A Rage Quit in Harlem

As a 35 year old dad, slowly but surely losing most of his cool (which I think peaked in 1985 anyway), I’ve stayed clear of online gaming.

We all have our comfort zones, and mine isn’t being beaten relentless by a 10 year old whose stayed up for 72 hours straight perfecting a headshot takedown using only spoons and whimsy. I also favour more cerebral gaming, or at least those with a story. And where I can play as Batman and beat up thugs. Cerebrally.

In a cape.

Still, I do like a quick game of FIFA now and then. Mainly then as I haven’t played it in ages, and recently sat down to try my luck at online. Less predictable than computer controllers of course and, hey, I’m ok at it and I won’t get a killshot spoon to the head. It’ll be fun I thought. I’ve still got the gaming ability of a youngster I reckoned, even though my bones have the weary sigh of a pensioner (chasing a little un around whilst pretending to be a Chuggington train will do that to you), but the thumbs are there. GAME ON!

Ah shit.

4-0 down in the first minute.

It has to be said it took me a fair while to build up any ability to kick the ball in the opponents general direction. But I found it very interesting to see how angry the game makes you and your opponents feel. Perhaps it’s the fact you can’t see each other, or usually have never met. The sheer frustration of being pummelled by insightful pass after wonderful pass followed by well played goals etc. These guys spend far too much time on it, but by god are they good. Still, that’s not what you think at the time. Oh no. Here’s how it goes:

Aha, kickoff. I’m playing as Aston Villa, they’re a lower league french team. Excellent.

Woah, they nearly scored there. Phew. Ok, make sure you don’t pass it to..

Shit.

Ok, 1-0. Fine, not a problem…2?! Oh jesus.

That’s alright though, long as they don’t score any before half….

DIRTY BASTARDS! WHAT BUTTONS ARE THEY PRESSING THAT I DON’T HAVE!!! WHY ARE MY PLAYERS SO RUBBISH!! ARRGGGHH

And rinse and repeat for 3 or 4 games. That’s how it goes until you get a run of good games yourself, get a little better each time and learn to play the game not pressing random buttons. Although that did used to work for Streetfighter 2. So I saw how frustrating a 10min game could be, competitive, exciting, infuriating but never dull. But seeing how other people reacted is an eye opener.

Here we come to the ‘rage quit’. Now, I never knew it had a name until I went onto YouTube. You see, you can quit the game at any time, and people often do when they’re heavily down by the end of the 1st half. More often than not, 2 quick goals from yourself result in a ‘rage quit’ from your opponent and the message ‘connection lost’ popping up on screen. This then results in the system working out who would have won. Fine, you think, that’ll be me as I was 2-0 up. Erm. Not necessarily. Someone rage quitting in itself is annoying, but not usually an issue as you were up and winning, but the real kick is when the system awards a no-game or even a loss! A bugger when you desperately need those 3 points to stop relegation.

Here’s a great example of someone simply losing it – and possibly having a hernia too (at about 10 seconds in). Listen out for halfway through when some poor unfortunate object begins to get hit very loudly as his game, and patience falls apart (warning, slightly salty idiotic language):

Now, I’ve quit before. I don’t do it now, but have done and felt like a prat for doing it. I can understand it. But then when you get abusive voice messages or texts – as a lot of players do – then that’s something which Microsoft (as it is hosted via Xbox live) and EA Sports need to look at. Players will always get frustrated and upset, but abuse is abuse.

Maybe it’s time to go back to Arkham City to circle the streets of Gotham as the Dark Knight. Unless Robin rage quits on me again.

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Digital killed the video store

Oh god. Not HMV.

That was my initial thought on hearing of the high street retailer going into administration. Another one bites the dust. Another shop that I loved going into the skip – see Game, Borders et al.  Soon there would be no more ‘man’ shops left – apart from Menkind, but frankly that’s like saying ‘there’s no food left apart from this piece of dog faeces’. I’m hungry, but not that desperate.

But then a curious anger struck me. Here was a shop i’ve grown up with, have fond memories of browsing and buying in and yet I don’t feel 100% sad for them. Rather angry that they really did shoot themselves in the foot far too many times.

Firstly, trying to offer too much for too many people. You’re a physical media shop. There’s a novelty in that now – play to your strengths. Christ, the only place left now to buy blu rays from is bloody Tesco etc and even they don’t have more than 10. There are a lot of people like me out there who still want to buy physical discs AND download online too. You don’t have to be one or the other. I use Netflix, iTunes, Amazon etc and love them all. AND i love browsing in shops too. Sure, I might seek out a cheaper deal online, but generally I’ll impulse buy if i like the look of something – THATS what HMV should have played to. Not selling Dr fucking Dre ‘Beats’ headphones for £300. Twats .

On that last point – seeing an array of Archos’s for £200 – £400 for sale in HMV seemed like suicide when they introduced their digital/tech section. I mean, they’re terrible machines for a start, but at that price, really? Maybe you’d buy an iPad there. Maybe. But more luxury items aren’t impulse buys, they’re considered. If you’re going to spend that money, you’ll want to shop around, not buy it straight away from the store that just tried to sell you a Nicky Minaj album.

It also must have seemed like a great idea at the time to launch a reward card scheme. It’s done brilliantly for most stores and is of course a great way to reward loyalty and importantly keep people coming back to spend spend spend. Pure HMV should have been their goldmine. Offering unique experiences, tickets, meet the stars etc that no-one else could do. Their links to promoters, the film industry et al should have guaranteed a winner.

But then you go on the site.

So, use your card inshore to get the points for every purchase. Brill. I must have racked up hundreds of pounds worth of purchases – probably near to a grand or so more likely. My points were high, and i was looking forward to a signed film poster, or tickets to a premiere. Instead, the high end experiences were always ‘just’ out of my reach. And rather than wait months to gain more points to get me anywhere near, I chose to spend them on something else, thinking ‘ah well, they’ll sell out of that and I may as well use these now’. So hurrah for my Wolverine projector pen (viewable at 2 cm away from a white wall in complete darkness – and to rub it in, from a bloody awful film too), Black Swan collectible postcards (only available in HMV for around a pound) and of course a giant ‘Let Me In’ window sticker that I can’t put up anywhere as it’s a: too spooky and b: doesn’t really stick to windows.

I imagine a lot of you out there are like me too and pissed away your points on crap just so you can feel you benefitted somehow from all those points. On top of that, the best thing you can do with your points is to use them against vouchers. So, I chose to get £20 worth of vouchers to but a couple of films online. Trouble is, you can only spend the vouchers instore. Whhhat? Excuse me? So now i’m online, i have my points, i have my voucher, I want to buy something from you and you want me to go instore? Tell you what, I probably won’t want to buy that film tomorrow. I may not be even going into town for a few days work permitting. So hey, you’ve lost a sale. Again, how many of us thought ‘HMV…I really can’t be bothered’.

Lastly, I don’t blame digital sales etc. I do blame studio’s insistence on packaging blu rays as ‘triple play’ discs. For gods sake, i can forgive that when blu rays hit the market and maybe you wanted to buy a dvd and give the blu to a friend or vice versa, but more than 5 years on? Really?! You know, if i wanted the 3D edition, I’d buy that, if I wanted the dvd, I’d buy that. And if I wanted none of these, the digital copy. But it’s really fucking unlikely that I want to spend £20 – 25 on a blu ray, then watch it upstairs on a dvd player and on the move on my iPad. It used to be only Disney that would pull this crap, now it’s almost everyone. So you have HMV selling dvds for £3 after a week or so, and blu’s for £20. I mean what choice does that give the consumer?

Look, it’s sad. It really is. No more browsing the aisles looking for the latest Arnie movie (then again, that stopped some years ago ;0) ), and no more perusing the steelbooks. I can remember buying videos and t-shirts in there. Cassettes and vinyl. DVD and blu-ray. And the occasional Mars Bar at the till. But like the formats we lost, HMV has also expired. It’s ceased to be. Please rewind the tape and return to the store.

I’m not mad at you, I’m just disappointed.

Goodbye HMV.

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The Cult of Coffee (or how I learnt to embrace my inner ponce and express my Nespresso)

I’m not a religious man, have never ‘really’ been to Church and find the notion of an omnipotent being watching over me while I have my cornflakes as realistic as being able to purchase tickets for a Bowie concert if/when he plays live again.

But there’s a new God on the block that has awakened the believer in me. It’s even got it’s own celebrity follower in George Clooney who preaches the gospel of consumerism and fine blends with a nod, wink and a well placed wince. This new religion is even bankrolled by a company known in many parts when I was a student as ‘bastards’. Yep, bow down before the Nespresso from Nescafe. Oh pods of joy. Shiny shiny. Hot, espresso in 20 seconds? Hallelujah!

Sorry. Got a bit carried away there.

Previously, I was content to have my coffee from the jar, stir with a bit of hot water and milk and there we go. But then getting this machine for Christmas awakened my inner ponce.

True, there are various scandals surrounding coffee produced this way – cost of sales and profits compared to the revenue the growers themselves receive. And are we really being environmentally conscious with the huge amount of foil and wasted grounds that go into each and every little coffee pod?

Yeah, but the green pods are lovely though aren’t they? Ah sod it.

The rise of the home coffee maker can be seen as the new ‘must have’, the fetishisation of coffee for gods sake. Really? Yep. It’s happening and I’m being swept away by it all. I mean, is it really any different than having a car showroom flavia machine in your own kitchen like Partridge?

images

Incidentally, I secretly wanted a flavia machine in the house. Coffee by cartridge? Fuck  yeah!  *cough* Anyways, you’re an upmarket Partridge with delusions of celebrity because of this new addition to the family. And yes, judging by the furtive looks in John Lewis, couples really are treating a coffee machine purchase as a new baby.

It really does boil down to an imagined scenario which is playing out in every Nespresso owner’s heads throughout the land. Marjorie invites Susan round for an innocent cup of tea. Susan rings the doorbell and Marjorie lets her in. They begin to chat about their respective lives and how Helen is a shit and that her husband only puts one sugar in her tea as a form of tired and constrained protest after all these years of abject misery. And then Marjorie asks the question:

M: Oh, I nearly forgot. Would you like a coffee Susan?

S: Well, I’d rather have a tea…

M: Coffee?

S: If there really isn’t any Tea

M: Coffee it is then. Regular or…

CUT TO: A small glint of light in the corner of the kitchen. Getting bigger and opening a kind of vortex. A coffee vortex. A swirling mass of ‘pods’ and smug faces. The light explodes showering Susan in smug.

M: NESSSSSPRESSSSO??!!

S: Are you sure there’s no tea…

M: YES. I’m sure there’s no fucking tea! I just bought this!!! There’s 16 different flavours!! All mixed by a fucking professional so you can have a fucking coffee!! GEORGE FUCKING CLOONEY BATHES IN THIS STUFF!!

Marjorie later goes on to kill Susan with a lifesize cutout of Clooney’s shoe. Ungrateful cow. Is it that important to have the perfect espresso?

I really can see the ‘what colour pod have you bought?’ becoming the new ‘what phone have you got?’. Particularly after visiting the Nespresso store on Regent Street today. Saints preserve us. I went in to buy, you know, coffee – because here’s a neat trick, you can’t buy the pods in regular stores, only online, in a few ’boutiques’ and selected Waitroses etc. Remind you of Apple? Create the desire, make it appear luxury by limiting where you can buy. Let the fool and his/her diamond encrusted wallet come to us.. – so, went in to buy coffee and you’re faced with an array of machines, cups, equipment but no coffee! Aha, there they are. On the wall behind the cash till. Oh god, i’m actually going to have to ask for what flavour i want. I don’t know! Sodding coffee flavour. I manage to find a box that has a mix in and approach the counter. With my camera kit and bleached hair, I don’t exactly look like the regular clientele – i don’t have my armful of boutique bags (and thats just the men in there). I don’t even have a membership card yet. But then the cashier asked me to choose between a membership card or leatherette keyfob with a chip in it. Oh keyfob me up please…. You then place the fob on the ‘N’ on the counter and there you go, ‘Hello Mr de Ville’. INNER PONCE IS DOING A DANCE TO COLDPLAY.

Like the visitors in V, i’m waiting for my face to be ripped off to expose my inner ponce. But for now I’ll settle down to have a nice cup of coffee. With a small chocolate wafer.

Man is dead.

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YouTube Boob (no, not that kind of….oh forget it)

Ok, so when you pop a video onto YouTube and have chosen that track by Queen you love, you’d expect to get a gentle nudge to remove the offending copyright soundtrack (or a cease and desist as it’s charmingly known in the trade). It’s clear. It’s fair – take it down, lesson learnt, lets all go for a beer.

But an interesting case has arisen for me today. I received an email from YouTube –

Dear Reece de Ville,

Your video “Wildlife reel“, may have content that is owned or licensed by CD Baby, but it’s still available on YouTube! In some cases, ads may appear next to it.

This claim is not penalizing your account status. Visit your Copyright Notice page for more details on the policy applied to your video.

Sincerely,
– The YouTube Team

Now, I’d used a track called ‘Silent Motion’ – a music bed available as standard through Soundtrack Pro – for a wildlife reel i’d shot last year. Here it is in all it’s glory:

So here we have a free to use track from a piece of well known software. As far as I understand it, you can use it in your projects whatever they may be, but you’re probably not allowed to sell the tune as is through iTunes et al. Indeed, that’s essentially the rationale for Garageband too. Use our loops, mix them up etc, but don’t sell the loops/beds as they come otherwise you’re in a bit of bother.

Here’s how you’re greeted on your account page:

Image

I searched for ‘Kevin Haslam – Who’ll Help You Up?’ and found this:

Image

I even clicked on the track. Hell, I’ll let bygones be bygones here and say visit the link and listen to it: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/kevinhaslam2

Sound familiar? Yep. It’s the ‘Silent Motion’ track I used in my piece. YouTube hold a digital thumbprint for the track and that’s obviously been picked up through CD Baby. CD Baby and indeed Mr Haslam probably have no idea about this dispute, but it does make me wonder how many people out there are receiving similar messages from record companies who’s artists have used Garageband or Soundtrack Pro loops in their songs.

So the moral of this story seems to be – be the first to use the loop/bed, register a song and then ensure no-one else is able to use it. Daft eh? They are now down as the content owner for a track that uses a freely available track. In effect owning the track that…er….can’t be owned. I expect YouTube will sort this out in a couple of days as the evidence is pretty clear. But there’s just one other leeetle issue…

Adverts.

Yep, YouTube, whilst sorting your case out, have the right to pop up adverts on your video. Regardless of whether the case may go your way or not. Not really a problem for me as a lone filmmaker, but could be a huge problem for companies using YouTube.

Imagine you’re a slimming company. You’ve popped up a video that’s cost thousands. The hit rates should be good because you’re quite well known. And then a dispute is raised as the production company you’ve used have mixed a track from Garageband. So, whilst this is being sorted, you may get a couple of little adverts pop up on the video or next to it. Only these adverts – using the tagging you’ve put on the video – are now displaying ‘eat chocolate’ or ‘come to our new pizza restaurant’. Not ideal for a slimming company eh? And there’s nothing you can do about it till the dispute is settled.

Add to that I know that many companies I’ve worked with have their YouTube account email go to a separate email folder as so many people use the account. These folders are rarely looked at. So imagine you receive the email I received and don’t respond. Result? Your account is frozen or even removed. Potentially a big loss to business.

I recently worked on a project for a company where I noticed adverts popping up on pretty much all of their videos and, more damaging, links to videos once the film had finished with titles such as ‘F***K YOU!’. Not what you want your audience to see really. That last part is kinda out of your hands and YouTube’s as it’s all in the tagging, and indeed you could remove the link option yourself – but most rarely do.

Ok, that may all seem a bit scare mongering, but it’s an interesting result of us using tracks available through sound mixing software and the results of people like you and me creating more music to sell. In effect, we’re creating our own problems by taking a free track and closing it off from free use again when we choose to sell our project.

So beware, should you sing in the shower, you may be the victim of a visit from the music plumbers society…

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Surviving August

A haze rises over the desert. A boot crunches in the sand as The Sole Trader squints. Staring into the sun, he sees row upon row of decaying offices. Old computer terminals beeping ‘out of office’. He hears a flutter. Spinning round he sees a calendar….’August’ he whispers ‘Not again….’

Taking aim at August

For freelancers, the self employed, that man with a burger stall you know has been working in that car park for 30 years (coincidentally the same length of time his burgers have been sitting around sans baps for), August is rather like when the ‘Upstairs’ leave for a jolly holiday, leaving the ‘Downstairs’ to scurry around like little field mice snuffling up any scraps they can find.

You say the same thing every year – ‘look, I know August is the time for office dweller holidays, I know that, so lets just book a holiday right?’. But that little nagging voice inside you whispers ‘but what if not everyone is on holiday? What if there’s one person who’s been given control of a vast budget to give to the first lucky caller? He/she could be your golden ticket! He/she could be the chocolate factory….hang on…forget that last bit’. And like a rejection addict, you wade through the inevitable out of office messages to hunt for alternative contacts, those that didn’t make it to Rome, Marbella, France or Rhyll. Those that were left behind. Those that hold the golden ticket.

‘Can’t make any decisions until September, but love your idea so lets talk then’

‘I’m afraid we can’t commit until next month’

‘Sorry, golden ticket?’

And so the sweats begin. You should have gone on that holiday. You should have joined the Upstairs even at the risk of alienating yourself from the Downstairs and had, you know, a break. But now you’re stuck in August. Oh god – no work this month. No payments until end of September at the earliest – IF I get work at the start of September. That cold cold sweat makes your fingers work harder at dialling, mailing, crossing – all in the fruitless search for work.

And then you’re out of August. And out of the out of offices.

September rises like a Morgan Freeman narration. Warm, welcoming, weary yet full of promise. A ping. An email. A job! Followed by another. And another.

 ‘Thank you for your mail – as luck would have it we’ve actually got several projects we could use you for’

‘We love your work! Just got back from holidays so give me a call today!’

‘Sorry, golden ticket?’

You calculate how much you’ll be earning and see that it’s more than enough to cover August. Infact it’s better than last year. And you remember the groundwork you did in August actually did pay off. And that the same thing happened last year. And the year before that.

The Sole Trader raises his pistol, takes aim at August – squinting through his cross-hairs. ‘See you next year kid…’. And walks away tossing an invoice behind him as he goes.

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Men behaving Dadly

In 1985, John Matrix stormed the cinematic front, killing all and sundry in search of his daughter Jenny (or ‘Chenny’ as Matrix insists). To reach his daughter, Matrix fought through jumping off a plane, an annoying small man in a car, legions of bastards before finally killing a large effeminate Australian in a chainmail vest.

Tomorrow (or today if you’re reading this tomorrow – oh christ this is confusing already. Right, just imagine it’s tomorrow even if it’s today, or even yesterday. Look, what do you want? I can’t control space and time! Oh suit yourselves.) is my first Father’s Day as…well, a Dad.  I won’t be destroying legions of terrorists. Well, not before coffee and toast.

But it did start me wondering about the lengths I’d go to for our gorgeous (nearly 1 year old – sheesh, where did the time go?) boy. Parent friends tell you you’d do anything for your child and, yes, they’re right. It’s all so obvious, yet on reflection it took me a while to get used to the whole Dad thing….

Rule of Dad 1: There isn’t a manual. So it’s alright to make things up. Right? Right!?

The bible
You’ve (usually) got around 9 months to come to terms with being a Dad, but we all do that wonderful man thing – ignore it and it may go away. Not that we want the baby to go away of course, but the feeling that ‘hang on, do I need to read a manual or something?’ and that before we know it, we’re in that delivery room looking at our lovely little bundle of…er….wrinkles. And there it is, we’ve been to all the post natal classes, spoke to fellow parents, had a look on a few online forums before being sidetracked by the inevitable porn-google (or poogle as it shall now be known) to cleanse the palete (yes, the attention span of a…oooh look, shiny things!).  But now here we are – we’re Dad’s and somehow we get the feeling we’ve missed all the Dad classes….

And therein lies the rub. Where were the classes to teach…well…Dad things? Why don’t I feel anything right now? Is that normal? Of course I felt joy and love, but was it the right amount? It took several weeks for me to fully connect with our boy – and I do wonder if that’s because we will spend our first few weeks ensuring Mom & baby are fine and dandy – with all justification of course – but in doing so we forget to approach our own feelings.  I was lucky to be able to work from home as a freelancer, but I can feel the pain of Dad’s who have to go back to work after a couple of weeks. It’s as if you’ve been concussed briefly, dreaming of being a Dad, only to wake up back at work and feeling incredibly dazed.

But we muddle on, fill in the blanks and smile in fear as we forget yet another important date as our brains turn to mush.

Rule of Dad 2: Now, and forever, you will be the ‘daft’ one in the relationship. Your wife will be the all knowing Mom. You will be pratfall guy for your child and ‘how’s he doing?’ to your wife’s friends.

I can't get no respect

This is fine. You will make funny faces to your child and to your wife’s friends. This is because you will panic and get things wrong. That’s fine too. This gives you a great excuse to re-enact all of your childhood games in the guise of teaching your child. You’ll also argue the merits of watching He-Man, Dungeons & Dragons & Thundercats cartoons even when your child is not in the room. ‘It’s important’ you’ll say ‘the rules of good and evil are evident in Adam, Prince of Eternia’s battle with Skeletor as are Lion-O’s smack-downs with Mumm-ra (the ever-living)’. And you’ll think you’ve won. But then you’ll hear ‘Ok, how do you explain Mysterious Cities of Gold?’.

And you know you can’t.

Rule of Dad 3: You used to drink all day and night and wake up without so much of a sniff of a hangover. Not anymore.

This man used to be a God.You used to go for a quick drink in the afternoon. This turned into a session. This then evolved into several late night bars. Then kebab. Then you’d wake up and go to work.

Now, due to less time on the circuit, you shall do the following: Have a quick drink in the evening. You fancy a few more. Maybe just one. Yeah, it’s fine. After all, you’ve agreed you’d go out tonight and she’d go out tomorrow. Grab the opportunity, have a few more! Another few and….

5am. A piercing sound from the baby monitor eats into your soul and vomits all over your brain. Little darling is awake. You look across to the most ‘wonderful woman ever who you adore and would marry again if you had the chance’ (a rough approximation of what you burbled out at 2am before passing out in a puddle of booze froth). She is asleep. OH GOD PAIN. NEEDLES IN HEAD. Surely she’s heard the….AAARRGGHH….IT HURTS…OH GOD IT HURTS…..She looks asleep. But you know she isn’t. You know she know’s that you know and she knows that you know that she knows. Up you get. Head facing the floor. Body at a 45 degree angle. Lurching towards the door. There are two things that you don’t want to face with a hangover. One is the Underground, the second is a full nappy. But somehow you get through. Head pounding. Booze sweats. And you promise – NEVER AGAIN. And she walks into the room. ‘Alright?’ she says. And she knows. ‘Alright.’ you burp. And you know.

That it’s her turn tomorrow.


Rule of Dad 4: You will become more attractive to women pushing a pram around. This is now useless.

Glorious.I know it’s hard to believe, but I spent around a year and a half (look, just tell them the truth, it was two years) single. Floating around in my bubble of self loathing and late night pizzas, I yearned for something to happen, some little bit of help to assist me.  I tried everything, washing at least once a week. Changing my pants just as often and reading woman’s weeklies such as ‘Escort’ and ‘Readers Wives’ to get little insights into the female condition. But to no avail.

And then a funny thing happens. When you finally find the partner of your dreams (or at least the first that’ll take pity on you) and become a Dad, you venture out with the pram. And that first time on your own is…strange. Suddenly, women flock to see your smiling bundle of joy, they look at him and then look at you and you smile. You see other mothers in the park and as you’re Ted freelancer and the only Dad on the swings, you’re a park god. They love your hints and tips on the best way to change a baby in the bloke’s toilet of an east end pub. They nod their heads when you mention his little tantrums, and empathise about how hard it all is , but how it’s ‘all worth it isn’t it!’.

And then they’re gone. Lunchtime. But that brief moment of popularity lifts the spirits. And you think ‘I’m cool again!’ Before smelling the stink that’s eminating from jnr’s pants.

Rule of Dad 5: – THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE OF ALL: You will do ANYTHING for your child.

To my fellow Dads, here’s the thing, you will all do one or more of the following at some point in your child’s life – and that’s because you love the hell out of ’em and also because the sneaky little grrrrsss have access to your credit card:

  • Pretend to know who any of the itunes top 10 artists are
  • Give your child a history lesson on all things tape and analogue
  • Put on an accent when your child’s friend rings the house
  • Have ‘that’ discussion with them on why Simon Cowell had to be killed
  • Do a solo dance at a concert that is caught on the big screen
  • Tell an inappropriate joke in front of other parents
  • Draw a monocle on your child’s passport photo ‘for a laugh’ and ensure you all miss the flight

Well, whatever you do this Father’s day, whether it be your first as a Dad or your 31st, just remind yourself what John Matrix would do.

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Rotate your feet

So, I bought a pair of new shoes.

Big wow.

Well, these were to replace the beloved leather Converse boots currently sat by my feet like a wounded soldier. I say beloved – never really had a chance to love them as I bought them in February and they fell apart in April.

Below is a transcript of the helpbot conversation I had with two Schu helpbot callcenter bothelpers about said fall-apart shoes. Notice how Mairi ducks out of the conversation as soon as she realises this is an enquiry and not an order. I used to work for Direct Wines – famous for The Sunday Times Wine Club and Laithwaites – and we did the same thing. ‘Oh shit, it’s an enquiry – I’M NOT TRAAAIIINNNEEDDD!!. Hmmm….press 2. Good. Done.’

Now, I do love the service and I think it can be very useful, but the ‘if we find a manufacturers fault’ line just pisses me off royally. Oh, as does ‘but they’re fashion shoes’. And don’t get me started on his fatal mistake of signing off with a cheery copy and paste ‘join our newsletter’…..

Mairi

Welcome to Schuh’s Live Help Service. How can I help?

Me

Hi, I bought a pair of leather converse shoes on the 4th Feb this year & they’ve now pretty much fallen apart. Am I able to return these for a refund/exchange?

Mairi

Hi

Mairi

I am sorry to hear about this

Mairi

Do you still have your receipt for this item?

Me

I do

Mairi

You are being transferred, please hold

Stevi

Hi, you’ve been transferred to Stevi

Stevi

Hi there, you’ve been transferred through to Stevi.

Stevi

Let me just read over the chat. I won’t be a moment.

Stevi

Ok, I really do apologise your shoes have fallen apart.

Stevi

You can return your footwear to store or to Head Office

Stevi

We’ll then inspect them and if a manufacturing defect is found we will refund or replace the footwear for you.

Me: Well, no shoe should fall apart (sole coming off and stitching/glue ripped) in 3 months.I will take them to the store and see what they say

Stevi

Ok, not a problem.

Stevi

I’m really sorry about that.

Me: no problem – thanks for your assistance

Stevi

Not a problem, any time 🙂

Stevi

Before you go

Stevi

Have you heard about our weekly mailing list? It’s the best way to keep up to date with competitions, promos and the latest Schuh news. You’ll be the first to hear about new styles, discounts and what’s hot!

Stevi

All I would need is your name and email address 🙂

Me: Look, I’ve just bought a pair of shoes that’s fallen apart in 3 months. Do you think I’d be interested in your mailing list? Nice try but think before you copy and paste next time ;0)

Stevi

Just didn’t want you to miss out 🙂

Me: On another pair of faulty shoes?

Stevi

I’m sure it’s just a one off that your shoes have fallen apart. If there is a genuine manufacturing defect we will be more than happy to change them for you which a lot of companies don’t offer 🙂

Me: Well they’ve fallen apart – unless i have monster feet (which my mother was kind enough not to mention) – then they must be shoddily made, no?Unless wearing them has caused them to fall apart, in which case i deeply apologise and will also stop wearing my trousers ;0)

Stevi

We also recommend that footwear should be worn in a rotation to prolong the life of your footwear. Unfortunately if you wear your shoes everyday they will start to fall apart.

Me: Aha! Shoes that weren’t meant to be worn. I see. Well perhaps if they were made correctly… I’m sorry, but it’s crap to tell that to a customer. I do wear different shoes, and rotate my shoes (and feet where possible) whenever I can. They’re badly made – glued not stitched – and I think thats the problem with a lot of the shoes.

Stevi

I didn’t say they weren’t meant to be worn. They’re not supposed to be worn everyday. We’re a fashion footwear retailer. They’re made for fashion purposes.

Stevi

If you return your shoes all of the faulty footwear gets passed back to the brand

Stevi

The brand (manufacturer) then find out what went wrong and they fix the problem.

Me: Oh come on…fashion wear? That’s a lovely excuse. I paid £63 for a pair of shoes that lasted 3 months. I didn’t realise trends passed so quickly.The problem is they fell apart – try making them better next time. At least, that’s what i think Converse will be told.

Stevi

As I said, we’ll be more than happy to replace or refund if you return them and there is a fault with them.

Me: Excellent. Anyhoo, it’s been fun, but I’m off to rotate my feet.

Stevi

Ok, have a great day 🙂

Stevi

Goodbye.

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