If you are in business or working for a business, you are more than likely examining the results for 2012 and wondering what 2013 will bring.
Reinvention? Examining the offer? Going in a new direction? Looking for new partners, sales channels, sales people?
These may all be questions that are being asked at the moment and maybe your business coach or business consultancy is asking you to think about those too?
Last question, why do we do this now when we have crossed this magical December 31st into a new year?
Shouldn’t we be examining these questions each and every month? Maybe some of you do, but…
There’s something in our human nature that causes us to be creatures of habit and we have a habit of following the crowd and when the world at large is doing it as well.
flickr | nationaalarchief
David Bowie decided to not follow the crowd. On the 8th January he released a new single and announced a new album, after a decade in the dark. OK so what is special about that? Well nobody in the music industry or press knew about the fact that he was recording, and they had no idea that the single was being released until it was done on the 8th January. So it made the national and international news instantly.
Why follow the crowd? We do it most of the time and research confirms that we are hard-wired to follow the pack.
Gregory Berns [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_Berns ] is an American neuroeconomist, neuroscientist, professor of psychiatry, psychologist and writer. He did some experiments with the ABC network in the US and below is a summary of one of the social experiments that he researched.
They invited a group of strangers to Jean George’s Asian restaurant in lower Manhattan for a fabulous dinner — and a surprise.
Party planner Colin Cowie and his friend, Donna D’Cruz, were in on the experiment. Their role was to exhibit outlandish behaviour most people wouldn’t dream of while out at dinner with a group of strangers.
Cowie and D’Cruz licked their fingers, a dinner table no-no. Cowie picked his teeth. The guests initially seemed not to take the bait — until dessert rolled around.
D’Cruz told everyone they should pick up pieces of mango face first, using their mouth. Eventually, people who were total strangers at the beginning of the evening were passing fruit back and forth, mouth to mouth.
Only Harold and Maria, a Canadian couple, passed on the gustatory familiarity. Finally, Harold was the only one who dared to ask, what is the point of the dinner?
Cowie explained the experiment to the group. “I think because we broke the rules, and we made things possible at the table, several of you followed suit with it.”
One woman at the table said: “I think the majority of people will look to see what others are doing and follow their example.”
Conforming Can Have Dangerous Consequences
This test is an example of our human need to conform. In fact, Berns’ experiment is a variation of one done many years ago by another scientist trying to decipher an extremely vicious instance of conformity — why so many Germans followed Adolf Hitler down the path to death and destruction. Berns says there are two ways to explain conformist behaviour.
“One is that they know what their eyes are telling them, and yet they choose to ignore it, and go along with the group to belong to the group,” he said.
The second explanation is that hearing other opinions — even if they are wrong — can actually change what we see, distorting our own perceptions.
Berns wanted to see what was happening in the brain during his experiment. Using an fMRI, Berns found that, during the moment of decision, his subjects’ brains lit up not in the area where thinking takes place, but in the back of the brain, where vision is interpreted.
Essentially, their brains were scrambling messages — people actually believed what others told them they were seeing, not what they saw with their own eyes.
flickr | library_of_congress
“What that suggests is that, what people tell you — if enough people are telling you — can actually get mixed in with what your own eyes are telling you,” Berns said.
And for those who went against the group, there was another intriguing result: Their brains lit up in a place called the amygdala, which Berns calls “the fear centre of the brain.”
“And what we are seeing here, we think, is the fear of standing alone,” Berns said.
So why do people follow the pack no matter how ridiculous it seems? Perhaps it’s not so much about good and evil, right and wrong, smart or stupid. It might be, as Berns’ experiment suggests, that our brains get confused between what it sees and what others tell us.
Just knowing that might help us guard against it.
What product or service are you planning or considering that can be kept a secret until you are ready to launch it to your prospects and customers?
Keep your powder dry, have less fear about rejection and more resolve about success.
Stop following the crowd and be DIFFERENT in all areas of your business.
You’ve read the book, seen the video and maybe even have the T-shirt so you know how the story goes … “This is Sales 2.0. and we will build momentum by using Social Media, Sales Automation and CRM to reduce the cost of sale and improve sales productivity.” This sounds great in theory and some businesses think the technology can and should take over. I don’t.
This approach may work well when selling to consumers, but selling in the business (or B2B) space is different, because trust and credibility are even more important. The strength of a story and the way you tell it, plus an ability to build a relationship can best be achieved by direct human contact. This can, of course use technology called a telephone or a video conference call. Face to face is not always possible, but it is still the best way to connect with others.
We all know that automation is excellent at making mundane tasks more efficient, but some businesses have taken this to extremes. They have lost that human touch. And it’s getting more complicated as Sales Automation and CRM systems connect with Social Media platforms to build automatic sales engagement models. Maybe the aspiration is to do business without having to make a sales call, give a presentation or even shake someone’s hand!
Many businesses use systems to ‘process’ potential buyers. They send predetermined emails at certain stages based on the actions people take. They only actually make contact with those who jump over enough hurdles at the right time to warrant a call from a human being.
The real danger in all this is that while you wait for the buyer to reach a certain stage of ‘sales readiness’ the opportunity may have passed. Either they are fed up with receiving obviously system generated emails, or a competitor beats you to the punch and has already engaged them in conversation.
Evidence shows that this automated approach is becoming less effective. According to recent findings, trust in online content including blogs and tweets is plummeting fast. Marketing-speak is widely used and most platforms have now become bloated advertising channels. It’s easier than ever to build a following of thousands on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, but what does this prove? Is this an endorsement of the quality of your brand, or evidence that you know how to use Social Media to maximise your exposure?
I’m not a Luddite though because I’ve spent all my working life in the technology space, so I know how it helps people become more efficient. The problem arises when it’s used as a replacement for human interaction and this is happening more and more.
During my career, I’ve used various sales processes that were far too complicated and convoluted. The emphasis was on ‘strategic selling’ by building power maps, identifying buying personas and preference grids and looking for blind spots and red flags. Many processes have now been automated and systems tell salespeople when they should actually call someone. It sounds crazy and it would be funny if it wasn’t true.
I’m not saying you don’t need a sales strategy because you do, but it should be as simple as possible. While some businesses spend far too much time strategising and waiting for the system to tell them the time is right, others are seizing the initiative and actually talking with people.
Let’s be very clear here, the ability to build trust, inspire confidence and develop deep and meaningful relationships can never be achieved by a sales process or a piece of software. People will always make the difference.
Social Media and automation definitely does have a place in business because it enables us to connect with many people at the same time. It’s excellent at building a profile and sharing ideas, but don’t rely on it as your primary means of sales communication. Don’t allow it to dictate how and when you engage with people. Use it to share your big ideas and attract attention and when someone shows interest, call them and start a conversation. That’s where you make a connection and that’s where the selling starts.
John Rees is a sales and marketing consultant and mentor, who specialises in helping businesses who either want to bring a new idea to market or build momentum with an existing one.
During his career he had sales and marketing roles in the Information Technology sector across Europe, India and North America. He worked with global technology leaders and start-ups who defined new market sectors.
He sold mainframes and minicomputers and witnessed the explosion of new markets created by the development of software application packages.
During recent years he worked with fast growth companies, start-ups and spin-outs and established businesses in many industry sectors. He learned a lot about how to succeed in business, and that’s why he created the Holistic Sale model of business development. This defines world-class ideas that can be used to simplify processes, create a compelling sales story, build a vibrant network of sales opportunities and improve sales performance.
We don’t like complaining much in Britain, it’s not the done thing, we prefer to moan about a company or a service we have received to each other, but not actually go to the company and complain and request compensation. Let me share with you three examples that it pays to complain. And…in this current economic climate and the existence of social media means most companies are now well aware what can happen with negative comments, they can go viral and it will most certainly hit them where it hurts.
Example number one is Tesco Insurance. 12 months ago I needed to find a new car insurance policy and as we are Tesco shoppers, we have a club card and like to earn points too. So we found Tesco compare and were delighted that not only did we find an affordable policy, they were throwing in club card points and a free MOT. Excellent just what I needed. Except the MOT voucher never arrived and when queried, they needed my proof of no claim bonus before they could send it. So I did this, but still no voucher, chased them again and then completely forgot about it until…now!
I need to get my car MOT’d and so called them 3 weeks ago where they apologized for not sending it and it would arrive in less than 10 days. But it didn’t arrive…so I called again and after some investigation and to my horror the answer was…you don’t qualify for the voucher…what???
Allegedly I came via an aggregator and not direct via their site, so I didn’t qualify. BUT the aggregator was a Tesco site!!! Yes but it’s not run by them…well tough!!! I demanded to speak to someone else, who completely understood my feeling and after a further debate, agreed to send me a £50 voucher. Great that will cover the MOT adequately.
UPDATE: And here is the gift card, which arrived in the post!
Example number two is T-mobile. I am in the process of leaving them and need my phone to be unlocked in order to move to another network. I requested this to be actioned on the 12th July and the promise is 10-28 days, which has now passed. After several calls to UK and Philippines service staff they agreed that it should have been done by now. I also had to pay £15.32 for the privilege of them sending and email to apple, to get the phone unlocked. Anyway finally they agreed to compensate me and added £15 to my account.
Example number three is South West Water. I was on holiday in Cornwall and doing some cycling on the road. A South West Water van nearly knocked me off my bike and I sent a message via their website to complain.
And here’s their response;
Dear Mr De Groot
Thank you for your email received on the 8 August regarding dangerous driving by a South West Water employee on the A3074 between Lelant and Longston, I am sorry you have had to contact us about this matter but I am pleased to have this opportunity to reply to you. In keeping with South West Water’s correspondence policy, I have attached to this reply, copies of our Complaints and Compliments and Customer Promise Leaflets, which offer information about the level of customer service we aim to provide.
I tried to speak with you today and I do hope you received the answer phone message I left. I would like to apologise on behalf of South West Water (SWW) that you experienced dangerous driving and appreciate you taking the time to inform us. I would like to assure you we take these matters very seriously and have strict policies on how we expect our workforce to behave whilst they undertake their work.
Our Transport Department has investigated this further using the sophisticated measures we have in place which allows us to monitor all our vehicles movements and the manner they are being driven, the van in question has been successfully identified and we have provided feedback to the Manager responsible for these employees.
The employees have been made aware that a complaint has been made towards them and have been reminded about how they should conduct themselves in the future. We have highlighted they should always be vigilant for cyclists on the road and to drive in a safe and responsible manner at all times.
I trust my reply has been helpful. If you require any further advice on this matter, please call me. For all general enquiries, please call our free Helpline on 0800 169 1144.
I was delighted to receive this response from them.
So my message to you is that complaining does deliver results and often in favourable ways, plus you may even change the world a little bit too.
LinkedIn, is getting more exposure, more prominence for business, headhunters and jobseekers. It’s been the dark horse in the race for popularity and it’s not there yet and has its issues. Company profiles, are still quite basic, but that will change in the future for sure. Network statistics appears not to be working and hasn’t been for quite some months or maybe even years when you see the posts on google.
But they are catching up on all other aspects. Their Facebook style newsfeed, is looking better, the fact that they stopped you from posting via twitter into LinkedIn, means they are driving you to post in LinkedIn first and allowing those to go to Twitter instead.
Initially I balked at this change, but now I can see the potential of it being one way only.
For most business people having a business type relationship, means they prefer to stay away from Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other such personal consumer type sites.
By posting your updates via LinkedIn, means they can still go to your twitter account if you wish. The great thing is all your personal comments won’t now pollute your LinkedIn account.
The trick now is to plan what you wish to post on LinkedIn. The best marketeers have an editorial calendar, planning what they are going to post and when. Allowing for seasonal effects, major events and company announcements, blogs and testimonials.
The recommendation is to post at least once per day, and these posts can be via your business page on LinkedIn or your personal profile. Oh yes the morning is the best time, as you will catch the commuters who are looking at content on their mobile devices.
The beauty of the business page, means you can assign admin rights to colleagues, which means you’re not the only one posting content.
Content remains ‘King’, so be careful on choosing what you post.
some guidelines on content type:
Your own unique content; blogs, video, interviews, webinars, events, white papers
3rd Party content; industry news, expert third party research, news coverage of your company
Sourced; customers, strategic partners, guest posts, linkedin polls, cross posts from linkedin groups, product tests, testimonials
Success with your LinkedIn journey and oh yes, please, please, please put a decent photograph of you on your profile!
Working Knowledge is a brilliant Social Enterprise, who invited me to join their ‘Splash’ event in Bromsgrove on the 15th March 2012.
My role? An Expert!
I have never been an ’Expert’ before, so it was a real treat.
I was an Expert from the business community together with other business experts, who were all there to support 17 / 18 year olds from Northeast Worcestershire College, to become enlightened about business through the vehicle of a one-day experiential event, allowing them to innovate, create and visualise their own entrepreneurial spirit.
I had never done anything like it before and so did not know what to expect.
What was it like? In one word…OUTSTANDING!
Basically the event is a cross between Dragons Den and the Apprentice and as a local business I played the role of ‘expert’ advising students from the local College on their new business ideas. Working Knowledge is a Social Enterprise and Nationally Award Winning educational training company founded by Dr James Lott.
The events Working Knowledge run have been shown to have a profound impact on the students and tutors in colleges throughout UK, bridging the gap between education and the workplace. As a business expert volunteer I played an integral role in the success of the event and thereby raise the aspirations of young people in my region.
Here’s my testimonial MindMap and Video, which was the best way for me to articulate what I thought of the whole day.
And why does Working Knowledge exist?
They believe that for the UK economy to grow and for communities to thrive, young people need to be inspired by, and better prepared for, the world of work. We need young people that are more confident, purposeful and responsible and can therefore provide a sustained flow of talent and energy into the local economy. Their vision cannot be achieved by educators alone, the business community HAS to be involved in the education process.
I read a fascinating article in Wired magazine by Jonathan Lehrer, where he discusses the phenomena of our brains making assumptions on how things work, based on a set of data that we have collected. In fact we collect data in our brains all the time. And when we analyse data we start making all sorts of assumptions and conclusions based on that data.
And of course we can never have enough data to make our decisions on and at some stage we have to decide that we have enough of it to base our decisions on.
And this happens all the time in the most dangerous industry in the world, pharmaceuticals. This article highlights some lessons for us all on how we make assumptions all the time in our private, business and social lives.
I have extracted what I believe to be the important constituents from his article:
On November 30, 2006 executives at Pfizer – the largest pharmaceutical company in the world held a meeting with investors at the firm’s research centre in Groton, Connecticut. Jeff Kindler, the then CEO began the presentation with an upbeat assessment of the company’s efforts to bring new drugs to market. He cited “exciting approaches” to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, fibromyalgia and arthritis. But Kindler was most excited about a new drug called torcetrapib, which had recently entered Phase III clinical trials, the last step before filing for approval. He confidently declared that it would be “one of the most important compounds of our generation”. Kindler told investors that, by the second half of 2008, Pfizer would begin applying for approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The success of the drug seemed a sure thing. And then, just two days later, on December 2, 2006, Pfizer issued a stunning announcement: the torcetrapib Phase III clinical trial was being terminated. Although the compound was supposed to prevent heart disease, it was actually triggering higher rates of chest pain and heart failure and a 60% increase in overall mortality. The drug appeared to be killing people. That week, Pfizer’s value plummeted by $21 billion (£14 billion).
The story of torcetrapib is one of mistaken causation. Pfizer was operating on the assumption that raising levels of HDL cholesterol and lowering LDL would lead to predictable outcome: improved cardiovascular health. Less arterial plaque. Cleaner pipes. But that didn’t happen. (According to a recent analysis, more that 40% of drugs fail Phase III clinical trials).
The problem was, it’s this assumption that causes a strange kind of knowledge. This was first pointed out by David Hume, a Scottish 18th-century philosopher.
He realised that, although people talk about causes as if they are real facts – tangible things that can be discovered – they’re actually not at all factual. Instead, Hume said, every cause is just a slippery story, a catchy conjecture, a “lively conception produced by habit”. When an apple falls from a tree, the cause is obvious: gravity. Hume’s sceptical insight was that we don’t see gravity – we see only an object tugged towards earth. We look at X and then at Y, and invent a story about what happened in between. We can measure facts, but a cause is not a fact – it’s fiction that helps us make sense of facts.
The truth is, our stories about causation are shadowed by all sorts of mental short cuts. Most of the time, these work well enough. They allow us to discover the law of gravity, and design wondrous technologies. However when it comes to reasoning about highly complex systems – say the human body – these short cuts go from being slickly efficient to outright misleading.
Consider a set of classic experiments designed by Belgian psychologist Albert Michotte, first conducted in the 40′s.
His research featured a series of short films about a blue ball and a red ball. In the first film, the red ball races across the screen, touches the blue ball and then stops. The blue ball, meanwhile, begins moving in the shame basic direction as the red ball. When Michotte asked people to describe the film, they automatically lapsed in the language of causation. The red ball hit the blue ball, which caused it to move. This is known as the launching effect, and it’s a universal property of visual perception. Although there was nothing in the two-second film – it was just a montage of animated images – people couldn’t help but tell a story about what had happened. They had translated their perceptions into causal beliefs. Michotte would go on to conduct more than 100 of these studies manipulating the films.
There are two lessons learned from these experiments. The first is that our theories about a particular cause and effect are inherently perceptual, infected by all the sensory cheats of vision. Hume was right that causes are never seen, only inferred, but the truth is we can’t tell the difference. And so we look at moving balls and see causes, melodrama of taps and collisions, chasing and fleeing. The second lesson is that causal explanations are oversimplifications. This is what makes them useful – they help us grasp the world at a glance.
The article is far too long for me to include everything in it and I have not been able to find it online either. However I think I have got the main message from it.
And the question I pose to you, is: What assumptions are you making today, that are based on incorrect date or not enough data or just that you have perceived the information in a certain way? Is the red ball chasing the blue ball instead of them just moving independently of each other?
And then there is the other old saying: “Perception is Reality”
I am finding the volume of tweets, links, posts, articles a touch overwhelming at times, so this short article explains how I manage this in today’s super digital age.
Ideally the following tools are needed:
iPad or iPhone
Safari or equivalent browser that allows you to save a web page as a PDF
Or a PDF converter
Basically I leverage my iBooks app as much as I can, by saving PDF documents to it for reading later.
Articles and the like come at you like a formula 1 car at top speed sometimes and this is how you can stop it in its tracks.
Apple’s Safari web browser is a major plus but not essential. Whenever you find a link that provides you with an interesting article, but you don’t have time to read it, immediately convert or save it as a PDF into Dropbox.
Then retrieve it from your Dropbox on your iPad or iPhone and open it into iBooks.
Now you can decide to read them when convenient to you and not when the article catches your eye via a tweet, email or something else. Plus you’ve got the article for future reference in a meeting, discussion with your colleagues or clients. I’ve found it very handy.
And if you have found other ways of capturing your links, please do share.
The other way where I can interact with them is on Flipboard, the best iPad and iPhone app in my opinion.
(135 million+ LinkedIn professionals around the world as of November 3, 2011)
I attended a recent networking event and chatted with business people, who were there because like me they would like more business. I was taken aback a little when 2 people that I spoke to out of the 5 that I met, who shared with me that they were “afraid” of LinkedIn.
I use the term “afraid” on purpose because, when I asked them whether they were on LinkedIn, which is a standard question I ask every business person I meet, their faces filled with horror and then they shared with me the reasons why they either weren’t there or why they were very very careful who they connected to.
Maybe I am the naive one, but my philosophy with Social Media is to either be active in it and play full out or stay out of the game, you can’t be half in and choose when to come out and play and when to stay at home.
But it got me thinking, maybe there are more of you out there, who are “afraid” also, so I wanted to write this article to appeal to your more liberal side, the part of you that has courage and is willing to take a few risks, because you know you’ve got that part inside of yourself, don’t you?
Here are the “fears” that were raised with me today:
People who I have never met or spoken to, ask to be connected to me on LinkedIn, why?
They tell me that they are wishing to grow their networks; well they are pulling me into the same mindset and I do not wish to be part of it!
I am very choosey who I connect to, because I only wish to be connected to people, who I have met and I have got to know them and what they are about
What if they start calling my contacts and telling them that they know me, when really they do not?
And I am sure there could have been more. The real reason for the “fear” is actually ignorance and I don’t mean that in a negative way, I actually believe it is really positive, because there is a fantastic opportunity to educate people.
I consider LinkedIn as my virtual business networking database. LinkedIn is actually very ethical, it is run with the same principles as face to face networking and yes of course it is ideally best to have met that person or at least to have spoken to them. However business is a numbers game and in order to have some influence in your business community you do need to connect with people who can be in your circle of influence.
It is good to build a relationship with people who you have not yet met face to face and yes try and do that even if you are only connected virtually. Actually LinkedIn is so transparent, they can learn about you, your history, your experience, your business goals and learn so much more, which you would never be able to share at a face to face networking event.
We all need to do more with less, so LinkedIn is the perfect vehicle to network, without the expense of attending networking events, breakfasts, lunches etc. It is becoming more acceptable to do things virtually and of course I appreciate it’s not everyone’s “cup of tea”.
We need you all to start getting into the game and changing your mindset, because this is only going to continue to grow and we would like you to be there with us and be part of the journey.
There is a huge amount to know about LinkedIn and I have witnessed the massive changes it has undergone in the past few years, which I promise you will continue, especially as they have gone public now.
Below I have shared my own network stats on LinkedIn and you can see the reach you can have with only a few connections. They say that the level below your direct contacts are where your real business opportunities lie. You can see that I have 365,000 connections that are 2 degrees away from me. That’s just unbelievable and I could never imagine that I would be connected to so many people. However if you notice carefully Linkedin, presents a small box to you every time you log in, which says “people you may know”. And when you click through you will see a list of page after page with people that are 2 degrees away from you. Well the same is presented to everyone that goes on LinkedIn and is active on there and that’s how you get noticed, that’s when people view your profile.
I hope you take on board what I am trying to convey, but just in case you don’t, I would be happy to explain some other finer points to you at any time, just post a comment or question on here.
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?
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.”