Grammar Schools

There was significant controversy recently over the UK government’s decision to allow the Weald of Kent Grammar School in Tonbridge to open an ‘annexe’ in Sevenoaks, 7 miles away. Opponents argue that this is a new school, even though the 8 minute journey time (by train) is far less than some pupils currently spend getting between scattered units of some schools that supposedly have a single site. The school will offer places for 450 girls.

I have long been a supporter of selective schools — having benefited from a Grammar School education myself, I feel it would be at the very least hypocritical for me to oppose allowing others to enjoy the same opportunities. Most Labour MPs, sadly, disagree: the go-ahead for Sevenoaks was described as a “hugely backward step“. Yet many Labour MPs were themselves beneficiaries of this system and might well not have been in a position to enter politics otherwise.

Selective education is a political hot potato. There are a number of issues generally raised:

  1. We should be raising standards for all pupils, not just the most able.
  2. “Creaming off” the best pupils into grammar schools disadvantages those “left behind” at comprehensive schools.
  3. The Sutton Trust, which promotes social mobility, highlighted research that less than 3% of pupils in grammar schools were entitled to free meals, compared with an average of 18% in the areas they serve. This implies that grammars are no longer serving the purpose for which they were intended, namely to improve upward social mobility of smart kids from poor backgrounds.

I think this last point is the most interesting. When I was getting ready to take the 11+ in the mid-1970s, there were no private tutors parents could turn to: one day, we took the test and then we hoped for the best. These days, there’s an entire industry focused on serving parents: some kids have years of private tuition before taking the 11+… even if they’re already attending private school! Middle class parents have reacted rationally to a ‘market incentive’ — grammar schools are scarce, good & free – Tonbridge’s GCSE results see 99% getting five A*-C grades compared with 63% nationally. But this is eminently addressable:

  • 11+ test results can be adjusted to take into account the socio-economic status of the pupil’s parents, just as they currently take into account the pupil’s proximity to the school (the test in Essex for example deliberately biases against outlying villages probably to save money on transportation costs).
  • Create a means-test that disallows parents who could potentially afford (say) private education.

Let’s look at two graphics. The first, from Oxford University, shows social mobility as measured age 27 for four cohorts. Note the substantial drop in upward mobility between the 1946 cohort and the 1980s one, for both men and women:

web-downward-mob-graphic

Now, let’s have a look at the number of grammar schools in UK over time (from BBC):

_86134386_grammar_schools_gra624

I’m sure there are many explanations but for me, one of them is that England went from educating 25% of its young people in grammar schools, to giving just 5% the same opportunity.

This is political dogma preventing smart kids from getting a good start in life. It’s got to stop.

In Richard’s Footsteps

As a young teen I read Philip Jose Farmer’s SciFi novel, “To Your Scattered Bodies Go”. Without going into too much detail, it’s about a world where all of Humankind is resurrected — amongst them, Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton.

Richard_Francis_Burton_by_Rischgitz,_1864The portrayal of Burton captivated me and ever since I have been fascinated by this man, his explorations and his achievements.

As well as his own writings, I subsequently devoured a number of biographies of this Victorian explorer, including, “A Rage to Live” by Mary Lovell. A polymath who reportedly spoke 29 languages, Burton’s complicated character and especially his African expeditions made me long to follow in his footsteps.

Burton’s East Africa Expedition in the mid/late 1850s was funded by the Royal Geographical Society. So when I heard that the RGS & BBC Radio 4 had a joint programme, “Journey of a Lifetime” that makes a grant of £5,000 for someone to do just that and turn it into a radio documentary, I thought, “Aha! Now’s my chance!”

burtonspekeSetting out from Zanzibar with John Hanning Speke in June 1857, they followed traditional caravan routes westwards, via Dodoma & Tabora, eventually reaching Lake Tanganyika in February 1858. The men’s health has suffered greatly: Speke is too blind to see the lake. During the return journey, Speke took a detour northwards and discovers Lake Victoria while Burton recovers in Tabora. They return to Zanzibar in 1860 weakened by disease and (sadly) on the way to becoming bitter enemies.

In his journal some time during the expedition, Burton writes: “Of the gladdest moments in human life, methinks is the departure upon a distant journey to unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many Cares and the Slavery of Home, man feels once more happy. The blood flows with the fast circulation of childhood….afresh dawns the morn of life…”

 

China Slowdown: Are There Lessons From Japan?

I have been wondering for some time whether there might be clues in the future trajectory of the Chinese economy & stock-markets in the behaviour of other large economies that have emerged since World War II. As neighbours, Japan seemed like the obvious starting point.

I started off by looking at both countries’ GDP Deflators & Nominal GDP per Capita against local equity market performance. I used data from the excellent Quandl service.

From 1952 to 1980, Japanese nominal GDP per capita grew at an annual average rate of 12.8%, ranging from around 5% to 20% per year. The Nikkei index pretty much tracked this, growing 11.2% per year. What’s interesting is the next part. In the 1980s, Japanese growth slowed dramatically, averaging 5.7% per year; yet the Nikkei surged ahead gaining an average 19.5% annually.

So what was happening, and could this pattern repeat in China?

One thought was that it might have been spurred by an increase in consumer expenditure. Yet the data suggest that as a proportion of GDP, this element grew only from about 48.6% in 1970 to a peak of 56.1% in 1983 before falling back slightly towards the end of the 1980s. Likewise government expenditure grew only slightly (from 10.7% to around 14%). The one indicator that appeared to track the explosive growth of equity prices through the 1980s was the proportion of the economy represented by the Service Sector. This rose steadily from 29% in 1974 to 39% fifteen years later (the year the stock market in Japan peaked), even as manufacturing growth slowed almost to nothing.

So, back to China. Over the past couple of decades, Chinese equity markets have tracked nominal GDP per capita pretty well:

And where’s China’s service sector? Right around the level of Japan’s in 1974… So is it possible that overall growth rates in China might slow but the equity market could grow? Based on the evidence of Japan, I’d say it was entirely plausible.

 

This article first appeared on LinkedIn 9 September 2015

 

 

Is It Always Good to Share?

The Sharing Economy has attracted tremendous interest over the past few years: firms like Uber, AirBnB, TaskRabbit and Zilok offer people the ability to monetize assets that they’re not using all the time, or to find customers more easily than was the case pre-internet.

As a homeowner, I’ve become an enthusiastic user of AirBnB: the guests I’ve hosted at my farmhouse in Jersey have been charming, interesting and fun; I’ve used Uber a few times (though it doesn’t work that well on my Blackberry Passport) and I’d be happy to rent one of my three drum-kits using Zilok when I eventually get around to sorting it out. It makes sense: these are under-utilized assets (I really should practise the drums more); why not let someone else share them?

As a citizen of the world, I’d like to think that the Sharing Economy is good for the environment: if sharing car journeys using a service like RelayRides means fewer car journeys — or even fewer cars manufactured — then that’s got to be a good thing, right? On the other hand, if AirBnB makes accommodation so much more accessible that we take more trips, then perhaps not.

As an investor, I’m interested in the long-term impact this will have on our economy. So I’ve been reading & asking. The first piece I read was an excellent essay by Juliet Schor. She makes some very good points:

  • If a company like Zipcar simply replaces a traditional car rental firm, there’s probably not much economic impact;
  • If a site like AirBnB makes it easier to host and easier to find cheap accommodation, slippage is reduced and the economy becomes more efficient… which probably leads to more transactions occurring at a given level of GDP than would previously have been the case.

She also points to a lot of controversy over whether the Sharing Economy is basically a form of what we in financial services term “regulatory arbitrage”: AirBnB hosts are not subject to the same rules as the hotels they supplant; there’s no minimum wage on TaskRabbit. This is picked up by an article in The Economist: governments are struggling to shoe-horn decades-old legislation into working in the internet age, and it is difficult.

The part that interests me most is the bit that isn’t getting such good coverage, as far as I can tell. If durable goods like drum-kits & jet-washers are easily shared, to what extent do consumers stop buying these items, knowing they can just borrow them as required? According to the World Bank, Household Final Consumption represents close to 70% of USA’s GDP. Clearly, it makes no sense to share stuff one uses all the time (e.g. your fridge); looking at the data in a little more detail (from the Bureau of Economic Affairs) I was I admit surprised to see that fully two-thirds of the average American household’s expenditure goes on services. Of the other third (that part going on goods) two-thirds goes on non-durables. So, we’re left with ‘just’ 11% of consumption spent on durable goods. That’s a much smaller proportion than I’d have guessed and so perhaps I worry too much about the impact on GDP of everyone going out & sharing all their stuff.

I suppose the other side of the same coin is, how come there aren’t loads more internet businesses trying to help people share services, since they’re a much bigger market?

 

This article first appeared on LinkedIn 8 September 2015

Does London Need Another Runway?

As the debate continues to rage, with Heathrow & Gatwick both claiming to be the best option for an additional runway, I thought it might be interesting to review the current situation and ask whether an extra runway is needed at all.

London has six international airports within an hour’s drive or train-ride of the centre: Stansted (north), City (east/central), Southend (east), Luton (northwest), Heathrow (west) and Gatwick (south).

The BBC recently featured a useful summary which pointed out that, “Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has said the UK needs to increase its aviation hub capacity to compete with international rivals. That view is shared by some politicians and business leaders, but others argue that no credible case has been made.”

The situation is further complicated by the appallingly inaccurate forecasts made by UK’s Department of Transport:

From a purely competition-oriented viewpoint, it makes little sense to expand Heathrow, which already represents almost half of London’s passenger traffic:

Airport Pax %
HEATHROW 73,823,635 49%
GATWICK 39,048,023 26%
STANSTED 21,473,072 14%
LUTON 11,190,751 7%
LONDON CITY 4,051,915 3%
SOUTHEND 1,010,998 1%
TOTAL 150,598,394

Normally, I’d expect the competition authorities to be interested in this sort of situation, yet in this case we have a government department apparently prepared to expand a private firm’s dominant market position.

From an environmental perspective, Heathrow noise affects 725,000 people & there are claims that a third runway there would raise this to more than a million. Gatwick Airport by contrast claims that just 36,000 people are affected by noise from its flights.

One argument for expanding Heathrow was the idea that a large hub benefits from economies of scale: more routes attract more passengers, which in turn finance additional routes. Yet less than 1% of Heathrow’s passengers are transit, so where is the benefit?

Even some of Heathrow’s biggest customers are not in favour: Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG (owner of British Airways) was quoted recently as saying the £17.6bn price-tag “cannot be justified on any basis”.

Another factor which appears not to be considered is the dis-economies of scale that result from a very large airport: traffic congestion getting to & from the terminals (on rail as well as road); time taken to get through security etc. These factors can add significantly to total journey time (especially for short hops such as domestic routes) compared with using smaller regional airports. London City and my local airport in Jersey, Channel Islands are great examples of this: I can be through either airport in a few minutes.

If so little of Heathrow’s traffic is transit, why not move some of the domestic flights to other airports such as under-utilized Southend, thus freeing up slots at Heathrow for higher-value long-haul traffic?

And here’s another thought: in Asia, popular 1-2 hour intra-regional routes are often served by large aircraft such as 747s; in UK many of these routes use 737s or A319s but with many flights per day. Whilst this might appear to offer consumers more choice, perhaps CAA or Airports should consider runway pricing that encourages the use of larger planes & less frequent flights on these routes, thus freeing up slots to handle additional long-haul routes without the need for another runway.

 

This article first appeared on LinkedIn 7 September 2015

Data Security

This week I had emails from two services I use notifying me that they each had suffered some sort of security intrusion, and suggesting I change my password etc etc.

One was Slack — for a technology company currently raising assets at a reported $2.8bn valuation, discovering that hackers have been poking around in the central database for four days must have been something of an embarrassment, but since they don’t have any financial details for me, I’m not overly concerned.

The other was British Airways and in some ways I found this one more interesting. There doesn’t seem to be an official press release from BA on this subject. The email says simply:

British Airways has become aware of some unauthorised activity in relation to your Executive Club account.

This appears to have been the result of a third party using information obtained elsewhere on the internet, via an automated process, to try to gain access to yourExecutive Club account.

We understand this was login information relating to a different online service which you may have also used to access your Executive Club account.”

Coincidentally, this morning BA cancelled my flight from Jersey to London. I received a text notifying me of this and that I had been rebooked on a flight tomorrow afternoon (as though when you’re going to London for the weekend, it’s not going to make a big difference whether you arrive 9am Saturday or 4pm Sunday). I tried to use my Executive Club account to reject the new flight time, but (inevitably) this was not an eventuality that BA’s coders envisaged and so the website rejected my request. Incidentally, the mobile app still thinks I’m on the 7:45 this morning so beware their systems are not joined up.

Consequently, I had to call BA Executive Club to discuss the flight change. When I got through, I gave them my name, the booking reference and explained the situation. Inevitably they wanted me to identify myself, and asked for my full address and date of birth. And this is what I have an issue with. The argument of the customer service person I spoke to (who was polite but probably a bit fed up I was arguing with him) was that they had to identify me somehow, especially given the hack and that these pieces of information would be stuff known only to me. Furthermore UK’s Data Protection Act obliges them to ensure they are speaking to the right person.

With regards Data Protection, my argument was that actually I wasn’t asking him to reveal any information about me — I’d provided everything (surname, booking reference) that would have been required online (had their systems been working) and just wanted to confirm that the replacement flight wasn’t acceptable to me. His systems though required him to go through exactly the same procedure to confirm my identity regardless of the reason for the call. OK, no big deal.

On security I have a number of issues with BA’s process. Firstly, who’s to say that this guy doesn’t have a little notebook on his desk where he’s writing down my name, DOB and address — enough information to sign up for a lot of online services in my name and almost enough to open a bank account. This type of fraud has been occurring at some call centres for years. Many service providers I speak with still demand I give them a lot of personal data (the verbal equivalent of plain-text emailing a password, as far as I’m concerned) before they will speak with me. It’s all very well encrypting passwords for your customers, but if your call centre workers can collect customer data you have a big hole in your security.

I suggested to the BA guy that best practice was probably to request fragments from a long security passphrase. “Ah”, he said. “But if the hackers are in our database, they’ll know your passphrase too”. But at BA would they not then already have my passport details (because those are stored for APIS) and my address (so BA can send me new luggage tags)? “Errrm.”

Come on BA (and everyone else that asks me for my DOB, address or other plain-text personal information). Get a better system for validating caller identity! And fix your websites so they don’t leak!

 

This article first appeared on LinkedIn 28 March 2015

Wage Inequality: How Not to Fix It

There was a great little piece on Business Insider this morning about Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech at the Oscars. It got me thinking.

Let me start by saying that I am a firm believer in equality in all areas: male/female, black/white, whatever. Whilst there are undoubtedly differences in individuals’ capabilities that’s what makes the world an interesting place and there is absolutely no justification for discriminating in favour or against someone simply because of their gender, race or any other trait.

I’m just not at all convinced that legislation is always helpful. Take the following example. When my two sons were younger, they attended the local Preparatory School. One of the women teachers there went on maternity leave several times, returning briefly between each stint to teach for maybe a term. This is difficult for both the kids and the school to manage: they have to expend management time locating & interviewing temporary teachers to cover the role, and then even if those teachers are fantastic, they have to let them go when the original employee deigns to return. The kids likewise have to adjust to repeated changes of teacher. Like it or not, as chief executive of a business like that, wouldn’t part of you be saying to yourself (not out loud, for obvious reasons), “Why hire women [who go on maternity leave] when we can hire men [who generally don’t]?”

This is not an isolated example. In a small business where perhaps there is a single employee in a key role (say, specialist lawyer, CFO, etc) how can they deal effectively with this situation? Often, by not hiring a women of child-bearing age in the first place. I’m pretty sure this is a common occurrence – it would certainly help explain the gender pay gap.

Now, I fully support the idea of both parents wishing to spend time with their children, especially when they are pre-school age, as there’s plenty of evidence that this is a great thing from a social and educational point of view. Giving fathers the same rights as mothers to take parenting leave is all very well — but it doesn’t solve the problem, it makes it even more difficult for small businesses to know what to do.

 

This article first appeared on LinkedIn 23 February 2015

National Health Service: Not National At All!

Back in the mid-1980s when (as a freshly-minted science graduate) I joined Shell International Trading Company as a programmer, PCs were only just starting to appear on people’s desks: most of the ‘real’ work was done by big old mainframes located in Shell’s data centre at Wythenshawe, just outside Manchester. Oil traders, just like those involved in financial markets, are an impatient bunch and so whenever their systems didn’t perform quickly enough, they’d beat up on the Information Technology department to improve performance. The knee-jerk was always for the mainframe people to want to buy more hardware: faster disks, more CPUs, more memory, etc. My view then – and now – is that throwing more cash at the problem without really understanding the issues is basically throwing the money away. I think there’s a risk that’s what is happening in the NHS today. The NHS is seen by British people and politicians as so much a part of the fabric of the nation that its budget is not only sacrosanct – the political parties are actually competing to throw more money at it, even in these straitened times.

The NHS has a budget of £110 billion and employs 1.4 million people.

On a recent ski trip with my sons, we met three young British medics. They were a lot of fun, as well as being (of course) intelligent and I had some interesting and surprising conversations with them about medicine and Britain’s National Health Service. It turns out we don’t really have a National Health Service at all: at best, I think you could describe it as a loose alliance of healthcare service providers who all happen to be funded by central government.

One of our skiing medic friends was a pathologist. He told us how money was often wasted in his department. Here’s a typical example: a patient visits their local doctor (GP) with some ailment; perhaps fearing some form of cancer might be the cause, the doctor refers the matter to a consultant for further study. The consultant asks for a biopsy and in due course this is passed to the pathology laboratory for analysis. So far, so uncontroversial. Perhaps by this time it’s a few weeks since the patient first visited their GP. Eventually, a pathologist gets around to putting the sample under a microscope and inspecting the cells, trying to figure out if there’s some malignancy. Having done so, they telephone or write to the consultant with their conclusions, at which point they discover that in the meantime, the patient has died. This is not an isolated occurrence. Now, training a pathologist takes many years and in the private sector one imagines that their charge-out rate would be of the same order as decent lawyers: maybe $500 per hour? So if they spend a couple of hours on a slide for a dead person, the NHS has just wasted $1,000 because nobody told them not to bother. It’s easy to see how this can happen – after all, the GP and the consultant will both have dozens if not hundreds of patients on their books at any one time, and they’re expecting to have to react to new information, without time to proactively be monitoring on the situation for each person. It’s also easy to see how one, simple, joined-up computer system could help avoid the waste.

But the NHS doesn’t have one, single computer system. It has hundreds – perhaps even thousands. I was told about one hospital that had developed a pretty good computer system for handling patient records, including as much medical background as they were able to obtain, so that all departments in the hospital had the same information. They discussed with other local hospitals and doctors’ surgeries rolling out the same software so that, for example, a patient in a road traffic accident brought into one hospital would immediately have available all medical data regardless of which local doctor they used. Sounds entirely logical, but it didn’t happen because each technology department had their own, specific, mandate and there was no financial incentive for them to adopt another hospital’s system. Some hospitals even have different computer systems for different departments, and of course they don’t speak to one another…. Now, all that incurs massive costs for the system collectively: for every patient admitted to each hospital, someone has to ring around the other hospitals and GP surgeries to find that patient’s medical data before treatment can occur. The Data Protection Act doesn’t help, as often the gate-keepers to these (paper and electronic) records see only downside risk in sharing a patient’s medical files with another hospital – even in a life-or-death situation. Again, this is a pretty easy problem to cure: if the NHS is to have an internal market, there needs to be an internal market for data, too. So if I have to call up and get records manually, there’s a price. Add up the cost and pretty soon the bean-counters would figure that harmonizing their systems with neighbouring healthcare providers would make sense. And NHS has a data ‘backbone’ capable of handling all this securely: N3.

Scheduling is another area that seems to be handled sub-optimally. Here are two examples.

I’ve heard of patients being sent by taxi from Cornwall to London (at least four hours drive) in order to visit a cardiologist because there isn’t one in the southwest. That can’t be a good use of NHS funds. Surely it would be possible to collect together all the patients in need of a cardiologist in that region and fly one down for a day? And why isn’t there one there, anyway?

I’ve also heard of ward beds being ‘blocked’ by a patient that should really have been discharged, but no ambulance or relative was available to take them home. I’m guessing a ward bed costs £1,000 per day, so put the patient in a taxi, for Heaven’s sake! In the end that’s what the registrar did, but of course there was much consternation over how to account for that, financially.

Bottom line: there’s inefficiency within hospitals and there’s inefficiency between hospitals, and the system’s not currently set up to deal with either particularly well. And throwing more money at the problem isn’t going to make it go away – in fact it’ll probably just make it worse.

Now, large government-backed computer projects are famously disaster-prone the world over. In 2011 NHS scrapped a £12bn computer system, for example. But that’s not what is needed here. The technology departments in hospitals and surgeries can learn from the way modern software projects tend to work: a cycle of prototype and refinement, and gradual adoption rather than a “big bang”. So, one hospital develops some software with nifty features, neighbouring hospitals adopt it and pretty soon you have a large enough collective budget to tweak version 1.0 to add all the features those other hospitals need. So then more hospitals join and so forth.

Next time someone tells you, “The NHS is in crisis,” think about why that might be.

 

This article first appeared on LinkedIn 30 December 2014 

Putting the Gini Back in the Bottle

An article by The Economist on Twitter caught my eye a couple of days ago.

It shows that the wealthiest 0.1% of Americans control around 22% of the nation’s wealth — almost exactly the same proportion as the bottom 90% of citizens. This hasn’t happened since the late 1930s and the article seems to be lamenting the passing of a period where wealth was more evenly distributed.

One problem here is that there probably isn’t any really good data on income or wealth inequality going back further than the early 1900s; because I’m pretty sure that if there were, we’d see that the post-WW2 period was the outlier.

GiniMap

I’m not arguing that wealth inequality is necessarily good, just that it’s probably natural.

I’m not too concerned about the Paris Hiltons of the world…. “rags to riches and back again in three generations” comes to mind; I’m sure they’ll fritter it all away if they’re not smart enough to look after it — or their parents will follow Warren Buffet and give it all away rather than passing it to his offspring.

At the other end of the spectrum though, think about the technology sector, for example. Innovations like Apple’s App Store have made application development tremendously accessible: it’s literally now possible for a team of maybe half a dozen teenagers with a good idea and some coding skills to put together an app in a relatively short space of time that could gross tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues. Not every app is going to succeed, but how many pursuits were there in, say 1965 (when I was born) where someone potentially without any formal qualifications and with very little capital could make that kind of money?

On a slightly larger scale, look at Finnish game developer SuperCell. Following $12mn of VC investment in 2011, they developed two games, one of which was Clash of Clans — an app that grossed nearly $900mn in 2013. I don’t know how many employees they had in 2011-12 when the game was developed, but I’ll bet it was a pretty small core development team.

To me, this is a kind of democratization – literally with nothing but a laptop and an idea, it’s possible for a talented coder anywhere in the world to come up with something pretty awesome and sell it globally. Of course, if they succeed they will make a ton of money and in doing so “mess up” the Gini coefficient; but honestly, who’d want to live in a world without that possibility?

 

This article first appeared on LinkedIn 11 November 2014

Mobile Telephony

I had an interesting and salutary experience recently when travelling in Germany. I was using my Blackberry to read my emails, careful (I thought) to be connecting to WiFi in the airport, hotel and so forth.

When I got back to Jersey, I received a text message from my provider, Sure, alerting me that I had high mobile data usage. I was surprised, since I thought I’d been using WiFi almost all the time.

It seems that even when the little WiFi logo is showing on my phone, it may decide (according to Sure) that the connection is insufficiently stable and use GPRS instead.

When I challenged the bill, the only itemisation they were willing to provide showed dates & times of downloads during my stay. One of these — upon arrival in Munich and whilst I was still in the airport on WiFi — was for 500MB of data in a single transaction. I asked for more details and was told nothing further was available. Since I don’t watch movies on my Blackberry, it’s hard to imagine what that 500MB could possibly have been, notwithstanding that in any case I had been under the impression I was using WiFi not Data Roaming.

That really surprised me — in an era when all our electronic correspondence is in all likelihood being monitored by the security services, and when even our internet search history is being recorded, is my telecoms provider seriously claiming that they don’t know what IPs I connected to and/or what was being downloaded? I find that incredibly difficult to believe.

What makes it even more interesting is that effectively this means that Sure can just make up my bills — there is no challenge I can apparently make to these charges: as far as they are concerned, their word is law. Yet for fixed line telephony there have been numerous examples of customers being billed for calls that were never made, so what sanction do I have? I’m not even sure there’s a regulator in Jersey I can refer the matter to.

This little problem also revealed just how awful the Sure customer service ‘experience’ is: they were totally implacable throughout the process. Needless to say, we are taking our customer elsewhere.

 

This article first appeared on LinkedIn 1 November 2014