Didi Dache

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China is ahead in the whole mobile payment and app sphere. I couldn’t stay behind so decided to install Alipay on my phone, I entered a world of convenience. One of the apps that a lot of people use is Didi Dache, the Uber of China.

I’m haven’t been a big fan of the Uber concept, but I wanted to try mobile payments. Whilst preparing to go to the airport and having some spare time, I thought I would give it a try. I entered the airports adres, hit a few buttons and before I knew it there was a driver waiting for us downstairs. I had to hurry down! If I knew it was that easy, I would have started trying the app after I went outside. I obviously didn’t know how the concept worked, as I was surprised when the driver picked up a second guest. Well, carpool for the win! The drive was about 50% cheaper to a normal taxi and it felt adventurous and new to talk to some strangers on a long drive like this.

The taxi driver – sporting a shirt with “bentley” written all over it – mentioned that he also drives supercars time to time. Apperantly, one can take a lift in the exclusive sportcars that drive around here. We arrived and the driver said goodbye and drove off, I only had to confirm the trip and the payment on my phone with a few taps. That was almost too easy.

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Mia finally saw some real panda’s!

Sit down at a random corner in Chengdu (city of the panda) and you’ll probably spot a (non real) panda within 5 minutes. Inflatable panda’s, trucks with panda’s on them, statue of panda’s,  Dr. Panda and souvenirs.

It was getting awkward that still after a few months, we didn’t see any real pandas! A dear colleague couldn’t bare it anymore and offered to take us along to the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Base. So on the early Saturday morning we drove off to the north east of the city to the panda base.

Upon gazing the animal, my 1.5 yr old daughter simply froze with her mouth open. It was a wonderful expression. Now… you have to imagine what this ment for my daughter as she loves Panda’s. Being surrounded by that many panda’s left and right, just made her repeat the same word over and over! I stopped counting at the 50th “PANDA!” – I estimate she said that word at least 200 times. At the end of the day when we where home and all was done, she dozed off quickly. I bet she dreamed of panda’s.

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[Solved] Moneyou the worst customer service I ever had

Update 25 aug 9AM: E-Mail from the product manager. They apologised: Tone tone-of-voice of their earlier mails do not fit their profile and will be evaluated, cases like mine will get higher priority in the future. My calling minutes will be compensated and I am still getting (some) interest over my aborted-savings. Happy!


 

Update 23 aug 21pm: Got an email reply (my first inline reply e-mail!) from Moneyou customer service that my account is manually closed. Eagerly checking if this is the case but it looks good!


 

Update 22 aug 21pm: Got a response from the productmanager of the ‘savings’ department! He mentioned both the CEO of Moneyou and Head of Channel Management at ABN AMRO took (internal) action to get this matter solved. Right now it seems that they escalated and will close my account by hand before the 24th of August. Looks good! MoneYou once this is over and satisfactory, I’m always open to give feedback if there is a retrospect!


 

Update 22 aug 8am: 3 days later, no sign from Moneyou yet.


 

I put some savings on a bank called Moneyou. If you are considering starting an account I wouldn’t recommend it.

TL;DR: They asked me to close my account, which I couldn’t, but they don’t do it for me. I want my money.

My horror story started in the middle of July. I moved to China so I updated the admin panel in the moneyou, it turned out to be a ‘honeypot’. They allowed me to enter my adres without any warning but I got the following email the next day:

 

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15 july: “Due to your moving abroad we’d like to ask you to cancel your savings account within 7 workdays. The reason is that we only service customers who are living in The Netherlands. A moving abroad means that the moneyou account has to be cancelled”

By just arriving in a new country and looking for a house, a message from your bank that you have to stop your account is just terrible timing, but their good right. So I logged into my panel and tried to stop my deposit. This didn’t work, and this started my horror story. I then had to explain my case 6+ times to different service employees. They all asked the same questions and came with the same solution, that I should try a different browser etc. When I finally got to the point that all things were tried, they told me to email a screenshot of my broken panel, so I thought we were making progress. Unfortunately, over the past six weeks I have send eight emails and never got any in-thread reply from them.

So I kept on calling. Keep explaining my problems, try to escalate. At one point I managed to talk to a manager and he asked if I wanted a coupon for an e-commerce site. This lack of customer perception is just stunning, I told him I want an written explanation of the problem and a due date to solve this, he did:

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Roughly translated: “here is the confirmation on the 5th of august we received your email and we are updating you on the status. The processing takes more time, we ask your understanding and are aiming to solve your problem by 19th of august.”

I think it’s fair that I am past my patience at this point. We are one month further in the process which equals 20 working days of 8 hours. You tell me that in 160 hours, one couldn’t escalate this to a manager with the proper rights to close my account? The problem with Moneyou service desk is that I keep having to explain my problem from the beginning. If properly setup, I should get a name and conversations would progress.  I made the mistake of checking how long I have been calling with Moneyou:

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So, it’s the 19th Moneyou. Where is my own money, Moneyou?! I have been on the phone with your ‘servicedesk’ for almost 2 hours already in four weeks and at this point, I just don’t think you can close my account Moneyou. Show me some service!

Working at Dr. Panda in Chengdu

Our spacious Dr Panda office is located at Raffles city in the center of Chengdu, China. After HR helped us find a house, I started working daily at the modern (air purified) office, which is a 10 minute walk for home. Working with the Dr. Panda team has been a great experience so far – with product-commited teammates from all over China but also Poland, Sweden, Belgium, France, US, Vietnam, Spain and The Netherlands; some speak only a bit of English, some speak only a little bit of Chinese, some both. For the interested there are free Chinese and English language courses in the office.

The spacious Dr Panda office is located at Raffles city in the center of Chengdu.

Meeting colleges outside office hours is normal in China, which is pleasant as a foreigner moving in. The office turns into a ‘cafe mode’ in the evening, some will go for dinner together, others keep on working (deadlines are fierce) but others just play board- or video games or play ping-pong in the after hours. Besides cozy evenings the mood is generally great at the office, free fruits, guess-where-we’ll-rank competitions for each app launch, and every now and then we have ‘happy hours’ with food and drinks.

At Dr. Panda, we make kids feel familiar with life through role playing games. I’m proud to be working on our next title. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been pitching new concepts and idea’s and now we are making actual playable prototypes. Today we delivered its second iteration at a product demo, we keep iterating and testing with kids until we get it right. Looking forward to the next steps.

Mia likes Dr. Panda too, product demo's and playing pingpong.

Amazed how quickly we found a place

We moved to Chengdu a few weeks ago. We started in a hotel but found a place to rent quicker than expected.

Again I was reminded of the pragmatism of life in China. If one wouldn’t be too picky, I bet you can arrange a new place to rent within a day. That’s including finding an real estate agent and having China telecom come by to connect the internet.

Talking about internet, I’m used to slow ADSL lines from China Telecom but they modernised and installed a 20mbit fiber line in our house. Turns out it comes with a sweet Netflix like interface that features most recent blockbuster movies with a program called “4K”. This legal movie watching sets me back just 100 RMB per month.

We found some routine again but are mostly waiting for our stuff to arrive from The Netherlands. Our moving company says that should be within two weeks from now. Until then we practice our ‘camping life’ practices. With just a few clothes and just two towels.

On the upside; Our new place features a community pool which is nice and cooling in this hot climate. Mia loves to swim there and we all go time to time. I have to say my little to girl adapted quickly to or lives here.

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Moved to Chengdu, China

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Whoa… 5:30 AM already? My mind was hazy whilst Suna and I ate a quick bite before driving the 70km back from my parents to our apartment in Nieuw-Vennep. Our voices sounded hollow in the empty apartment – sold off most of it in the previous months. The moving van arrived, and work went swiftly. Had to walk down to the Albert heijn downstairs for a tray of their complementary coffee at 8 am. Thanks Albert Heijn! The crew packed the boxes, we dropped the key off and were on the move.

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At Schiphol we found a bus which was campaigning our new destination: Chengdu! Famous for Panda’s KLM now offers direct flights with it’s new dreamliner planes. After living in China until 2012, we kept returning (2013 and 2014) for holiday to meet up with friends. But todays trip to the P.R.C. isn’t a holiday; we moved back! Currently residing in a hotel and exploring the city tomorrow to find a place to live.

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Goodbye DonaldDuck, Kieskeurig & Sanoma

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Yours truly has quit his job at Sanoma and has his last working day today.

It was a difficult decision; Sanoma has been my rescue back in 2012, hiring me straight after the crash-and-burn of my Chinese startup. Starting in the fancy Amsterdam office I felt proud finally working on ‘major league‘ websites with a shiny new Apple laptop. As architect the door was open everywhere and I learned a lot about performance based web business. Particularly about MVP’s and making decisions based on traffic instead of assumptions.

Later my work moved to the city of Culemborg when I became IT development manager at Kieskeurig.nl (a price comparison site owned by Sanoma) where I established a new development team and we developed a brand new site. I was part of the strategic board and I got my first lease car ever! When Kieskeurig’s office relocated to Hoofddorp, my family moved along. However, As things at Kieskeurig.nl were pretty much setup I moved departments to Kids & Teens.

Ah, Sanoma. Lot’s of great memories with it’s infamous office parties, company outings and investments in their employees but the publishing company does struggle with reclining ad-sales and orders. The 500 colleagues being let go back in 2013 signalled the publisher’s change of course.

As IT manager Kids & Teens I became part of a game development team building a game strategically aimed at countering the stagnating income from print. After the game was launched and put in maintenance we developed various other websites related to the kids and Disney realm. But things cannot last forever, I’m leaving. This week my colleagues set-up a goodbye drink and we went for Korean Barbecue in Amsterdam! I’ll be missing all of you, keep in touch!

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As I’ve got a new opportunity I’m moving on. I have a double feeling because Sanoma feels like home (little village) to me now. As it’s my last working day I’m handing in my laptop symbolising the end of my work here. I’ll enjoy a week of free time and then prepare our flight back to China for our next chapter!

Belgium cows

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Staying in Belgium for a few days. We found a nice French style cottage surrounded with vast forests on rolling hills and alternating fields full of mooing Belgium cows.

It’s the perfect scenery for some outdoor activities and off-line time with the family. Nature is the number one toy for kids, just a simple puddle (yes it’s been raining a lot) provides endless pleasure, not to mention the swing in the backyard of our rental place. Once we get bored with all this nature we’ll probably head out the neighboring country of Luxembourg to explore this particular city.

A visit to the Keukenhof

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We visited the keukenhof yesterday, one of the world’s largest flower gardens. The garden is based on a 30 minute bikeride from our house. Even though spring is just beginning, there were quite some flowers out already.

My daughter Mia is walking since a few months and she loved racing over all the paths, neglecting (but kindly being averted by) anyone in her way.

Working at donaldduck

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After more than a year I still feel that working at Donaldduck is special. As the brand is well known, it’s read by generations as it’s introduced in 1952! An immediate success, inspired by the post-war success seen in Scandinavia. At first stories were simply translated, later Dutch covers were introduced until finally, full stories (1954) produced in the Netherlands; still heavily influenced by original content was introduced.

Considering it’s historic background, the magazine is relevant and prominent as ever, with Dutch made content made by Jos Beekman, Joan Lommen, Bas Schuddeboom, Ferdi Felderhof, Jim van der Weele, Lotte Roep and Esther Holtkamp, Wilma van den Bosch and Michel Nadorp (and many others). Editor in chief Dimitri Heikamp introduced a digital strategy, with the magazine as a backbone. For instance, Twitter saw it’s 43 characters introduced in 2010; a success with Donald duck leading with 173k followers. Larger digital projects such as a soft-type course called ducktypen.nl and a 3D educational game called duckworld.com followed suit. Right now we are preparing to launch the new Donaldduck.nl website. (more info soon) Whilst many think we sourced these titles from abroad, they were actually made as part of the editorial team of the DonaldDuck magazine. (With a small development team and product owners) The title allows also allows some educational cooperation with other brands, such as the van Gogh museum and ‘Nederland Schoon’ (education about throwing trash for kids).
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It’s fun to work close to the magazine editors. They work hard with over 500 deadlines per year! In early 2015 my face appeared in the magazine. I have also been asked to review a sketch of a story. Stoked, I spent the better part of new years reading it through. That story was published just last week and my comments were in! Just spotted the magazine in the supermarket so it went full loop. Nice to see the responses at twitter, interesting to see how the process from story to magazine takes place.