Friday, 30 January 2009

This blog is for you.

This blog is for you. You are going to change the world. (I tried, and failed, many, many years ago).
As I don't expect you to read the whole blog I will try and repeat the basic idea in the latest post occassionally.
The idea is to see if it is possible to change the world for the better starting at the bottom, or somewhere near the bottom, as we all know it is hopeless to change it from the top. You have only got to go back a few years to recall the slogan "things can only get better". Yeah, right. Well here's another nice mess you've gotten me into now. (Oliver Hardy).
Firstly we try and find out why politicians or local councillers or corporations seem to always do things that appear to be wrong to us and turn out to be wrong or at least don't really do any good for us, the people. Ok, so I think we know why! Not just whingeing or generalising or being nostalgic or sentimental or cynical. No, just questioning why things are done and for whose actual benefit if not for us. Once we have established this we look for the right way and use our collective power to influence the people above us. In this way those people can change or influence the people above them.
Maybe an example would help. And don't take this as an actual practice that does need changing.
Supermarket packaging; we all know about the proliferation of packaging. Why has it grown so much and is it a problem?
I would suggest that the food manufacturers and retailers are sourcing their product further and further afield and to aid transportation are having to use more packaging. They are doing this to improve their profit margin and in order to pay their shareholders bigger dividends. 1. Is the food cheaper (for them) or better (for us)? Can't we (in the UK) do without strawberries in the winter?Or any other exotic or not so exotic fruit or vegetable grown half way round the world? Is it sensible for the country of origin to export all that water when they need it themselves? 2. Why should we have to 'pay' to dispose of the rubbish? Ok, you may say we don't actually pay but our collection service is deteriorating and I suspect it will not be far off when we will pay on a volume basis.
So, as I said this is just an example to explain what I am getting at.
How could we change this? Do we need to change it? How much is all this packaging and transportation costing? Who's paying for it? Is the actual food getting worse to pay for the packaging?
So, DO WE CARE? We probably do but cannot be bothered until it starts to ACTUALLY effect us. Such as extra cost for that extra bin. By then it is to late, because it has been accepted as the norm. Just like the Banks giving us loads of credit a year or so ago and we didn't think; Hold on is this right? Where will this all end? Do you think we might have a problem in mid 2008? Yes, well, it's a bit too late now, isn't it?
Please comment just to let me know you are still out there.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

The right to decent service

My intention was to structure this blog but it seems I am just writing down my thoughts at the moment. Suppose that's what a blog is!
It's no good moaning; some people constantly moan, not concentrating on the good things in life. Most of us have cars, accomadation, food, warmth, healthcare, money etc. but we usually fixate on something, perhaps that we never even use, maybe just because it isn't as good as it was "in my day". You know the sort of thing; There's not enough policemen on the streets, all the jobs and benefits are going to immigrants, ther's no public transport, all youngsters are potentially dangerous to adults, you will get knifed if you go at at night etc. etc. It's all generalisation and headline grabbing. Good tip; don't believe anything you read in the press! Oviously these items I have mentioned may have an element of truth but it is too broad a statement. Take the police. I am sure thay do a good job on the whole. But I was stopped the other day in a "road block". They acted like the Gestapo. Why? Look at the damage to their PR. Couldn't the officer have said "Excuse me sir, hope you don't mind stopping for a few minutes and help us conduct...blah,blah". As opposed to saying "Park there!" "Is this your car?" "ID" When I asked for his ID he pointed to his number and asked why I had an attitude.
I appear to be digressing again but in fact this is all pertinent to the title: The right to decent service.
Why do we feel guilty when we cross off the 12.5% optional service charge in a restaurant? Do we think we are being mean not giving the waiter/s a small tip? Thus restaurant is possibly owned by a large quoted company, doing all it can to squeeze the extra penny out of it's customers to generate profit for the shareholders. How often do you see the name of the ultimate owners anywhere on their premises? Who owns the "Ye Olde Kings Head", purveyors of fine wines and wholesome food? I won't name names but you can have a good guess. What should you expect in these places? Of course a good meal (value for money), good service and a good experience. What else. If you are happy you will spend more money, you will go back, seems logical.
But what if you are not happy? My children would say "what can you expect these days?". Admittedly it is always difficult to complain in a restaurant because it will invariably spoil the evening. But some gentle hints on the evening might help, or a letter of dissatisfaction written the following day. Or if really bad, I feel you nust complain at the time.
Don't get me wrong, again, this blog is not about individual whingeing. It's about improving things for everyone, collectively.
Then we will change the world.
Don't think small changes do nothing. It may take time before anything appears to be happening, but trust me change will begin immediately (it's already started!) and you will be surprised at the difference.


How are we going to change the world?
The first thing to do is to see if we can change something.
Do you remember there was a massive march in London a few weeks ago? What was it all about? I can't remember. Did it have any effect? Probably not.
A lot of things in the UK, at least as reported by the press, seem like the work of comedians. Why is this? Surely it makes sense for politicians to do "the right" things. But why does it appear they are doing the "wrong" thing? There must be more behind it, maybe an ulterior motive. A politician only the other day suggested that men should have the right to 12 months paternity leave to be on an equal footing to a woman's right to maternity leave. Presumably this was just to get his name in the headlines so we knew who he was. He is, in fact leader of one of the 3 major political parties in the UK. I suspect not many people know who he is. Maybe a few more know now.
So what should we do.
The other day I walked into a small shop to buy a packet of cigarettes. Coming out of the shop I undid the wrapper and looked for somewhere it could be disposed. I could have walked across the forecourt of a garage to a waste bin at the pumps but that could be dangerous or disruptive even to me let alone a senior citizen. The road was covered in litter but this made me more determined to dispose of the litter responsibly. I found a litter bin about 100 yds from the shop. How many people would have bothered? Can you imagine a youngster doing this?
OK, you may say, who cares? Exactly. Let's say we reduce the rubbish at this parade of shops, the shops themeselves are encouraged by this to sharpen up their image, more customers stop and shop, the businesses improve, the owners are motivated to offer better products, shoppers can get better quality fodd etc. from these local shops rather than the out of town supermarkets. The suppliers feel less threatened by these supermarkets, knowing they have other outlets for their produce.
Maybe it is this sort of small change and thus pressure on the status quo that could change the world for the better. After all the large supermarkets work on high voulume and relatively low margin so pressure on their volumes can have a great effect.
Not that I want to bash supermarkets. But we cannot just let them have a free reign, otherwise we will be completely at their mercy. Probably sounds a bit dramatic and that's not my intention. As I say the idea is not to spoil one thing and replace it by another. But imagine if you had some sort of effective persuasion this could and should be used for the benefit of all. Take for example the supermarket packaging. This packaging has got more and more invasive. It is not for our benefit but for the benefit of the supermarket to aid transportation of it's products. But who has been made responsible to dispose of all this packaging? And I suspect, shortly, to pay for it's disposal. How does that work? We are paying for the supermarkets to pack their product so that it can be purchaesd cheaper form further and further afar (with no extra nutritional or other value, in fact probably less) and also "paying" to dispose of it for them. On the other side of the coin I hear that one particular major supermarket does endeavour to source local produce when available. OK so that's great to be able to buy local Granny Smiths, but they are still promoting non-season produce such as flowers from Africa. Not a good example but you know what I mean. Can't we do without strawberries in the winter?


Are you happy with your lot? What actually is wrong with the world? Indeed for most of us and most of the time modern life is bliss. But it could be so much better, couldn't it. All those little niggling problems or not so little could easily be corrected, couldn't they?
This blog is to try and change the world!! I feel that if we, as individuals each changed small things in life, together this change would gradually creep up tp the top and change the world into an even better place!
This is always occuring to me, but as my life is reasonably good I never get around to doing anything.
The object of this blog is not a whingeing board, but a serious attempt to see if the people can change or adjust the way the world behaves.
We all know our lives are ruled by corporations and thereby a few powerful people. Their object is to take as much money off each of us and make us enjoy making them even richer and more powerful. OK, so we live in a capitalist society so you would expect that. But should they be robbing us? Of course not! Do you feel guilty about complaining?
Why should we not expect to have good food and service in a restaurant? Why should you feel guilty that an expensive tradesman has not done the job properly?
There seems to be a culture today where you are provided with a service and a bill that is not right or fair. It is known by the supplier that you may do one of two things;
1. Do nothing and pay the bill
2. Complain and ask for a reduction or compensation.

If you choose 1. either by not noticing the bill is exhorbitant or embarrassed to make a fuss you are being legally ripped off.
If you choose 2. The supplier will apologise profusely and offer instantly to reduce your bill.

This happens to me quite often so I assume it is general practice.
Is this the correct way to do business?