only a preventive measure Yet no one else entered your Spotify account, your data is still safe.


To create a new password to be able to continue to sign in the future Spotify, please just press the green button on the big side.


Not a big risk

This is ridiculous (from The Guardian):

Processed meats rank alongside smoking as cancer causes – WHO

UN health body says bacon, sausages and ham among most carcinogenic substances along with cigarettes, alcohol, asbestos and arsenic

Bacon, ham and sausages rank alongside cigarettes as a major cause of cancer, the World Health Organisation has said, placing cured and processed meats in the same category as asbestos, alcohol, arsenic and tobacco.

The report from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer said there was enough evidence to rank processed meats as group 1 carcinogens because of a causal link with bowel cancer.

It places red meat in group 2A, as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. Eating red meat is also linked to pancreatic and prostate cancer, the IARC says.

The IARC’s experts concluded that each 50-gram (1.8-ounce) portion of processed meat eaten daily increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.

Really - they found “a causal link with bowel cancer”?  I don’t think so.  What they found was that people who eat more processed meat have a higher incidence of cancer.  It’s easy to play around with the data and identify some correlation between two items, but if you want to go on to establish a causal link you need to do a much better study that eliminates most of the other variables. 

And “Bacon, ham and sausages rank alongside cigarettes as a major cause of cancer”.  Well, not really.  The Q&A (issued with the press release) says that:

this does NOT mean that they are all equally dangerous.  The IARC classifications describe the strength of the scientific evidence about an agent being a cause of cancer, rather than assessing the level of risk.

I think it’s that weasel word “alongside” (used by The Guardian in their headline as well as the body of the article), with its implication that they are somehow equivalent.  Which they aren’t

We know beyond all reasonable doubt that smoking causes cancer, we certainly don’t know that about sausages, ham and bacon.  Plus, all they are saying is that your risk of these cancers might go up from 5% to 6%.

Other journalists have added their own speculation.  There was a cover story in Time magazine that included the suggestion that it could be the nitrates / nitrites (probably not, as the body produces nitrites) or the process of cooking (grilling, frying, BBQ) - but I’m sure that theory was debunked.   

I can think of two simple explanations.  People who eat a lot of sausages and bacon might have a generally unhealthy lifestyle and could well be overweight, or could it just be the quality of the meat that is used in cheap sausages and ham?  But neither of those would really be news. 


You want English? Learn Chinese!

If you live in Greater China you will know that stuff (phones, tablets, etc.) often comes with Chinese as the default setting.  And the (pitifully) few Chinese characters I might recognize are nowhere near enough to navigate through the menus to find the option to change to English.  

Yes it’s my own fault for buying a tablet with Chinese Windows.  I was in a hurry and I assumed that it would be easy to switch to English.  Indeed (with some help), I changed the primary language to English. 

Then I downloaded Evernote Touch, and it’s all in Chinese.  What?  I couldn’t find the menu in the application, and it turns out you have to do something in Windows and then all is (reasonably) well.  Anyway, waste of time because it’s rubbish.  Back to the normal (desktop version) of the program, which is fine except that there’s no way to do a right-click.  

This is strange because in Google Chrome you can do a right-click (hold your finger and up pops a menu). 

But back to the point - is it too much to ask that there should always be a button or high-level menu in English, Spanish, or French that takes you to language selection?  


Hong Kong not so good- HKIA North Satellite Concourse

There’s not too much wrong with Hong Kong International Airport.  Apart from the North Satellite Concourse, that is.

It was opened more than 5 years ago (for smaller planes such as the Airbus A320 / A321), and yet the only way to get there (or back) is by taking a shuttle bus across the apron….

…which is also used by large planes.

As the planes take priority, the buses often get delayed on the tarmac.  And it doesn’t take much for the whole system to grind to a halt.  Recently I had a lengthy wait for a bus to arrive, and then, once it departed, it moved just a few hundred metres - and we had to wait for another 7-8 minutes before it could continue the short journey to the North Satellite Concourse.  Total delay – around 20 minutes, and too much time spent standing on a crowded bus.  

The best solution from the smart people at HKIA is advice to passengers to allow extra time to get there.  Thanks a lot. 

Needless to say, it doesn’t have a lounge (there is a Starbucks if you want to pay for food and drink, which I don’t - thanks all the same).

Is this really an improvement on buses that go directly to planes parked a little further away (which they also still do)?


This is your bank calling

It’s bad enough receiving unsolicited sales calls on my mobile (though I find that either ignoring them until they hang up, or saying “Hello, who’s calling?” usually work quite well), but I get seriously annoyed when my bank keeps calling to sell me stuff.

Yes, “my bank”. I have had an account (and a credit card) with them for quite a few years, and, after all that time, one might think that they know something about me.

But no - as well as trying to sell me services that they ought to know that I don’t need, they can’t even address me correctly.  OK, yes, it is one of my names, but it’s not the correct one.

I told them to stop calling me, and they warned me that I might miss out on a new product or service.  Well, yes, that’s the idea.  If I need something, I believe I am probably capable of asking them for assistance.


It’s a phone, stupid

Most annoying mobile phone feature?  Some clever person at Blackberry decided that the best way to handle a low battery would be….to terminate your phone call without any prior warning.  Not even a minute or two to scramble for a charger, oh no.  We have to preserve the battery so you can, er, read your emails?

Amazingly, there appear to be people who thing this is a good piece of design, and will tell you that you should check your battery before making a call.  Thanks for the advice.

Fortunately I don’t totally rely on my Blackberry, and I have another phone that doesn’t think it knows what’s best for me,   

In other news, Spotify still doesn’t work on my Windows 7 PC. 


Despicable foreigners (again)

Is the SCMP really so short of letters to publish that it can always find room for the incoherent ranting of Pierce Lam?

This time he seems determined to make a more general point about a single incident in an under 12 football match.  You won’t be surprised to hear that the player who committed the foul was Caucasian and playing for an ESF team. 

Probe kick incident thoroughly

South China Morning Post - Mar 31, 2012

Your editorial ("Adults must set sporting example", March 21) prevaricates and is clearly partial.

To provide a context for the attack [at a schoolboy soccer game], it referred to circumstances not captured in the video, by referring to emotions that swelled on the losing side - the players, their parents and the coach who were losing hope over the game.

Overenthusiastic parents and coaches are not uncommon in all kinds of junior competitions that take place all over the world every day.

The main issue that your editorial sidestepped is why such a common experience of immense pressure to win resulted in such unusual violence in Hong Kong.  The comment about "parents rushing onto the pitch and getting into a shoving match with the coach" after the assault is misleading and irrelevant.

Why is it misleading and irrelevant?

It was imperative, and not just sensible, that concerned parents intervene in an unfair game that had turned violent, especially as neither the referees nor the losing team's coach commanded confidence. All along, Kitchee Escola played a graceful and very respectable game.

Was Pierce Lam there at the game?  Or has he just watched a video on You Tube that has been edited to highlight the fouls committed by the ESF team?

The culpable English Schools Foundation Lions boy was a scapegoat if, as your editorial alleged, he "paid the penalty", although he "would not have harmed a fellow player and gained notoriety had those around him set the right example". Who are these real but unpunished hidden culprits?

Surely the SCMP meant the parents at the game.

Ben Lam Chan-bun, a spokesman for the league to which the two teams belonged, tried to wrap up the horrific incident, saying that Kitchee "only wanted an apology" and that "we don't want to cause any trouble with the ESF; we know they are good schools" ("Shock at head-kicking in boys' soccer match", March 13). This is a grossly myopic and irresponsible attitude.

The parents and members of the winning team demonstrated remarkable self-restraint, and we must ensure that we will see justice fairly administered in the head-kicking case.

The kicking incident was not a private issue between two boys or two teams.

Really? Oh yes, because Pierce Lam hates the English Schools Foundation (ESF) and wants it closed down.

Both Hong Kong and the world at large are concerned about the question posted in the headline of Jamie Spence's letter ("What is root of violence in junior sport?" March 16).

I don't think a similar kicking incident would happen in Singapore, Tokyo or Shanghai, so why Hong Kong? To prevent a similar incident from happening here in the future, the concerned parties must investigate the case thoroughly and report their findings to the public.

Pierce Lam, Central

Does Mr Lam have any evidence to support his assertion that this would not happen in Singapore, Tokyo or Shanghai?  I don’t think so.   


Braun battery-operated toothbrushes are rubbish

imageSurely Braun are having a laugh when they claim to offer a 2 year guarantee on their Oral B battery-operated toothbrushes .  In my experience they become hopelessly unreliable after only a few months of usage.  Yes, you can fiddle around with them and prolong their life for a few more weeks, but after that you might as well throw them away.

I console myself with the fact that if you subtract the cost of the brushhead and the two batteries, the tube of plastic and the motor don't really cost that much.

One day I'll keep the receipt and try to return one of them when it stops working after 8 months.  No, I won't, will I?  I'd probably have to return it to a Service Centre in Mong Kok or Kowloon Bay and queue up to take it back, and then go back and queue up again to collect it again when they've repaired it.  Too much trouble, lah.