13 July 2013


This repulsive product could be lurking on a supermarket shelf near you, waiting to trap you on your next shopping trip into buying a mixture of butter, water, vegetable oils, buttermilk and salt (1.1% according to the label).  

It masquerades as butter, using the respected Anchor branding, but it doesn't behave like butter when you spread it on toast.  You might as well pour water over hot toast as use this stuff.  Instead of Bovril 'soldiers' with my boiled eggs this morning, they were a soggy limp mess that was just about unfit to eat. A nasty experience.

It looks similar to the normal Anchor spreadable package - which doesn't have the blue scroll below the logo. You have been warned.

11 July 2013

MPs' Pay

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority was created by Parliament in 2009 to act as an independent regulator and has now proposed a reform of MPs' pay, allowances and pensions.

The BBC, with Nick Robinson leading the charge, seems to be trying to drum up public opinion to oppose the package of proposals; it's focusing on the salary which is recommended to increase from under £64,000 a year to £74,000 in 2015.  Yes, that's way above current increases in the public sector, but MPs' pay has been held down for years.  There's a good deal of rebalancing through the other changes - a change to the pension basis, reduced expenses allowances, and reduction of the 'golden goodbyes' available to retiring MPs.

Personally, I'd like our MPs to be drawn from that pool of people that would be employed at salaries of at least £74,000 a year in middle-to-senior management roles outside Westminster.  If they're not, maybe we should replace them with people that are worth that much.  

When Parliament delegates its decisions about terms and conditions to an independent regulator, the regulator's decisions should be respected.  Instead, we're seeing politicians  posturing about it being an honour to be an MP, or saying that they won't accept an increase.  This just feels like bullshit.  If we pay MPs properly, we have reason to demand better performance from our MPs.  I think we should.  After all, when you pay peanuts, you know what sort of primate will take the job.

04 July 2013

Sky TV Customer Survey - 4th July

7. Please use this space to provide any other feedback you may have:

I feel ripped off by Sky because you will no longer be carrying Aviva Premiership Rugby, substituting in its stead the RaboDirect Rugby that has been free on BBC and/or S4C for several seasons.  Even in the last two seasons you failed to show some key Aviva Premiership matches such as semifinals which were only available on ESPN.

I hate paying you silly amounts every month so that you can pay ever more millions to line the pockets of football players, and I'm frustrated by the fact that I can't tailor my subscription in any way that's meaningful to me. It's no good offering Sky 1 Sports and Sky 2 Sports as separate products when what I want is split across them.

If you wanted to, you have the capabilities to offer a Rugby subsscription, a Cricket subscription, a Golf subscription, etc. You exploit your monopolistic position and show these sports across a mixture of your channels, instead of as discrete products. So if I want all of the Rugby and none of the football I still have to buy Sky Sports 1 & 2 at disproportionate cost.

You are cross-subsidising football's grossly excessive wages from subscriptions of people like me that don't want it.  I hope one day the Competition Commission will take you to the cleaners for abuse of your market position, which I think has been going on for years.

So when the new BT Sports offering comes on line, Sky Sports will be distinctly optional.  I can live without Super Rugby and I can visit at least two places within 500 metres' walk to see any interesting matches that you still manage to show.  

When you treat your customers like that, don't be surprised when they desert you, no matter how good your customer service agents are. This one was fine, but I'd received the letter telling me of yet another inflation-smashing increase in monthly payments just that morning.