When automation breaks down

I have to admit, if I can do something online, I will – I manage my Utilities online, I do my banking online, I tend to do my major grocery shopping online. Why? Because it’s easier, cheaper and you can run your errands when it suits you – not when places are open. We all lead busy lives, and online applications make our lives easier by allowing us not to be constrained by the 9-to-5 mentality.

However, there are times these things just go wrong – and cause a lot of annoyance (if not, worse!).

Case in point for this month is British Gas.  I recently moved, and used their online “Moving” form – an easy enough process – login, give them the old and new addresses, last meter reading etcs. No hassle. I filled in all the boxes and didn’t think anything of it trusting them to deal with everything.

Then I start getting post regarding my NEW accounts (the Gas / Electric accounts for my new place) being sent to my OLD address. Very odd.

Anyway, one phone call later I find out that for some reason their system correctly updated the account address for my OLD accounts to my NEW address, but decided to use my OLD address for my NEW accounts. Confused? I was. Who on earth builds a moving form that behaves like this?

To make matters worse, it turns out that there had been a failure in their billing system, and I had not been issued a bill since June. Oh great. Now, I was on their EnergySmart tariff – basically, you pay for what you use, and have to submit your readings online every month – the rest was handled as normal (payment by direct debit).  Well, it turns out that although I HAD been prompted for my readings, which I HAD given, they HADN’T been generating the bill (and consequently, had not been taking payment). Hmm. Because I had phoned them, the nice lady on the other end spotted this mistake. Great. Now that they have finally processed the readings I have been sent a bill totalling almost £200. Ok, I’m not arguing that I do not owe this month, I am arguing that it’s a little unfair that they are demand the payment within two weeks (before the 1st Dec), even though they should have collected it over a period of three months. Rather unfair I’d say considering that it was their systems that are at fault.

Needless to say, I am far from impressed about their processes, testing procedures and general customer service. Considering that they are about to finish sorting out the accounts for my new place, I have a feeling that I might be moving supplier again sooner than I had thought.

Website Analytics; Historic or Real Time?

I’ve been a user of Google Analytics for a long time now, long ago having been drawn in by the prospect of free analytics.

However, recently I’ve been thinking I’d like a more instant, real-time view of what is going on – its now no longer good enough to have to wait up to 24 hrs in order to see who visited your site …

After a quick search I found two possible services that I thought I’d investigate – both seemed to offer a good level of service.

Clicky

GoSquared

So, I’m going to sign up for both as a trial, put them onto my work website (Wildfire Software) and see how things go for a month or so – then I will post a review and my thoughts on each.

But while I’m doing all this, why don’t you let me know what you think of website analytics?