Category Archives: The Crazy World in which we Live

Annoying inflexibility at Manchester Airport Security

In was travelling back to Edinburgh from Manchester recently and it took me nearly 40 minutes to clear Manchester Airport security.


Not because the queues were long but because my trays of stuff got chosen for an extra search.

manchester airport security
photo credit: Lars Plougmann via photopin cc

You know what happens. As the tray clears the X-Ray, the machine shoves it into a separate channel and delivers it to a security man who has a whole box of tricks containing swabbing equipment and metal detectors.

I had two trays. One for my bag and one for my jacket, ipad and toiletries (all wrapped up in the obligatory clear plastic bag).

The machine selected my first tray selected at random. So the security guy had to search through a few days worth of worn and smelly clothes, and swab everything in my bag. Once done he then put it through the X-Ray again.

My second tray also got selected. This was because the machine didn’t like the shape of my deodorant container (though it was still less than 100ml). The same security guard then swabbed my jacket and toiletries and as before took my second tray and put it through the X-Ray again.

Then the machine mercilessly selected my second tray for a random search.

The same security guard collected it and went once more for his swabs. I said, “Surely you don’t have to swab it again you just did so five minutes ago?” But no. He has to do what the machine says. So he swabs my jacket, ipad and toiletries for a second time and then back through the X-Ray for a third time. I held my breath. Thankfully the tray made it through without being selected again.

I’m not saying that we don’t need airport security, but it seems to me that there should be an allowance for common sense. I had a laugh with the security man about this, but surely it would make sense to give him the flexibility to over-rule a clearly stupid decision by the machine.

Airports offer a grim enough experience as it is. Wouldn’t it be good if they tried to make the security process more sensible? At the moment they overlook common sense in favour of covering the Government’s backside resulting in stupid scenarios like I experienced above.

Your turn: Have you recently experienced Manchester Airport Security? Or any other airport security for that matter. Have you complained? I’d like to hear your stories. Please leave a comment by clicking on “Leave a Reply.”

Why Complaining to the Managing Director is the only way to get things done?

Imagine 9 weeks without Wifi in your home. No WiFi internet access on your PC, iPad, iPhone or other essential device.

Imagine no surfing the web, streaming TV and Films, listening to podcasts, downloading books and articles.

Complaining to the Managing Director
BT Logo

I don’t have to imagine because it happened to me when I moved house recently. I was initially shocked when British Telecom (BT) told me that it would take 4 weeks to fit a phone line and activate my broadband network. That month dragged as they denied me access to the internet (my iPhone was no use either because we were out of range of any mobile internet signal).

Then on the day that BT were supposed to install everything they moved the date forward another month. The irony is that they emailed me with this news and of course I had no access to email and so waited in vain for the BT OpenReach van to arrive.

Furious, I phoned the customer help line. After pressing 1 for this and 2 for that 4 for something else and 6 for whatever, I spoke to a useless person reading a script from a cubicle in India. He couldn’t help me because the answer to my problem was not in his script. So I asked to speak to a supervisor.

Of course the supervisor was as hopeless as the first person because he too was reading from a script and had no way of actually helping me.

Complaining to the Managing Director
BT OpenReach Van

Finally I Googled the name of the managing director of BT and took a guess at his email address (hint: He replied only 8 minutes after I pressed send on my complaint email. Within minutes he had put me in touch with the Executive Complaints Team. Now I had a personal manager dealing with my problem.

Although it still took a few weeks of messing around they did manage to get me connected a little earlier than the ridiculous date they had originally given me. Finally they reconnected me to the world of surfing the web, streaming TV and Films, listening to podcasts, downloading books and articles.

Why should I have had to complain to the managing director to get a good service from BT?

And it’s not just BT is it? Most of the bigger companies expect their customers to phone call centres in remote corners of the globe and speak to people who can’t help them. Complaining to the managing director usually means you can bypass this awful process.

But most people won’t. They’ll put up with unacceptable service and spend hours of wasted time on the phone. It means companies can get away with it.

The fact that companies have “Executive Complaints Teams” for those who do choose to seek out the top person proves that they can give good service if they have to.

Your turn: Have you ever had to resort to complaining to the managing director? It’s not on is it? Please share your stories and experiences. Click below where it says, “Leave a reply” and feel free to RANT!

One question I’d like an answer to after the Edinburgh trams disaster

Edinburgh is such a beautiful city. But every day as I walk up from Waverley Station I see the on-street building site that has tainted that beauty for so many years. The council started tearing the roads up in 2008. They erected signs telling us that the trams would be “taking us to the shops in 2011”.
Edinburgh Trams Disaster

Well here we are in 2012 and there are two more years of construction pain before the trams start running. The tram units themselves wait sadly unloved and without passengers in their little play pen at the Gogarburn Depot.

This has been a vanity project. Nothing more. The route is well served by buses already.

Here are some of the highlights of the Edinburgh Trams disaster:

  • Original plans were for three lines. One serving the airport to the city centre; a second loop down through Leith and back to the city centre through Granton; and a third out to Musselburgh in the east. Only the first line is actually being built.
  • The cost estimate was £498m. The final bill will be just short of £1 billion. And that’s for 1 line not three remember.
  • The trams were to be running by summer 2011. July 2014 is now what we are promised.
  • The tracks on Princes Street have been laid three times necessitating the closure of this famous thoroughfare. The tarmac was already crumbling and dangerous before a single tram had ever run on them.

The green agenda is often used to justify building the trams. I wonder how much extra pollution has been created by the building work, the delays, the re-routing of traffic and the heavy machinery. How long will the trams have to operate in order to pay back this carbon debt?

And when the construction is finally finished and Edinburgh cab drivers will have to find a different topic to talk about, there is one question which I would love to know the answer to.

Given that the tram units themselves will each carry 250 passengers. That’s 78 seated and 172 standing. If you were a passenger arriving at Edinburgh Airport after a long journey, would you choose to stand up for the ride into town, or would you select the guarantee of a seat in one of the superb airport buses, or the privacy of a cab direct to your destination?

Over to you: Are you looking forward to the completion of the Edinburgh Trams? What do you think of the scheme? Would you choose to travel to the airport in a car, a cab, a bus or would you take the tram? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Was it an over reaction to a little bit of wind?

A combination of local council paranoia, the usual insanity from Health and Safety, and a doom and gloom announcement by the police closed Scotland on Thursday 8th December.

Yes a big storm with strong winds was forecast but was this reaction really necessary? It started with some local councils deciding to close the schools. Very soon the majority had followed suit. No doubt they were panic stricken that if they were the ones to remain open and someone was hurt that they would be lambasted or sued. People had to rearrange their work plans around this.

Then the police issued a statement that no one should travel anywhere between 2pm and 9pm. The media latched on to this and embellished it with doom and gloom predictions of death and destruction. Companies therefore closed down and sent their staff home. The result was gridlock on the roads as so many people attempted to get home before the expected Armageddon.

Egged on by news reports, a mass of humanity fled Edinburgh leaving it eerily quiet and awaiting annihilation.

In the end things did get a little breezy. Certainly there was damage to some parts of the country. But then this was not a perfect storm. It did not bring with it mass destruction. Most of the chaos was caused because common sense departed first. The police advice not to travel made people travel, closed businesses and created mayhem. In the background the media fed the frenzy duping everyone into accepting the inevitable.

How fitting that the storm was named Hurricane Bawbag which became a worldwide trend on Twitter.

If we had all turned off the TV and the radio, and not read about the impending disaster, I wonder whether we could have carried on as normal and let it all blow over.