Monthly Archives: June 2014

East Coast – Nothing has improved

Due to the lack of flight availability over this weekend we are travelling to London by train. I used to use the train quite a bit, but found some of the customer service pretty lacking, so today we climbed aboard the 9.30am train to London Kings X quite looking forward to seeing what has changed over the last few years.

The answer simply is NOTHING! The first problem which luckily didn’t impact us was seat reservations. A great number of tourists climbed into the First Class carriage to find that their seat reservation numbers didn’t exist. The pandemonium that ensued was a sight to see, the platform staff got on board to try and sort out telling the customers (I will call them this!) to sit anywhere as the expected train was diesel but this one was electric so the seating configuration was different.

I can’t quite imagine BA trying to get 100 passengers onto a 50 seat flight, everyone had paid and had a seat reservation. Once the train set off it was back to the quality catering, Claire has had milk, coffee and tea spilled on her 4 times between Edinburgh and York. That’s a record!

I am looking forward to the allocated quarter of sandwich coming round soon.

When we arrived in Newcastle a lovely old lady got on with a team member providing some help with luggage (nice I hear you say), it was good, up until the point the stand up row ensued with the staff member shouting at the customer told to sit “anywhere” in Edinburgh being physically ejected from the seat.

The train leaves the station platform with the staff member on board, he has not been seen since, but may enjoy a day out in London!!

So, East Coast, a few things:

  1. Weekend catering should be the same as during the week, why differentiate the service
  2. Price I hear you say – charge more – it looks like the people in the First Class carriage can afford it
  3. Catering yield management – allocate more than 1/2 sandwich per person – doesn’t seem unreasonable.
  4. Staff training and communication – we are customers – and yes the customer is always right….or use one our proverbs “Treat Customers as I would want to be treated”

A two tier First Class service just doesn’t work.

Google Glass review

Google Glass went on sale on the 23rd June at 17.27, I had ordered by 17.30. I just thought it would be interesting to see what they were like.

I have to say, having come home today and opened the box, I only can say one this – disappointed.

I know you look pretty stupid but I was hoping for something a little more than a headset for my mobile phone. In the UK wifi isn’t quite so prevalent as it is in the US (not in Scotland anyway) so really you need to be tethered to your phone via Bluetooth and a personal hotspot.

Firstly the call quality is terrible, it is a lovely interface and very convenient for taking video of the odd snap, but no more convenient than having a phone in your pocket.

Here are a few snaps:

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The ability to shoot video is quite cool, but I think really it is slightly too complex and an expensive peripheral to my phone.

So ihey are heading back to Google tomorrow. Unfortunately their customer service is pretty shocking and I have spent most of the night trying to return it! I tried OK Glass return…but that didn’t work.

Edinburgh – losing out on Electric car infrastructure?

It seems that Edinburgh isn’t well supported in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

This is unusual as press coverage as recently as 2013 suggested the roll out of a large FREE charging network.

Our Dynamic Earth (active)
EICC (inactive – can’t find it)
Napier University (active but I can’t seem to get access)
Sainsbury’s Longstone Store (Working!)
IKEA Edinburgh (Working!)

You can see from the following diagrams that we are lacking in Edinburgh compared to our neighbour on the West Coast.

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It is about time that we do something about this…!

Chargemaster Charging Issues

For anyone expecting a Tesla Model S, the importance of installing a home charging point is high on the list. I personally have found this a nightmare, especially as there are limited providers in Scotland to proide the government supported installation.

My house has a garage which is approximately 20m away from the mains supply. There is cabling but this goes through a consumer unit within the house, then a second one in the garage.

There is a 32a breaker in the house and similar in the second consumer unit.

I contracted with Everwarm to install which was completed last week. They installed the Chargemaster Homecharge I 30 A (White H7T2T unit). This is a Type 2 Tethered unit (see photo below).

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(The box)

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(Installation complete)

All was well at 30a for around 20 minutes and then the Chargemaster unit developed the red light fault, charging stopped.
Reset and same again around 15 minutes later. We reduced the input to 20a and all worked OK, anyone else had a similar problem.
Voltage is around 237v, it is a little way from the main supply so might be voltage drop, but not expert enough to comment!
Have posted on Tesla Forum, emailed Chargemaster and will email Everwarm too.

The Fear

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I have spoken to lots and lots of people with ideas.

We are all very creative and want to build things, great companies, houses, projects and families.

I think one of the major reason more people don’t start companies is “The Fear”. It’s the fear that things will go wrong, they will lose what they have worked so hard for.

It has never been easier to start a company, we live in a gently regulated country that makes starting up a business quite simple, we have some of the best “angel” investment schemes in the world (from a tax perspective) and the internet has changed everything.

You don’t need to be physically in a market to serve it well, you can be thousands of miles away from your customers and it still works.

This gives you the freedom to choose where to live and not have to be based in major metropolitan areas. I lived in the North of Scotland when I started Diet Chef, apart from the slightly ropey cell phone reception it worked.

But I was under no illusion that my market wasn’t the Highlands of Scotland, but the rest of the UK. The distribution networks (whether online or physical) support movement of goods and services to where they are most likely to be consumed. New marketing channels (Amazon for authors, online for retailers, marketplaces for services) make distribution so much easier than it used to be.

OK I accept it is more risky than working for someone else, but the personal and financial rewards are also much higher.

How do I put up with this sh*t…

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One really unsung hero in the 20 years of hard effort that gets you to where you are today is your partner.

I have to say that Claire, my wife and partner for over 25 years (note I don’t know the exact number and I will be in trouble) has been a superstar.

There are lots of people out there that will tell you that you are not successful, you will spend many hours doubting yourself and of course failing (lets skip over that for now).

But really there is no one out there that values my input and commitment like my partner and wife – Claire

She has spent the last 20 years listening to utter bullshit from me! It is so close to being successful, next year I won’t work so hard and spend more time at home. Just to illustrate this I thought I would let you all know (as in Claire – no one else reads this!) my last 14 days.

I have spent a huge amount of time in the US, came home, flew to London for “leisure” which would have been fine if it hadn’t been on the only weekend that I was home and then get up this morning, go to work and then fly to London again!

It’s difficult to describe what Claire has to put up with, but a mixture of not being there and turning up for short periods of time to unload washing and then go to work again, gives you an insight.

But anyone that meets Claire will totally understand that she doesn’t put up with sh*t – let me tell you I have heard lots of customer service staff quake in terror of having her on the other end of the phone.

If you can have someone in your life as dedicated to your personal and family success as Claire – you are a very lucky person…

Let me give you a simple example:

Me: “We are moving to California”
Claire: “When?”
Me: “Next month” (I can’t add the exclamation mark otherwise it will looks set up!)
Claire: “What about my family, our 12 week old daughter Freyja and my life” (she didn’t say this but thought it!)
Claire: (real response): OK, where are we staying!
Me: In a nice district of Menlo Park (lets not mention we are staying in the best example of a Scottish Frat house!)
Claire: That sounds nice (not!)

But seriously, if you need to run a startup, you need to keep the faith, it’s incredibly hard, you may fail, you may not, but you will try. Trying with your partner and family on your side is much easier than without. So thanks to all the Claire’s out there – we need them – just as we need our own faith in what will happen in the future – sometimes we are right

Citizen M – an amazing hotel concept that is a reality…

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I happened to stay in Citizen M in New York recently you can read my review on Tripadvisor.

The world is moving more and more to a division of convenience and luxury. Luxury is all about an undiscovered experience, extra information, facilities or gems. Convenience is all about making it simple.

Hotels are horribly complex organisations, labour intensive and hard to use as a consumer. Citizen M really changes all this. It isn’t a box, its all the things you need as a traveller:

  • Wifi
  • A clean, functional and uniform room
  • Good access
  • Quick service

All these things are pretty much prerequisites for a business traveller but by being a new startup Citizen M can just do these things better than most. Their locations seen to good but not amazing, their service in New York was outstanding, but it has only opened a few months ago.

Checking in to London Bankside wasn’t quite the same as the zippy New York service – but it was close for London!

So if you are staying anywhere that Citizen M runs a hotel – stay there!!