You carry the Baby and I’ll carry the bags

Myself and herself went to the Pregnancy and Baby Fair in the RDS recently to see if we could scope out some good deals for our upcoming Sir/Madam. I found myself looking around and I uttered to the ever patient lady at my side “You carry the Baby and I’ll carry the bags”! Yes, it’s fine in the grand context of the whole thing, after-all pregnant ladies shouldn’t really be engaging in manual labour.

However, it made me stop and think about things. OK, so the Mammy will be carrying the Baby, feeding the baby and overall (on average) spending more time with the baby, so everything around us at the moment is geared towards the welfare and education of the mother. But I started to think that I wanted to be more involved in the whole thing so I could get a handle on what my wife-to-be is going through and what she is likely to go through, ya know, try and put myself in her shoes a little bit. That may help me to lower the amount of times I ask; “Are you OK?”, “What can I do to help?”, “How do I fix this?” and that old panicky one “Should we go to the hospital? I think so, I’ll get the car ready”. By the way, the answer to these questions has started to become “Shut-up, I’m fine!”. So, I’m thinking that my knowing more will help lower both of our stress levels.

In the old days it was apparently fine to just stay in the background, do the heavy lifting, build stuff and change nappies when the Mammy took a nap for a little while. I’m very conscious of the fact that the task of being a Mother is not an easy one and how it may weigh heavily on both the physical and mental well being of a person (I now appreciate my Mother even more for raising 3 boys, each bigger and bolder than the last). Honestly, everything is aimed towards the Mother. When we go Baby shopping all the questions are directed to the fairer sex. I often get the feeling that I’m only along for the ride, so I have to be quiet and sit back. Of course my partner knows my thoughts on this so won’t place me on the back burner like so many sales assistants and reps have. We make decisions, not me, not her, we.

I intend on being very active in my child’s life and on sharing the weight of parenthood. However, I feel that we Irish men are very Ill equipped to do the task and to a certain degree we have been fine with our secondary care giving role. It’s not easy to try and get more involved sometimes though. It would appear that there is a lot of support available for the Mammies, all sorts of classes and groups. But for the Daddies, we’re kind of in the dark on the whole affair. Yes, I know, I can read the books, and I have. But not every pregnancy is the same and not every Mammy to be is the same, so basically there is no universally correct method to follow. What I want to know is how do I help? What can I do to help with the back pain, the cramps, the tiredness, the funny little muscle pains. A q&a session for the Daddies which runs alongside the Mammies classes would be greatly appreciated.

What would I like to see? More Father friendly support groups, more interaction and more inclusion. Lady M attends a Pilates class in Celbridge which helps with preparing her for the physical side of childbirth, but also has a section supporting the mental toll it will take. She has nothing but high praise for the Physio led classes. In addition to that she likes the comfort of being around other pregnant women, all heading towards the same goal.

I’m also very aware of the fact that I’m not the one who’ll have to give birth. So yeah, a lot of the support is designed around getting the upcoming Mother through that stage. OK, fair enough, but afterwards we’re both going to have to raise a real life human being and that will dramatically change our lives. When that day comes I want to be able to hit the ground running, not like I’m fumbling through a thick forest of gorse. Do I feel ready? Hell no! A new Mother should not have to be teaching both a child and father how to act, jaysus, they have enough to do.

That got me thinking. If I were to be bluntly honest I have a range of emotions going through my head. I’m nervous, anxious, worried, scared, excited, panicky (see above), scared some more and happy. Most importantly, above all else, I am happy and that at least gets me off in the right direction. What’s the issue then? The issue is that I have not talked to any other soon to be fathers about what they’re going through. It’s nerve-racking. It’s lonely. It’s frightening.

So what would help? Talking.

We still don’t like to do that here, we still see it as a sign of weakness. It’s not. It takes strength to talk. Talking can be very exhausting, relieving and difficult. I recall once running a 10km and going for a pint. Apart from a sore ankle I was mostly fine. I recall once talking, then crying and then feeling like I had just fought ten rounds, it was utterly exhausting. So that’s the issue, we don’t talk, we’re strong and silent, and that’s that. We also have one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Strong and silent; that’s not a trait I want my child to copy from me.

So what do I really want? I want to know I’m not alone, I want to know that other first time fathers are feeling the same way, I want to know that I can contribute equally and that I am a part of the whole thing. Above all I want my child to know I wasn’t afraid to look for help and advice. I want to be more than just the carrier of the heavy things, the builder of the impossible Ikea wardrobe and the slayer of all things creepy and crawly. I want to know how to actually help, what to (sorta) expect and I want my child to take that on board.

Why I’ll Never put a picture of my kid on Social Media

So I’m going to be a new father, and yes, that’s very exciting. This is news which has made me excited, nervous, happy and afraid. A whole mix of emotions and sometimes all at once. I’m very much into taking photos and I believe my child will be one of the most photographed children ever and that I will take photos of all their little and big moments. He/she nearly rolls over? Yep, gonna be all over that! He/she does their first wheelie on a bike? Yeah, I’ll be there! I’ll pretend to be somewhat annoyed, but I know I’ll be proud of them! However, I will not be sharing any of my photos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine or any other social network you may think of or that crops up in the mean time. I know, seems a bit paranoid. Have a look at these for a moment:

Yeah, they’re funny. But think about the fact that most of those photos probably had their origin in their parents just taking a cute, innocent and perfectly timed photo of their beloved bundle of joy. The resulting photo was probably shared online and was then copied by someone who decided to add a humorous twist to it. It’s not so funny when it becomes a little more real. None of the kids in the photos decided to become a symbol for a cheap and lazy joke, but there they are, up there for all the world to laugh at.

The internet is a funny auld thing. It’s a great place to learn, grow your horizons and connect with people. It’s also pretty scary. Once you put something up there, it’s never coming down. That’s a fact! Yeah, you can delete it from your own account, but the image you uploaded stays uploaded and that’s that. So, you’re in effect releasing your child’s image for all to see. No matter how safe you think your account may be, it’s not. It never will be. You’re also forfeiting the ownership around your photo. I upload a lot of photos, but that’s OK, I’m not making money from them at the moment. But do you honestly think that any of the parents of the kids in the photos above chose for their child to become the poster kid for a crappy joke? No, probably not. Do you think that child will appreciate the photo in years to come? No, I would imagine not. Do you think it will be easy to have it deleted from the internet? No, it doesn’t really work that way.

When my kid grows up and becomes an adult they can do what they like, whether I like it or not, but I will not be ruining their image before they’ve had a chance to do it themselves! They make a mistake and someone snaps a photo of it? Yeah, it happens, and they’ll learn from it. They could definitely do without me exposing them to that world before they have a chance to defend themselves!

There’s another far scarier reason I won’t be putting pictures of my kid online. If you were in a playground with your child and a dubious character comes up to you and asks if they can use your child to help trick a group into thinking they have kids so they’ll trust them and let them in, would you? No, not a bloody chance! When something goes online it’s there for everyone who can access the internet to see and keep. Trust me, your privacy settings on anything are not as secure as you think. You put it online, you’re giving it to the world and there are a lot of sick people in the world. It’s creepy, yes that’s a given, but you will never know when your child’s image is being used without your knowledge and you will never know for what purpose.

Yes, I may be being too paranoid, but there are a lot of freaks online and offline. I will do my best to protect my child in the real world, but you are very limited in protecting anything online.

So yeah, I’ll be paranoid, I’ll be weird, I’ll be obsessive about it, but I’ll protect my child.

Get the DL on the AKA’s in Insurance

Don’t let a 3 letter word throw you for a loop

So you’ve read the blog on how to cut down the costs of your premium, now how about getting to grips with some of the aka’s in the insurance industry?

You’re confident enough now to ring the insurance company yourself; completely sure in the fact that you will get the best deal available, but hang on, what was the last thing they said? In the Insurance Industry there’s a sea of abbreviations and acronyms out there. Enough to make your head spin. We know that insurance can be difficult to grasp sometimes, and that’s why I want to make the whole thing easier for you, the client.

The Most Commonly Used Abbreviations

Your Insurance shouldn’t make life more difficult for you by throwing abbreviations at you, but from time to time you may hear, or see, the following abbreviations in your search for the best quote. Don’t lose faith if an insurer is trying to confuse you with lots of letters, just take a minute and check it out before you either commit or walk away.

  • BA – Breakdown Assist. Often an additional extra. Usually this is included with fully comprehensive polices, but if not you can get it specifically with most insurance policies.
  • CCE – Company Car Experience. If you have been driving nothing but the company car for the last few years then you may have built up some valid ODE (Other Driving Experience) with your company car. This is most useful for those drivers who are now getting their own car and their own policy for the first time. This may afford you a discount with some insurance companies, but not all. Proof of CCE must be provided by your company.
  • CPF – Closed Premium Finance. Some companies won’t issue a policy through Direct Debit Payments, but don’t worry, because Chill Insurance have that sorted for you. CPF will allow you to pay your premium through direct debits, even if the insurance company doesn’t, Chill can organize that for you.
  • DDM – Direct Debit Mandate. This is the form you get which will allow your Direct Debit payments to commence.
  • DMD – Distance Marketing Directive. Before payment is taken for any product you buy the agent on the phone will read the DMD. The DMD outlines your position regarding refunds and the cooling off period. Basically you are entitled to a refund within 14 days if you change your mind about a product or service you have just purchased online.
  • DOC – Drive Other Cars. Commonly referred to as DOC around the office this allows a driver, who meets the specific requirements set in the specific policy, to drive other cars (as long as s/he has the permission of the owner so don’t go taking any old car).
  • DP – Data Protection. This refers to the storage and use of your personal data.
  • Fully Comprehensive. This is the highest level of cover a person can obtain on a private motor insurance policy. If you have a car worth a few quid then get fully comp. It will cost extra, but it’s worth, and you get more items as standard.
  • MTC – Mid Term Cancellation. If you decide to cancel your policy, for whatever reason, during the lifetime of the policy, this is referred to as Mid-term Cancellation. This usually incurs administration and cancellation fees.
  • NCB – No Claims Bonus. This refers to the number of years you have been driving without having to make a claim. You will most often see this in correspondence with an insurance company or broker. Please note that some companies have different definitions of a full NCB. What companies in Ireland need to hear is how many years NCB you have, not points on scale, but years. If you have 4 years, say 4 years etcetera.
  • NCD – No Claims Discount. This is roughly the same as the NCB. Some companies will use the term No Claims Discount and some will use NCB.
  • RTA – Road Traffic Act. The Road Traffic Act (1961) is the act which made Motor Insurance compulsory in the Republic of Ireland. The minimum insurance a person who intends to operate a motor vehicle on public roads needs is Third Party Cover.
  • SOF – Site of License. A copy of your (and any named drivers) licence, simple as.
  • SOF – Statement of Fact. Who you are, where you live, what you drive, any modifications to the car? These are some of things which may be considered statements of fact.
  • TP – Third Party. This is the minimum cover which must be obtained by a qualified person wishing to drive on public roads. It is there to cover any damage which a driver may cause to others through their own fault. Often this is used by first time drivers, however, this will not cover any damage which a driver may accidentally inflict upon their own vehicle.
  • TPFT – Third Party Fire and Theft. This covers third party’s involved in any Road Traffic Incidents (RTI’s) which you may cause. This also covers the theft of your vehicle or damage caused by malicious fires. This policy suits drivers who are gaining experience on their own policy and is often the step up from TP and just before the person is able to get Fully Comprehensive insurance.

Unfortunately this isn’t the full list used in the Insurance Industry, but this is the list that will matter to you, the person looking to get the best deal and the best saving. Remember, when getting your insurance, don’t be afraid to ask questions on anything you don’t understand. The last thing you should have to do is to start your search all over again. Get the best deal and get it the first time.

The Schools are Back!!!

So, the schools are back! That’s a phrase that will just make your very core shiver. Everything mad happens once the schools are back. Traffic balloons, sales rocket and it’s almost impossible to get a hot chicken roll during lunch time.

Where is this influx of traffic coming from? I just don’t get that. Where were those people hiding for the last 2 months, or is everyone just in sync now. It’s almost as if everyone now leaves at the same time because, well, you know, the schools are back and sure the traffic will be mad. The “Schools are Back” syndrome also motivates parents to drive like racing drivers with a car full of kids.

Come to think of it, where were these people getting their food? Were they just not feeding their kids or something? Sales of Brennan’s Bread and Milk have gone through the ceiling and the butter mountain is quickly becoming a hill. Were the children living feral and therefore didn’t need food, or were the parents just not feeding them. Sure they’re not learning, why would they need food!

It’s madness I tells ya! It’s as if the whole of Ireland went to the beach for the summer and now have decided to all converge on the same areas at the same time in the morning. Perhaps they’re working on the symphony that is rush hour traffic. I dunno, I prefer Rock n’ Roll myself.

Job Seeking and E

So here I am again, looking for work in Marketing, somewhere. The search is leaving me despondent, to say the least. I am constantly getting hit with that “you haven’t the experience” line. That gets at me a little. I’ve been working, in one form or another, since I was 15. The only time I wasn’t working was for a year, after I finished my degree, and after the country went a little bit funny. So what did I do? I got sick of sitting on my ass, and undertook a Masters in Marketing (during which I worked part time). So what happened after that? I worked for two years, one year for myself and one year for an online deals and affiliate company. Still, I haven’t the experience, apparently. And I know what you may be thinking, am I applying for the head honchos job? No, I’m not. I want the entry level job. I want the job where I get to sit under someone and just learn, this will also give me the opportunity to gain very valuable experience. But I can’t seem to get there.

So, what do I do now? I keep on trucking. Just keep on keeping on. I’m working at the moment, not really in a job I particularly enjoy, but it’s keeping me off the dole, and that’s a queue no-one should want to be in. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re in it now, then the chances are you don’t want to be, no decent person would want to be in it. The majority of those in the queue would much rather be earning their own money. Unfortunately I know too many people at the moment who are forced into that dreaded queue through no fault of their own. The people who for years wanted to be on it should really re-evaluate their own lives, before the Government forces them to with the impending cuts and new time limits. But that’s a matter for them to mull over in their own time. Keep in mind that the people I’m referring to were in that queue while Ireland was flush with money and you could have picked a job up anywhere. You know the type, you probably even have someone in mind now, I know I do.

So anyway, job seeking and the “E” word (E standing for experience and not anything else). I feel daunted. I feel almost let down. I feel like I’m in a tunnel and can’t see the light at the end. I feel worried, but not for me. I’m still adding to my skill set, by undertaking two additional courses, at once no less. I’m learning very valuable things about the Irish consumer in my current job. I’m still looking for a more suitable job. I still have a little hope. But what about the young people. At my age I’m hardly old, and hopefully not even middle aged, but I’m also not in the 17-20 age bracket. If I’m finding it hard now, with my 8 letters after my name, my nearly 15 years of working in some job or other and my desire to keep learning, what about them, what have they? They can go to college, and I certainly hope they do, should the current circus on Kildare St. make that feasible, but what then? They’re missing the “E” word, and are going to have a damn hard time getting any “E”! I worry about the youth of Ireland. The easy answer is go abroad, but why come back? It’s almost like we’re selling out our future for short term savings.

There is such potential in Ireland. If we really wanted we could have a great little Republic. We could even have a comfortable Republic, not a rich one, but a comfortable one. But we don’t. We might, someday, but we don’t, not now anyway. It is apparent that we are happy enough to continue driving towards the cliff at 120kph. The change hasn’t come yet. We’re still sitting back and watching the same politicians make the same decisions and the same mistakes. So what does this mean for the young people, and myself included? We’ll be stuck in the same place. To get “E” we’ll need jobs, to get jobs, we’ll need investment, to get investment we’ll need a Government that can effectively drive business in Ireland and attract foreign money back to the Emerald Isle.

Think about that the next time you decide to vote for the guy who fixed the pothole on your road.

Do you bank?

Outline the key ways in which Consumers’ Behaviour differs when banking online and offline

Table of Contents

  • Offline/Online Banking – What is it?
  • Who’s Driving Online Banking?
  • What are the Key Differences in Offline/Online Behaviour?
  • Who is using Online Banking?
  • Where is Online Banking Going?
  • Can the banks operate equally?
  • Conclusion – So what is the impact of this on the Consumer?
  • Appendix
  • Case Examples
  • Example 1 – Savings Account Application.
  • Example 2 – Online Credit Card Application.
  • Example 3 –
  • Example 4 – An independent third party.

Offline/Online Banking – What is it?

Put simply, it’s banking through the traditional bricks and mortar banking and banking on the World Wide Web. The world is changing, and it would appear that it is changing quickly. But why? Is it simply because we’re evolving faster online than expected? Or is it because we’re being forced online to stay out of the banks?

I would define the two different styles of banking as follow:

  • Offline Banking:
    • In branch banking;
    • Telephone banking.
  • Online Banking:
    • Online accounts, such as Banking365 (BOI);

In this short paper I aim to explore several Consumer Behaviour Decisions/Theories which ask why people are shunning the traditional style of banking and are now moving to the web. For the purpose of this assignment I have interviewed several people and will be using both mine and their experiences to back up the points herein.

Who’s Driving Online Banking?

For this there are several theories. I would hypothesise that the Banks themselves are the biggest protagonists in the shift from the traditional to the digital. That is obvious in itself. However, what I think is not so obvious is that I believe they are using both direct and indirect means to force customers out of the branches and on to the computers. I think it may be fair to say that some banks are downgrading their services so much so as to make the experience in the bank so poor, that people will make the decision to migrate to online banking themselves. In essence, I believe banks are now making it increasingly difficult to stay in their branches. Example 4 in the Appendix would serve to reinforce this believe.

When I recently asked one person what they made of their most recent experience in a bank, I was met with this reply:

“You mean like the blank faces behind glass screens, with eyes devoid of sparkle, looking out at the winding queues? As you’re greeted with a heavy sigh, slumped shoulders and absolutely no eye contact whatsoever?

“Yes, a wonderful service. Mind you, I haven’t been in the IRBC at all. I’d say all those staff are literally laughing all the way to the *ahem* bank!”

Thus, with that in mind, one must ask oneself two questions:

i.            Why would I keep going back into a bank when I’m clearly just a bank account number?

ii.            Why are those staff members so unmotivated?

Both questions will inevitably lead to the customer doing the same thing. Ringing up the online bank services and setting themselves up online.

So, who is driving customers to online banking, and why? It’s the banks, clearly. And they’re doing it for one reason; to save money. But how are they doing it? I am of the opinion that they are doing this through direct and indirect methods. They are directly advertising the benefits of being online, hence the direct marketing bit. I also believe, however, that they are leaving their frontline staff in such a demoralised state that the customers in the queue are left with no recourse than to ask themselves the two questions, above.

Figure 1: An interviewee recalls a recent visit to a bank.

The banks themselves are also limiting exactly what the cashier and customer care representative can do for you. I recall one occasion where a bank clerk was going through a queue in a bank and asking the customers in the queue what their business was. Those who did not answer with “I’m looking for Currency Exchange” or “I wish to discuss a private matter” were met with “Did you know you can take care of that in our ATM’s” or “Did you know you can do that online? You can call up to register for banking 365.”. I asked myself at the time, does that clerk realise that they are slowly outsourcing their job?

Figure 2: A personal example of a recent experience in a bank.

It is, at the moment, in the banks interest to drive their customers to online banking. One could almost posit that the banks are diverting their budget for advertising in traditional banking to their advertising and marketing budget for online banking. If one was to observe the increase in services offered online, and the decrease in services offered offline, this of course makes sense. In addition to this, the major banks in Ireland are also continually decreasing their workforce and branch numbers.

What are the Key Differences in Offline/Online Behaviour?

Here are what I believe to be the key differences in the consumer mindset when it comes to Offline Banking -V- Online banking and how we perceive the experience:

Offline Banking Online Banking
Very little control;Little satisfaction;

The opening hours are very limited and inflexible;

The personal interaction experience is gone;

Frustrating experience.

High rate of control;Ease of access;

24/7 service;

No queuing;

Very little interaction with Bank Employees.

Bank Of Ireland also actively promotes their online services and their sites. As with any business, they are keeping up with web 2.0, but I think their long term strategy is to hold on to key locations and funnel customers through to their various sites. They are successfully taking advantage of the new founded innovative customer. Perception of service has led customers to expect more, and their expectations are being disappointed. The customer therefore now has no problem with becoming their own champion and finding their own answers.

The different brochures and advertisements are not telling people to call into a branch, but to go online or download the latest app. We are no longer able to be the 9-5 Monday to Friday society and this change reflects our new lifestyle.

So what’s the marketing strategy behind this? Simple, let the customers feel empowered. Get them the app, get them registered, get them doing everything for themselves. And why? It streamlines your business and, in theory, makes it easier to run and operate.

Who is using Online Banking?

Having conducted research into this from people across a wide age group, it would appear that it attracts nearly everyone. Those in their late teens to their later years are getting online. It seems to be growing alongside the rise of social media and with the evolution of the Internet. The gap between the elderly and the young online is closing. There are many attributing factors to coincide with this rise, of course. The biggest factor being that we are now, as a nation, becoming more PC friendly, and less tolerant of waiting. With this in mind the obvious conclusion is that we no longer like to wait for someone else, especially if we can take care of matters ourselves.

Where is Online Banking Going?

Online banking is managing to eliminate, one by one, the services offered in a branch. I have recently been able to open a savings account, successfully, and apply for another Credit Card online. Although there all still some kinks in the system, I believe that banks will attempt to follow the RaboDirect route and make traditional banking a thing of the past.

To aid this assignment I set myself three tasks to understand this further:

i.            To open a savings account online;

ii.            To apply for a credit card online;

iii.            To open a account.

Having recently been in a bank I decided that I was not going to put myself through the offline process again. Please see the appendix, under “Case Examples” for full cases.

Can the banks operate equally?

I would say no, they can’t. I would also say that all signs point towards them not wanting to operate a business model that allows people to do their business as easily offline as they can online. If one considers the banks own advertising, then we can see that they are constantly trying to get people to operate with a mouse and not with their feet. Simply put, in a world were the accountants are running the show, it makes fiscal sense. It no longer makes sense financially to provide the best customer service.

However, as one of my interviewees pointed out, there may be one saving grace.

Figure 3: Some people may just like the human interaction. If banks get rid of this, could they be cutting their long term sustainability?

As I stated at the start of this assignment we are now, as a people, evolving faster than we have done in the past. We are as likely to want a return to traditional banking as quickly as we are changing to online banking.

Conclusion – So what is the impact of this on the Consumer?

To conclude my input on this assignment I am going to suggest that the age of traditional banking is coming to an end. It is a simple fact that the experience has changed. It has been changed by the banks. It has been changed by our need for quick, efficient and effective service. It has been changed by our “I want it now” mentality. Change is natural, it happens with everything, but it happens faster now.

To quote another person I recently interviewed “If you could lodge cheques/bank drafts through some sort of serial ID process online, would that eliminate your need to go into a branch?” they responded with:

“Well, I also pay my bills through 365Online. It makes life handier than queuing all day. Not having to go to the bank is good simply because there’s not enough staff, and the one’s that are there don’t wanna be there.”

So, is it a case of us thinking that the banks don’t want us in there? We are very sensitive beings after all, subconsciously of course, and if we get the impression we’re not wanted we’ll go with that. And I think that may in fact suit the banks.

However, the reason the banks started increasing their online banking resources was to meet the demands that we, their customers, were demanding of them. We are no longer a 9-5 society, we are 24/7. We are switched on all the time. We sleep with our phones by our pillows. We wake up for emails. We need it now, tomorrow is no good. We are the now generation. We are the product of digital marketing and being able to literally have everything at our fingertips.

You may have noticed the lack of academic articles backing up this assignment. The reason I chose not to include any is simply due to the fact that there are none recent enough. This in itself shows the rapid rate of change in the subject matter.


Case Examples

Example 1 – Savings Account Application

I logged into my account, as normal (a 3 click process) and set about finding the relevant tab to use. This was quite simple and very straightforward. I had my account set up and ready to go in minutes. Overall, this was a good experience. There was only interaction with the site, there was no person to person interaction.

Example 2 – Online Credit Card Application

Again, I logged into my account and found the relevant tab. After a few bits of clicking I was logged out and taken to the main Bank of Ireland site to apply for the “Clear Credit Card”. Here I had to answer a lot of questions, all on different pages. I was getting quite bored at this point and had it not been for this assignment I would have given up, and I certainly wouldn’t have gone into the bank looking for the application form. Finally, I got to the end. I was informed I would receive a phone and letter in relation to my application. The phone call came a week later and the letter has yet to arrive.

The phone call really made the whole experience. I missed the call, as I was in work. I was advised by the voicemail the representative left to call 1890-365-100 and ask for “Margaret”. This was ambiguous to say the least. I decided to return the call on my lunch break. I had to sift through the automated menu. There was no help number for phoning Margaret back. There was no “If you missed a call from Margaret, please press 9”. I kept on hitting numbers until I got to a person, a real person. Finally, I asked someone about Margaret, 15 minutes later. Strangely, they knew her. I was transferred.

At this point I must stress that I don’t even want this card anymore, but I’m stubborn, so I persevere. At last, the elusive Margaret. So what’s the news? The application has been approved, but I’ll have to give up my current card and transfer the balance to this one. What are the benefits of that, I ask. Well, it’s a lower credit limit and higher repayment rates, but somehow that is better for me and I should go for it. This is not making sense to me, so I ask again. All Margaret can tell me is that it’s better and that I should go for it. I don’t argue, I don’t point out the obvious flaw in her argument, I simply say Thank You, politely decline the offer, and carry on.

This sort of sums up Bank of Ireland at the moment. The way they are operating is not really better for us, but they’ll tell us it is, and expect us to believe them.

Example 3 –

This was very straight forward, the only issue I have at the moment is that I have to send in supporting documentation to finalise the opening of my account. Unfortunately I have not done this as yet. The reasons for this are simple, I have to do a bit of offline work, and I haven’t been able to allot the time for this. It is unfortunate that I still have to rely on the 9-5 clock of other businesses to help me with this.

Example 4 – An independent third party

The following is an exact extract from an interviewee. It centres around their experience applying for a savings account and a credit card.

“I went into permanent TSB in Liffey Valley shopping centre looking to find out information on getting a credit card for myself and to lodge a cheque. I proceeded to the cash desks first to lodge the cheque, it was a few minutes wait as there was only one person on. That was a quick transaction and was fine, but when I moved to the customer service desk there was no one to be seen. I waited for a few minutes and nothing so I walked back over to the cash desks but that employee had gone as well so I waited for another few minutes by the customer desk. A lady came out of an office, who had seen me waiting from the beginning, and said she would be with me in a few minutes and went off. When she came back she invited me into the office to talk about the information. I asked if I could get info on getting a credit card. She asked if I had full time employment, I said no, I have part time employment. She asked how long I have been working there, and what my wage was a month. I answered, only since April as I was let go in my previous job, and I would get roughly €800 a month. According to what she looked up on the computer, I would need to be making a minimum of €1000, I would need to be in that job for at least 2 years, and have all my wages going into that account for the 2 years also. I am currently getting the wages into a different account but wanted to swap it over, but was told that I wouldn’t be able to qualify for a credit card at all and that was the end of the conversation, she just apologised. There was no effort to make sure I still swap my money into there account or anything.


“On a separate day, I wanted to check if my cheque had cleared but the queue was very long at each of the machines as well as the cash desks. I waited at one of the machines and checked my balance but it hadn’t cleared yet. I wanted to find out when it would, as I needed the money but the queues were way too long so I left. Later that day I phoned up the help line and they transferred me to an operator, he was quite helpful and efficient and gave me the information I needed. He also asked if i needed help with anything else.


 “In Ulster Bank in Liffey Valley, I asked for information on a credit card the same way as in Permanent TSB. Straight away I was brought into a room to discuss it. They have a set of forms to fill out to see if you qualify, he helped me fill out the forms, told me what extra paperwork I needed to put with it and when I brought the paperwork in he submitted them for me. I then received a letter in the post saying that I do qualify for a credit card and would I like to proceed in getting one. Not long after, I had my credit card ready to use.


 “I applied online for a savings account with Ulster Bank, it was very simple and easy to follow. There were lots of different types of savings accounts that you can set up, but they have all of them broken down into important bullet points on all of them and you can click to view all the details if you wish. It took 5 minutes to complete the application and submit it.

Selling Online

So, I’m going to be trying to sell some stuff online, just to test out different sales methods. I don’t expect it to be easy and I don’t expect to sell everything, but I’m gonna give it a go anyway.

What will I be selling, you ask? Or maybe you don’t ask, but I’m gonna tell anyway. Anything and everything, that’s what I’m gonna try sell. For a list of the items, see below:

Item 1: An old exercise bike.

Platform(s) used:

Asking price: €20. I have set this to be non negotiable.

Extra sales options: As of 21/11/2012, I have opted not to purchase any of the extras offered with

Status: Unsold.


Description: Below is the description I added to the ad. I had a bit more in, but it seems the powers that be at didn’t really like my view on An Post.

“This bike has been in my shed since a 21st party nearly 8 years ago. If it makes any difference, it was a good party! It has not been used since then. In that sense, it is untouched and could be described as very vintage. Ya may be into vintage stuff, I dunno, but you can describe it as that. I’d say it’s old school.

Mechanically, it’s flawless, except that it doesn’t work. Well, I say it doesn’t work, it might, and you might indeed be able to fix it, think of the saving you’d make?! I mean, a new one could cost you €200, this one could cost you €20? There are TEN €20 notes in €200, this costs you 1/10 of that, €20. You could buy an actual bike for the €180 you save, after you buy this, of course.

It’s also a little bit dirty, but if you really want I could give it a wipe down, that’s cool with me. In addition to that, one of the stickers on the side is hanging off and one of the leg cups is missing.

So, yeah, it’s €20. I can deliver it, within the Dublin/Meath/Kildare area.

To sum up; non working bike, lil bit dirty, €20, MASSIVE saving.

Short link:

Item 2: CD/DVD racks.

Platform(s) used:

Asking price: €20. I am open to haggling on this to see if it gets more interest than the first item.

Extra sales options: As of 21/11/2012, I have opted not to purchase any of the extras offered with

Status: Unsold.


Description: Below is the description I placed with this ad. It’s under review now:

“So I found more stuff in the shed that I wanna get rid of.

Here we have some real vintage stuff. 2, that’s right, 2 CD racks for the price of 1. Please note that these can also be used to hold DVD’s. Well, the grey, smaller one can, I’m not so sure the tall black one could. Although, if you were really stubborn about it you could probably prove me wrong and squeeze DVD’s in there.

The tall black rack is stand alone. You could put this in the corner of your room and it would stay there. Imagine it there, with your CD’s all organised, able to choose them whenever ya want, the luxury of it all.

The smaller grey one is meant to be screwed into a wardrobe or some such. I suppose you could screw it into a cabinet if you were really mad. It’s primarily for CD’s, but it could hold DVD’s no bother, again, if you’re a mad spoon altogether.

Who’d want this? Anyone really, who wouldn’t? People always have CD’s and DVD’s lying about. Now you could have them in one central location.

These two items must go together. I really think they’ve become attached to each other, kinda like puppies do. Ya know when someone separates puppies and they whine and ya feel really sad. Yeah, you know it. Don’t do it to these two!

So, to recap. 2 racks for sale, €20 for both.”


Item 3: .

Platform(s) used:

Asking price: €20. I am open to haggling on this to see if it gets more interest than the first item.

Extra sales options: I have opted to pay €3 to have this ad put at the top of the search results for 1 day.

Status: Unsold.




“This item would be perfect for multiple use. It could be used by paintball and air-soft enthusiasts as well as those with a keen interest in the outdoors. I suppose even a cyclist could use this. I cycle myself, I know how much of a pain a bag on your back can be as you fly through a red light and out into traffic.

There are loads of pouches and pockets that you could put your ammo in. You could also carry other bits and pieces in it, I dunno really, I’m not all that into air-soft. I like paintball, but not so much air-soft. I wouldn’t wear this to paintball though, ya’d look a bit stupid at paintball. Ya’d probably get away with it for air-soft though.

Alternatively you could use this for hiking/hill walking. Imagine all the water and snacks ya’d get into that? Ya could put them all into their own little compartments too, imagine the handiness. Go on, imagine it. Go get a nice warm cuppa, sit down, and imagine that. Although, in the time it’s taken you to do that then this will probably be gone.

I’m selling this because I don’t need it. I’ve never used it, although it has been taken out of its original packaging. By original packaging I mean the plastic bag in which it came. Ya don’t get much in the way of packaging for your €80. Yeah, €80. I bought this years ago when we all had money.

Anyway, it’s €20, preferably to someone in the Dublin/Meath/Kildare area so we can arrange delivery handy enough. If ya want me to post it then we’ll have to talk some more.


The Stories

How many times have ya heard “And that’s all I’ll say about him” followed by a 15 minute in-dept life story about the subject matter? It’s a sure sign that there’s a story coming, and who knows, maybe, just maybe, a bit of gossip.

One of our key identifying factors, as Irish people, is the fact that we tell stories. We love it. We love not being on a night out and asking was there any scandal/gossip/craic? Bit weird, isn’t it? Perhaps, yes, but it seems to be one of our critical success factors with the foreign dollar. I have talked to many foreigners abroad and they are mostly charmed by the story I’m telling. No matter how much sh!te comes out, they’ll still be fascinated. It’s probably the reason why there are now some Americans who believe that there currently exists a colony of leprechauns in Wexford, because I convinced them there is.

So next time you’re telling a story abroad, remember that that is probably going to lead to someone coming to the green isle. Be prepared to explain why you exaggerated so much.

The Photos

Photos. Photos are all about capturing little moments.

This is a short blog, and is somewhat self indulgent. What follows are some photos I’ve taken. Enjoy!

While you’re looking through the pictures I hope it makes you think about capturing your moments. After all, a picture says a 1,000 words, unless someone “cleverly” puts a sarcastic comment over it, then it usually says between 8-10 words. Please don’t do that!


And now for some more photos! Your comments, questions and suggestions are very welcome.

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The Headlines

Why do you read a story in a paper? Is it because you’re genuinely interested in the welfare of the elderly lady who fell over in a park (who’s unfortunate choice of clothing decided to fail at the particular moment) or because you read the headline “Mature lady bares all in Public”? You know it’s because you thought you might have had the chance to see Dame Helen Mirren’s bits. No, no, unfortunately that lady is not for showing.

Headlines, like that sentence you hear on a bus, grab your attention. When you hear “and then he started walking up to the bleedin’ house with an axe” you know you’re gonna mute the MP3/4/5 (the MP5 comes with a masseuse) and listen intently. Keeping that attention is a different story altogether.

Consider the headlines you read and think about whether or not it rings true to the actual story. For this I present to you a number of headlines and have taken some real ones as well:

  • Dwarf reaches new heights.
  • Bestiality cases sore.
  • Motor Vehicles use most petrol.
  • Traffic leads to congested city.
  • Horse mounts man.
  • Anxiety leads to stress.
  • Man found dead, stripper denies knowledge.
  • Pope condemns poverty, polishes giant golden stick.
  • Study shows sex may lead to pregnancy.

Now, would you have read those stories because you were genuinely interested in the dwarf who received the promotion, or the poor man who happened to depart this world next to a stripper? No, you wouldn’t have, you would have read them because you giggled a little or saw your chance to make yourself feel better about your place in the world. That’s right, you’re weird, but it’s ok, we’re all a little weird.

By the way, if you have read this, I have probably just ruined reading papers for you, ESPECIALLY if you read tabloids.

Now, if ya didn’t like that, have a look at some other links;

And here’s some of the pictures that would have sucked ya in:

Husband & Father. Green hat with a hint of Black, White, Yellow, Red & Blue.

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