POST OFFICE QUEUES ARE A GREAT PLACE TO THINK

Having made quite a few trips to the post office recently I have had many an hour in long queues to ponder ways that they post office could reduce the size of it’s queues.

Ignoring the obvious idea of employing more people at busy times … I though the best idea would be to have a machine that could handle regular postal duties.

THE HUBBERS POSTMACHINE 3000tm

The Hubbers Postmachine 3000tm is an all in one weighing, payment processing, stamping and package collecting machine that could be installed in post offices and other postal outlets all over the country.

The first part of the HP3000tm (might need to have a word with Hewlett-Packard about the name) is a weighing shelf to weigh the package. A touch screen would allow the customer to select destination, postage type etc. The machine would then take payment from a credit or debit card. Finally any stamps or stickers (airmail, customs declarations) that are needed could be printed. The customer would then place these stickers on their package and drop the package into a slot on the machine or a larger collection area elsewhere in the post office.

The machine could even be programmed to deal with other day-to-day post office tasks like collecting bill payments, selling foreign currency, selling insurance or issuing forms etc.

Every post office would have several of the HP3000tm that would operate alongside some regular chair moisteners post office workers who could specialise in larger packages or more complicated enquires.

Stop Press!!! They Stole My idea!!!

I saw this in the Post Office on Saturday 4th of October . It’s bigger than I would have built it and it looks like it was designed by students in a woodwork class at high school but it’s basically the same idea. Also I bet it doesn’t let you do all the other things I thought of like bills and currency :)

Hubbers Postmaster 3000 rip-off!

MUSTARD CHEESE

My other good idea I have had recently is “mustard cheese”?. I think this would be a really cracking flavour if done well. I have found one place that sells Mustard Cheddar on-line and when the Mutarde (Rachel) gets back from Africa I will ask her if she thinks it is any good.

Amazon’s commission to sellers

I am currently reducing clutter around my flat by selling my old DVDs and books on Amazon’s marketplace. Today I sold ‘Die another Day’ for 13p. Normally this works out to be marginally profitable as Amazon give you more for postage that items cost to post. But on this particular item Amazon charged almost all of the sale price and the postage as commission. The breakdown is as follows:

Buyer’s Price: ?0.13
Shipping: ?1.21
Amazon Commission: ?-1.04
Your Earnings: ?0.30

Amazon states:

Individuals selling at Marketplace pay a GBP 0.86 per item completion fee, plus a closing fee of 17.25% of the sales price (11.5% for Electronics & Photo items) for each item sold.

Which seems steep and it makes it unprofitable to sell (or buy) really cheap DVDs or books on Amazon. This is a real shame because in the past I have bought a few 1p (plus postage) books from Amazon.

The postage for this DVD would cost 66p so I have cancelled the order and now the DVD is going to one of the charity shops on Finchley Road which is a much better idea. I guess in this way Amazon are doing a good thing. By making it unprofitable to sell the nickel and dime stuff they make it much more likely that old books etc end up in charity Shops.

Amazon have also built this excellent site for swapping books called ReadItSwapIt.

The New Zealand Herald ran a story about the All Black tickets markup scam

The original post is here

A friend helped me get my blog post brought to the attention of the New Zealand Herald. They ran this story titled Fans put hard word on NZRU over agent’s ticket charges on the day of the final autumn international against England.

The thing that got me about the article is that when Ms Faisandier from STIL was asked where all the money went she couldn’t say.

Ms Faisandier said she could not say what percentage of the money went to the rugby union.

She told me on email that it was “about 50/50”. Strange she wasn’t prepared to make the same claim to a national newspaper.

The other thing that struck me was that when NZRU were asked they didn’t have a clue either! I wish we could all run our businesses in such a haphazard manner where letting millions of dollars of potential revenue slip through our fingers wasn’t such a big issue.

NZRU commercial manager Paul Dalton said he could not say what percentage of the money gained by STIL came back to the rugby union.

This quote astounded me because the Herald also had this story where they indicate that the NZRU financial situation isn’t that strong at the moment.

The NZRU is on track to post a small profit this year, a much improved situation from the one predicted six months ago.

You’d think that if they were that broke they’d be wondering if they could have had some of the millions of dollars that have been added to All Black tickets in the UK over the last few years.

Oh yeah and we crushed England 32 points to 6 so it was an excellent day to be a Kiwi.

All Blacks 32 England 6 Twickenham 2008

My most popular photo ever (as of today)

I put all of my photos up on flickr for all the world to see. Most of my photos only get a couple of views (thanks mum and dad) from the general public. A lucky few that I took during the Rugby World Cup in 2007 (rip) had over 1000 people look at them in a matter of days. After the initial flurry most photos are rarely looked at again.

One photo that I took at Glastonbury in 2007 is different though. That photo gets a few people come and look at it every day. And slowly but surely it has steadily worked its way up through the ranks of my thousands of photos that I have taken over the years to become the most viewed photograph I have ever taken. Ladies and gentlemen with 1,559 views I give you, muddy girls.
Muddy girls (dirty girls) at Glastonbury 2007
Proving that the internet is home to people with some pretty weird tastes.

Brown’s cover-up has begun

This is so true. Gordon Brown got into government in 1997 on the promise that he would bring an end to destructive booms and busts in the property market.

Eleven years as Chancellor (the money guy) and Prime Minister later he has presided over the biggest boom of them all. And now the evidence of his initial bold claims is starting to disappear from government websites. Shameful.

I am reading this book that explains it all:

Boom Bust: House Prices, Banking and the Depression of 2010

100% mark-up on All Black tickets brought from Sports Tickets International Limited

If your tickets have been marked up by STIL please leave the details in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

Cam, Russ, The Giant Nun and Hubbers

Earlier this year Grant, Cam, Russ and I purchased tickets to the Ireland, Wales and England rugby tests against the All Black in the UK this November.

The purchase was made through Sports Tickets International Limited who are, according to their site, the Officially Licensed Match Ticket Company of the New Zealand Rugby Union (“NZRU”).

The total amount that my Visa was charged was 922.85 but when I picked up my tickets yesterday the face value of all 12 tickets came to a meagre ?632. This means that STIL added on a whopping 46% to the price of the tickets!

That is one hell of a mark-up!

This table shows the breakdown.

Test Face value for 4 tickets STIL cut Total
Cardiff ?200 92 ?292
Twickenham ?164 ?75.44 ?239.44
Dublin ?268 ?123.28 ?391.28
?632 ?290.72 ?922.72

Naturally I have emailed them to find out what is going on.

STIL have replied

STIL have added a handling fee to the face value of each ticket. This fee covers the cost of making this facility available (including website and software charges, travel, administration, wages and processing fees), and as a result the face value of the tickets will not equate with the amount charged. Any income, which remains at the end of this project, once all costs have been paid, will be returned to the NZRU to assist with the development of Rugby in New Zealand.

I have copied and pasted the below from the Terms & Conditions Page on the STIL website, hope this helps.

http://www.stilrugby.wb.gs/book-tickets.html

How much money do STIL make?

If we assume that our tickets are the average price then STIL is making roughly ?25 per ticket. If we also assume that they have 5000 tickets per game to sell then they will have 25000 tickets which means that they will take ?625,000 or 1,766,519 New Zealand Dollars (today’s exchange rate is 2.826) to perform the duties mentioned above.

I am pretty sure that I could do it all for less than that.

I have emailed them again and asked them how much money is returned to NZRU for the development of NZ rugby.

STIL have replied again. In answer to the preceding question they said:

The breakdown is about 50/50

So NZRU get nearly ONE MILLION NEW ZEALAND DOLLARS for the development of NZ rugby which is good. And it costs STIL nearly ONE MILLION NEW ZEALAND DOLLARS to sell Kiwis in the UK tickets to 5 games of rugby.

So I asked STIL

So you are saying that it costs nearly one million New Zealand dollars to provide tickets for New Zealand fans for 5 games of rugby?

And they threatened me with this email:

Carl

I am not sure where you are getting your figures from and where you are going with this, but we will not be following any further line of communication.

If you like, we will take you off our database, and recommend you purchase your tickets direct from the host unions in future.

Kind regards

Margaret Faisandier
Sports Tickets International Ltd
The Official match Ticket Licensee of the NZ Rugby Union

You know what I am getting at Margaret Faisandier, you are profiteering from loyal All Black fans!!!

What should be done?

Out of respect for the loyal fans and for the good of rugby in New Zealand in the future I recommend NZRU take the following actions:

1. NZRU should have a regular (two yearly?) and transparent tender process for the job of selling UK tour tickets to New Zealanders in Europe. This will minimise the cost and maximise any revenue for NZRU.

2. NZRU should make a clear statement about what percentage is to be added to the tickets and how much of that money goes to the development of New Zealand rugby. I am sure that most Kiwi fans won’t mind contributing to the ABs via their tickets especially given the economic pressures NZ faces from European teams. The key thing is that NZRU should be open and honest about it so that the fans don’t feel scammed or ripped off.

STOP THE PRESS!

A friend of a friend (NZ is a small country) helped me get this issue brought to the attention of New Zealand’s biggest daily newspaper. They ran this story titled Fans put hard word on NZRU over agent’s ticket charges on the eve of the All Black match against England at Twickenham.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens from here. NZRU clearly don’t know what is going on in their own back yard and millions of dollars have been wasted over the last few years leaving fans feeling bitter and ripped off (see the comments below). What will NZRU do?

Update for 2009

My friend from university got two England v All Blacks tickets for Twickenham from STIL Rugby and he paid ?100 for each.

When the tickets arrived they had a face value of ?50 each and they were in the worst part of the stadium!

How can this be viewed as anything other than a massive rip-off of loyal fans?

Update for All Black tickets in 2010

All Blacks autumn international tickets have gone on sale through STIL. The cheapest tickets available to the worst seats at Twickenham were roughly &#pound;100 meaning that STIL are still adding a 100% markup to All Black tickets. The STIL website terms and conditions now says this:

STIL have added a handling fee to the face value of each ticket. This fee covers the cost of making this facility available (including website and software charges, travel, administration, wages and processing fees), and as a result the face value of the tickets will not equate with the amount charged. Any income, which remains at the end of this project, once all costs have been paid, will be returned to the NZRU to assist with the development of Rugby in New Zealand.

But there still isn’t any indication as to how much of the hundreds of thousands of dollars added to All Black tickets by STIL are returned to the NZRU to assist with the development of Rugby in New Zealand.

Surely there should be an open and competitive tendering process to maximise the return for NZRU?