Trillion dollar tricks

Wow the UK’s world beating Covid-19 testing system is really….how can I put this….pretty amateurish. Allegedly someone did the following…

Pretending I live in Scotland I got a test at “a testing location” for today, got a qr code, took a screenshot of the part showing my name, date of birth and code but not The location! Went along to “a testing location in London” with it where despite saying constantly online that there are no tests I got one and went straight through no questions asked!

And this isn’t an isolated example…

So clearly the system isn’t joined up, locations are not in communication, information on testing centre websites is wrong and people at these centres aren’t checking the QR codes. Or perhaps the QR code system is in another “silo”.

And Cummings wants a trillion dollar tech company here in the UK? Blimey he’ll be lucky if this is what he’s spent our money on so far!!

So given the need for people to get tests and the news that one centre in Wales (Rhondda) was allegedly forced to limit the number it was offering, despite extra capacity existing, I wonder what other wheezes people have come up with to get round the system…in a “specific and limited way”.

Sly digs and Covid-19 data cockups

165px-sars-cov-2_without_backgroundJust been reading Sky’s pretty good analysis of the coronavirus data cockup…
Pretty good, as it highlights the incompetence of the people managing the system – including the management consultants and the decision makers (politicians!). But not perfect as there are several sly digs at the private sector – the people who have really been behind the massive growth in testing capacity!
“The picture that emerges is of government departments, agencies and their consultants struggling to navigate a maze of different computer systems, and a Byzantine pathology sector, of flawed decision-making based on targets rather than sustainable systems.”
Well that’s what you get when you get Ministers competing for power and wanting to control their own departmental data for fear if they share they’ll lose out in the power stakes!
“When news first broke of the virus in China at the turn of the year, the working plan at DHSC was to rely on PHE and its existing network of testing facilities.”
Typical centralised control response. If they’d asked the Home Office they would have got a totally different response – give it to the private sector – now!
“We bet on red. And it came up black. The Germans were lucky. They had lots of machines lying around and a system in place. We had next to nothing.”
The Germans have at least 90 DNA (PCR) labs, so they immediately had a much greater capacity, plus they made the correct decisions – to listen to the experts and to test, test, test as recommended by the WHO.
“But in March, the government decided to reject those advances and set up an entirely separate network of testing sites and facilities, run in large part by commercial partners.”
But instead of talking direct to them they called in Deloittes! Big mistake….
“It was a bold, disruptive move in the face of what was seen as foot-dragging by PHE and NHS labs, but multiple sources from inside government, from labs and from the technology sector told Sky News it was this move more than any other that set in motion the problems with testing results and data that have plagued the system ever since.”
The one thing that private PCR labs are set up to do is to manage and report data – accurately and rapidly. So this is a sly dig at the private sector which is totally unfounded. Slag off Deloittes and the government officials who set up the contracts but each of the private sector labs will have had robust systems in place to test, analyse and report – it’s their forte! I know – I worked in one for 15 years.
“When the vial reaches the test centres another crucial chain of events begins: the vial needs to be assigned to a specific plac2e in the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine, where the test itself takes place.
Sometimes mistakes happen at this stage: the vials are dropped or contaminants are introduced.
Sometimes tests have to be reprocessed.
Sometimes mistakes happen? Cheap shot! Mistakes at reputable laboratories are rare – very, very rare. This needs correcting. Mistakes at reputable labs are so rare that each tends to be discussed at company meetings!
There are a number of comments about NHS labs thinking they were better placed to do the work, and that was probably true at small volumes but once the virus took hold there was no way they could cope.
Equally their sarky comments about it taking extra time to get the samples to private labs don’t stack up as valid criticism when they say themselves they have to send some samples to other NHS labs!!
“But the real problem was: there were too few people at the very top who understood the nature of the tests they were dealing with.”
Now we’re getting to it! Management consultants v the experts? A call to the Association of Forensic Science Providers might have been a better bet. In one fell shot you can hit the 3 biggest forensic laboratory providers who between them handle millions of samples each year and whose robotic systems could have been switched over to run Covid-19 samples.
Instead time was wasted and added layers of bureaucracy and, cost and complexity were added in – that what management consultants are especially good at!
These companies already test, analyse and report to government departments, it is pretty simple to set up a dashboard of agreed data and then regularly upload data to it. It really isn’t rocket science. But get the likes of Deloittes involved and they like to control stuff….to the detriment of any outcomes.
Here’s another dig at the private sector…
“Gaps remain. Test and Trace is not able to say how fast many tests in care homes are done, for instance, as these are conducted by pharmaceutical company Randox, which uses a different system to manage its records.”
A different system? Their test data will be held in a relational database and it will be child’s play to write a data extract that would run overnight and export, analyse and report to the Minister, or Deloitte or whoever had the “other system” and import it. If there was a problem here it was with Deloitte – trust me I know about these things.
Another point about why you need to trust the laboratory experts is from a standing start they have now matched the total testing volumes undertaken by the NHS labs…
“These new data shows that the cumulative number of people tested between the end of January and late May was just under 2 million, split evenly between pillars one and two.”
And remember is was only during March when the private labs were contacted…and they’ve managed a million samples tested in 2 and a bit months..but then for them that’s just the nature of their business, they know how to get things done.
So, as I said, a pretty good analysis, but of the people the journalists talked to, I wonder how many were in senior positions in laboratory management – I think I know the answer to that and anyway, even if the system is half arsed, surely there are more important things to analyse than dodgy data.  How about the death toll?  For more discussion on the reasons that the Covid-19 death total is so high here in the UK read this article on theconversation.com – no mention of laboratory systems here.

 

Things the world can do without – pt 3

Wow it’s been over a year since I completed part 2 of this thread – sorry troops that’s retirement for you – it makes you blissfully unaware of anything that was once important 🙂

Anyway mind now focussed, thanks to Scottish Power – grrr.

So, for now, this is the final part of this thread – clearly there are plenty more things that irk me – but there’s plenty of time for them…later 🙂

Mosquitoes

As National Geographic succintly puts it:

Few animals on Earth evoke the antipathy that mosquitoes do. Their itchy, irritating bites and nearly ubiquitous presence can ruin a backyard barbecue or a hike in the woods. They have an uncanny ability to sense our murderous intentions, taking flight and disappearing milliseconds before a fatal swat. And in our bedrooms, the persistent, whiny hum of their buzzing wings can wake the soundest of sleepers.

Oh yes indeedy, they are especially irritating!

I mean what positives do they actually offer – apparently food for other things – and basically that’s it.  They cost me money every year when I’m travelling no the continent – sprays, plug-in machines amongst a variety of strategies to avoid the little buggers nibbling me!  And if they do get through that just adds to the irritation – literally!

This just in!!!

According to a new study published in the journal Acta Tropica, listening to electronic music — specifically dubstep, produced by U.S. artist Skrillex — could protect against mosquito bites. The BBC reports:Sound is “crucial for reproduction, survival, and population maintenance of many animals,” says a team of international scientists specializing in mosquitoes and the diseases they carry. They subjected adults of the species Aedes aegypti, known as the yellow fever mosquito, to electronic music to see whether it could work as a repellent. Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites, a track by Skrillex which features on his Grammy-award winning album of the same name, was chosen because of its mix of very high and very low frequencies.

“In insects, low-frequency vibrations facilitate sexual interactions, whereas noise disrupts the perception of signals from conspecifics [members of the same species] and hosts,” the scientists said. Female adult mosquitoes were “entertained” by the track and attacked hosts later and less often than those in a dubstep-free environment. Scientists said “the occurrence of blood feeding activity was lower when music was being played.” The scientists also found that mosquitoes exposed to the song had sex “far less often” than mosquitoes without music. “The observation that such music can delay host attack, reduce blood feeding, and disrupt mating provides new avenues for the development of music-based personal protective and control measures against Aedes-borne diseases.”

Who would have thought it?  That’s my holiday soundtrack sorted!!

 

Whaling

Cetaceans are some of the world’s most intriguing animals. So unless they are historically part of your diet – I’m thinking the Innuits here (where there is no pork or lamb wandering around to be eaten) – let them be.  They are doing you no harm and indeed provide such joy.

…and even protecting us as the above example shows.  So Japan, Norway and the rest of you – just stop it – NOW!

 

Irish pubs

Just why?  You’re in the middle of somewhere fantastic like Lisbon and suddenly there it is, the green facade, the smell of stale beer and quite possibly the smell of a stale drinker comatose on the pavement.  Just NO!

The beer in Portugal is better, the wine is a far better bet so please don’t export this form of culture – phew never thought i’d have to use that word in this section!!

 

Pay for view TV

Bit political this one but how do you feel with a few players dominating the media space and therefore forcing what they want you to see on you?  Sky, Fox and the like are gobbling up everything you ever wanted to watch – sport, news, entertainment and then dicing and slicing it to get their message across (Trump/Johnson) and ripping you off for the privilege.

From Wikipedia about Fox news viewers..

A study by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland School of Public Affairs, as published in the Winter 03–04 issue of the Political Science Quarterly,[62] reported that poll-based findings[63] indicated that viewers of Fox News Channel, the Fox network and local Fox affiliates, including New York and Los Angeles, were more likely than viewers of other news networks to hold three misperceptions:[62]

  • 67% of Fox News Channel viewers erroneously believed that the “U.S. has found clear evidence in Iraq that Saddam Hussein was working closely with the al Qaeda terrorist organization” (compared with 56% for CBS, 49% for NBC, 48% for CNN, 45% for ABC, 16% for NPR/PBS).
  • The erroneous belief that “The U.S. has found Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq” was held by 33% of Fox News Channel viewers and only 23% of CBS viewers, 19% for ABC, 20% for NBC, 20% for CNN and 11% for NPR/PBS.
  • 35% of Fox News Channel viewers erroneously believed that “the majority of people [in the world] favor the U.S. having gone to war” with Iraq (compared with 28% for CBS, 27% for ABC, 24% for CNN/HLN, 20% for NBC, 5% for NPR/PBS).

Old data I know but here’s a recent poll

I rest my case!

Give me the old BBC, properly funded, independent of government and allowed to “entertain” us all.

 

Scottish Power customer service/ Michael Ryan/Ryanair

I’ve grouped them together as they’re both crap – like really, really crap. Don’t believe me?  Well you have a couple of choices.  First off you can read my previous posts on the subject – this is the most popular post I’ve ever written (I’m still getting comments!) – I’m still working on one which is a real doosey!

… or check this out from – Which.

In 2019 they surveyed nearly 4,000 people about the customer service they’ve received from 100 UK retailers, and discovered sharp differences between sectors. Airlines, telecoms and energy providers came out worst overall. Respondents rated how valued companies make them feel, how helpful and knowledgeable staff are and how well they handle complaints. Here’s the bottom two – ooh look!!

  • 99. Scottish Power – Scottish Power customers say they don’t feel valued – a third described the energy company as ‘arrogant’.
  • 100. Ryanair – Very poor at handling complaints and most likely to be described as ‘greedy’ and ‘sneaky’.

I rest my case.  Both organisations should simply be shut down, their senior management forbidden ever to work in a position of authority again – end of!

 

Tattoos

Once again just why? I know it’s your body and your choice but I don’t get it – it doesn’t improve things as far as I’m concerned.

 

tatt

Tribal tattoos are ok – on tribes people, as it’s a cultural thing but not on Dave from round the corner though!!  Read up on their history, here’s an interesting article on the Sarawak (Borneo) tattoos, don’t just cover your arms in black ink!

I could go on but that’s enough for now!!

 

Windows 10 update history – FAIL!

Is it just me or does my desktop pc has a love hate relationship with Windows 10 – specifically the updating of the software?

I’ve lost count of the hours I’ve waited expectantly for the machine to spring back into life like a phoenix from the ashes of each system update – but no, I’m sadly disappointed and deflated each and every time.

  • Feature update to Windows 10, version 1903 – Failed to install on ‎18/‎06/‎2020 – 0x800701b1, and Failed to install on ‎20/‎12/‎2019 – 0x800701b1
  • Feature update to Windows 10, version 1909 – Failed to install on ‎06/‎05/‎2020 – 0x80240034, and Failed to install on ‎19/‎11/‎2019 – 0x800701b1
  • Feature update to Windows 10, version 1903 (3) – Last failed install attempt on ‎06/‎05/‎2020 – 0x80240034 and Last failed install attempt on ‎03/‎04/‎2020 – 0x800701b1
  • Feature update to Windows 10, version 1903 (2) – Last failed install attempt on ‎22/‎01/‎2020 – 0x800701b1
  • Feature update to Windows 10, version 1903 (4) – Last failed install attempt on ‎03/‎10/‎2019 – 0x800701b1

Here’s the complete list of Feature Fails!  I’ve tried loads of things and even going through MS online help, who were very helpful – except that they didn’t solve the basic problem…

ms

So I’m still on version 1803!  Which means I’ve missed out on the following feature updates:-

Not impressed but not surprised.  Luckily the machine is still working but every time it tells me it needs to update my heart sinks – there goes another couple of hours of my life (that I’ll never get back) while the machine goes through all the steps to download and install gigabytes of updates (does Microsoft have shares in broadband companies?) – only for it fail close to the end and then have to spend more time uninstalling all the updates – what a waste of time!

Are all power companies equally bad?

unnamedYou will know of my dealings with Scottish Energy – 2 visits to the ombudsman and 2 victories for me 🙂  Well I changed to EDF and my god, they’re just as bad.

I’m having exactly the same issues:

  • inability to add readings online that the system will accept
  • transposed readings in my bills
  • actually just garbage figures in the bills
  • extremely slow customer service
  • not a joined up company as in the online team seems to have no links to the rest of the business (are they even in the same country?)

Well I’ve just spent a few minutes “chatting” to them and getting nowhere.  Basically I’d got my first bill, lost the plot and phoned them.  I explained the situation and said that I was happy to continue paying the Direct Debit at the current figure but if they changed it (nearly trebling it) I would cancel it and see them in court – or words to the effect (I think I said I’d cancel it until they got it sorted).

So I’m waiting for them to get back to me – I’ve given them my mobile and I’ve asked for the reference numbers of the 2 new complaints (mentioned below) and the outstanding one.

Anyway here’s the transcript of my “chat” – enjoy 🙂  In the following text I am my dd is wrong, oh, apologies fore the typos! 


Info at 10:54, Jun 25:

Thank you for choosing to chat with us. An agent will be with you shortly.

Info at 10:54, Jun 25:

** Please do not share your credit card information, CV2 (Security Code) during this chat**

 

You are now connected with Sudeep.

Sudeep at 10:54, Jun 25:

Welcome to EDF Energy Online Customer Service Team. You’re chatting with Sudeep. How can I help you?

my dd is wrong at 10:54, Jun 25:

name is adrian paul west

my dd is wrongat 10:55, Jun 25:

my dd is wrong. I told you not to change it and you have. Sort it now or I’m registering a complaint with the ombudsman

Sudeep at 10:55, Jun 25:

I understand your concern. I will check the account and try my best to assist you further regarding this.

my dd is wrong at 10:55, Jun 25:

It should be £135

my dd is wrong at 10:57, Jun 25:

You are supposed to be investigating my meter readings – your system is transposing them. I have 2 previous successful complaints to the ombudsman about this. I even sent you the text of the last judgement….this is gross negilgence!!

my dd is wrong at 10:57, Jun 25:

I keep getting emails from you saying you’re still investigating it. Why is it taking so long and why, after my express request that the dd remain the same until the issue had been sorted have you increased it?

my dd is wrong at 10:58, Jun 25:

Apology required and dd put back to original figure, refund issued today and then sort things at your end…or else!

my dd is wrongat 10:58, Jun 25:

Maybe this time I’ll consider a larger claim and take you to small claims court…

Sudeep at 10:59, Jun 25:

I can understand your concern and Please allow me some time to review your account details.

my dd is wrong at 11:00, Jun 25:

Maybe I’ll also cancel the direct debit, then you’d have to take me to court to get your ooney, and as history has proven – you’d lose

my dd is wrong at 11:00, Jun 25:

It should be a simple matter….

my dd is wrong at 11:03, Jun 25:

C’mon how long is this going to take?

Sudeep at 11:03, Jun 25:

I am disusing this with team.

my dd is wrong at 11:04, Jun 25:

Discussing it? It’s a clear cut case. You are failing to do your part of the deal, you need to refund the £319 NOW and then reinstate the £135 DD until you can manage to read the details of the ombudsman’s judgement that I sent to you….

my dd is wrong at 11:05, Jun 25:

The fact that it has taken this long, from me sending you ALL the necessary information, is simply unacceptable.

Sudeep at 11:06, Jun 25:

Thank you for waiting.

my dd is wrong at 11:07, Jun 25:

I’ve been waiting for WEEKS for you to read my email….do you think that is acceptable? I’m sure a court wouldn’t – even given the CV19 situation

my dd is wrong at 11:08, Jun 25:

I also want to see that your system is updated so that whenI log into my online account it shows the DD as £135…

Sudeep at 11:09, Jun 25:

As I can see that your issue is highlighted and concern team is working on this. I am reducing your Direct Debit to £135 for time being till that transposed reads gets resolved.

my dd is wrong at 11:10, Jun 25:

and the refund ?

my dd is wrong at 11:10, Jun 25:

And why is it taking so long for your people to “resolve” things. I have given you the evidence – just sort it!

Sudeep at 11:11, Jun 25:

It is to inform you that it needs to be investigated and it takes time to correct the transposed reads.

my dd is wrong at 11:11, Jun 25:

Sorry what about the refund of the overcharge that you put in place AFTER we had discussed the matter and your people had saisd they would sort it…weeks ago?

my dd is wrong at 11:12, Jun 25:

You’ve had weeks and weeks – actually months since I frst reported the issue – so why is your team so pathetically slow?

Sudeep at 11:12, Jun 25:

I will process the refund for the difference of difference amount.

my dd is wrongat 11:13, Jun 25:

And when will I see the money in my account? And when will your online system beupdated?

Sudeep at 11:14, Jun 25:

I will process the refund for the difference amount of £184 and also changed your Direct Debit to £13.

my dd is wrong at 11:14, Jun 25:

And how much longer do your people need to resolve natters? Have they even bothered to look nito it yet? I doubt it..

Sudeep at 11:14, Jun 25:

Sorry.

Sudeep at 11:14, Jun 25:

I will process the refund for the difference amount of £184 and also changed your Direct Debit to £135.

my dd is wrong at 11:14, Jun 25:

I think you mean £135…

my dd is wrong at 11:14, Jun 25:

When will the money be back in my account?

Sudeep at 11:15, Jun 25:

It takes 3 to 4 weeks to complete the investigation in this matter.

my dd is wrong at 11:15, Jun 25:

Well you’ve had that at least…so what are you doing? My patience is weari g thin – especially when you pull strokes like this dd matter

Sudeep at 11:15, Jun 25:

You will receive the refund with in 3 to 5 working days to your bank account.

my dd is wrong at 11:16, Jun 25:

Not good enough I want it today. It’s my money and you’ve taken it in contravention of an agreement we had. Get it sorted today

Sudeep at 11:16, Jun 25:

Please be rest assured You have ongoing complaint and we are working on it to get this resolves as soon as possible.

my dd is wrong at 11:17, Jun 25:

oh you’ve spotted that have you? Interesting that it hasn’t made a blind bit of difference in terms of your performance

Sudeep at 11:17, Jun 25:

I am sorry to inform you that refund take 3 to 5 working days to get credited in the bank account.

my dd is wrong at 11:18, Jun 25:

OK then I’d like compensation please. Interest charged at 5% per day…

my dd is wrong at 11:18, Jun 25:

..and actually you could sort it today, I do understand how compannies work. You just can’t be arsed to ask the people in authoriuty because it’ll make your team look bad…

Sudeep at 11:19, Jun 25:

I can understand your concern Adrian.

my dd is wrong at 11:20, Jun 25:

No, I don’t believe you do, and as I’ve never met you before this I think Mr West would be a more appropriate form of salutatyion

my dd is wrong at 11:20, Jun 25:

I want my money in my account today please.

my dd is wrong at 11:21, Jun 25:

And I’d like to rasie a second complaint, maybe 2 in fact..

my dd is wrong at 11:22, Jun 25:

  1. the length of time it has taken you to sort the meter readings (and you haven’t actually managed to sort it in truth) is unacceptable and holding emails are not the answer..

my dd is wrong at 11:23, Jun 25:

  1. Is the fact that you’ve have taken £319 out of my account after a conversagtion with your people on the phone when it was agreed that the dd would remain at £135 until the readings ere resolved – you’ve breached that agreement

my dd is wrong at 11:23, Jun 25:

Please send me the reference numbers for these 2 new complaints and the existing one

Sudeep at 11:24, Jun 25:

We can process refund and it takes 3 to 5 working days from bank to get this credited to the customers bank account. It is the normal procedure of refund However, If you wish refund today then please contact your bank ask then get your money back.

my dd is wrong at 11:25, Jun 25:

OK because you are in breach of the agreement I will stop the dd until the matter is resolved. This too should not come s a shock as it was highlighted on the call…

my dd is wrong at 11:26, Jun 25:

I am not spending anymore money to get back what is owed to me, and owed to me today – not when your bean countrers can get round to doing it. If it;s anything like your team investigating the readings then it could be months before I get my money back

my dd is wrong at 11:26, Jun 25:

Please inform me of the new complaint references..

Sudeep at 11:28, Jun 25:

Let me transfer our chat to senior advisor to assist you further in this.

Sudeep at 11:28, Jun 25:

Please stay connected.

my dd is wrong at 11:32, Jun 25:

oh, anytime today….

my dd is wrong at 11:34, Jun 25:

this isn’t improving my mood you know. Being left “on hold” with no indication of when things willprogress.

my dd is wrong at 11:35, Jun 25:

I’ll give you a couple of more minutes and then I’m afraid I’m going to have to drop off. But rest assured I will copy the details of the conversation and publish it on social media

 

Info at 11:36, Jun 25:

You are now being transferred to Balaji.

Info at 11:36, Jun 25:

** Please do not share your credit card information, CV2 (Security Code) during this chat**

 

You are now connected with Balaji.

Balaji at 11:36, Jun 25:

Hi Adrian

Balaji at 11:37, Jun 25:

Please allow me a few minutes to read your chat.

my dd is wrong at 11:37, Jun 25:

No offence but what has been gonig no for the past 10 minutes?

my dd is wrong at 11:37, Jun 25:

…and as before I think Mr West is more appropriate..

Balaji at 11:38, Jun 25:

Sorry for that Mr West. Allow me a couple of minutes please.

my dd is wrong at 11:39, Jun 25:

At this point you have repeatedly said that you can’t get my money back to me today so i need you to is to raise the 2 new complaints and give me the refernces for them and the exisitng one. Thank you

 

Balaji at 11:41, Jun 25:

Well, I have reviewed the above chat. We are happy to refund you the difference of £319.00 – £135.00 = £184.00. This may take around 3-5 working days to reflect on your bank account as per the standard online banking process. If you want it to be credited instantly, you need to contact your bank today. I apologise for any inconvenience caused.

my dd is wrong at 11:42, Jun 25:

so notyhing new n that..a wadte of time waiting for you sof ar

Balaji at 11:43, Jun 25:

We have given you all the options. May I know when did you agree via call to keep it at £135.00 ?

Balaji at 11:43, Jun 25:

I will right away check that.

my dd is wrong at 11:43, Jun 25:

Also it’s not about being happy to refund the money it’s being apologetic for taking it in the frst place…

my dd is wrong at 11:43, Jun 25:

check your records…you record the calls

Balaji at 11:45, Jun 25:

I do not see any recent telephonic interaction regarding the Direct Debit. Please confirm the month or date when you agreed to it.

my dd is wrong at 11:45, Jun 25:

I specifically remember saying that you had got the bill wrong, so there it was around the date when you posted me the bill, and that I’d supplied all the informatino you needed to confirm that what I waa telling you was thew truth and then I said I was happy to continue paying the £`35 , until it was sorted, but that if you charged me at this new higher rate I would cancel the dd…so I’m being pretty reasonable just asking for my money back I think…don’t you?

my dd is wrong at 11:47, Jun 25:

oh dear….are your records not complete? Perhaps that would explain why your team hasn’t managed to sort the readings issue yet then

my dd is wrong at 11:49, Jun 25:

have you got the emails I have sent previously? The one with the ombudsman’s final judgement attached is probably the same day that I called…

Balaji at 11:49, Jun 25:

Okay let me check.

my dd is wrong at 11:50, Jun 25:

Have you raiswed the 2 new complaints yet? I really wan their reference numbers, and that of the outstanding complaint and then I can get on with the rest of my day…

my dd is wrong at 11:50, Jun 25:

why are you only checking now…surely the first thing you should have done was to read all communication on the account…the mind boggles

Balaji at 11:52, Jun 25:

Mr West, I am checking the account and it may take some time. Please allow me a few minutes.

my dd is wrong at 11:53, Jun 25:

ok tell you what. You have my contact details. Please raise the 2 new complaints, then email me the reference numbers. If you need to speak to me call me on my mobile 

my dd is wrong at 11:53, Jun 25:

I’ve spent more than enough time on here trying to sort things, and I don’t feel thatb I’m making much progress. So take the time to investigate things at your end and then get back yo me.

Balaji at 11:54, Jun 25:

Can you please confirm the date and the contact number used to ring us?

my dd is wrong at 11:54, Jun 25:

The one on the bill

Balaji at 11:55, Jun 25:

Okay. Allow me a few minutes as we would not be able to call you back as we are from online services. I will resolve it in the next few minutes. Please bare with us.

my dd is wrong at 11:55, Jun 25:

Ah, a joined up company then.


Ah, the joys of a 2 phase electricity supply…

Regards!!

Election Special: Charity begins with Central Government

D P GumbyYou may have noticed that as we get closer to Christmas there are more and more charity ads on our television screens.  I’m sure they realise the time for giving applies to them too!  There’s also wall to wall coverage of the general election, where politicians pontificate, avoid answering the questions or just plain lie…  My mail currently mirrors this!!

You know…. it doesn’t feel very charitable, nor Christmassy.

I believe those in positions of authority need to think of the bigger picture but compassionately, not their own self-interest, and so I’d argue that charity begins with central government.

So, rather than spending 60, 80 or 100, or how many billion it is on the HS2 project to get people to Birmingham 20-minutes quicker why not support the research that is required into combating cancer and other life limiting diseases?

And after centuries of exploiting colonial countries and their inhabitants, setting artificial geographic borders that lead to tribal and religious wars across the world that have resulted in a refugee crisis, why not use foreign aid to seek to change things for good?

I’d rather those less fortunate than me got it. I don’t need a slightly faster journey time to the Midlands and no, it still won’t make business move there – surely the future is online meetings anyway??  All it’s going to do is screw up the countryside (I can show you pictures now!) and feather the pockets of the major contractors.

I’d like research into life limiting diseases fully funded by Central Government, not by charitable contributions or big pharma, so we benefit – not them.

I’d like foreign aid to be targeted at those in need not at sweetening potential trade deals.

I’d like my taxes to be used to provide a better infrastructure for the country – just check out the closest European countries, drive their roads, ride on their public transport…

I’d like our schools and our NHS funded properly. And can we please get rid of the quangos and bodies that supposedly set standards yet basically change their views with just a gentle breeze and are in all honesty just there to provide jobs for the boys, for those who aren’t good enough to do the real jobs!

Lord Digby-Jones said some years ago that if you sacked 25% of the civil service nobody would notice a change.  Let’s cut beaurocray, red tape, ineffective and inefficient decision bodies.

I’d like rates cut so our high streets can be given a new lease of life.

I’d like the companies who are profiting from interest charges on student loans to be forced to repay that interest – it wasn’t part of the original deal!!  And just look at all the property that’s being developed for student accommodation – yeah and look at how much they charge!!!

Like D P Gumby put it so elegantly “it makes me so mad!”

Jurgen drops the “F bomb”

It was 10 past 10 on the 7th of May 2019, the Liverpool manager looks down at his wristwatch and then says…

“The boys are f***ing giants…. If you have to fine me, fine me. I’m not native so I don’t have better words for it,”

He’d just watched, as had I, his Liverpool team knock Barcelona, lauded by many as the best team in the world, out of the Champion’s League.  But it was more than that. Liverpool had been beaten 3-0 in Barcelona the week before and most, if not all, of the pundits thought the team was on a hiding to nothing.  I’ll be honest I felt Jurgen might have been right the day before the game when he said that they would try to win the game but if they didn’t they would “fail beautifully” – but how wrong we all were.

I still haven’t seen the first half, I was at a Parish Council meeting where people seemed to be taking an age to say something when a few words would have sufficed.  I’d kept informed about the scoreline via my phone and before the second half began I gave my apologies and left.  I’m so glad I did!  What a game!  I could try to describe it but why bother when Jonathan Liew in the Independent has already crafted a superb tribute to an amazing game.

An Anfield miracle transcribed from the pages of pure fantasy @jonathanliew independent.co.uk/sport/football…

All I can tell you is that when the final whistle blew I left to my feet, my arms raised to the sky and let out a bellowed “Yesss!!!”.  I was literally shaking, my heart racing – it was incredibly difficult to type WhatsApp messages to my son and my partner. As expected my son is instantly asking if we can go to Madrid.  He’d wanted tickets to last night’s game but the only one’s I could find were into 4 figures!  Madrid tickets are apparently twice as much, and more, and frankly I cannot imagine that the atmosphere in Madrid will be anywhere near as amazing as it was last night at Anfield.  I’m fortunate enough to have seen a number of matches there (not as many as I’d like – but that’s the problem with a popular team and a shoddy ticketing system) and even Saturday afternoon games with the crowd singing create a magical atmosphere – so I can only imagine what last night was like to actually be there – in the stadium…

Click the image below to watch the team and crowd singing “You’ll never walk alone”

So when, after the game Jurgen drops the “F bomb” I’m with Gary Lineker who, on BT Sport, refused to apologise for it being broadcast.

“I’ve been asked to apologise on behalf – But I’m not going to. He’s perfectly entitled to say that. He can get away with that, it’s after the watershed. Well done Jürgen.”

…and well done Gary Lineker!

We are Liverpool – this means more.

#YNWA

 

Yes I’m still here – unlike the FSS (thankfully!)

Yep relax, I’m still here, still ready to vent my anger and frustrations at poor service – as well as handing out congratulations to those that do good – sad there are so few!!  In these times of political chaos, increased racism and a sense of general malaise I will aim to be a beacon of clarity and incisiveness 🙂

Since we last communicated I have successfully retired from full time employment.  This allows me to speak more freely on certain topics – such as the state of the forensics market.  Which to be fair has had some good news after some senior policemen finally had the bottle to stand up to the Home Office and say enough is enough.  This was followed by the main forensic science providers also weighing in to say “hang on this is a joke — you expect everything but want to pay next to nothing”.  Thankfully the Home Office has seen sense – well they had been financially maintaining the smallest of the 3 for some months now – and prices had been increased.

At the same time wtf is “transforming forensics”?  Answer – a complete waste of time and money.  You have to see their “vision” to believe it. Hey, I worked in marketing for more than 30 years, the last 15 in the forensic market and I can tell you – it’s b*ll*ocks.  A mass of words on a diagram that looks like a small child came up with it, and a powerpoint presentation that is full on hyperbole, buzzwords and has absolutely no substance whatsoever – £30m to get this far?  Waste a waste of money!

I’ve switched off so well that I hadn’t even noticed this recent article in the media warning that the forewnswic labs are near collapse… ”

Fears raised about miscarriages of justice and unsolved crimes

Well we know that the smallest of the 3 labs has been in a financial mess for some months now bu the larger 2 are much better positioned.  But as per normal we get hysterical headlines – “miscarriages of justice”?  Why? The labs are all working to quality standards – which the police are trying tor not to catch up on, and unsolved crimes is down to the police not investigating them e.g. burglaries or by not submitting some evidence because they don’t have the budget to do that.

In reality this article should be about how the government has cut police budgets by 30%+ and has forced a procurement system on the market where quality is no longer as important as price – low price!  People the FSS has gone, it wasn’t fit for purpose so ffs get over that and stop claiming that a decline in standards has followed that – no it hasn’t.  Standards have risen dramatically – just not in the police force labs.  This market can only support 3 major providers (which clearly is what the government wants) if the police have the budget to pay a fair price.

Finally why are the journalists who are reporting on this so poorly informed – or are they just lazy!

 

Oh well done parliament – anything Trump can do, you can better (worse!!)!

I’m sure I’m not the only one having trouble keeping up with the level of incompetence and focus on personal power that seems to be driving the Brexit debate into the depths of despair!

It really is a joke and yes, we really are a laughing stock.  The latest debacle on last Monday evening when a series of propositions were supposed to enable progress to be made, under parliament’s control (as opposed to Theresa’s that is) produced sod all – well apart that is from a lot of additional media coverage for a host of losers – sorry MPs!

Even better they managed to reject 4 of them again – on the following Monday evening.

What is it with this lot?  We know that the majority of them are #Remainers (and so they bloody ought to be – as should any sane human being FFS!) but even so why can’t they just agree on something so we can get on with it, and remove all this uncertainty?

..and Theresa is thinking of having a 4th attempt..has the world gone stark raving mad?

So in the best interests of everyone here’s one last poll – please vote – although what were those famous quotes about voting?

  • “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
    ― Winston S. Churchill
  • “Errors do not cease to be errors simply because they’re ratified into law.”
    ― E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly,
  • “I have an idea about voting, how about on every ballot we include “None of the above”. People may laugh at that, but what that is, it is a vote of no confidence in your government and I’m willing to bet that in some elections, ‘None of the Above’ would win. Imagine if you won the election but lost to ‘None of the Above’. Wouldn’t that make you re-think your positions?”
    ― Jesse Ventura
  • “Free citizens of the United Kingdom can apparently vote for clowns, but not vote (dressed) as them.”
    ― Eddie Mair, A Good Face for Radio: Confessions of a Radio Head
  • “If voting changed anything, it would be made illegal.”― Robert S. Borden
  • “…they say if you don’t vote, you get the government you deserve, and if you do, you never get the results you expected.”
    ― E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

OK that’s enough – just vote!!

Aegon and the Great British Pension Robbery


Aegon
expects you to have read its terms and conditions.  In fact if you haven’t read their terms and conditions they’ll refuse to enrol you into their schemes.  Now we all know that people don’t usually read the t’s and c’s – we all just tick the box – especially as companies don’t make their t’s and c’s user friendly – they’re usually full of legalese and cross referenced – I’m sure that corporate lawyers can understand them but – you and I – the people who are supposed to be protected by them – can’t!

I recently tried to combine my workplace pensions (my company decided it would be a good thing – for them – to change the pension a few years ago) and on my second telephone call (plus emails btw) I was asked had I read the terms and conditions.  I was informed that they ran to 180 pages – I kid you not – I asked her to repeat this figure several times – and because I said obviously I hadn’t read them she refused to do what I had requested – so I’m moving my money elsewhere – to hell with them.

Now I have already identified that the wording of these terms and conditions will be painful for the average human being to read AND then understand what they mean to him or her so here is a list of books – yes that’s right whole books – some of them classics which are under 200 pages….

Here’s just a few of them, how about:

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I’m sure a lot of us will have read one of more of these books – but just how long did it take, did you have to go back and re-read bits, did you understand what was going on whilst you were reading a passage or did you have to look elsewhere before you could fully understand it?

…and these were primarily for entertainment, your pension and future life wouldn’t be impacted if you failed to grasp the subtle meaning of a phrase here and there…

I’m going to try and find the document/s that make up this 180 pages and post them here for your enjoyment.  But in the meantime here are some short stories to keep you going…

Here’s just a few of their documents they expect you to have read.

…and there are loads – and of course every so often they update them – it is beyond the wit of man to keep up with them – but of course that’s exactly what they want!

I shall return to this topic once I have completed my download task!!

Watch this space!!