No so direct banking

A week of IT

No so direct banking

Playing telephone tag with IVR machines has become an old game, but is no less irritating for that. So we thought we’d tell you about the latest annoying interactive voice response machine E-tales has encountered. It’s the one for BankDirect. Call BankDirect on its 0800 number ( gives no other option) and you find yourself funnelled direct to an IVR machine which assumes you either:

  • know the extension number of the person you wish to speak to
  • are already a BankDirect customer or
  • wish to become a BankDirect customer.

No other category of caller is catered for. The usual recourse of pressing zero to get a live operator just gets you an “unrecognised” message. After pressing through the menus, pretending our journalistic inquiry fitted into “general banking inquiries”, a call centre operator eventually answered, but was flummoxed by our request … the story goes on and on but you get the picture.

Go west for a fall

“Hi xxxx,

I hope you’re doing well and enjoying the fall. This is my favorite time of year!”

So enthused a PR practitioner for a US-based software company. He or she was obviously trying to be matey with one of our staffers but forgetting the little matter of the email recipient being in a different hemisphere.

A lot of northern hemispherists take some convincing that when the sun rises down here it goes left instead of right. “You mean it doesn’t rise in the east?” they exclaim. Yes, it does, but it still goes left instead of right.

And don’t even try convincing them the moon is the other way up from the way they see it. Most will either think you’re gravely misinformed, kidding or else downright mad.

And we trust these people to know about technology? No wonder Galileo had problems.

Xtra irritating

While we’re blowing off steam, let’s talk about Warwick. It’s a trifle irritating to encounter an uninvited Warwick when trying to read a certain daily newspaper site. But one does.

The Xtra Xtraordinary with the loud check jacket pops up, totally obscuring the text, to try and sell the hapless reader the broadband connection he (or she) already has.

Isn’t one of the … er … charming quartet supposed to be looking after the software that protects Xtra customers from such pop-ups and spam?

It’s a joke — laugh

On the subject of Trade Me again, we couldn’t help but notice a similar, if less interactive, version of the site at

Always nice to see satire is alive and kicking, if a little harried and unloved, online.

Tapes and tyres

Chris Wening, Asia–Pacific sales director for tape storage vendor Exabyte, put his company’s place in the IT scheme of things quite succinctly during a recent chat with an E-tales reporter.

“The spare tyre of the computer business” is how he described tape storage’s place in the technology pecking order.

Not sexy, but essential and reliable.

Timely sale

We at E-tales love the weird and wonderful world of Trade Me, and a recent sale item particularly caught our eye, as well as numerous other people’s — it generated 42 pages of comment.

As can be seen from the picture, it is an intriguing device, a sort of garage workshop prototype. But we shouldn’t mock — the PC emerged from Jobs’ garage 30-odd years ago. This pile of enterprising garbage is something even more ambitious — a time machine. Now, now, I hear you mocking again — but did you ever see the sorry contraption that was the Russian spacecraft that made it to the moon?

Anyway, Mick D of Hamilton does say it is a work in progress and advertises it as such: “Unfinished project in. Started making a machine to facilitate time travel, unfortunately, I just don’t have the time to complete it. Have had mixed results so no guarantees. Would suit DIY handyman with quantum physics background or similar interest.”

Comments on Mick’s unusual offering ranged from: “I’ve got a space continuum transfunctioner. Would you consider swapping it for that?” to “Does the eftpos machine work on pre-pay time credits or pay as you travel?”

“No, that’s a defliberator not an old eftpos machine” – Mick.

Mick said he was amazed at how many people wished to use time travel for sexual gratification as that is not what it was designed for. Really? The auction reached its reserve of $5.


E-tales’ front-of-house person and ‘She who Must Be Obeyed’ may have set a world record when it comes to needing helpdesk support.

After purchasing her flash new PC online, it took our staffer only ten minutes to get it out of the box, up and running and ready to go. There she was, in the middle of changing her screen saver (a vital first step as everyone knows) when shazam! The freak storm that knocked out power to a large chunk of Auckland last week sent current surging into her un-surge-protected PC.

Oh yes, said the help desk when she called, you’ve fried the hard drive. Would you like a new one?

Sadly, fried drives are not covered by warranty.

Not so great Arthur

Great sales technique, poor product. This is our conclusion regarding the recent story we ran — along with around 50 other publications — about Arturio, the Chilean robot who had, allegedly, sniffed out treasure 15 metres below ground.

E-tales got an email from a Chilean-based physicist, Dr Ulrich Volkmann, saying pictures of the robot concerned show it to be little more than a remote-controlled toy car, equipped with office PC-type components, so could not have detected any treasure.

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