I am spineless!

February 8, 2009

Yes I am and I vow never to rant again.

I still can’t understand Skype’s requirement that your Paypal account have a credit card associated but I caved.

I bought a 3V voucher, a virtual credit card, in my local shop and used it to verify my Paypal account. I then completely wussed out and bought €10 of Skype credit.

It was a case of having to.

I’ve used many Voip service providers over the past few years and have never been fully satisfied by any of them. They were all good most of the time, but sometimes they went offline, or the router blocked the port they needed, or they changed their pricing, etc…

So I’ve been on a mission to sort this out once and for all. I’d heard a lot of good things about Skype from friends but put most of this down to the fact that most of them had never used any other service and had bought into Skype’s name and hype.

I was wrong.

Skype is easy to setup, works well with your network(at least I have yet to have a problem with it), and has excellent call quality on both PC-PC and PC-Phone.

It also has excellent accessories like the wireless Skype phone and that sexy looking video phone.

I vow never to rant in anger again and also to never to be a “It can’t be good, it’s popular and it’s not open-source” snob again.

Over the past month I’ve been doing a bit of research on Internet Marketing.

Thanks to ProBlogger I’ve found some great sites. One such site is Itty Biz.

Itty Biz is run by Naomi Dunford. Naomi has great practical advice for small business marketing and her writing is easy to read and often very funny.

Even though Naomi targets small business I think she could teach Skype a thing or too about Barriers to Purchase.

I sell on eBay. I use Paypal, exclusively, to receove payments.  I put some of the moneyI make into my bank account and leave some in Paypal. I then use the money in Paypal to purchase online services, books,etc…

Apparently eBay owns Paypal. Apparently eBay also owns Skype. Apparently though neither Skype nor Paypal know this.

I’ve been using Skype for PC to PC calls for a year now. I’ve also encouraged some of my clients and suppliers to use Skype so we can contact each other easily (read “for free”).

Last week I decided to put call credit into my Skype account. I’d been using Gizmo5 for PC to phone calls but wanted to, using a Credit Crunch term, Rationalise my Voip process. So Skype would now be used for all calls from PC and who knows I might have even bought a Skype phone or used Skype on my Three mobile.

But that’s when the wheels came off. Skype requires my Paypal account to have a credit card associated with it. Since I don’t have, or ever want again, a credit card then I’ll have to look elsewhere to spend my hard earned cash.

I don’t need a credit card to sell or buy on eBay. I want to buy Skype credit. That’s all, just “pay as you call credit”. If there’s no credit, then no call. If I’m in the middle of a call and no credit – cut me off. I’m a big boy I can take it, just cut me off. No need for guarantees then, so why the need for a credit card?

I’m not alone:

http://forum.skype.com/index.php?showtopic=102646

http://forum.skype.com/index.php?showtopic=109511

http://en.onsoftware.com/why-have-skype-changed-paypal-payments/

It seems this issue started about a year ago.

You can use Moneybookers. I haven’t used them but I think I’ll start using them now… with my Gizmo5 account.

Cheerio Skype!

CRM? SCHME.R.M!

January 12, 2009

I’ve just spent the weekend deciding on a CRM solution for my business.

That’s a lie.

I started out trying to setup a simple client database, but then decided – “Wouldn’t it be nice if this was online?” and then “OOh, OOh, what about integration with Thunderbird!” and “But it’ll need to be run on my own server…” or “Maybe it’d be better being hosted…” what about “A system that is hosted but with the option to move to my server in the future should the need arise!”

Well, there are hundreds of choices out there. But most of them are far to complex for my needs.

I eventually opted for SugarCRM. It got the best reviews, and seemed like a very nice, capable, web-based app (that runs on my server), and it’s free (community edition). But it doesn’t play well with Thunderbird, is very complex  and won’t even export your calendar.

So, I ended up spending half of the day today finding an alternative and finally returned to one of my earlier choices – Highrise by 37Signals. An excellent web app but at $29/month for the personal edition I decided against it.

I have to say it wasn’t the best online solution though. That goes to WBP System’s HEAP CRM. Not as good looking or intuitive as Highrise, but priced right ($9/month) and lots of cool features. My favourite being the Event Template, would be handy for billing letters and reminders about client contact.

Ultimately though I wasn’t happy. HEAP CRM’s interface is clunky in comparison to Highrise. They do offer a “Host-You-Own” option, but at $1000 I probably would never be able to justify buying it.

I’ve settled on Thunderbird with Lightning and a few other extensions. A few features are missing like linking mails and contacts to events but it plays well with Google Calendar and Remember The Milk and it’s fully under my control.

Maybe I’ll try and write an addon to allow categories in Lightning be used to categorise contacts or messages but I neither have the skills or the time to learn the skills. If someone is feeling generous out there and would like to develop a very useful feature for this app I’d be eternally grateful. Until then I might try and cobble together something with Open Office Base and Thunderbird. If that’s even possible!