Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Podcasts are back

Fans of my weekly podcast - whoever you may be - will know that there have been problems with updates this last three weeks. I'll explain why. If you've not listened before, why not try this one, while reading on. This is the latest one, which I'll post to the podcast page once regular listeners have had a couple of days to catch up with the backlog.

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There has been a technological breakdown by the previous host for the streaming mp3 files, a company known as Streamload. It had worked pretty well for me until they organised a transfer to a new system that took the streams off air. Some weeks later the old ones have still not appeared and new streams uploaded disappear into cyberspace. On their blog they have apologised to people waiting 'many hours' for files to appear. Well, I'm still waiting for files uploaded two weeks ago.

Searching the internet I see people have been complaining about poor service since Streamload was taken over by a larger company called Mediamax. So I am writing this by way of warning. People have complained that they have cancelled their subscription, only to find they continue to be billed, so the advice is to tell your credit card company to put a block on future payments.

The service was good when it worked. As emails to support only generate automated responses, it is difficult to know if the engineers are running around desparately trying to get things fixed (the blog claims things were fixed a week ago) or they simply don't care. I don't like poor service - particularly when the company continues to promote itself as an excellent service and sign up customers, so want people to be aware of the problems. My hope is, of course, that the problems will be resolved, emails are answered and some form of compensation offered (such as a waiving of fees).

But hope has not brought the podcasts back on line, so I have had to look elsewhere and load the missing podcasts onto another system.

The theory of competition, so we are told, is that if there is a need then someone will come forward to fill it and if a company does not meet that need well, then it will lose business to others until it raises its game. As with the boycott as a means of putting pressure on Nestlé to change, the way to pressure companies that take your money, but don't deliver is to go elsewhere.

At the moment I am trying out two systems. One is good for people to listen via the website, but doesn't work with iTunes, where my podcast is available as a free download. The other works with iTunes, but will only work via a website if you have specific plug ins, which is far too complicated.

So it is as yet an imperfect solution. But one I will try to improve. If Mediamax does ever get its act together and I revert to that system, I'll post a comment on this blog, so people will know if they have redeemed themselves.

Hopefully the notices posted on the podcast page have meant listeners do not feel they have been kept in the dark as to what has been going on. Baby Milk Action may not be a commercial organisation, and has to cope with limited funding and staffing, but I think we should try to offer a good service to people who come to us for information and support.

If we don't, feel free to complain.

And we'll get back to you.

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