Sunday, 24 January 2010

Another Sunday, another float line

It's two weeks since the last time the Sunday Times reported something about the "Betfair float".

Today it had
a different line but I'm afraid our line hasn't changed...

Our float has been speculated on for more than five years now, and will continue to be until the day that we announce it and do it, if that ever happens. Until then, we won't comment on speculation. That's what I told the Sunday Times on Friday when they called, and it's what I told everyone who phoned as a follow-up today.

Not that I'm complaining about the calls, I hasten to add. It demonstrates what a sexy story we are or would be, that the media are so desperate not to find that someone else breaks the story, if it happens. And I'm not going to moan about that! :)


  1. Hi Mark,

    I know this may not be the place to post this but I feel strongly as though it is the only option. I am sorry for posting this on your personal blog.

    I have been a user of your company for many years and appreciate that it is a hugely complex business especially in terms of technology.

    In the last week we have experienced outage after outage. Yet the communications during and after these outages is near non existent.

    The most recent cases were on Saturday during the early hours when there were repeated outages and the API was running poorly until about 2.30pm. However, there was only one announcement at 8.19am on the forum. No further updates were given at all. I rang the helpdesk and they suggested I emailed the BDP department. After dealing with Neil from the BDP quite a bit in the past (He is an excellent worker I might add and the rest of the staff could learn a lot from him) I know that they are on a skeleton staff and don't reply over the weekend. I said this to the help desk person. Why was he suggesting I contact them in the first place when I would not get a reply for 48hrs????

    He agreed an update was needed as it had been 5 hrs since the initial announcement and he said he would see about getting an announcement made. I will leave you to guess if that ever happened.

    Then again tonight at midnight the site went down. You go to the service page for an update and there is nothing there as usual - what's the point in this page? I then went to the BDP website and according to that site the API is available when it clearly isn't.

    I then rang the helpdesk and was told there was nothing at all that could be done about putting an announcement anywhere - come on now! I then asked why the BDP page was not updated and they said that 'is to technical for the helpdesk'.

    Perhaps some training is needed so that your customers may perhaps no longer be treated like mushrooms time and again.

    I appreciate your monopoly position but is there really any need for customers to be treated in this way especially since the introduction of the Premium Charge?

    I appreciate crashes happen but why can't you keep customers better informed? A simple twitter page would be a start!

    Please see about doing something about the level of customer service that is really just dire these days like most faceless companies - whatever happened to the Betfair we used to love and tell friends about?

    If you would like to contact me I am sure you can work out my email address from the name I have posted under here, if not you could contact Peter Webb of Bet Angel and he will be able to point you in my direction.

    Perhaps spend some time like the old BBC program of 'Going Back To The Floor' is needed and actually speak to some of your customers - I would be happy too.

    Once again sorry for invading your blog but I felt something was needed to be said.



  2. I have to agree with Leon here, whilst system issues are inevitable, and in most cases unavoidable, communication has been very poor this week. This is something that could be improved on significantly.

  3. Well another day and another shambles! However this time Betfair have out done themselves!

    Not only have they not bothered putting up any announcements but in fact they have pulled all previous announcements to make it look like there was never a problem and currently isn't one.

    I spoke to the 'help'desk and they said they would get an announcement up - yeah sure you will that was nearly an hour ago!

    Go to the Service page and it says there are no issues.

    Go to the BDP page and it says the API is available yet it isn't.

    Please do something about this ridiculous situation of not letting your customers know what is happening.

    I won't post again but surely heads should roll for this shambles!

  4. Apologies - I have only just seen these posts as well.

    I actually wrote a blog post about our outages, but wanted to run it past our CTO before I put it out, and unfortunately on the morning that I was due to do that, we went down again. By the time we had recovered, the blog post was old, and I am afraid I haven't got round to posting again about it.

    The long and the short of the original post was that I had just come out of an Executive Board meeting where the difficulties of recent weeks was top of the agenda. We are acutely aware of the issues. I know we have posted a fair amount on the forum, but it is unarguable that we have struggled, and at this late juncture I can only apologise.

    On the bright side, a roll-out we had last week was the biggest technical roll-out we have ever done in our ten years; and the outages have been caused predominantly by a series of upgrades for which it is impossible to test fully. We have found the root of all the problems, and after a tricky period, I can assure you that the site is now better than it has ever been.

  5. Hi Mark - good of you to reply and I must say the communications do seem to have improved a bit with an apology and updates on the more recent outages being given on the forum.

    One thing though if I may. It was good to see that a Forum Chat is to be held on Tuesday 16th Feb (tomorrow) however it is again disappointing to see that this is being restricted to those with full forum access.

    I accept my lifetime ban from the forum during the introduction of the Premium Charge, however, these chats have in the past contained very important information about changes to things at Betfair. For example in the previous one there was very important information about changes to how the Premium Charge was to be calculated. However, I had to find out about this second hand as I and others were not able to view the chat.

    Although I would like to contribute to the chat, I can't and I accept that due to my postings re the Premium Charge. But I see no reason why I should not be informed of the announcement and information that is given out in the forum chat.

    So firstly it would be good to be allowed access to view it and better still to take part. But I would be happy if I could at least see a transcript of the chat the following day. Why can this not be made available?

    Blocking users who are banned from the main part of the forum from seeing these chats even after the chat is hardly aiding communications in my opinion.

  6. It seems a reasonable suggestion! I think I'm right in saying that the inability of customers who have had forum rights revoked to view the forum, is because it is not possible to distinguish between them and other people who are simply not logged in. But I agree that you should be able to see the Q&A (and participate in future sessions), and I will chat to the guys about it. In this case, though, if you contact our helpdesk and ask for a full transcript, they should be able to provide it to you.