Trying to order Broadband in Ireland in 2019!

I moved to a new house recently. Broadband always was, and probably always will be one of my most important considerations when moving to a new area. That plus the colour of the water. Don’t ask. So naturally I done some good background checks on internet availability in the new area which included looking at broadband provider coverage and availability maps online, talking to people who lived there already, checking mobile speeds and phone lines etc while house viewing. All of the above suggested that I should have no broadband worries so off I went and agreed to let the property. I actually ordered broadband well before I moved in so that it would be there when I did or very shortly after.

The first thing I did was to use Eir’s very handy (so I thought) “Moving Home Form”. You just put your current and new details in and they handle everything for you. How cool!? I filled it out and awaited confirmation from them that all was proceeding. The suggested wait time was several business days. Fine. I never heard from Eir in relation to this again.

With the failure of the moving home form process and move time fast approaching, I decided to just do a fresh broadband order online with Eir on the 7th January. The process was fairly easy and quick and I got word back fairly quickly that install day would be the 14th January, the day after I planned to move in. I was delighted to get a call to say they could come even sooner than that because the engineer happened to be in the area and had a cancellation of some sort. He came that Thursday and I wasn’t at the address but the install team rang me to say they couldn’t provide the broadband I ordered. They put me on to the engineer to explain more and he told me that I’d ordered “Fibre to the home”, superfast broadband but no actual fibre lines to the house existed. I told him that’s all I was allowed order online and he said I needed to cancel that order and tell them I just wanted normal “Fibre to the cabinet”, phone line broadband instead. That’s when the real fun began..

For most of the next week, I tried to contact Eir and subsequently Vodafone who got similarly confused about the type of broadband available here to explain their error and just order normal broadband. I need to use a bullet list here to explain what happened next there’s so much detail, sorry!

  • Step 1 – I called the Eir customer support number 1901. Except that when you ring on a mobile, like most people probably do these days because they don’t have a landline, it doesn’t work. The robot asks for your account number but as you try to type it in their system presumes you need mobile support and tries to transfer you.
  • Step 2 – I called the sales number mentioned in the order email 1800 303 736. No answer.
  • Step 3 – I messaged the Eir Twitter support account at Twitter.com/eircare. The Twitter guys answered at least but ultimately they refer you to phone support who never answer.
  • Step 4 – I went to an actual Eir phone shop hoping to get some sense out of a real life human, face to face. I explained the problem to “Paul” who done his best to make me feel like a fool for ordering the only broadband product the Eir website let me order. One which wasn’t available in my area despite the Eir website saying it was. He put my address and Eircode in multiple times and ways and into multiple systems to prove that that’s the only broadband I could get. He didn’t seem interested when I told him the engineer was out to check and said there’s no fibre line. Paul was sympathetic to my problems getting in touch with Eir support however and gave me a handful of numbers to try ring. Each one of them failed to answer. The longest I was on hold was 1 hour and 10 minutes one day. Video proof below! That number was actually a Sales number too!??
  • Step 5 – I decided to take Eir Twitter support’s advice and post (as in a letter…lol) in a cancellation request. I done this for both my account at the old address and the new one I just ordered for the new address but havn’t heard anything back re either yet.
  • Step 6 – I said enough is enough and dispensed with Eir altogether as they obviously don’t want or care about customers and switched my attention to Vodafone on the advice of the previous tenant who used them happily. Considering my failure to get in touch with Eir in any way to cancel, I had no option but to just cancel my direct debit with them. I’m sure I’ll hear more about this but I’m ready for ’em!
  • Step 7 – To my initial delight, Vodafone were a hell of a lot cheaper than Eir for the same thing but to my dismay then, they also sold me fibre to the home, which as I’d already found out was not available here. I’m guessing the address/availability system Vodafone use is Eir’s so it’s wrong for both. Probably other providers too. I ordered the only package I was allowed to on the Vodafone site but got a call the next day to say it wasn’t available. Here we go again..
  • Step 8 – I decided, again, to go talk to someone face to face and went into the local Carphone Warehouse store to try sort the Vodafone install issue and the guy there put a manual order through for me for broadband after I explained the issue again. That order seems to have disappeared into the twilight zone. There was no record of it with Vodafone. Maybe it’s for the best as it was a completely different price and contract length to the online order.
  • Step 9 – I contacted Vodafone by phone and web chat which was a hell of a lot quicker and easier than contacting Eir and because of my experience with Eir, I understood the situation and issue fully and was able to explain it very simply to the several different agents, several different times. Nevertheless, they trust their “system” more than actual humans on the scene so they insisted that all I could order was Gigabit, superfast fibre to the home broadband and that the slower “normal” broadband I wanted was not actually available to me.
  • Step 10 – I put another order through on the Vodafone website while web chatting to a support agent. It only let me order the superfast broadband yet again but on the advice of the support guy/girl (never sure with Indian names) I ordered anyway and we agreed that if I got a call to say it wasn’t available again, I should just insist on a site visit. The same support guy tried to sell me the same package I ordered at a different (yes, dearer of course) price than the website too!?

Eir customer support craziness:

So that’s where we’re at now. Waiting on someone from Vodafone to call/visit to actually check what’s available here and install some kind of broadband. Meanwhile I’m trying to run an IT business off my mobile phone hotspot with the phone placed up against the window in the kitchen at the back of the house which through trial and error I’ve found is where the best 4G signal is. But it comes and goes..

So for once the issue is not the availability of decent broadband in Leitrim, I know I can get broadband, I just can’t seem to order it!? It shouldn’t be this hard to order broadband in Ireland in 2019?

UPDATE 1: *****************************************************************

Nothing further happened with either Eir or Vodafone as of yet (unsurprisingly) and I decided out of interest to go through all the other major Irish broadband providers including:

Digiweb – Can only offer Gigabit broadband which isn’t available!
Pure Telecom – Can only offer Gigabit broadband which isn’t available! They fixed my phone line and even sent a router then admitted it was all pointless so I sent it back and cancelled.
Sky – Can only offer Gigabit broadband which isn’t available!
Virgin – Can’t give me any kind of broadband at all!

So. I looked into Mobile broadband and happily realised that they’d all but done away with their monthly download limits. That was the reason I stopped using mobile years ago. A quick check online for coverage in my area, both with 3 Support and my own research seemed to suggest that the signal would be strong (I appear to be sitting right on top of a mini 3 Cell tower or extender of some sort!) and that their router would be far more reliable than my phone hot spot so I decided to give it a bash. I ordered a monthly package and router at about 14:30 yesterday and the router and SIM were delivered this morning, way less than a day later. All I had to do was set everything up, find the best spot (huge difference between the front and back of the house!?) and plugin and I was online again at the speeds below. Hopefully they will remain as high and that mobile broadband is stable and reliable.

Take note Eir & Vodafone. This is how easy and quick it should be to order and install broadband in 2019..

UPDATE 2: *****************************************************************

Having just setup my 18 month contract with 3 Mobile Broadband (service and speeds have been fairly reliable) and seeing out the 14 days grace period, imagine my surprise when I went out for a walk one day and seen the contractors from the fibre company (Working on behalf of OpenEir) laying the final fibre infrastructure to the house.

Fibre Box

I spoke to a couple of them and they told me as soon as they were finished, fibre would be live and available to order. Unable to resist the temptation of hooking into 1GB fibre running right outside my door I looked at ways to get out of my 3 contract but to no avail. Still, I put yet another order through Vodafone for their fastest package and this time an engineer came and actually installed the connection in my house but then confirmed it wasn’t fully live yet. He couldn’t say when! Vodafone rang me the next day to tell me the “problem” would be fixed around March 25th and I wouldn’t be billed until then. So the story continues..

UPDATE 3: *****************************************************************

My fibre broadband came live yesterday out of the blue! Speeds are all over the place though. I’ve had speed test results everywhere from the full 1Gbps to a third of that bit I FINALLY HAVE FULL FIBRE BROADBAND!!??

Fibre Broadband Leitrim

Rockingham House, Lough Key, Boyle: Then & Now Photoshop

I’ve been a regular visitor to Lough Key near Boyle Co. Roscommon from even before I moved to the Northwest of Ireland in 2003 and many times since then, including this afternoon for the first time in a good while when I decided to drop by in the rain to snap some photos of the remnants of the old Rockingham House Estate there which was destroyed by fire (for the second time) in 1957 then subsequently demolished, perhaps controversially considering it’s decent state, in 1971. The large foundations, still interspersed with servants tunnels and sprouting an ugly tower, which I initially thought reminiscent of something you’d see in Ballymun, Dublin, rather than in one of the great forest parks of Northwest Ireland is now a commercial tourist attraction.

I’d seen photos of the old house before but never really thought through what it must have looked like or where it stood or which direction it faced before until I seen another fairly hi-res and impressive colour photo of the house on Facebook recently. I decided to do some research, take some photos and Photoshop together how I thought it might have looked “Then Vs Now”, just to give anyone interested an idea..

Here are the results (CLICK)

Photo Gallery:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some further references on Rockingham House and accounts of it’s demise:

http://www.boyletoday.com/57-years-since-rockingham-fire/

http://thegardens.ie/?page_id=918

https://www.irelandxo.com/ireland-xo/history-and-genealogy/buildings-database/rockingham-house-boyle

 

Photoshop CC Essential Basics Online Course

I’ve created a 9 Lesson online course in Photoshop CC basics for Photoshop beginners who would like to know how to do basic image editing. It’s suitable for:

  • Photographers,
  • Business Owners,
  • Marketing People,
  • Graphic Designers,
  • Web Designers,
  • Photoshop Hobbyists.

Requirements:

  • Basic computing ability,
  • A decent, modern Desktop or Laptop computer,
  • A cloud subscription to Photoshop CC (or the free months trial).

Topics Covered include:

  1. Where and how to get Photoshop,
  2. Photoshop Configuration,
  3. The Photoshop Interface,
  4. How to Open images,
  5. How to Crop images,
  6. How to Resize images,
  7. How to Add Text to an image,
  8. How to Save an image,
  9. How to Save Optimised images for the Web.

There’s also a Quiz at the end to test your new found knowledge!

The course is a total of 40 mins long and only €79 + VAT.

TAKE THE COURSE

Mohill Railway Station Leitrim Then and Now

I have Google alerts set to alert me whenever Mohill or Leitrim is in the news and one came in last week for old photos of Mohill Railway station for sale on eBay by an Australian seller of all things! The auctions were fairly high quality old photos from about 1950 looking from both ends of Mohill at the old railway station. All photos were from about the 1950s.

I loaded them on my phone and went out one fine day (it’s only around the corner from where I live) to take some modern day photos from as close to the old photo angles as possible.

I went back to the office and loaded each set of then and now photos in Photoshop and aligned them best I could before masking out certain sections to merge then and now versions in some meaningful way. Finally I added some adjustment layers above everything to improve levels, colour and contrast..

The Old Photos:

The New Photos:

The Results:

Is Email Marketing Dead?

Recent Experiences

It just occurred to me as I sent out my last business Newsletter recently to a highly focused MailChimp list especially for existing clients of mine, a newsletter alerting clients to changes in the Google algorithm that will most likely affect their sites positions in search results and in turn possibly their main marketing channel, and having watched multiple unsubscribes and no replies to it, that Email Marketing, as I know it at least, may be dead.

The last few similar newsletters I sent out yielded the same results. No replies, no business and a few unsubscribes. I check the stats re open rate etc and all emails reach their destination and actually have good open and click rates. I’m sending these newsletters to a list that I use to alert existing clients of issues with hosting, problems that may arise and general important announcements that clients really need to know. If they unsubscribe, they wont get this information and they’ll be in the dark and I may not have the resources to deal with issues directly or by phone as a result of them being in the dark! Fair enough, I also use newsletters as a marketing channel sometimes but I doubt very much that I oversell through it.

Why?

So why the lack of interest? I guess it’s possible it could just be that they have no interest and see no relevance in the content. It’s hardly that they receive too many emails from me given that I only send newsletters out every 2 or 3 months if even that. Maybe people in general are overwhelmed by emails? Maybe they don’t have the time? Maybe it’s just a tired method?

From my own perspective as someone who also receives a lot of email newsletters, it can be overwhelming. The companies that send out the most frequent and/or longest newsletters usually get the boot from me but I try not to make the same mistakes in my own email campaigns.

GDPR

Then there’s GDPR. Could this have had an affect on email marketing? I took all the necessary precautions when the new GDPR regulations passed last summer. I emailed everyone, asking them if they wanted to remain on my list and telling them what data I held exactly. I had very few unsubscribes then, if any so I presumed people were happy to stay on the list. I’m pretty sure GDPR has scared a lot of people off email marketing though. And caused a lot of unsubscribes.

The Future?

So what’s the next new marketing thing!? I’m subscribed to Seth Godin’s email list. I signed up for it because he famously keeps them very short and concise. I’ve seen some come in that are barely a sentence! More often than not they talk a lot of sense and wisdom. Seth is a big proponent of the old fashioned way of doing things. Being honest, offering value, doing things the hard way and not taking the quick and easy fixes.

That’s what I’m going to try to do anyway. I just have to find the right medium to do it through!

Ireland Regions Map Vector

I’ve been learning Adobe Illustrator finally and getting some practice in on the job so to speak. I was asked to rebuild an old jpeg of an Ireland map in hi-res vector format by the Northern & Western regional Assembly.

I started with a blank off the shelf Ireland map vector and added the regions, colours, text and borders/boundaries as well as background colour and drop shadow in Illustrator.

Ireland-Map

 

Mobile First Indexing

This week, I’ve been getting regular emails from Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) to let me know that my own sites and those of my clients that I’ve added to the console have been switched to “Mobile-first” indexing.

Mobile-first Indexing

What this basically means is that the results in Google searches will show content primarily from the mobile version of your website….IF you have one! If you do or your website is fully responsive and adaptable to mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets then you need do nothing for the most part.

If however your website is currently setup any the following ways, you may need to act to avoid the loss of ranking and possible drop in the search results:

  • No Mobile version,
  • No Responsive version,
  • A Mobile version that doesn’t have the same quality, comprehensive content and tags as your main site,
  • An old Mobile version on a separate domain, ie – m.mysite.com.

The first thing you need to do is test to see if your site has a mobile friendly version or if the main site is mobile friendly. You can do that with Google’s own tool here:

search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly

If all is well with that then you need not worry. If your site is shown to be not mobile friendly though you may need to make it so to avoid issues. Here are the options:

  • Rebuild the site with a fully responsive design (best, future proofed option),
  • Add a Mobile friendly plugin (If your site is WordPress or CMS based).

Here’s some further reading on the subject of Mobile-first Indexing:

Google – webmasters.googleblog.com/2018/03/rolling-out-mobile-first-indexing.html

Yoast – yoast.com/5-things-about-mobile-first-indexing/

Please get in touch if you need further advice.

Leon