One of the frustrations when you're shopping online from Ireland some of the time is delivery. Either the costs are sky high, or the vendors simply won't ship to Ireland.
Parcel Motel takes away some of that pain, as they can give you a legitimate delivery address in Belfast, which usually qualifies for UK priced shipping, which is often free.
Last week was the first time using the service and my first package arrived early this morning.
Picking up the package was easy. The lockers are accessible 24/7 and you simply key in your phone number and the pin they've sent you by email and SMS. Once you've done that a door "magically" opens and you pick up your delivery.
It's also very reasonably priced, with a standard package costing €3.50. They'll charge you more for if the package is oversized or weighs more than 10kg, but it still works out to be cheaper and more convenient than either not being able to buy the item or having to pay some of the crazy delivery fees that some sites charge.
I never go into my local bank branch.
I only call the bank when there's a serious issue.
Most of my interactions with the bank (for my personal account) are via their online banking.
Now it seems I'm being penalised for using the bank ..
So are there ANY banks in Ireland that don't charge €200 / year for doing very little? (It's not as if they can't "play with" my money or make money from me .. )
- Bank Of Ireland announce "Pay To Mobile" for their iOS app (technology.ie)
I'm not sure if this has got worse with the downturn or if I'm just noticing more of it, but there's a definite increase in pushy salespeople invading my inbox and plaguing me on the phone.
If your product is good and it's a good "fit" for a sales prospect then maybe they'll buy. Maybe they won't. It's probably down to a certain amount of luck combined with timing, pricing and other factors.
But the "hard" sell and the "pushy" sales methods are not going to work for me. Ever.
Last week, for example, a particular company tried again to sell me a service. I wasn't interested. I wasn't interested last week, nor was I going to be interested ever. It's not a service that we have any pressing need for.
So I gently tried to rebuff them, but the salesperson just wouldn't let go.
This evening I got yet another email from a company that I've already told several times to stop emailing me. We will never buy their products or services. Ever.
Yet they still persist.
Why oh why do people do this?
I understand that some people use outbound sales to generate leads. If done right it can work really well - I've bought products and services from a lot of companies that have done it.
But there's a very large gap between simply "doing it" and "doing it right".
If someone does not want to buy your product or service and they've told you as much, why on earth would you keep on pushing it?
Do you honestly think that selling is like some kind of war of attrition? That you'll be able to wear people down so much that they'll eventually buy from you simply to shut you up?
Answers on a postcard ..
Ulster Bank, which is one of the main banks in Ireland, has had a major technical issue which has led to thousands of its customers being unable to access their money, pay bills, get their wages etc., etc.
It's yet another example of why people shouldn't trust banks - assuming that there's anyone out there that still does ..
But we're Irish, so we somehow manage to find a funny side to even the most annoying situations:
The guys over at Hairy Baby came up with that rather amusing graphic. A rough translation is: "Show me my money"
And by sheer coincidence I came across a gadget for recycling credit cards
- No end in sight to Ulster Bank problems causing chaos for customers (independent.ie)
- Ulster Bank says accounts will be brought up-to-date this week (newstalk.ie)
- Ulster Bank IT fiasco heading into week two (independent.ie)
- Give Ulster Bank Cards A Purpose (techietoys.eu)
- RBS IT fallout: Ulster Bank customers still without account access (guardian.co.uk)
- RBS software issues likely to continue into third week (siliconrepublic.com)
I've been working online in some shape or form since the mid 1990s when I was an undergraduate at the University of Limerick. Back then the internet was novel and I used it mostly to compensate for the lack of books in the university's library (they did have lots of books - just not that many on topics I needed).
Now in 2012 a lot more people are online. Broadband speeds have improved and dialup is slowly dying out.
But we, in industry, run a huge risk. It's far too easy for us to completely overlook offline media.
It's become so easy and natural for the "digital natives" to engage each other online via blogs, social networks, email etc., that it's all too easy to overlook the power and reach of the printed word. We might scoff at print media and make dismissive comments about it, but ignoring it is shortsighted and probably risky.
I've always felt that print media should be an important component of any marketing and advertising campaign, but when it comes to pushing opinion and advocacy I firmly believe that it's not just important, but a key factor.
Buying column inches in print isn't complicated, it's just expensive. Placing display ads in glossy magazines simply requires a budget commitment.
They're both more expensive in many respects than online advertising and "pay per click". It's also harder to calculate a return.
But getting actual coverage in print media (as well as other traditional media) is not something that you can simply buy. You have to work hard to earn it.
Personally I think it's worth it.
Today, for example, an opinion piece I wrote is running in The Sunday Business Post. It's not advertising our services, either directly or indirectly. It's not pushing people to buy anything from us. It's an article where I share my opinion. My voice. My thoughts.
It'll reach a totally different audience to the one that either this post or the copy of the article on our blog will reach. Will it change anything? Who knows, but it will be read by people who would never find this site or have any reason to go near the company one.
I love seeing businesses embracing the web. When an offline service goes online it can make things much easier for its users.
This morning I was playing catch up on the various utility statements that had arrived over the last couple of weeks and happily dumping the useless junk that had been packed into the envelopes. I'm glad I did, as I found a rather nice letter from the company that collects my rubbish, AES. They've finally gone online!
Registration took a couple of minutes and now I have access to a lot of useful information that will save me time and headaches.
Once you've signed up for an online account you can access the online portal:
What it's particularly handy is that you can easily download copies of invoices and also see when your bins were last collected.
This may not be as "exciting" as some online services, but prior to this getting copies of invoices etc., for the accountant was painful.
Of course since January 2012 the tax relief on bin charges has been cut by the government, but if you're keeping an eye on your household running costs then the online portal is still useful.
Maybe now they'll stop sending me so much dead tree!
- Why is getting rid of rubbish such a chore? (blogs.confused.com)