Tag: ceo

Blueface make personal attack, unfounded slurs on former customer

Blueface would appear to be losing it.

Feargal Brady, Blueface CEO has, out of the blue, decided to start leaving deliberately inaccurate, bizarre and unsubstantiated accusations against me in comments on a post on this blog. Some of these allegations are more personal than factual. Challenged to back them up he has repeatedly demurred.

Long story short – Blueface are a VOIP telephony provider in Ireland. I opened an account with them in January 2006. I had repeated problems with the service and in November 2006 I closed my account (after spending in excess of €300 with them).

Excruciating detail:
Because of the allegations made against me by Blueface I will now go through my dealings with them in detail to document the issue online. Skip down to the non-italicised text if you want to see what allegations Blueface are throwing around about me.

I raised my first issue with them on January 13 06, the day I set up my account. My account was configured incorrectly and I was unable to call 076 numbers.

The next problem I had was on February 7th. Again another configuration issue with the way my “calls were localised” which was sorted reasonably quickly.

On March 22nd, because of ongoing call reliability issues I was having with the service I enabled port forwarding (using the port forwarding instructions on Bernard’s site) which seemed to help at the time. I confirmed this with an email to S.O’C in Support sent at 11:28am and confirmed in reply by S.O’C at 11:40am. Up until then when I phoned support, the advice I received was to “Restart the ATA”.

I had more issues in April. I raised a ticket about my inability to make calls on April 3rd which was never satisfactorily explained. This was well over a month after I enabled port forwarding, you will note.

On May 11th when I reported another call issue, I was asked by S. O’C over email to try port forwarding! I reminded him that I had port forwarding in place for a couple of months. This issue appeared to be resolved on 15th of May.

On the 21st of June I again was unable to make calls.This time support advised me to:

switch off the modem and ATA for 30 secs and then switch them back on and leave them for 5 mins

This appeared to work so I took to doing that every time I had a problem instead of contacting support and waiting for them to respond. The problem kept getting worse. It got to the point that by October the service was failing at least once a day (often more). I would only be aware that there was a problem when the phone didn’t ring for a while or when I tried to make outgoing calls. I would try to call my office number from my mobile phone and discover that it wasn’t ringing. As this was my published business number, this was an intolerable situation so I wrote a blog post saying that the Blueface service ‘is crap’.

On October 11th at 17:09 the Blueface CEO, Feargal Brady kindly emailed me. He said:

I ready your blog regarding the service and I’d like to see what problems you are experiencing and how we can address them

At 22:09 I explained that:

the problems I am having are that the service keeps failing. At least once a day (usually more often) I realise I am not receiving any incoming calls. I try to ring from my mobile and get nowhere. Alternatively, I go to make a call and am unable – either no dial tone or the call fails to connect. Calling from my mobile gets through every time.

Sometimes unplugging the ATA resolves the problem for a time, sometimes not.

Feargal came back at 22:32 suggesting:

you may have to set up port forwarding on your broadband modem, so that it sends incoming calls to the modem

I responded at 22:38 by saying:

I set up port forwarding on the router when I installed the ata at the start of the year.

Most of the issues I have had with the service has been in the last two weeks.

To which Feargal replied at 23:08:

in the last 2 weeks we have had 10 minutes of downtime so this would not explain why you could not make a call. It may be that the ATA is faulty or perhaps there is a conflict between it and the router? If you like I can arrange a new one and you can try that?

On the following afternoon at 15:46 I replied to Feargal saying:

please do forward a new ata and I will try it out.

As a side note I am still waiting for that ata!

At 16:03 on Oct 12th Feargal emailed me saying:

You have experienced problems with the phone service because of your setup, your ATA and are [sic] downtime. I looked at your support queries and the last support request was almost a year ago, we had no other contact from you. If we had know you were having problems then we could have tried to resolve them.

By now I was getting irate as the problems were persisting and being told it was my fault was not making me feel all warm and fuzzy so at 16:07 I responded:

excuse my language but that’s a bunch of crap.

I have been on to Blueface support many times – and a lot more recently than a year ago. In fact I only got the service installed in January or February of this year so I couldn’t have been raising support issues a year ago.

I got sick of contacting support because i always got the same old line – “Have you tried re-starting the ATA?”

Pretty soon I got into the habit of re-starting the ATA instead of calling support.

This was the only time I got angry in my communications with Blueface. At 16:32 Feargal’s response was:

its not a bunch of crap, if the ATA needs restarting its because it has lost connectivity with our server. This happens because of the port forwarding issue – this is common to all SIP based VoIP platforms, and so I think that your annoyance is not so much with us but with the inherent reliability of the system in comparison with the PSTN, and how it can be setup correctly to get around this problem.

You signed up in January and have had 4 queries, beginning in April, and the last one in June. There are no others. Clearly we have failed in addressing your incoming call problems and the registration drops and we are happy to try and fix it. As I said, we do this for everyone not just for people with Blogs. Having looked at the blog now, there are people expressing their satisfaction with the service we provide.

All I want to do is fix any problems we have, try and provide a good service, and keep our customers happy – regardless of who they are. You are welcome to come into the office and see for yourself how we manage support, look at our queues etc. Why would we intentionally sell a service which is unusable or provide poor service? It makes no sense.

You are clearly fed up with the technology, with us and with the service you’ve received. All I want to do is alleviate your frustration if possible, and stop this happening again.

As I documented above, I obviously had more than the 4 ‘queries’ Feargal referred to here but I chose not to bother correcting him.

Apart from my outburst on the 12th October 2006, I think you will agree it has all been reasonably polite and friendly. I closed my account with Blueface in November 2006 and thought that was the end of it. Boy was I wrong!

For some reason Blueface CEO Feargal Brady saw fit to revisit my blog post on February 1st and leave this highly inaccurate comment:

just to clarify we did contact Tom a number of times. We advised him that he needed to make some changes on his router on account of his particular setup. He decided that he didn’t require our advice however and never implemented the changes. Despite our looking at his account and seeing his device drop its registration as we predicted, Tom still refused to make the changes. I personally contacted him to offer support and was met with a number of sarcastic and cynical (many would say downright childish) replies. Feargal.

Along with this comment on another post:

your incoming calls did not work for reasons we explained to you about 20 times. Each time we were met with your arrogant refusal to implement the changes – if you implemented them your phone would work perfectly.

On the 5th of February he left the following unbelievable comments:

you were rude and abusive to our support staff. You did not know how to set up port forwarding on your router – when we offered assistance it was declined – disdainfully is being polite. In summary you decided to ignore our help and when your service didn’t work you complained that it was our fault that you wouldn’t take our advice. There was nothing for us to do but leave it at that. Interestingly I had a call from another company who also suffered similar abuse from you in similar circumstances – seems you’re building up quite a reputation.

Then on February 11th this one:

you had not set up port forwarding on your router – as I mentioned, you did not know how to set it up and our offer to assist you was declined. Hence your calls failed as we told you they would, and now you are happy to make out that this is our fault.

Later again on February 11th

you don’t know how to set up port forwarding – I’ve read the mails, read our support tickets, spoken to our support staff. But thank you for showing us all your true character.

In response to another commenter on my blog Feargal said:

Steve – I contacted Tom a number of times and each time my attempts to resolve the situation were met with disdain.

Then Feargal went on to accuse me of commenting on my own blog, in support of myself, using pseudonyms!

I wonder do we have any proof that Al and Steve aren’t Tom’s alter egos or ’supporting act’

You really couldn’t make this stuff up.

To summarise Feargal accused me of:

  • being “sarcastic and cynical (many would say downright childish)”
  • Being arrogant
  • never implementing the changes Blueface support recommended (port forwarding and re-start the ATA)
  • being “rude and abusive to our support staff”
  • being technically incompetent (“not know how to set up port forwarding on your router”)
  • disdainfully declining the help offered by Blueface support
  • commenting on my own blog, in support of myself, using pseudonyms

I asked Blueface CEO Feargal Brady numerous times in the exchanges to back up his incredible charges. Never once has he done so, he has merely gone on to make ever more preposterous claims.

Even if any of these claims were true (and not one of them is), I really don’t see how it profits Blueface to be trashing a former customer in a public forum.

Frankly, if I had a poor opinion of the Blueface service before now, my opinion of their senior management and Blueface as a company could not be any lower now.

Is Facebook's Search function useless?

I met the CEO of Telligent Systems, Rob Howard in Barcelona. Telligent are the company who make Community Server amongst other things.

Rob and I had a great chat and decided to hook up on Facebook. It turned out to be a lot easier to meet in person then in Facebook! I typed Rob Howard into Facebook search and got back over 500 results! I gave up after paging through 15 of them!

Ok Rob, I said, Raftery is an uncommon name – try searching for that. Rob eventually found my profile on page 21. Over 500 Raftery’s? Who knew!

The Advanced Search in Facebook is no help in this scenario because that is limited to your existing network.

With over 50 million people signed up to Facebook, if you get 500+ results back on every search, is their search function now broken (or at least badly in need of tweaking)?

Symantec CEO profits while company burns!

Good buddy Dennis Howlett has uncovered, through some clever financial detective work (Dennis is a former accountant), some very dodgy dealings.

It seems that the CEO of Symantec, John Thompson, made $1.5m profit on the sale of Symantec shares very shortly before the announcement to the market of losses by Symantec (and the inevitable share price fall that ensued).

This looks very bad and reeks of insider knowledge (whether or not that is, in fact, the case).

Companies engaged in security need to be whiter than white. When the CEO’s reputation is on the line like this, Symantec needs to explain this one quickly to everyone’s satisfaction of John Thompson needs to resign.

World champion blogger?

I was on NewsTalk 106 again yesterday evening. This time with I was on the Technology for the Rest of us slot with George Hook and Karlin Lillington.

What I didn’t realise going to the interview, was that this was the launch of NewsTalk in Cork and so they had along local politicians, the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, CEOs of many local companies, Denis O’Brien, NewsTalk’s owner and Elaine Geraghty, CEO of NewsTalk. The interview was being broadcast from the Sheraton hotel, in Fota Island in front of this live audience, as well as all the station’s listeners!

What really threw me though, was when George Hook introduced me as “World Champion blogger, Tom Raftery”!

I managed to get a correction in but not before George used the term again several times. Mortification!

Arguments against business blogging?

A couple of commenters on a recent post raised issues I hear time and again when I discuss the advantages of blogs for businesses:

  1. Blogging has a poor perception
  2. Blogging takes too much time
  3. Blogging allows people to make negative comments on your site

Let’s deal with each of these points:

1. Blogging has a poor perception

Unfortunately this is still very much the case. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard variations on the “Blogging is something done by lonely teenagers in their bedroom…” line.

The fact of the matter is that, yes, blogging is something done by lonely teenagers in their bedrooms. Then again, phone calls are also done by lonely teenagers in their bedroom, that doesn’t take from the fact that the phone is a fabulous communications tool.

Similarly, a blog is one of the most effective communications tools yet created. Blogs are now used as part of the communications toolset internally and/or externally by many of the Fortune 500 companies.

2. Blogging takes too much time
This one is harder to refute. Yes, blogging does take a significant amount of time.

Having said that, Jonathan Schwartz, President and CEO of Sun Microsystems blogs regularly. Sun is a fortune 500 company. If the President and CEO of a Fortune 500 company can find time to blog, so can you.

But wait, Sun is a technology company, you say, he has a greater need to blog. Rubbish!

Look then at Michel-Edouard Leclerc. Who? Michel is CEO of the Leclerc distribution group in France, a multi-billion euro company with 85,000 employees. Leclerc finds time to blog regularly.

Look at Margot Wallstrom, vice president of the European Commission who also finds time to blog regularly.

Look at Mark Cuban, an American entrepreneur and billionaire. Cuban is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, an NBA basketball team; and Chairman of HDNet, an HDTV cable network. Mark is a regular blogger.

In fact here is a list of other high profile CEO bloggers – and the number is growing daily.

3. Blogging allows people to make negative comments on your site
Yes it does, and this is a good thing!

If people are going to say something bad about your company/product/service, they will say it whether you have a blog or not. However, if they say it on your blog, you get to see it immediately and you get to respond to it quickly.

If your blog has built up a readership, there is a strong chance that one of your readers will jump in and answer on your behalf. This looks even better, especially if the person leaving the negative comment was incorrect in their assertion or was trolling.

On the other hand, if the person leaving the negative comment is correct in what they say, you get a chance to shine with respect to your customer service. You respond by thanking them for their feedback and making you aware of this shortcoming on the part of your product/service (if you were previously unaware of it, then you have just received very valuable market research).

You could ask the commenter if they would like to be involved in the issue resolution process because they obviously have something valuable to contribute.

Suddenly, you have turned a negative situation around into a positive one.

A former boss of mine used to say that a customer who had a complaint which was handled well was going to be a far more loyal customer than one who never had any complaint.

Negative comments are great. They give you free market research on your products, they give you a chance to shine as a customer champion and by publishing them on your site, you are showing that you are fully transparent and that you can embrace criticism.

What other arguments are there against business blogging?