Monday, 21 December 2009

NLA Wolf in the Pot?

I'm sure we all remember the story of The Three Little Pigs. I read it quite a lot these days (not for my own pleasure you understand, but for the edification of somebody rather smaller...). It strikes me that the greedy wolf rather overstretched himself. If he'd been content to eat just two of the three pigs and then move on,he might have gone on to lead a happy, carnivorous life -rather than ending up in the pot.

The same may be true of the NLA.

They've had an easy ride over the past ten or so years. They produce nothing, but manage nonetheless to be rewarded handsomely on the back of other people's labour. There've been occasional mutterings about taking them on, but those mutterings never quite make it to the top of anyone's agenda. In effect, they keep on eating the easy-to-reach little pigs.

Until now.

In their greed to assert copyright over something that (in our view) isn't copyrightable -and to demand payment for something that is available for free- they're like the greedy wolf. They've overstretched themselves, and in doing so, they have thrown into question the whole legitimacy of their existing structures. Like the wolf, maybe they'll end up in the pot.

Meltwater's reference to the Copyright Tribunal changes everything. It shows that people are no longer prepared just to roll over when the NLA tells them to. It will inevitably make people think again about the unfairness of their existing licences. We applaud Meltwater. We'll be giving serious thought to how the PRCA ought to respond to their bold move.

And in the meantime, I imagine the NLA and will keep on huffing and puffing....

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

How NOT to treat customers

The Daily Mail, Telegraph etc etc today run a story about a mother asking a South Eastern train employee to help her cross a footbridge with her buggy, and being refused 'because they were not insured to lift things like prams'. Now, I must confess an interest. I have a two-month old son, and I use South Eastern trains.

SE's response was reasonable enough I thought: "Our staff will help passengers when possible. However we also need to strike a balance where the number one priority for our staff is the safe running of trains. If it is going to interfere with the safe running of the trains then that must take priority."

Reasonable enough on the face of it.

Yesterday evening rather contradicted that image of reasonableness though. I was on my train home from Charing Cross, with the train about to leave in three minutes. Someone ran to the ticket barrier; his ticket didn't work. This happens quite often, because the barriers often malfunction.He showed the ticket to one of the SE staff to let him through. The SE bloke flicked him a finger, pointed him to the other platform. ie the wrong, further away platform.... The guy looked bemused but ran there instead and was let through the barrier there instead. He then doubled back. The guy who'd turned him away obviously couldn't care less.

I have some difficulty seeing how this meets the SE line 'our staff will help passengers where possible'. I'd rather presumed letting people through malfunctioning barriers was entirely what barrier staff were there for....

I rang SE today to ask them for a view. It took a good few minutes to get through their automated system before someone eventually picked up. They had no response. They also have no email address apparently...

Never mind the 21st century, perhaps they should enter the 20th century and get one? Not exactly the best example of customer service or communications excellence now is it?