Listen to my latest podcasts

There are two sites that feature my podcasts. People who support them on the Web - find my palavering real fun. I jibe at politicians and others - whenever they deserve it. The podcasts here are separated into those in Macedonian and the few in English. There is "About me" page too and some family pics. I plan to run conversational Macedonian chats, but need experience. This is on an OSX platform produced on a GarageBand and featured by iMac on iWeb. This is yet another, my all-Macedonian language podcasting facility put together and maintained by my friend George Zafirovski, an interface Merlin who builds (quickly) his reputation in London, UK. He is quite professional. So

Friday, February 26, 2010

T-Mobile Netherlands


The affair around T-Mobile Nederland pushing phantom charges on its subscribers continues.
It appears that Peter Meefout, former director of customer finances, had contracted an obscure firm (Lindorff B.V.) where he was director, to collect (by threats of court actions) bills incurred by allegedly unknown parties who were syphoning moneys from subscribers using technology gimmicks and robbing practices.
When carefully read, the Linkendin profile of Peter Meefout, shows that he used T-Mobile to pump money (from customers) into Lindorff where he was director at the same while serving in T-Mobile.
The public prosecution in the Netherlands did not so far act to either alert the public or chase the culprits.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Dutch horror with T-Mobile

T-Mobile Nederland made my life a misery.
Of what I have experienced, I would say that these people acted and behaved with planned, brazen insincerity to trick people into a scheme.
T-Mobile Nederland has advertised that anyone may have an i-Phone 3G for a basic tariff of €29, 95 and my family decided to surprise me with one for my 69-th birthday. They gave me the cash for 24 months and I was besides myself with joy.

Not that I was unaware of the shenanigans of T-Mobile various offices and individuals, but I simply thought that improper or outright irresponsible, improper, harmful or damaging attitude and practice by T-Mobile Nederland is impossible in this social and legal climate. Well, I was totally wrong.

T-Mobile Nedrland bullied me inflicting serious financial and health damage through the services and attitudes of a legal firm, I believe that they, the T-Mobile Nederland, must have bullied other innocent people as well. I believe that this matter must be criminally investigated and I will try to put this post right into the hands of the "officer of justice" or the public attorney who should in his or hers official capacity have to act and investigate the allegation that T-Mobile KNOWINGLY, being fully aware of a criminal situation at its own turf, maltreated, intimidated, scared and inflicted serious psychological harm to innocent customers motivated by indolence, greed, careless attitude or all of these combined.

This is a serious allegation against T-Mobile. Despite I would have never dreamt of extending the 24-month contract with T-Mobile (at the end which the Nokia I used should have been unlocked and I could keep it even if I changed the provider) when it was announced that they had an exclusive contract with Apple for the iPhone I had to chose: either t-Mobile or forget about iPhone. T-Mobile sent me the iPhone for free on understanding that I will continue the subscriber status for yet another two years.

The problems arose instantly. I have signed and written that all I want is the basic monthly subscription of €29,95. Few month latter the invoices rocketed to €89 despite I would have neither calls nor 10 SMS messages per month. When I have written that something is wrong and requested investigation - the boss of customer services of T-Mobile chose not to respond.

Then LINDORFF PURCHASE B.V. from Zwolle, the legal representative of T-Mobile, approached me (in writing) with a demand for a ludicrous payment. They wrote I responded, they wrote some more and threatened me with the courts and I responded, then they fired more threats and my nerves had begun shaking, the whole family was upset and, and this important, the iPhone went dead. Completely dead. Then it would give a sign it is alive but the SIMM would be locked. The expensive machine was (and still is) totally useless.

A friend, lawyer and ex-diplomat who I helped come and settle in this country, told me it was all my fault and I better pay. Since his wife is a big shot with a multinational telephone services provider I was guided to begin believing that T-Mobile was acting like all those other providers, that I have overlooked something.

But, eventually, an engineer in agronomy took the case and in September 2009 pressed the Lindorff B.V. to prove their claim that I was wrong and that I have actually called from the iPhone incurring costs that they claimed they were a step away from collecting through a court order. Suddenly Lindorff B.V. said (over a telephone) that there was an investigation and that T-Mobile had found out that somebody (a criminal gang I assume) was incurring costs to unsuspecting, innocent T-Mobile subscribers and therefore, all the so far demands for payment became nill and void, I owed nothing to T-Mobile and should forget the matter.

The Lindorff B.V. obviously thought that such a stance closed the whole troubled affair. They thought that all their threats and the cut services, all that relentless pressure that lasted for full six months would be, could be so easily forgotten. The Lindorff B.V. guided me to a T-Mobile store in Amsterdamse Port where upon presentation of passport and those people unlocked the blocked SIM. I wanted the same old status of a fixed number subscriber but they were not authorized for such a move.

The T-Mobile CONTINUED, despite its own and formally admitted fault to treat me *with the old, fixed subscription number, as a punished, "prepaid" customer, which is completely illogical. Namely, this iPhone does not come for free with a prepaid status. That is exactly the mess which T-Mobile created.

Thus, I made an ING bank transfer for €20 just to have the possibility to send SMS urgent messages, invitation to be called on that number and keep the machine alive. After only two SMS messages the €20 expired, were eaten up, no trace but the number of the bank transfer. I believe that the thieves who operate within the network of T-Mobile and who have stolen all that money before - are active again. I have the iPhone next to me and notice that somebody is contacting the number and trying to suck money out of it, occasionally a dozen times within couple of minutes.

At the T-Mobile shop in Amsterdamse Port I also bought another prepaid card at €20 for the old Nokia. That money was gone within a day without me calling anybody. I was robbed again. Imagine if there are one million T-Mobile subscriber and if thieves, or T-Mobile self, syphons from every singe one €20 a month? This would amount to a €120 million robbery, a criminal ring and the police should be involved.

This is a case for a very able lawyer who would like to make a big name and big money by bringing the mighty T-Mobile and Lindorff B.V. as their accomplices in what I think is a clear act of tried extortion. Unfortunately, even capable lawyers are unwilling to bring the mighty ones to the courts because of the attitude of the Dutch judges to keep the population in hopeless submissive stupor under the yoke of the financial and administrative might.

Nevertheless I am positive that one nice day, hopefully sooner than latter, that attitude of the Dutch populace will change.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Fine Project Cut by a Civil War


VISTOR SMIT, with the rector magnificus of the Belgrade Univewrsity
d-r prof. SLOBODAN UNKOVIC and my poor self IN A GALLANT EFFORT

Victor Smit, an extremely intelligent, superbly well mannered man (probably the best Dutch advertising copy writer for the past 20 years) stumbled upon me the other day while doing his groceries in a local super-market. It was a great surprise for I haven't seen him in ages. After "Come for a drink, I have some vintage bordeaux, same place, same phone" we promised to get together and call each other to fix the date. He did not call, neither did I.
My excuse was this piece: I wanted to publish the story about our last project he worked (and financed) his ass on. It is so well conceived, to beautifully wrapped and (seemingly) so easy to set it going that I simply have to present it. This post, in reality, is an invitation to the world's advertising community for a case study.

The Auto-newspaper Yugoslavia (Autokrant Joegoslavie) was conceived as a carrier, the messenger for the Registration Plate Project. The vast majority of the 490,000 Dutch tourists traveling to Yugoslavia for their summer holidays used inexpensive package (mainly airplane but also a lot of bus) arrangements. With d-r ph-d Slobodan Unkovic, rector of the Belgrade University with a chair in tourism and a great friend) we have discussed, together with Victor Smit, what could we, Yugoslavia, do in the Netherlands to entice the rich individual traveller ignite the BMW, the Audi or the Mercedes and drive along the Adriatic coast. We were to offer them free (overnights only) accommodation in top class hotels in specific resorts throughout Yugoslavia.

(Above, from left: d-r prof. Slobodan Unkovic, Marija Cvetkova-Popova, Victor Smit and my son in front of the YNTO head office in Amsterdam on Jan Luykenstraat, opposite the Rijksmuseum)
The penny pinching Dutch, like most of us, like nice things gratis, free, costeloss.
So, how does one explain to 5,000,000 Dutch car-owners that IF their car has a a registration plate containing the letters ZG and if it an Audi - the owner and the family will have THREE NIGHTS gratis in a superb 5-star InterContinental in the capital of Croatia? THe Yugoslavia Newspaper was to be the vehicle that would explain how does the registration plate of a Dutch car automatically allows its owners a free 3-nites stay in places like Split (the Diocletian palace, great events) or Belgrade and so forth. The Dutch buy about 450,000 brand new cars annually. They ride them to France, Germany, occsianally to Austria and Spain, but rarely to Yugoslavia or Greece.

The connection between Dutch and Yugoslav registration plates is in a way marginal. The Dutch had two letters dash two ciphers dash two letters on a registration plate. The Yugoslav plate consisted of two letters two ciphers dash three ciphers.
With the Dutch letters were allocated irrelevant of the domicile borough of the owner of the car.In Yugoslavia the letters denounced many different towns, villages and cities within a borough territory carried the same first two letters.

The point is that the hoteliers around Yugoslavia wanted to give to a family arriving in a Mercedes SL three overnights for free expecting that with their other consumption they'll easily make up for that while at the same time pushing up the prestige of the hotel. The hoteliers were interested to see that they were to be for sure advertised for free in the Netherlands while it was not certain that any of the Audi or Mercedes owners would actually show up for a free overnight.

The Yugoslav National Tourist Office, YNTO, in Amsterdam (with an advertising budget of about 2,2 million gulden or €1 m.) would be heavily supporting a project aimed at uplifting the customer base while enticing the 5 million car-owners in the Netherlands learn more about holidaying opportunities in the foreign currency starving country.

Some of the dealers of foreign up market models showed immediate interess in having exclusive rights on the promotion and the whole campaign because they had seen it as a chance to be associated with a friendly country and one of the top 5 tourist destinations in Europe. They have seen it as instantaneous possibility to push up the value of their cars with specific registration plates.

The project, therefore, was a topper, in theory, from it very conception. It was designed to be a piece of cake for execution: the production (copy, layout and printing of some 150,000 copies) of the main vehicle of the project, the Auto-newspaper Yugoslavia, was relatively inexpensive. The only problem would be the response and the legal validity of the contracts with the individual hotels for free accommodation. But then, the YNTO was to jump in and push the project.

Advic B.V. the advertising firm of my dear friend Victor Smit, would be the sole owner of the project and would charge, modestly, all participating parties in it. We have begun work. Hundreds of special A3 cardboard envelopes were bought, postage, mock-up copies of the Auto-newspaper Yugoslavia inn full color printed and sent out out to hoteliers and borough councils, local tourist associations and so forth.

And then came the storm over Yugoslavia.
Not only regions cities against cities rose up, atrocities, shelling of resorts.
An awful, beastly civil war had begun raging across one of the most idilic parts of Europe.
That was it.
Now I keep the memory of this project and one mock-up copy of the newspaper that was to transform the Yugoslav tourist presence on the Dutch market.
And the lingering warmth of the enthusiastic support extended by Victor Smit for this project.
That is the the force of destiny.