I get annoyed when Government is pushy, rude and aggressive

This is admittedly a fairly minor example, but it genuinely irritates me. And it’s by no means the first letter from HMRC that’s done the same.¬†Click for a bigger version. For the most part, I find that ensuring my business complies with all the Government’s requirements to file and pay things is a huge pain in the arse. I do most of it myself, I try to get it right and mostly succeed, and when there have been mistakes they’ve always been genuine. So, when I get letters threatening me with penalties if I cease to do something I’ve been doing all along, I get annoyed. It’s unnecessary. I wouldn’t ever send a letter like this to a client or a supplier unless sorely provoked. So why is it HMRC’s default tone of voice? Why can’t Government talk like a human?

Number 10′s e-petitions can be better

We all know and love the Number 10 petitions site. The technology works and the experience is well thought through, as one would expect given that it’s a mySociety project. It’s not perfect, though, and as usual, it’s the human element that’s problematic. It’s the responses to petitions that don’t hit the mark, and don’t give any opportunity for people to engage further. It’s the top-down, message-driven, one-way broadcasting at people, instead of the collaborative, mutually respectful conversation that we should be having with Government. Having real, two-way conversations is hard. It requires time, patience, money, and a wholesale change in attitude — but Government say they’re up for it. Digital Engagement is the mantra du jour. And things are definitely moving in the right direction. So — given this background of steady and positive change — why are Number 10 still stuck in the mud? Why do we get ...(Read More)

Mobile phone companies are crap

After posting about the iPhone yesterday, I thought I should mention that figuring out what service was best for me was a real pain. It should have been easy, but it wasn’t. Because I had unusual plans — buying a Pay & Go phone and then switching to a 1-month rolling contract — I rang O2 twice before buying anything. I wanted to make sure that Visual Voicemail, unlimited wifi and tethering would work on a non-iPhone contract, and was assured that they would be. After getting the phone, I found that Visual Voicemail didn’t work, and called O2, assuming it was a configuration problem… but no. They said Visual Voicemail and tethering are unavailable on anything other than an iPhone contract, which is not what they said before. I suggested some possible solutions to this: Could you turn on these features without using an iPhone contract? Answer: No. Apparently ...(Read More)