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Sat, Jul. 2nd, 2011, 11:03 pm
Sometimes you just *have* to tell somebody

... that their service, and their notions thereof, suck profoundly.

We've been staying at the hotel Hit, in Warsaw, while we did a couple of conferences/exhibitions. You know the drill: long days, meals at odd times, working flat out.

So, there's a restaurant, Babalu, attached to the hotel; they're not part of the hotel, but since they're right there, they get all the hotel guests for breakfast, for dinner, for drinks (there's a bar, did I mention the bar?) - and I daresay in between, although, being a working stiff, I couldn't confim the in-between stuff.

So, one of us was feeling a bit off by the end of day three, and went upstairs with no food. A couple of us said to each other - let's get some stir-fry (they have an *excellent* pick-your-own-ingredients wok-on-the-spot buffet), and take it up to her.

Guess what! The exceptionally sensible folks at Babalu *will not* let you take a plate out of the restaurant, even though it meant they lost a sale... and they don't have anything as sane as a take-out container.

Way to fail, Babalu!

Mon, Mar. 1st, 2010, 09:54 pm
Passionato - way to go!

Well, you never saw a speedier response than I got from Passionato - had the Linux download manager under test the same night as I blogged! The version I downloaded was fine for 32-bit but not 64-bit; it's Java-based and it didn't like 64-bit Java one little bit.

However, Passionato tells me that there will be both 32- and 64-bit versions when it goes live; some time in the next week, I understand. And it's GPL (v. important!).

Bouquets, guys!

Fri, Feb. 26th, 2010, 09:28 pm
Why o why...

doesn't Passionato have a download arrangement that works on Linux??

I have just spent €56 for the privilege of finding out -
*afterwards!* - that I then had to go through hoops (and access that 'orrible Microsoft OS which I don't normally touch with a 40-foot pole) to actually get hold of the music I'd paid for.

I am seriously considering making this my last purchase from Passionato; I *never* buy downloadable music from Amazon for this reason. Since it only took two times for them to give me the cold grues, no stars for you, Passionato!

Now, if they can bring themselves to use FLAC, they aren't entirely ignorant of the possibilities out there... so, what about allowing for the rest of us in designing their download solution? Too hard? Thought you had some of the best developers around! Dessol seems to think they're pretty good...

So - a word to the wary: steer clear of Passionato if you're a Linux user. It Don't Work.

Thu, Jan. 21st, 2010, 11:26 pm
Banks. I know... but this takes the biscuit!

One doesn't think of a global bank as a "good citizen" really - and after the press they've had lately, with collapses, bonuses and what-all, their decent-human-being credit is at an all-time low.


I am gobsmacked; flabbergasted; astounded (and was briefly dumbfounded, but I'm better now) by the blithe UNgreen behaviour of my bank this week.

As a (very) small business person, I had a card facility, so people who wanted to use their card to buy my wares could do so. Now that the operation is moving to Poland, I called up the bank and said: we're doing this, please close the facility, and how do we get the machine, the manual swipers (they sent me two, reason unknown) and the half-hundredweight of pristine, unused, unmarked, non-identified manual card stationery back to you?

We only want the machine, they said. You have to securely destroy everything else.

Well... I can see having to securely destroy things that identify the company, the bank, the machine, or any customer; BUT: the stationery is bland, blank, with no give-away details on it in the least, so secure/confidential disposal is not required. But even if I put it all in the recycle, it's still WASTE!

There is absolutely no reason why HSBC, my bank, couldn't accept this multitude of packs of brand-new vouchers back, for use by another customer. None. They don't even want it if I pay for the carriage!

I bet they have a green policy that they trot out to show everyone that'll stand still for 5 minutes; I bet they make proud noises about being good corporate citizens! - but everyone I spoke to at HSBC card services in the UK doesn't actually care what happens to all these vouchers - so long as I don't expect them to deal with them!

Way to go, HSBC. Not Impressed!

Sun, Jun. 21st, 2009, 01:01 am
Longest days

It's a sad thing to report that Eurostar's First Class Service - isn't. It was my unfortunate duty to travel using this once-honourable provider from Lille to London this afternoon, and a sad pall lies over the experience...

By way of background, I'd like to let you know that I'd been attending a conference at EuroDisney, a piece of the Great American Dream transplanted holus-bolus into the Seine-et-Marne area. It is as though one has gone through some sort of warp, into a place populated largely by ankle-biters on full volume, and their parents (the manners of whom have been left back at the station). And the Disney food is just as one expects, allow me to say in lowering tones; and the level of service isn't, either.

I do need to mention the Lucullan Lunches; the food we were treated to was a masterpiece of the Chef's art, and for a moment one was transported back to France (where one belonged!) - However, this was arranged by the FAF who arranged the conference, so it doesn't redound to Disney's credit.

So after three days of hard work in a strange environment, I was looking forward to a comfortable journey home. Ha!

On returning to one's happy abode, one expects to be pleaseder, the more miles one covers. Well, this worked okay on the TGV from Marne-La-Vallée/Chessy to Lille; the train was clean, the facilities work, and all that. The two nappy-changing parents weren't all that awful, and the folks carrying the very chatty cats in the bags, they were okay too...

But once one arrives at Lille, all changes. That's a horrible station! And when you line up to get on the Eurostar, the folks seem to enjoy making you wait, and then being officious, and then making you snake through bits of the station that are really too skinny to be called thoroughfares, and then you arrive at the Eurostar.

It's the Disney train, so I suppose one could forgive the FIRST CLASS carriage looking distinctly second-hand - stained carpet, dents in the doors, all that.

And certainly the hydraulic lift to assist the gentleman in the wheelchair to board was a fine interesting piece of machinery. It's a shame there didn't seem to be any co-ordination between the station staffer with the hydraulic lifter, the on-board staff whose job it is to look after passengers, and the driver who was dancing up and down trying to get out on time. So there was a large group of people who just wanted to board, who couldn't get on, and who were worried that the train would go without them.

So what happened: the rest of us first-class passengers who had been delayed in boarding were now chivvied (rudely) down to board at the next carriage. An officious Type in a uniform came barrelling down the platform, gesticulating wildly, as if it was all our fault (and as if we were naughty, and needed shoving into line). Not appreciated, Guillaume - that was nasty.

Having negotiated the length of that other carriage, and finally attaching one's suitcase to the rack safely (my only ever loss of a suitcase was on Eurostar, so now I always bike-lock my case to the rack), one sought one's seat. Alas, more anklebiters...and the power-plugs in the whole carriage were out, so no using laptop; and then they bolted in with the meal and pinned us all in our seats; for what?

Airline chicken!

I noted that the young person delivering the hot part of the meal managed to be polite to about half the people he delivered to (I was in the other half); I managed to avoid having him slop some unidentified Thing onto my try by dint of crossing my arms over the tray, to allow me to ask him: no other choice tonight? There is usually a menu in First Class, and two dishes to choose from - we got one. Too bad if you were a Vego, eh. And the quality...

A slab of boiled chicken, skin still on, topped with some unnameable tomato mush, is *not* the sort of food I expect from France. The food coming out from the UK was orders of magnitude better! *And* it was served politely, and we weren't made to feel like cattle, or as though we were getting in the way of the staff doing their job.

Now, this is not good enough, Eurostar. The service, the level of previous planning (not a lot!), and the courageous inhibition that seems to somehow turn your staff blind when one of your passengers is being harrassed and irritated by the child(ren) of another passenger, bounding along the aisle using everyone's armrests as springboards...

Perhaps it would be better to fly? Maybe TGV or ICE would like to apply for the Chunnel concession? Anyway, guess who won't be trying First on Eurostar, ever again!