Thursday, 13 September 2012

Why Not The Countryside?

Riding a motorbike is a great way to spend your free time as the sense of freedom on the roads can both exhilarate and liberate your senses. The roads are good but why not go riding in the countryside? Even though the government are shutting down green lanes across the country there are still a load of great places to go riding in the great outdoors. Green lanes are registered roads which are often gravel or dirt tracks which litter the countryside and offer a new experience for those looking for a new riding experience.
I have been riding on green lanes for a number of years now and I can honestly say that it is the best way to ride a motorbike. With green lanes being used by four wheel drive users alongside motorcyclists there is a good crowd of people which both love and respect the countryside who want to see it in a different way to the norm.  It is all about seeing places which you always wonder about when driving along the roads in the country. What we do on our motorbikes is not anti-social or illegal, and doesn't cause many motorbike accident claims, but many other users of green lanes seem to believe otherwise.
Horse riders and ramblers are the biggest enemies to the green lane motorbike riders. They seem to think that what we do is significantly damaging the countryside and also disturbing the peace in the area riding our bikes. Who do they think we are? We don’t storm around the countryside in an antisocial manner on load and brash two stroke motorbikes, speeding across the lanes churning up the ground. Green lane riders prefer more quiet trail bikes with sufficient silencers to keep the noise levels down. We ride at slow speeds so we can negotiate any rocks, ruts and deep puddles in the lanes ahead and don’t throw up big chunks of dirt. We know that the countryside is not just ours and that we should respect the awesome locations we get to ride by doing so in a sensible manner.
What really annoys me is the self righteous attitude of the horse riders and walkers. Just because our method of seeing the countryside is different and less conventional does not mean we do not deserve a place to do what we want when it is legally allowed. Riding a road registered trail motorbike on green lanes is completely within the law in the UK.
We ride around in the countryside enjoying the views and the scenery whilst getting the challenge of riding a motorbike off road in a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere. People believe off road motorcycles belong on the motocross track but not everyone wants to ride their bike at top speed over big jumps in a muddy field.  Older people for instance want a calmer off road experience which can’t be found at motocross tracks or hare and hound races.
People need to realise that motorbike riders are not a collective which can be labelled under one banner.  The group I often ride with contains a dentist, a truck driver and a social worker. We are a varied bunch of people all brought together through our love for the countryside and riding on two wheels.  With the government shutting many green lanes cross the country, motorbike riders like me will soon be a dying breed and will be forced to ride at designated off road facilities. If the situation ever gets that bad I will have to find a new way to ride on two wheels off road. Trials biking looks like a good shout as it is a much slower and technical style of riding.
But for now, green lane riding is alive and well and this weekend I will be out on my bike checking out what the countryside has to offer. Riding the lanes is my favourite way to see the countryside along with being the best way to ride an off road motorbike. With time, we can keep a hold of the green lanes so future generations can enjoy them in a similar way to what we have. 

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Work accident problems

The work accident claim is one of my biggest issues at the moment at my music business' warehouse. 
I can't believe how many people in my work have taken time off and have found themselves to be injured from some form of work related injury. These work accident injuries range from a small finger cut to serious back problems. Back problems are the most common, perhaps due to the heavy lifting involved in the warehouse side of the business. I have suspicions that some of the workers who are using the back problem excuse are using it a little too often, however, I cannot be sure because most even have the correct medical notes from their doctor. 

The doctors notes are often the same, but it doesn't help the business to thrive and is indeed harming much of the business and the ability for it to make money. 

I am losing staff members on an almost daily basis. The main reasons for being off work is injuries from work. Problems like heavy lifting in the warehouse and pulled muscles I have found to be the most common of work injuries.

I would like to find out if there is anything I can do to either increase productivity of my staff, or to stop people from being very petty and taking time off work every time there is a slight injury. I’m sure that some of my staff are not even affected by work accidents but because they see other workers taking time off, they think it is OK for them to do the same. This process has snowballed over this year. More people than ever are taking time off work from work related injuries. 

The main points I would like to work on are the work injuries which are fictitious, most employees I have are not at all lying to get time off work, but some people are not injured and just take time off work for the sake of being able to. It can be really hard to do this as an employer as I feel the rights of the employee far outweigh the rights of the employer. 

How can I make sure that I take on staff who are not going to be off work all the time from so called work related injuries? 

How can I give staff who are already doing this the ultimatum without dismissing them incorrectly, or breaching some kind of worker's rights act? From here on out, I would like to let all my staff know that taking time off work, will affect the ability for me to employ and pay people. When workers change the way the business works, it can greatly affect the ability for me to employ people and make the business a success. 

I would love to find out how other businesses in my position deal with employees who are taking far too much time off work from all sorts of work related injuries. I care a lot for the workers and their families and do not wish to dismiss the true employees who are really unfit for work, but when everyone is taking time off you know it cannot simply be coincidence. Some workers I feel must be taking time off and are not really injured. 

I would like to know if anyone else has found workers in their business to be taking more time off from work related injuries? How can I source employees who will take work seriously and will not take unnecessary time off?

I aim to increase my workforce and increase the online side of the business. Online orders have really began to skyrocket, the money is there to take on more staff, so it would be a shame for me not to expand while the business could go through a growth period. 

Employees always seem to be the problem, finding staff who really want to work can be difficult and I have found work accidents to be another great problem. The fact that there are quite a few people having to move large amplifiers from the warehouse shelves, makes me think I should invest in some heavy lifting equipment to take the pressure off the works who day in and day out are getting themselves into work related accidents in the warehouse.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Amazing Service

Just a follow up to my previous problem with my service provider. I mentioned at the end of my last post that I had been recommended another provider over Twitter, by name of "Odyssey Systems". I just thought I'd take the opportunity to congratulate them on the amazing service I have received so far. Their project manager was extremely helpful and I received every bit of information I required, without having to be passed backwards and forwards like I expected to be. Great recommendation and great service, let's hope it keeps up!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Calling idiots in the call centre to solve problems

Right, so I’ve been having some really big problems with the phone lines in my workplace, and I’m wondering if anyone has any suggestions. Because the situation is really getting to me.

I’ll quickly explain my situation: I’m an office manager in an online music business, and so I’m partially responsible for all of the communications technology in the workplace (phones, broadband etc). Recently, after consulting with our tech guys, we decided to switch our phone line provider, naively assuming that we would get a better quality of service from the new company than our previous provider. I could not have been more wrong.

Two days after the lines were installed, people in the office started getting feedback on the line whenever they called someone on our internal network. At first, it was just a little fuzzy sound on a few people’s phones, but then everyone started to get feedback, which got progressively worse. (Do you remember the annoying buzzing noise computers used to make back in the days of dial-up internet? It’s basically like that). This makes it extremely difficult to talk to anyone by phone. Now, this is extremely annoying, but we do have e-mail, so we’re not completely cut off from contacting one another in the building. But, now the feedback problem has also affected our external lines, so that when customers call us, it’s extremely difficult for us to hear them and communicate with them effectively. We’ve sent out a notice explaining that we’re experiencing some technical difficulties and that we’re working to get it fixed, but let’s face it, this isn’t good for business. And new customers could easily be put off by this.

As soon as the feedback started to become a problem, I rang the customer service helpline to see if they could send someone out to sort it. This was approximately one week ago, and it’s been nothing but torture ever since. The first time I rang them, I was subjected to one of those ridiculous automated services for about 10 minutes (because why should a customer service helpline actually help people?). When I finally managed to get through all the rigmarole of pressing the 1 button repeatedly, I was forwarded through to a call centre in India. I explained the situation, and asked if they could send an engineer out to fix the lines. I was told that I was through to the wrong department, and they would forward me on to another department. This process was repeated about 8 times: each department I was forwarded to told me they couldn’t help me, and each time I had to explain the situation again and again and again. All I wanted was for an engineer to come out and fix the lines that they had botched up in the first place!

When I finally got through to someone who seemed vaguely competent, they informed me that, if I wanted an engineer to come out, I would have to pay over £100 for the privilege. This, despite the fact that I haven’t done anything to break the phone lines, but their people didn’t install them properly to begin with. I lost my rag at this point, and, although I’m slightly ashamed of it now, I did start shouting down the phone. Now, I know that it wasn’t the personal fault of the call centre worker, but after an hour and a half of getting passed around like a parcel, and then being told I had to pay for someone else’s mistake, I was pretty damn angry. I asked to speak to someone in the UK: I was then forwarded to another department in, you guessed it, India. Strange that this company has UK call centres for attracting new customers, but once you have a problem they outsource all the calls. And this is one of the UK’s major phone providers too: you’d think they’d have some concept of real customer service or even just installing things correctly. Apparently not.

Call centre workers kept trying to fob me off, saying that the lines would settle down, that there was nothing wrong with the lines as far as they could see, and maybe it was my office building that was the problem. The thing is, we’ve never had any difficulties like this before. And switching back to our previous provider really isn’t an option: their charges and costs had become so ridiculously expensive that it isn’t financially viable to go back to them.

The situation isn’t getting any better: every day I ring up the customer helpline, only to be subjected again and again to this obstacle course of hell, explaining the problem until I’m blue in the face and have no one listen to me or help. I just don’t see why I should have to pay to fix someone else’s mistake, and to have to go through all this stress just to get a simple engineer out to have a look at the phone lines.

So here’s where I could do with some help: The longer this goes on, the more I doubt that the problem will ever be fixed. It’s affecting my business and could really harm us financially if this goes on much longer. Has anyone ever been in a similar situation before – and if so, how did you handle it? Could anyone recommend a decent phone company to switch to? I’m seriously considering this last option; the expense of changing again might be far cheaper in the long run than faffing on with the company I’m saddled with at the minute. Any advice would be massively appreciated!


I have been recommended a business phone system provider called "Odyssey services" by someone over twitter, and I've decided to try them out after looking over their site earlier.