Dissatisfied

Had my most unsatisfactory exchange with the WordPress support people the other day.

You know when you follow a new blog?

And you can manage how you find out when they post something new? Emails, notifications, etc.?

Well, every time I follow a new blog, WP gets these values wrong (i.e. not how I like them to be), so I have to go in and manually change stuff to how I like it, on every new blog.

It’s a small thing, but I got fed up of changing it every time. So I asked WP whether there was a setting I could change someplace which would make WP get it right, without me having to go and faff around every single time.

The reply? Here is how you open the Reader…

Er, no… My response? Please take the trouble to read my question. I realised that what I’m talking about is a bit fiddly, so I might have had to explain it some more, but I was at least looking for some indication that the analyst and I were on the same page.

They apologised for “mis” [i.e. not!] reading my question, then started asking me what emails I had received from WP recently. How should I know? I check that account maybe twice a week. They then wanted me to look through them. Bear in mind, I had never even asked about emails, this was all down to her – I was interested in changing a setting on the web site someplace.

Long and short, I got increasingly frustrated that this woman (who identified herself as Rachel) could not grasp what I was asking. To my credit, I think, I remained polite, although there was certainly a filter going on between head and hand. I was, however, curt. In the end I just said “sorry, this chat is unproductive” and closed the window. I would have happily spoken to her supervisor, but I was done speaking to her.

To my surprise I got a subsequent email response – not from this woman but from somebody who may have been her supervisor. They, at least, understood the question, although I think the answer is “tough”. I can live with that – it’s not a showstopper. What I did object to was somebody trying to feed me a line of bs.

So Rachel, I’m afraid, got a terrible review. Presumably, given her lack of ability to listen, she receives lots of other bad reviews. Frankly, WordPress strike me as a bunch of cutthroats, so I’m sure it is only a matter of time before poor old Rachel is asked into the manager’s office…

Burned

New:

Old (wp-admin, showing Quick Edit screen)

A couple of times recently I think I have been burned by the old wp-admin interface. Can anybody explain it to me?

If you remember, about a month ago I changed the name of my blog. I noticed that my old posts still referred to the old blog, as opposed to the new one. No worries, I could make the changes myself to bring the old posts up to date. I decided to use the wp-admin console and the clasic editor, just because that was the quickest way to change the old posts.

Now, these posts had been live for years, many of them, but I noticed partway through that wp-admin was sending out new notifications as I edited the posts. As if I just published them.

I didn’t want to bug people with all these fresh notifications about old posts, so I stopped what I was doing.


The last few days, I decided to introduce a couple of new categories, I thought it’d make things clearer if anybody ever looked for posts on a particular theme, rather than lumping them in one place. Yesterday I finally had a bit of free time to do this. Part of the process was re-categorising a few posts. Again, the quickest way I knew of doing this was to use the wp-admin again, this time Quick Editing the posts. I made the chamges, and thought nothing of it.

Last night I found that these changes (I presume it was changing categy) caused a pile of notifications to be sent out again.

Now, I can guess that if I contacted WordPress, they would tell me that the wp-admin page is no longer supported, and that I should use their new console. But does anybody have any idea what their rules are? They seem to be generating a fresh round of notifications just on the least little change, even on already-live posts, which seems dumb.

Arbitrage – woes with wordpress.com

Arbitrage is a complex name for something that’s actually very simple. You sell a product for $10 in the USA. You sell that same product in the UK for £10. In the real world $1 ≠ £1. The difference between the two, that’s arbitrage. It’s money for nothing, as long as you’re prepared to travel to a different currency with your goods or service. For multi-nationals, that isn’t a problem. In the age of internet shopping, that isn’t a problem.

For me, it always used to get my goat that American companies, in particular, would assume that £1 = $1. American companies drove computing, let alone the internet, and it basically meant that UK customers paid more. Either buy it in GBP, and accept our unfair rate, or buy it in USD, and pay the duty.

With software, in particular, we don’t really have that any more. Most things are delivered over the web, so there’s no concept of a disk going through customs. There’s not really any mechanism for an individual to pay VAT, say, other than at the point of sale. There is for businesses, and that becomes more complicated. Companies do try a bit of arbitrage, but it is usually acceptable. It’s less hassle just to pay an extra few pennies, and to know that you’ve paid in GBP, and be done with it. It also saves on banks charging for currency conversions.

However, yesterday I came across something old-school. I’ve been looking at wordpress.com, and they want £48 from me for a year’s basic subscription. When I set up the WordPress account, I must’ve said “UK” somewhere, so they know to bill me in GBP. However I was chatting to my (American) friend, he says he gets billed $48.

At today’s exchange rate, $1 should cost me £0.90, so $48 should cost me £43.19. This is using the site xe.com with today’s numbers. Yet, wordpress.com wants me to pay £48. It’s only £5 difference, but that’s an extra 10%. Imagine if everything you paid for each month just got 10% more expensive, you’d soon notice!

As you can guess from my tone, this all seems unfair. Why don’t wordpress work on the basis of “we want $48 per year per subscription”, then leave it to somebody like Paypal to calculate the amount, in the user’s local currency? Paypal allows users to pay in their local currency anyway, thereby saving them on bank charges. I’m sure there must be a little fee for their arbitrage in there anyway, but 10%?

So, I questioned them. This was all done yesterday, so at least they answer queries on a Sunday. The response started off pretty lame – “we can’t control exchange rates”. D’uh, thank you for assuming that I’m so stupid, I didn’t realise that. And, “if we billed you in US dollars, you’d only get hit by the bank for fees instead”. So, you’re giving me the choice of being screwed by the bank, or screwed by you? They did say that they would convert my GBP account to a USD account, if I wished, so at least I’d be able to choose.

Actually, writing this has made me realise – I choose neither. I really don’t like the ethics of a company who say “we will charge you more for our service, depending on where you live”.

I’m still thinking about wordpress.org, but I doubt it’ll be on wordpress.com. WordPress.org recommends a dew other companies – they all offer subscription services, but it’s not the subscription part that I object to, it’s the “having bought a subscription, we’re going to try and get some more out of you anyway”. As for “we can’t control exchange rates”, that just goes to show how dumb they think I am. But ultimately, I’m happy to stick with Blogger for now, after all, it satisfies my current needs, and contemplate a change at my leisure.