Archive for Reviews & Rambles

Samba Mobile – seemed like a good concept but it's flawed

I have previously tweeted and posted about a new mobile service called Samba Mobile which allows you to earn data to use on a SIM that can be used in a dongle, mifi or mobile/tablet device by watching adverts through the Samba Mobile website. I first thought it was a clever and good concept, but while away this week and trying to use Samba as me sole mobile data device I’ve identified a flaw in their service, the following is an email I’ve sent to them today:

SambaMobile

I did text your support number earlier but have received no response so am sending this email to support@sambamobile.com.

I’ve identified a flaw in your service, which has actually cost me money.
I have been away from home this week and have been using my SambaMobile SIM in my Mifi device (battery operated dongle which acts as a wifi-hotspot). I had earned some data on my Samba SIM before my week away and while away had my laptop and tablet connected to my Mifi Device. While using the SIM to check emails, social networks and web browse to plan my week, I used the laptop & tablet on the SambaMobile.com site to watch adverts and earn more credit to keep my account topped up.

I was surprised how quickly the data was being used so topped up my account (£5 for 500mb) with cash aswell as trying to watch more adverts….  I was shocked and confused how I’d managed to use more than 1gb (gigabyte) in a very short period (over two days). I first wondered if my laptop or tab was running background process’ or doing unobvious activity that was using the internet…?

So I started to experiment, leaving my laptop and tablet connected & idle for an hour at a time. It used very little data (no more than 300kb  (kilobytes))  which I can measure on my Mifi, which has a display showing the downloaded data of a session. I then was able to match the amounts measured on the “data used” from the My Account on SambaMobile.

I then had an idea and wondered if watching adverts was both earning AND using data.

My suspicion was confirmed as using the measurement on my mifi along with the Data Earned vs Data Used on SambaMobile it proved that the service does not differenciate using the SambaMobile website as non-chargable data and as the SambaMobile streams a variety of video sources as adverts, incl YouTube and some of these display on my laptop as High Definition, it was actually costing me more in data than I was earning and explained why I had used soo much data in such a short period of time.

The concept of SambaMobile is a good one but this is a major flaw and defeats the object of an advert revenue operated service, when the same device/service you are trying to generate data to use for mobile browsing is actually costing you and in this case the money I’ve paid to use your service has been eaten away by the adverts supposed to be topping up my account.

Please review my account and details I’ve provided, revise / alter your operating model, warn customers that using the SimbaMobile SIM to watch adverts costs data (while you fix this) and refund the money back to my account as I believe I’ve been mislead and have spent money which I havn’t been able to use.

I look forward to your reply.

Regards

Review on 2 Multi-Point Bluetooth Devices

So, after not blogging for ages…  (thought I know I should really…)   I have been working too much and in my spare time, aside from walking the dog and visiting the watering-hole aka The Pub, I have been playing with some electronics bits and pieces.

Here’s a video I did reviewing 2 Multi-Point Stereo Bluetooth Headsets.

As I explain, I own multiple Phone / Tablet devices and want to be able to enjoy good quality Audio in Stereo while also being able to manage calls from either device. But I want to do this with a single bluetooth device….   this can be done by using a Multi-Point Bluetooth Device which allows you to pair more than once mobile / tablet device at a time.  Here’s the video I did in June 2012:

What Reward?! New Starbucks Scheme & my Email to them

Mr, Mrs or Ms. Starbucks…

As usual, it would seem you are but another large corporation for which I was a happy customer, that has gone and put two fingers up at providing a quality value service and has gone back to wanting to line their pockets with cash by removing the things I enjoyed and benefited from as a loyal customer….

I have, for some time, been a very loyal customer of starbucks and have put a fair few quid through your tills. Aside from coffee by the cup, the purchases from your stores in Reading, Berkshire over the last 18months have included a Large French Press, a Medium French Press, 2 Red Thermal Mgs, 1 Stainless Steel Thermal mug, 2 ceramic mugs, approximately 5 bottles of syrup, atleast 25 bags of coffee (various varieties, my favourites being Breakfast Blend, Xmas Blend & Columbian) and more recently Starbucks VIA (approximately 10 packs of 12 VIA’s since launch, 4 of these were for Xmas pressie).

In a recent visit I needed a bag of Breakfast Blend and upon paying for the bag and ordering a small Mocha with Cream (using my favourite Starbucks Stainless Steel mug), I was shocked when handed the reciept that the small Coffee had not been deducted and upon asking the attendant, I was informed that this offer had been withdrawn and replaced with the new “Stars” scheme. It was busy at the time and rather than cause a scene with an attendant who was only following orders I thought I’d wait to get online and see what this new and seemingly ridiculous scheme was about.

So, correct me if I’m wrong, but aswell as removing the offer of receiving a free small coffee whenever I purchased a bag of coffee, or a packet of 12 VIA’s, you have also gone and removed the other daily benefits I enjoyed such as a free syrup or cream!

This has been replaced with a 2 tiered reward scheme where –
Firstly; regardless of the value of each purchase details from your website of the lowered Tier scheme are as follows:
“Green level of the programme, which means you’ll receive a free beverage when you have used your Card 15 times (which equates to 15 stars). Plus you’ll receive news and offers if you have signed up for email and postal news”

1. I was not even told by Email this scheme was starting and I am registered to receive email updates from you, the last email I received was 28th Nov regarding 12 Ways to Enjoy the Season.
2. In your FAQ it says: “Sign up for email and postal communications. We will then email you the first time you have collected 15 stars to let you know that your free beverage coupon is on its way to you. You will then receive your coupon through the post.” “You should receive your free beverage coupon within about 3 weeks.”

Is it not 2012?! We live in a world of Computers, Mobile Devices and the Internet! Why on earth POST a coupon… I was able to receive my previous discounts from just using my Starbucks card, why take things back an age, why waste paper on coupons and what if I don’t have a postal address registered?! Which I don’t, as I didn’t want crap from you through my letterbox in the first place and choose to top-up my Starbucks card by Cash only. So how will I receive a free coffee Coupon IF I continue to buy at Starbucks.
And 3 weeks! Use email for the voucher or discount using the Starbucks card, why inconvenience customers with a Coupon by post!?

You also now demand I have to make 50 purchases using my Starbucks card (within a year) to even enjoy the same basic benefits for which you over-charge for the morsal amounts of flavour to zest up a bland coffee! So that’s 50 purchases on the Starbucks card in a year, regardless of value just to get free syrup, an extra free shot of espresso or free cream… Shocking.

So, in summary, you’ve switched Rewards Schemes without notifying me, despite my email preferences being ticked that I permit you to email me News & Updates.
The new reward scheme offers me zero day2day benefits from visiting a Starbucks.
The new reward scheme offers me zero benefit or incentive for buying Starbucks branded Coffee products (IF I chose to continue buying Starbucks Coffee bags, I’d be better off buying it cheaper on the internet or at supermarket like Tesco’s and getting clubcard points)

So why should I continue to buy at Starbucks when you clearly don’t care for the coffee and products that I purchase from you and can’t even offer me the basic benefits per visit that gave me an advantage over Non Starbucks Card Customers!?
Why don’t I just go and purchase another premium coffee bean for less, or Starbucks products from the internet. Or in the case of VIA buy the new Kenco range of disolvable micro-blend. What exactly are you offering me or doing to enhanace each visit I make to Starbucks to make me feel valued, and before you start quoting the 15 Star scheme, it would seem I can’t benefit from it anyway without a postal address! What now makes you oustanding from Costa or Nero? Why shouldn’t I just go there instead.

I look forward to your policy driven and non satisfying response.

A very disatisifed customer.

Taster evening; Miller & Carter Steakhouse, Reading

I came across this opening evening at the new Miller & Carter by chance, on Tuesday evening, 7th February.
After walking down the Oracle riverside, Reading on the way to Cote, I noticed the boards once covering the Old Orleans restaurant had been removed to reveal was rather homely looking new Restaurant; Miller & Carter Steakhouse.

The thought of a good steak was too tempting and upon entering the restaurant we were greeted by what I assumed was a front of house manager and a member of the waiting staff, who advised us that this was their first night open to the public, that it was a taster evening and that all menu items were half price. So, as someone who’s up for trying new things, is always ready to accept a good deal and was after a subject for my next blog post, I took a table.

The restaurant was very busy, with only a few tables available and we were shown to a table on the right hand side of the restaurant with a direct view of the very busy kitchen hatch which was visible as part of an open plan service area.

As I said, the restaurant had a homely feel, warm decor, bordered sofa seating and standard compfy chairs alongside large wooden tables. The best way to describe was a cross between a strada & smart american diner with soft lighting. I liked it, though I suspect it’s the sort of place, like Browns next door, that looks very different in the day to the dark evenings.

After being handed a menu we waited for around 10mins for our waitress to return and take both our drinks and food order.

I ordered, as one would expect, a Rum & coke, though the choice of Rums seemed limited, so I settled for a double Captain Morgans 🙂

For Starter I ordered; The Pair of Queen Scallops
For Main; 8oz Fillet Steak (medium rare), Seasoned Fries, BBQ Sauce

After waiting about 20mins, the Scallops arrived. I had wrongly assumed, as it was described as a Pair, that Queen Scallops were large. I was presented with 6 very small scallops in half shells and upon asking the waitress, who seemed a little confused by my question, one of the managers who was close by interjected to advise that Queen Scallops were the smallest and that following confusion & feedback, the restaurant had decided to serve 6 scallops and not just 2.
The scallops were served in a garlic butter and although small, were tasty, succulent and a nice entrée.

Following the starter we waited…. looking over at the kitchen hatch there seemed to be a lot of food waiting to be served and the service area seemed to always be busy with waiting staff not serving a lot of food, so I can only assume the kitchen was having some difficulty with coordinating orders on the opening night. After about 30 – 35 minutes the waitress came to the table and apologised for the wait and advised our order would be ready in “3 or 4 minutes…”, about 10mins later 3 waitress’ came to the table carrying the steaks, presented in large bowl shaped plates and a wooden board with 3 place moulds containing the fries, my hickory smoked sauce and a 3rd bowl, that I wasn’t expecting, which contained a large onion rosti.

While waiting for the mains and seeing food sat waiting to be served, my thoughts turned to wonder whether our Steaks would be sat under the heat of the serving area and emerge dry or overcooked… however, when brought to the table the Steak WAS worth the wait, it was pretty much the perfect fillet. Not an ounce of fat, it was juicy, succulent, very well cooked and was exactly as I ordered. The fries were lovely, crispy but flurry with a light southern seasoning and the Onion rosti was also a delicious nice surprise. The hickory sauce, although nice was a bit heavy for the delicate flavour of the fillet steak, maybe it was a bad call by me and the sauce would have been better suited to a more rustic cut, such as a Rump or T-Bone, so sparingly put a taste of the Hickory as I cut slices from the mouhwatering and tender steak.

After finishing the main, I felt satisfyingly full. The waitress brought over the dessert menu, which I had already decided I wasn’t going have, but then cast my eye down the list of delicious looking desserts and was won over by the Baked Alaska and a macchiato
At this point, the restaurant was somewhat emptier and the dessert and coffee arrived within 5mins.
It was as I had hoped, delicious, and although I didn’t need the dessert it was a nice end to the evening and as all the food was half price I thought why not.

So overall, after ordering, it took approximately an hour & 10mins to be served our main course… which, while I acknowledge and appreciate this was an opening trial night, it was quite clear the kitchen was the weak link keeping up with the demand. But once it arrived, it was a fantastic steak and the best I’d had in a long while. I really hope the service was down to just teething problems and once settled in, the Miller & Carter Steakhouse could definitely become a favourite and a restaurant I would visit on the affluent Oracle Riverside, Reading. It was a warm welcoming venue and all the staff, though some seemed quite new, were enthusiastic and friendly.