EVERYTHINGS' GOING A BIT PEAR-SHAPED
So its Fall.We thought the elections were over, but it is getting
ugly now. Still Hackwriters sticks it neck out and we think that there
will be a new President by Jan 20th 2001. Maybe.
So Cheyney has a heart attack, Bush grows boils, Gore gets an acid attack...all
part of the process, but just maybe Florida should invest in some new
voting machines, dig the swamps for the missing Gore votes and next
time invite Cuba to supervise to make sure it is all fair and above
board. One result might be that more people may actually vote next time,
than the 51% that actually turned out. Meanwhile we are all waiting
for the post-Thanksgiving stock market BulI market. Can't happen without
a result though. Who knows.
We also had national elections in Canada. The Alliance vesus the Liberals.
You know the kind of headlines Chretien
attacks Day over Alliance . Chretien won of course, increasing his
margin. Probably lucky timing, given that next
year will be tougher.
But you have other things on your mind - dont you? You need some
kind of life plan, a new goal. You are worried about the future, but
not that worried. You hate all this wet weather you want to go on vacation,
but you dont get another for months yet. Isnt life a bitch.
So whats next? Oh yes, Christmas, yet more stress.
IS THE WEB ACTUALLY USEFUL?
As we predicted back in May (if only we knew how to make money out of
this stuff) - the web is undergoing a period of consolidation and change
- or dying on its feet as some West Coast guru declared.
All those things everyone was promised havent happened. Every
bank rushed to provide internet banking and are hugely surprised when
in fact, most people dont seem to find it as convenient as the
hyperbole would have us believe it should be. The advertising companies
got rich and, hey, they are they are only telling us what their client
believes they have, not their fault your WAP phone is as useless as
a bent frisbee.
For instance, when will Evolvebank.com
come on line? (Lloyds Banks own web bank- have they gotten cold feet?).
Yes, everyone is still surfing, but one only has to try to actually
buy a ticket on
TheTrainline.com or Lastminute.com
to realise that it is nigh on impossible and they really dont
care if you do. Eurostar
has a nice wheeze. Call them, theyll refer you to their website
and NONE of their pages work at all. The reality is, customers arent
getting any satisfaction and the web is turning more people off that
on these days. There is a danger in offering nothing but unfulfilled
promises and for ninety percent of the web companies out there offering
services or stuff to buy, most are inefficient, have little or no follow
up, rarely have a working phone number and complaints are so high, this
is the biggest area of staff recruitment, answering these calls. (We
have info that Travelselect.com.
is one of those).
But whether you are surfing Ryanair,
just isnt as good as using the phone.
(Actually I just bought two ticket son Easyjets website very easily
in deed and for the exact times I wanted to fly at very reasonable cost,
so they, at least, have got their act together. But for many the experience
is simply poor.. If you want to fly immediately, difficult.
For example: Most of these sites offer you a field to fill in. Destination,
number of people traveling, dates, prices...you name it. But if it cant
find what you want, you have to start all over again., everytime. It
should be designed to offer you choices using that info put in only
once. Of course, when you do find a flight and they give you a number
to call...the flight is suddenly £200 more than it is on the screen.
They have few seats at the cheaper advertised prices and try getting
a cheap flight at half-term. Forget it.
Of course some get it right, like Amazon and Easyjet, neither of which
can be faulted. But the truth is, if I wait a day, my local bookshop
will get me the same book and whereas it might not be as cheap, once
you deduct the postal charges, it is as near as damnit as cheap and
I am helping to keep the local bookshop in business. It is the same
with buying many things on-line. It might look cheaper, but will they
really give you a good price for you present car? Will you really sell
your house over the web? If I am buying a house, I want to see it, walk
it, turn the taps on, kick the walls, inspect the loft. You cant
smell dry rot on the web.
In fact, why bother using the web at all to buy things? Isn't shooping
a liesure activity? What will we do if we don't shop till we drop anymore?
In Spain they are really getting into Web fever and if you want a good
place to start and find out what is going on there try www.ya.com.
It will take you everywhere you want to go. There is a web cafe in almost
every town now and Spanish teens are dedicated chat ers.
But do they shop on the web? Europeans live to shop, but shopping is
what they do in the evenings. You go out, socialise, try things on,
have a drink, eat a meal. We have organised ourselves a social life
in Europe that centers around shopping as a liesure activity. I just
dont think that business people have thought it through. We arent
suddenly going to stop doing that. Maybe if you live in the Prairies
or on the Plains of Spain youll substitute your catalogue shopping
for the web, but for city and town folk, we want to strut our stuff
SO WHEN WILL IT WORK?
We await the next generation of technology. Bluetooth applications and
third generation phones that are fast. If we can shop from
the web as we roam around, if we can comparison shop as we wander around
in real time, without a wait, then just maybe we will all buy into this
new consumer dream. But the technology has to catch up with how we like
to live our lives. We have to be free of the desktop . Yes, pundits
say that WebTV will be the big thing that changes everything but lets
Right now we think everyone has leapt into consumer services on the
web about three years too early. In the end, the guys with money, the
established brand names, the big corporations will pick over the bones
of the web. In 2004, everything will be the same, only different. The
Web will just be another thing competing for our attention. It wont
just be at home, it will be everywhere we eat, shop, travel, walk, lie
down. We will be bombarded with consumerism, even in our dreams. We
will then start to buy things, things that turn it off, everywhere we
go. We will start to demand privacy, just when it is impossible to have
it anymore. We will rebel - probably - suitably attired in our Gap rebel
We welcome new writers.