Monday 23 August 2010

A couple of useful power links

I found a couple of useful links in my morning mail.

The latest APC rack power systems - intelligent of course.


Modular UPS ideas.

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Rateable Value - FTTC and FTTH

The Valuation Office Agency is creating complex rules for assessing the Rateable Value of datacom links to the home and businesses. The discussion at present is in relation to the Next Generation Network. Their proposals are a witches brew involving lit & unlit fibres, homes passed and homes connected, who owns the fibres and who leases them. It is a mess, but could mean £20 a year taxation on the connection.

Let me suggest a Alexandrian solution to this bureaucratic gordian knot. As a nation we are trying to encourage network suppliers to connect as many homes/businesses as possible to high speed fibre networks. Forget all of these complex rules and tax on the basis of bandwidth delivered to the home, say 20 pence a gigabyte (note the term byte). It is very fair in that is based on usage rather than potential or advertised capacity. With the current scheme a person living further away from the exchange (lower bandwidth delivered) pays the same as someone living next door to the exchange. A bandwidth usage tax would be administratively easy to calculate and to explain to consumers. It also provides an opportunity to help the less well off by exempting the first couple of gigabytes per month.

In turn the Telecommunication companies can then clearly list the tax element on their bills rather than have it buried as an overhead cost. At present the taxation rules seem to be based on potential usage/revenue. The government has to raise tax somewhere, but let's make it simple and fair.


Friday 6 August 2010

Bad Accounts Dept = Annoyed customers

Just what does it take for the directors of a company to realise that an aggressive accounts department does real damage to the public relations of their company? I have one supplier with whom I've been a customer (not continuously) for the past 14 years. Generally their service is quite good, though it is unfortunate their customer service is offshored, so the support aspect when things go wrong is patchy. Their fees are not the lowest, but not excessive so I continue to do business with them.

For resilience, I have alternative suppliers of the service so I could switch at a moment's notice and see no reduction in the service available to my company. Finding further suppliers is not a problem, I must get at least 3 calls a month from other suppliers offering me a cheaper service.

The accounts department of my incumbent supplier are something else. They seem to take delight in trying to annoy me. Their procedures are also wasteful of their company's money. They despatch invoices by second class post. If the invoice is not paid within 6 working days they then send a fairly rude printed reminder saying we are "in arrears". The reminder is sent by second class post. A final demand with threats of recovery action is sent a week after the reminder. Of course the final demand is second class post too. They have my email address; why can't they send a polite email reminder that arrives 7 days after the date of when the invoice arrives at my office?

The invoice, posted 2nd class, takes 5 to 6 days to reach my office. So it is quite difficult to arrange payment before the Accounts drones have produced a reminder. Sending reminders at such short notice is a stupid waste of money by the supplier's accounts department. If they were truly interested in quicker payment they would send the invoice by first class post. It normally arrives the day following despatch. They are wasting their company's money on postage & printing by sending the reminder too soon.

They suggest I use Direct Debit where they extract money direct from my Bank. No thanks - I've experienced their automated systems in the past and it was not a pleasant experience. It took several rounds of correspondence to sort out the problems they caused.

I intensely dislike their accounts department rudeness over an issue they are causing themselves. They are unapologetic and refuse to change their systems when I've written and complained. They seem to think there is no price to pay for their bad procedures. Well, they are wrong! I advise companies on telephony and (international) data communications as part of my service. Guess what? My supplier and their parent company are never recommended as a telecomms supplier by me to my clients, for fear of their Accountants annoying my clients. If my supplier are already in place at a client's offices I have no qualms in providing information to my clients ICT Manager about alternative telecoms services. I can generally reduce their telecom bill and provide suppliers who are more realistic about their billing process.

Do their accountants not understand the cost of customer churn and lost business opportunities?

Demon Internet, take note.