The Award For The Worst Toll Free Number Goes To 0800 MELANOMA

There’s an ad playing on the radio at the moment about a local skin cancer specialist.

I have a problem with their choice of phone number:


To me, this is a classic case of being unable to consider the customers perspective, who is looking into the business from the outside.

The business owner must have thought “we deal with melanoma every day, it’s what we do, so if 0800 MELANOMA is available, it’s the right number for us”.

Meanwhile, the customer is thinking “I don’t like the look of this mole on my arm. I think I’ll be ok, but I better get it checked by a professional just to be sure”.

And then you want them to dial 0800 MELANOMA?

No thanks. I don’t want melanoma.

If you had two take-a-way pizza joints to choose from would you call: Continue reading “The Award For The Worst Toll Free Number Goes To 0800 MELANOMA”

What Email Address Does The IRD Student Loan Newsletter Come From? Of Course!

That is so weird.

IRD has just stopped publishing their Student Loan info newsletter.  I got the last ever hard-copy today.

From now on, if you want to know what’s going on with your student loan you have to sign up to the e-newsletter.

So that’s what I did.

And I just got an automated confirmation email to welcome me to the newsletter list.

The email address it came from was

Can you make any sense of that?

Is it the name of a famous student war hero?

Is DOMO an acronym for something like “Dunk Oreo’s Monthly Ok”?

Is it the IT departments little joke?

Has Telecom New Zealand Finally Got Their Shit Together? Perhaps So.

Everyone likes to beat-up the big brands.

They are an easy target.

There is always something to complain about.

And its comforting that your complaint is just one of many because you know there are hundreds or thousands of customers who feel the same way you do.

You don’t expect to get an official response. You just want to get your feelings off your chest.

Telecom NZ is one of those brands.

You hate Telecom.

I hate Telecom.

Everyone hates Telecom.

Don’t you just dread the prospect of being forced to give them a call to report a fault, or deal with a billing issue, or set up a new service, or anything?

For the next couple of days you probably tell everyone you meet about how an hour or two of your precious time was wasted on hold to Telecom’s call centre in India/Phillipines for an issue that should take 2 minutes to fix (or should never have occured in the first place).

You are not alone. I’m just like you.

So when Vodafone started offering home lines a few years ago I switched over. It felt good to support the underdog.

It’s been 3 years now since I’ve had to deal with Telecom.  But last week I switched back because I had heard good things about Telecoms new broadband plan “Big Time“, and I was tired of my broadband provider Xnet.

I watched Telecom change their logo a few months ago, and noticed they have updated their website too, but I thought that was the end of it – just cosmetic changes, nothing too serious.

But I was wrong.

They have upgraded their service too.

Here’s my experience over the last 10 days:

Contact #1:

  • Called to signup with Telecom.
  • They took my account numbers for Vodafone and Xnet (my broadband provider at the time), and promised to close those accounts for me.
  • We chose a switchover date of 31 Dec 09 to avoid any double billing.  [WIN!]
  • I demanded that the connection fee be waived. They agreed. [WIN!]

Contact #2:

  • On the 4th of January, after 4 days of smooth operation, there hadn’t been any improvement with my broadband speed (0.7Mbit/sec). I was disappointed. This was the primary reason I changed.  I called the Telecom help desk.
  • My call went through to the Phillipines which worried me. I gritted my teeth. But the lady on the other end of the phone knew her shit inside-out!  [WIN!]
  • She ran through some tests including a check on the distance to the nearest Telecom exchange, and among other things, suggested I turn off my modem for 60 seconds. By the end of the call my download speed had increased 50% (to 1.5Mbit/sec).  [WIN!]
  • She also detected that my modem was only ADSL, not ADSL2, so she suggested that was another reason for slow speeds.  She asked if I had received my free modem from Telecom yet. I had not, so she transferred me to dispatch in New Zealand and stayed on the line to introduce us “Sheldon, I’ll now have Frank on the line ‘Hi Sheldon!’, he’ll take you through the next steps”. [WIN!]
  • Frank said the modem hadn’t been sent out yet (perhaps with all the public holidays over the last few days), but he’d send it out now and it should arrive either next day or the following day.  It arrived this morning at 7am – just 14 hours after the phone call [WIN!]

Contact #3:

  • I plugged in the new modem (Thomson SpeedTouch ST536v6) and it installed itself (no installation CD required). The download speed is 6 times faster than my old modem (4MBit/sec). [WIN!]
  • But I wanted to set a password on the modem to reduce the chance of it getting hacked. I couldn’t find the IP address to get access to the Control Panel anywhere! Spent 60 minutes searching online before I finally found it on page 135 of the manual for the modem on the official website [FAIL!]
  • I was pretty annoyed and thought I better complain. I decided to try Telecom NZ’s Twitter account @TelecomNZ (which had auto-followed me when I mentioned the word “Telecom” in a tweet yesterday).
  • Jennie replied to my tweet within 4 minutes. I told her a few more details in another tweet and she promised to look into it [WIN!]
  • I just wanted to save the next person some trouble, but even just having my complaint acknowledged is huge. [WIN!]

So far so good.

Have you had a pleasant experience with Telecom since the rebrand?

I’d like to hear it. Share your story below.

Old News is Bad News – Is The “Latest News” On Your Website Ancient?

Have you ever heard this from a web developer?

  1. “You need a news page so you can keep your content fresh.  Google and users love fresh content!”
  2. “You need a blog, because Google loves blogs and you’ll look professional to users too!”
  3. “You need to get on Twitter, Facebook and Linked-In, because social media is hot right now!”

Think twice before you give your web developer the green light to build these modules for you.

Because they can make you look bad, and damage your brand

Why having a news page, blog, and Twitter/Facebook/Linked-In profiles can make you look bad:

  1. You’ll never get around to updating them, because you’re too busy running your business
  2. The older your latest news/blog post gets, the more it looks like your website has been abandoned
  3. The older your latest Twitter message or Facebook update or Linked-In update gets, the more it looks like you don’t care
  4. If you look careless with your news, visitors will suspect that your other content is equally out of date

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. When I see the 2007 date I immediately lose confidence in the brand.  Is it the same for you?

Why Is Harvey Norman Stuck In The 1990’s?

Yes, yes, Harvey Norman does sell the latest technology: Plasma TVs, Laptops, Macbooks, Printers, Digital Cameras etc (at awesome prices), but why oh why do they contradict this image with the following:

  1. Dot matrix printers for printing out your receipt
  2. A 1990’s website
    • With a “splash” page (the home page just has a big photo and link to the rest of the website)
    • The navigation is located in 4 different locations (very hard to figure out where you are. Totally unintuitive)
    • No open hours (forces you to pick up the phone and ask – that is so 1990’s!)
    • No E-commerce (unlike ALL of their competitors: Dick Smith Electronics, Noel Leemings, Bond and Bond)
  3. No social networking activity at all
    • No Facebook page
    • No Twitter account
    • No Linked-in profile

Perhaps Harvey Norman has people in the marketing department (either here in New Zealand or in head office in Australia) fighting for these changes, but because it is a private company run by an old fuddy-duddy family, they are probably very happy with the way they doing their mass media advertising (radio, TV, flyers every day).

What have I missed?

Write your comments below.

10 Reasons Why the Marketing Association of New Zealand’s Website Sucks

1. The search is crap

To demonstrate, here is the results for my search for “marketing”:

Search for “Marketing” on Marketing Association of NZ website

Can you detect a complex search algorithm at work here? Me neither.

They can take some comfort in the fact that very few websites have a decent search engine, but the rule is “if it doesn’t work like Google it doesn’t work at all”.

So what should they do? Simple, just plug in Google search

2. Their “do not call/mail list” is lame

Their claim to fame is the “do not call/mail” list where citizens such as yourself can opt out of receiving phone calls or mail from advertisers.

The catch is that only advertisers that are members of the Marketing Association of New Zealand get this list.

So the most annoying spammers and market surveyors probably aren’t members. So you will probably continue to get junk mail and phone calls during dinner, even after to spend 30 minutes of your life working through this tedious process.

And by the way, the “do not call” and “do not mail” lists are completely separate forms and you have to enter each person in your household separately too. Enjoy.

3. They serve banner ads

For example:

3 Examples of Ads on the Marketing Association of NZ Website


To earn revenue?

They should just stick to what they’re doing and choose not to distract their visitors from their task.

It makes them look cheap. Who do they think they are? The NZ Herald?

And I suspect that these 3 customers are not paying the ratecard rate because at $400/month for the homepage and $320/month for the rest of the website, do you think they’ll ever get a return on investment?

Advertising Rate Card for MANZ website

4. They don’t have blogs or a forum, there is no 2 way communication

Marketing is built on communication is it not?

Where are the blogs? Where are the Question and Answer forums? Where are the links to other social networking such as Twitter or Linked-in?

They are absent.

They should be leading the way with marketing techniques in the 21st century, but sadly, it seems they are stuck in the 90’s.

5. They use “click here” for internal hyperlinks

2 Examples of Using "click here"

This is poor for users because it doesn’t provide “information scent” – a preview of what they will see on the next page (because often when people read on the web, they scan quickly and read only hyperlinks).

And they are missing a Search Engine Optimisation opportunity here too because Google loves keyword rich anchor text in internal hyperlinks.

6. No breadcrumbs and no highlighting of the page you are on, so you get completely lost

These are 2 standard features that are completely missing from this website, and that is why you will get lost in minutes if you bother having a look around.

7. They list a fax number on their contact page


What the hell is a fax machine anyway? I’ve never heard of it.


8. Their email addresses are plain text

I shudder to think how many spam emails their staff get.

Why do I care? Because I have less confidence that an important email I send them will get blocked or deleted by an overly aggressive spam filtering system.

What should they do? Use HiveEnkoder to obfusicate their email addresses so spambots can’t read them, but humans can (and can still click on them).  It creates a little bit of javascript code that can be easily inserted in to the html.

9. The national news page doesn’t even have dates and the headlines are as boring as hell

See for yourself:

Screenshot of so-called "National News" page

What should they do? Incorporate thumbnails to give it some life, have the full date, and show a few sentences as a teaser.

10. In the footer, the copyright is 2005


This tells me it has been 4 years since their last major upgrade. And it shows. The site is dated.

Are the web developers – Net Concepts to blame?

No. I’m not hassling the original web developers: Net Concepts.  Infact, their latest stuff is really really good. But if I was them, I’d either put pressure on the Marketing Association of New Zealand to let them build them a new website, or ask them to remove the hyperlink, because it’s just embarrassing being associated with them.

What next then?

If you represent the Marketing Association you may be a bit pissed off with this report, but somebody had to wake you up.  I’m for hire, I can help you fix these things, so call me on (07) 575 8799.

And if you have a website of your own and you want a frank, honest, cut-the-crap evaluation of your website, so you can start generating business from it, you can call me too: (07) 575 8799 (only call if you promise not to cry over the phone when I point out all your mistakes).

How Many Things Can A Restaurant Do Wrong and Still Stay In Business?

It must be 9 because last night the Jasmine Thai Restaurant in Tauranga made 8 screw ups:

  1. The outside signage was so dark and small that half of our party couldn’t find the restaurant when they drove past
  2. The jugs of water that were served when we arrived were at room temperature. No ice. No lemon.
  3. Half of our table wasn’t having wine, but the wine glasses were not cleared from the table (a minor point but we needed the space later)
  4. Half of our party arrived 10 minutes after the first half, but weren’t offered drinks on their arrival
  5. The waitress took the order of a table that arrived after us
  6. Instead of reprinting the menus, things were crossed out with a black permanent marker or with a tiny piece of paper and sellotape.  For example “fresh” was crossed out for “fresh orange juice”
  7. The list of mains were numbered (which is tacky in itself, who started that anyway?), but each page of the mains menu started at number 1, so if we wanted number 5 we’d have to say “number 5 on the second page”, or “number 14 on page 3”
  8. When the waitress came back with our meals she had to ask who ordered what. Is it that hard to remember who ordered what?

However, the food was delicious, fresh and tasty. I have no problem with the chef. But the service was terrible.

How tight-a-ship do you run?

  • Do you pay attention to detail in your business?
  • Have you let your standards slip over time and hoped that no-one will notice?
  • Maybe it’s time for a spring clean?
  • Maybe it’s time you got a fresh pair of eyes to look over your business?
  • If so, I’m available