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The end of 1890 numbers! – Good riddance!

The end of 1890 numbers! – Good riddance!

Hurray, one big user of 1890 numbers has stopped using them! The Irish Revenue commissioner loved 1890 numbers and it was difficult sometimes to find the geographical (and cheaper) number, but now they completely stopped using them. A great day for customer service.

Many people don’t know the 1890 “scam”, so let me explain:
Many many moons ago when we still had landlines, the phone companies came up with a marketing solution for companies that wanted to provide a better customer service. If a company used a 1890 number then they would pay for part of the call cost and the caller would pay a lower and capped price. Telecom Eireann/Eircom/eir called these numbers “LoCall” numbers and back in the days this was actually correct, But then came mobile phone companies along and in their greed, they ignored the LoCall idea and instead charged a surcharge. :-O For reasons I will never understand, the telecommunications regulator ComReg didn’t stop the mobile phone companies from scamming the customers. But it got worse! When mobile phone companies introduced inclusive minutes, calls to 1890 numbers were not taken out of that minute budget and still cost a surcharge.
So if you can avoid them, NEVER use 1890 numbers and tell companies that still use them that they had good intention, but are hurting their customers now. NOBODY should use 1890 numbers anymore!

Other numbers to avoid: 1850, 076, 0818 and all 15x numbers. Always look for numbers beginning with a geographical code like “01” etc.

Pet Hate Alert: “, and” – Mind your commas!

Pet Hate Alert: “, and” – Mind your commas!

Why, oh why can people not write proper English. I am foreigner and at least I have a semi-acceptable excuse, but the amount of native English speakers (and writers) that ALWAYS put a comma before an “and” is shocking.

An example would be: “At the event, there will be music, dance, and theatre!”

This is WRONG!!!!!! A comma can be put before an “and” but only if the following sentence after the “and” could be a self standing sentence. Do not use a comma before “and” in a list.

And if you tell me now that the comma in a list is an Oxford Comma, then I will ask you next if your publication is the “Oxford University Press”, because that is the publication that came up with the very controversial use of a comma in a list.

Library fines will be abolished

Library fines will be abolished

Libraries in Ireland are a great resource that could be used a lot more, but if they are used more or not will probably have no impact on society or the economy or the happiness of the nation whatsoever. Reading books is a good thing but there are many ways you can read books and you can get your books. In my opinion the E-Book and Audio book selection has to be expanded significantly and the libraries should allow the users to suggest specific e- and audiobooks for purchase, but apart from that there is not much that needs to change.

Michael Ring, Minister for Rural and Community Development , seems to think differently and I have to speculate that it comes from having nothing else to do in his department. Ring thinks that operating hours for libraries should be extended to 08:00-22:00 on 365 days a year (Who wants to be in a library at 21:00 on Christmas Eve!?!?) and he things that library fines have to go! At the moment the use of libraries is completely free and ONLY if you keep a physical book longer than the allowed loan period of three weeks (I think!) you have to pay a small, but increasing fine when you bring the book back. The purpose of the fine is to make sure that people bring the book back in time. But Ring thinks that it keeps people away from libraries.

In an ideal world nobody will steal and everybody will love thy neighbours. But unfortunately the world is not ideal. That’s why we have laws. And in the same way as there will always be people (including politicians) that will try to “minimise” their tax payments, there will always people that will forget to bring back some or all of their loaned books.

I think we should abolish library fines when we abolish fines for under declaring taxes.

Ring thinks people will bring books back even if there are no fines because the libraries are owned by the communities: Ring thinks people will still return books even if there is no fine.

He said: “I think people will respect the libraries because as I say it is not Government it is community, it is belonging to the people and we want to make these community hubs for the future.”

Is he deluded or absolutely right? What do you think?

National Dairy Council is spreading nonsense

National Dairy Council is spreading nonsense

The National Dairy Council has accused “Social media channels” to confuse consumers about the health effects of dairy products and at the same time, they are doing their best to confuse consumers about almond milk, the biggest competitor to cow’s milk. It is nothing else than protecting their commercial interests, after all the National Dairy Council is just a milk producers’ organisation.

Blaming social media channels for a changed consumer behaviour is just nonsense, BUT I am happy to confirm all the prejudices the National Dairy Council has. :-P So let’s finish with this:

Interestingly, a study shows that 41% of Irish women and 30% of men have already realised that “baby calf growth juice” is not the best food for human beings and they are limiting or avoiding dairy. The rest should watch this: ;-)

Did Supermac’s really invent the Snackbox?

Did Supermac’s really invent the Snackbox?

Last week Mr Supermac’s Pat McDonagh announced on radio that he will fight McDonald’s because they have trademarks registered that will interfere with Supermac’s ability to carry out their business. He was asked to give some examples and he mentioned “BigMac”, the “Mc….” Prefix and “Snackbox”. He claims that Mc Donald’s is sitting on trademarks that they have no intention of using just to make business difficult for Supermac’s.

I have to admit that I have no personal affinity to Supermac’s at all. When I first came to Ireland, they appeared to me like a cheaper, lower level Burger place. I had no specific reason for thinking that, but we sometimes make judgements that are not necessarily based on facts. I guess the appearance of the Supermac restaurants did appear worse than other burger places. I also should say that I am not a big fan of McDonald’s either, but I have been a McDonald’s customer and I have never been a Supermac’s customer.

So with that “admission” out of the way, let’s have a look at the three examples that McDonagh gave for trademark hogging:

He is unhappy with the fact that McDonald’s is claiming the Big Mac name for themselves and he thinks this is not just. Hmm, the BigMac has its own Wikipedia Page and there I learnt that it was introduced by McDonald’s in 1968. The first Supermac’s Restaurant was opened in Galway in 1978. Now you could question if a name like that should be protectable at all, but if it is, then I think Supermac’s rightly doesn’t get to use the trademarked phrase. 10 years!

The next thing he has a problem with is the Prefix “Mc”. McDonald’s even own “McInternet” and “McKids”. I can see his point there, but really, if your business depends on COPYING the big competitor and you can’t run it without using their names then maybe something is wrong with your business. Let’s face it, when Supermac’s was founded (30 years after McDonald’s!), it is highly likely that the name “Supermac’s” wasn’t handed to McDonagh by Lady Inspiration herself, but that it was an intentional copy. So is the pot calling the kettle black here?

And finally the Snackbox, the term that intrigued me most. It is a good term and McDonagh claims that “McDonald’s has trademarked the SnackBox, a product that is synonymous with Supermac’s.” He is right that McDonald’s is not even offering Snackboxes and therefore shouldn’t get that trademark, BUT was it really Supermac’s who invented the Snackbox????? For me the “Snackbox” is synonymous with my local (Italian) chipper, NOT with Supermac’s. But maybe I am wrong. Who knows the history of the term “Snackbox”? Nobody should get that term, by the way!

All in all, you could think that McDonagh should focus on his own business and should lead instead of copy. That trademark row seems to be total nonsense.

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