Category Archives: Uncategorized

Amazon using bullying techniques – Jeff Bezos must be a friend of Trumps!

OK let’s set this in context – I love the Amazon Echo. It’s fab. OK it’s expensive to automate your home still but the future of devices such as the Echo are massive. I bought mine from the states and had it shipped over here months ago I was so keen to get my hands on one. Well as of today my views on it have changed dramatically!

Simon, the chap who has been running http://www.amazonechouk.com has received a letter from Amazon’s lawyers telling to take the site down.

Now I can understand Amazon wanting control of the url – that is one thing. Surely the decent thing – as the site is so positive about the device – would have been to make an offer to buy it – wouldn’t it? Or to tell him that he really should change the url becuase it could be thought of as an official Amazon site – that’s fair enough.

But bullying tactics are the worst possible way to try and achieve this. Not only will the community find alternative ways of discussing the Echo – and what a bunch of monkeys amazon clearly are in other ways btu the reputation of Amazon and the echo has been severely damaged – potentially fatally. Two words…. Google Home!

Google Home

If you want to find out how to get one here in the uk – click this link. The AI already sounds as though it might be better than Amazon’s

Personally I’m both disappointed and outraged that Amazon should act in this way. And I’m not the only one. This is the conversation on the site form this morning….

I am posting this without having any connection to Simon other than as a user of his site. I have not asked his permission to do this. It is a freedom of speech issue.

Amazon have demanded this site is taken down
Date: December 1, 2016
Author: Simon
24 Comments
Today I received a letter from Amazon lawyers saying that this site, which has set out to help Amazon echo owners, be removed.

For that reason there will be some changes around here. As I was doing this just for fun and to help people with the echo, and made no money from the site it’s not worth me helping them any more. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement.

I hope I helped people and want to say thank you everyone who has commented or just read the posts, there was a really positive community growing here and people were always polite and kind to each other, something that is rare on-line these days.

Take care and good luck.

About these ads

Share this:
Press ThisTwitterFacebook4Google

Related
More Details On Echo on Amazon Fire Tablets
More Details On Echo on Amazon Fire Tablets

In “Echo News”
How To Change US Echo to UK
How To Change US Echo to UK

In “Using The Amazon Echo In The UK”
Amazon Echo Full Features List – Updated August 2015
Amazon Echo Full Features List – Updated August 2015

In “what is the amazon echo?”

Published by Simon
View all posts by Simon
Post navigation
PREVIOUS
Previous post:Amazon Echo UK Black Friday Deals
24 THOUGHTS ON “AMAZON HAVE DEMANDED THIS SITE IS TAKEN DOWN” Add Comment
marcoscu222
December 1, 2016 at 9:09 pm
How mean spirited of them and makes me all the more inclined to believe the horror stories I have read about how Amazon is run.

Roll on the Google Home in the UK.

Liked by 1 person

Reply
Simon
December 1, 2016 at 9:17 pm
I’m so disappointed. If they’d just politely contacted me and asked me if I could work with them or perhaps offer to run the site for me, I’d have been fine with it, but to be. Threatened by a legal team is low.

Like

Reply
musingsonmatters
December 2, 2016 at 9:21 am
Exactly – talk about shooting yourself in the foot! I’ve used my Echo account to send some feedback to customer services – expressing the very same view!!

Like

Reply
Mark Reed
December 1, 2016 at 9:18 pm
As owner of highly respected Hardware review site hardwareHeaven.com I am very disappointed in Amazon for this move. My 12 year old Son and I have happily been playing with that Amazon echo, Alexa and apps for nine months now. I wanted to use the device to help him understand how voice and AI will shape the next 10 years. Sites like this help Early adopters get a head start and can help nurture excitement of new technology. Very, very, very disappointed in Amazon

Like

Reply
Simon
December 1, 2016 at 9:24 pm
Thank you for your comment! Love your site!

Like

Reply
joes4u
December 1, 2016 at 9:22 pm
I’m going to return my echo and never shop on Amazon again.

My wife and I spent £15k on there so far this year. We buy everything on there. I should I say bought…

Like

Reply
Simon
December 1, 2016 at 9:28 pm
Thank you but you know what, we like their cheap prices and stuff… It’s our own making and I’m as guilty as anyone for supporting it. I will try to shop elsewhere now but I’ll probably find myself back on there from time to time. I feel a bit sad though, enjoyed writing on this site!

Like

Reply
Andrew
December 1, 2016 at 9:31 pm
Is there an email address we can all write to, to tell them the great service you have done them? It is down, at least in part, to your posts that I ran out and bought one; they should be grateful to you.
Many thanks

Liked by 2 people

Reply
Simon
December 1, 2016 at 9:33 pm
I don’t think it would help, the letter came from a legal firm, on behalf of Amazon, so they aren’t even talking to me. They never even tried to contact me.

Like

Reply
Simon
December 1, 2016 at 9:36 pm
It is a good point though, on launch day alone my stats showed that over 150 people linked from my post onto the Amazon echo page. I guess thousands will have gone there over the life of the site.

Like

Reply
musingsonmatters
December 2, 2016 at 9:22 am
If you’ve got an Echo account you can contact customer services that way.

Like

Reply
Phillip
December 1, 2016 at 9:48 pm
What a self-defeating piece of stupidity from Amazon. Shame you cant post the letter and leave that up for everyone to see…. or can you …. I’d love to understand their grounds for the demand.

Liked by 1 person

Reply
Simon
December 1, 2016 at 10:02 pm
I’m not going to push it, slightly worried that they’ll attack me just for this post!

Like

Reply
Phillip
December 1, 2016 at 10:08 pm
I fully understand. I assume the heavy tactics are because they think you are usurping a domain name that makes it look like an official amazon domain and confusing customer? No need to answer of course. Still think its rotten.

Liked by 1 person

Simon
December 1, 2016 at 10:15 pm
I think that’s what they’re saying but it’s hard to understand to be honest. They’re not clear or specific. Luckily I was just writing my new novel “echoes of the Amazon” so I can reuse the URL! What a treat

Like

Simon
December 1, 2016 at 10:19 pm
The thing is, this site was running way before Amazon announced plans to come to the UK, so it was a reasonable URL to take surely. Urgh, I don’t know.

Like

gardmal
December 2, 2016 at 5:28 am
They wont.

Like

Phillip
December 1, 2016 at 9:59 pm
Additionally : I have just submitted my review of the dot and echo and explicitly mentioned their heavy handed demand to remove the only useful resource I’ve found (other than their gibberish marketing guff promising features that … drum roll … dont exist in the UK….) Perhaps a few more comments might get their attention (if they post them that is….)

Liked by 1 person

Reply
gardmal
December 2, 2016 at 5:27 am
It is disappointing that Amazon did recognise the value of the site and instead of closing it supported instead. I share Philips view that it is the domain name that they have issue with rather than the contents of the site. My instincts would be to make a counter offer, which the lawyers are obliged to take to their client. As it is, there is nothing to stop you from moving the site to a new less contentious domain name, Lose any branding that may make it look like amazon and retain the existing domain name or sell to Amazon.

The objective here for the Amazon Lawyer is get the domain back onto the market so that Amazon can buy it. I would hang on to it and if Amazon want it let them buy it from you. You could also redirect the domain to something like “http://ok-google.io/”. That would irritate them but not much they could do about it. Also I doubt the lawyers can do much about the your service if it is on a different domain. You are in the UK and you are protected by freedom of speech laws.

Their only real beef if they can show that you are intentionally (or even unintentionally) passing yourself off as Amazon. Caveats on your site and postings stating clearly that you are not Amazon and do not speak for them would put paid to that complaint.

My advice is don’t panic, stand your ground, ask them what they want, not what are they demanding. It would be a pity to see this site and your service to close because of heavy handedness.

Just remember the Amazon brand is important to them, and protecting it and obtaining that domain name is what this is all about. The brand is trademarked but they would have to show that you intended to pass yourself off as Amazon or that their business was harmed by your posing as Amazon. The Courts are littered with these kind of cases but the bully tacits create fear at the start often gets companies like Amazon what they want early doors. Plus you do come up on page one when you type “Amazon Echo UK” but you are not at the tip.

Like

Reply
Stuart
December 2, 2016 at 8:24 am
Hi Simon,

What a shame! I really enjoyed this site, I came across it after pre-ordering the Echo, which I love by the way!

I am a Paralegal in a firm of Solicitors, and for what it’s worth, I agree with gardmal’s post timed at 2nd December 2016 5:27am (who is obviously an early bird!). It is scary to be contacted by lawyers, but a lot of those type of letters are designed to frighten the “lay person” into backing down, when actually that person is perfectly entitled to do what they are doing. Unfortunately most people cannot afford to instruct lawyers of their own to call their bluff.

There is no harm in going back to them along the lines gardmal suggests – you can down the site temporarily and can always bring it back up again? It may be they just want the domain name, and you can re-open the site under a different name or something?

Anyway – thanks for running the site to date and good luck!

Stuart

Like

Reply
Simon
December 2, 2016 at 8:36 am
Thanks Stuart, I think they want the URL so I’m going to use it as a site about the Amazon rainforest. Perhaps a novel…simply to not give in to what they want. I’ll see if I can keep the rest of the site on a free platform somehow, perhaps change the name…any suggestions?!

Like

Reply
Paul
December 2, 2016 at 8:37 am
I suggest this post is shared with their media targets also – Stuff, T3, CNet, Engadget, TechRadar, Huffington Post UK, Business Insider, BBC Tech, The Register etc – all of which have carried news coverage of the echo and some on getting it configured etc.

Also I would do it soon as the Amazon marketing guys in the US are pushing out stoies about the next wave of updates to Alexa AI.

All those outlets have editorial contact emails – email the outlets individually

stuff@haymarket.com
dan.grabham@futurenet.com, duncan.bell@futurenet.com, rob.carney@futurenet.com, gerald.lynch@futurenet.com, news@techradar.com
https://www.cnet.com/uk/profiles/caspertek/
https://www.engadget.com/about/tips/
HuffPostUK@huffingtonpost.com
sai@businessinsider.com
news@theregister.co.uk

The more people who tell them the more likely it will be picked up – plus do it sooner rather than later…

Like

Reply
Simon
December 2, 2016 at 8:51 am
I really appreciate it Paul but I dont have the time or money to try to fight any kind of campaign. I’m just going to fold unfortunately. As I said, I did this for fun…there are adverts on the site but since conception it has made £20 and the costs are above that so it costs me money to run it. It’s no fun if the company I was kind of helping are out to close me down. It just feels so over the top.

Like

Reply
musingsonmatters
December 2, 2016 at 9:13 am
There’s some good advice in the comments already and I agree they want the domain name for themselves. As others have said get the content onto another url and remove any intentional or unintentional Amazon branding.

If they continue to go down this heavy handed route then they will alienate loyal users of the echo who will start to think hmmm maybe Google’s Home will be a better alternative!

Like

Reply

Moneygrabber medic claims “care concern” cash

Former Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro has settled her dismissal claim against the club on confidential terms.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-36472713

“My priority has always been the health and safety of the players and fulfilling my duty of care as a doctor.”

That’s why she turned down £1.2m then is it?

Sounding Off about Amazon Music problems

Now this is a strange one dear readers!

I recently decided to factory reset my OnePlus Two as it was running a bit slow – laggy!  It started off blazingly fast!  I’d thought about rooting it and installing CM13…

…but I’ve decided to stick with the OS as is and wait for Marshmallow – hurry up guys they’ve already announced “N”!

So I did the deed and reinstalled the various apps – no problems at all – well not true there was one!!

My Amazon Music with Prime app suddenly, according to Google’s Play store decided it was incompatible with some of my devices – namely the OnePlus Two – hey it is even compatible with my old (very old) Galaxy Note! By the way my Amazon Shopping app seems to work perfectly…wonder why that is? (That’s a rhetorical question by the way)

amazon1.fw

 

A quick trawl across the internet and it transpires I’m not the only one – see link below.  Anyway I think it’s a good idea to have a chat with Amazon to see if they can assist me…so here we go – here’s the chat – verbatim!


 

You’re now connected to Arun from Amazon.co.uk

Me: I can no longer play Amazon music on my One Plus Two phone

Arun: Hello, my name is Arun. I’ll be happy to help you.
I can see that you have authorised 2 devices on your account and are as follows:
* Paul’s 2nd Android Device (MP3)
* Paul’s 3rd Android Device (MP3)
Please confirm the exact device you are referring to.

Me: I’ve no idea which one it is
I’ve got an 8th Android device!!

Arun: Okay.

Me: I certainly don’t have an iPhone 2 so that can be deleted

Arun: Okay. Have you installed Amazon Music app on your One Plus Two phone?

Me: I’ve had it and used it no problems previously but I had to factory reset the phone (backed it up first) because it was running too slow. I then reinstalled the apps but when I tried to install the Amazon Music app it said it wasn’t compatible with my phone

Arun: I apologise for that.
To install the latest version of the Amazon Music App on your mobile device, make sure your device is running Android OS version 4.1 or higher. The Amazon Music App is not supported on some smaller screen devices (less than 320×240 pixels).
Older versions of the Amazon Music app are compatible with any Android device running OS 2.3 through 4.04, but further updates aren’t available.

Me: It is running Android 5.1.1 and the screen res is way higher than that min figure

Arun: The complexity of this issue requires real-time troubleshooting; we’ll be better able to help you with this over the phone.
In this case, please provide your contact number so that I can arrange a callback for you to resolve this issue.
Are we connected?

Me: It’s a problem with your app. I am able to download lots of other apps, including the Amazon Shopping app – what a surprise!! I’m not the only one with this problem 

Arun: This will need to investigate over phone to resolve this issue.

Me: Why over the phone?

Arun: The complexity of this issue requires real-time troubleshooting.
We’ll be better able to help you with this over the phone.

Me: I’m here now…..
My phone is beside me… I can’t talk over the phone and check settings etc out at the same time…

Arun: As we continually seek to improve our service, this occasionally means we can no longer support certain devices or features.
I regret to inform you that One Plus Two phone doesn’t support Amazon music.
I’m sorry for the inconvenience this has caused.

Me: So you are accepting that it is an issue with your apps compatibility. So do I get compensation given that I can no longer play my music on my phone?

Arun: Customer feedback like yours really helps us continue to improve our digital music service. I’ve passed your input to the Amazon Music team for consideration as we make future improvements.

Me: That’s evading the issue. I have purchased music from you, I have paid for an Amazon Prime account but I can’t play my music….

Arun: I understand your reaction and I’m sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused. However, I hope you’ll understand that we are unable to offer you any compensation in relation to this matter.

Me: No sorry but I don’t understand why you aren’t able to offer nay compensation.

Arun: I understand you’re upset and I regret that we haven’t been able to address your concerns to your satisfaction. However, we are unable to provide any compensation for this issue.
We won’t be able to provide further assistance for your request.

Me:OK I will be commenting on various social media channels about your (lack of) service. Perhaps I’ll shift my business to other online retail channels – and I’ll recommend that other people do too – if this is the way you respond to a simple query as to why your app no longer supports one of the most popular and best reviewed phones. your policy of not supporting modern phones seems strange!

Arun:Unless there’s a different issue I can help you with, I’ll be ending this chat.

Me:That’s ok I’ve already copied and pasted the transcript – I’ll post it in a minute

Arun:We hope to see you again soon! Please click the “End Chat” link to close this window.


Wow! So we (Amazon) shift from “Sorry”, to “The complexity of this issue requires real-time troubleshooting”, to “I regret to inform you that One Plus Two phone doesn’t support Amazon music” (it certainly did last week!) to “no compensation” and “We won’t be able to provide further assistance for your request”!!!

That my friends is a classic example of how to turn an Amazon advocate – Kindle, Echo, Fire TV stick, online shopper – into a critic and someone likely to spend my money elsewhere – will I renew my prime membership? What do you think?

If I was using a weird and wacky device – say for example a Jolla phone (which I do possess) I might understand that an updated version of the Amazon app might not work but why when their other apps appear to work fine does this one not? And why aren’t they prepared to do anything about it?

Given Amazon’s desire to be an eco-system they do seem to make some odd decisions (here’s another one – like launching new Echo devices in the US before the first one is available outside of the US. Maybe Trump’s antics are in favour at Amazon Towers…perhaps Jeff wants the VP nomination – I don’t know but clearly stranger things are happening!

When technology doesn’t improve things

3056730-inline-i-2-silk-labs-wants“You have to fumble out your smartphone and turn it on and type in your PIN code and launch an app,” he says. “We just made your experience four steps worse than flipping a light switch next to you.”

Andreas Gal is describing what it’s like to turn on a Wi-Fi-enabled light using your phone, and he’s making it sound like a major step backwards rather than the way of the future…..that’s on this website.  And he’s so right!  How many times have you got so frustrated with technology when it doesn’t work properly – it may be “cool” to a geeky mate of yours but yea gods what a palaver it can be some times.

Unfortunately the article doesn’t really provide a solution to the problem but at least it realises that IT IS A PROBLEM!

Amazon-Echo-1 I’m having plenty of fun with my Amazon Echo – not just because of all the Easter Eggs built in but it is just easy to say stuff like “Alexa, play Submotion Orchestra on Spotify” and hey presto it does just that 🙂

Hopefully those laggards in the US will “get it” that making it open to the wider world – yes there is sentient life outside of the USA you muppets (probably far more than inside to be frank!) will actually be beneficial to them as well as us and then we can all enjoy our Amazon Prime accounts!!!

I learnt the lesson many years ago when Dr Edwin Turner – distinguished ICL Fellow, brain the size of a planet and the man who thought of the screenfridge decades ago – said that people will always take the route of least resistance.  So if you are adding steps to a process you can bet your bottom dollar that it won’t get used!!

Wise us you tech gurus out there!!

 

 

Amazon – not the friend of geeks

Sadly it is true!  The global brand – remember that “GLOBAL” brand that Jezz Bezos has built is a sham, a piffling little national operator that can’t seem to get it’s act together!

Hi folks, yes I’m back! 🙂

In a world where you have to be global to be any good it seems that our schizophrenic friends at Amazon don’t know wtf is going on!  Allow me to elucidate….

Amazon has an excellent – and well deserved – reputation for allowing you buy stuff and get it physically delivered to your doorstep.  Let’s be honest, if you’re reading this you’ve used their service before, probably loads of times.  Over 15 years ago we used to test just how fast they were – I even managed to order a book at 4pm and got it delivered by 1st class post (hah, try that now!) the following morning..honest guv, I did!

Since those very early days they’ve added just about everything you could possible think of to their range of products.  One obvious thing where they have totally disrupted the market is books – audio-books.


They’ve also got into technology and as you know I love a bit of tech!

So it should come as no surprise to you that I own a Fire TV stick AND an Amazon Echo.

The Echo is awesome but unfortunately as they don’t yet sell it direct here in the UK – why not FFS! – I had to buy it in the States and get it shipped over, just like many other people.  Whilst I was aware that not all of its functionality would work here in the UK I was ever hopeful.

Unfortunately it appears that the Echo is linked to their US servers so it sees me living NOT in the USA and blocks a lot of my requests – including my Amazon Prime account.  So I’m paying them £99 per year or whatever it is to get them to store some of my music, allow me to purchase music – from them, etc etc but I can’t play any of it using the Echo.

Why I hear you cry?  Surely Amazon is a global brand and that should be easy-peasey? Sadly that isn’t the case – because my Prime account is a UK account and not a global account.  The technology won’t allow me to transfer music I’ve already paid them for once across to a new US account – not that I am prepared to pay them double anyway – doh!

Now the ability to ask a box some questions and get a response may not be your cup of teas but as you can see from the image it does a lot of stuff (well, if you live in the USA!) and they seem to keep adding new features to it see below:

What’s new?

Kindle Books by Alexa

Alexa can now read your Kindle books out loud, using the same text-to-speech technology that already reads Wikipedia articles, news articles, and calendar entries. Relax with your latest book or have Alexa help with bedtime stories for the kids. You can switch seamlessly between listening and reading—start an eBook on your Echo, then continue reading on your Kindle, tablet, or smartphone, right where you left off.

Find out which of your eBooks Alexa can read by opening the Alexa app and tapping “Kindle Books.” Or just ask:

  • “Alexa, read my Kindle book.”
  • “Alexa, read [Kindle book title].”
  • “Alexa, skip back.”
  • “Alexa, pause.”

Don’t have any Kindle books yet? Get started with a free collection of excerpts from Star Wars novels. And don’t forget, you can always listen to professionally narrated audiobooks on your Echo from Audible.

To learn more about this feature, go to Read Kindle Books with Alexa.

Oh did I forget to say I’ve got a Kindle?  Well 2 actually.  And yes I’ve bought quite a few books from them and had them downloaded to my Kindle…..well now we reach an interesting conundrum.

If I wanted to I could ask my Echo to read my Kindle books to me and it would!  Look here’s part of the list of books that I can get it to read to me…..

books.fw

This is a screengrab taken from the Alexa website 🙂

So it appears that Amazon has got it cracked in regard to the printed word AND the digital word – it’s global!

BUT….

Music is different!  They don’t seem to be able to get their s**t together at all.

As you might expect I have previously contacted Amazon to highlight this incongruity and to ask when they might sell the device in the UK  thus opening up it’s full functionality to me…..

I love the geekiness of this device, the sound is good enough, it’s funny – just look at the number of easter eggs it has built in, it’s practical – timer and countdown applications, it syncs with your Google calendar as well.

So, I wonder to myself…

  • Is Amazon a global brand?
  • Do they really want to provide a complete hardware/software ecosystem?
  • Or are they just taking the ****?

They have to wise up to the fact that they are competing with Apple and Google – two fiercely competitive and land-grabbing organisations.  The last thing that Bezos and Co want, surely, is to become the next Betamax, the next AOL or the next Yahoo!!

This is most definitely NOT a case of “act in haste, repent at leisure” – rather the opposite!!

An open letter to Lynda Clayton Customer Service Director of Scottish Power

Dear Lynda

Ref: ACC no: 93619097028

Thank you for your email which arrived in my inbox at approx. 1.31am – gosh you do work long hours, but then given the state of your operation it’s hardly surprising!

I would liked to have been able to respond to the email – it would be the most natural and obvious thing to allow me to do – after all you chose to use email as the medium of communication – however the email address you used is “Scottish Power” <donotreply@scottishpower.co.uk> and guess what it generates a fail message.  Oh dear me!

I have already had to take you to the energy ombudsman once to resolve a complaint – successfully on my account I would add.

I don’t want to have to do it again so please, please, please check your records and identify the data.  It’s a simple matter to sort the correct details for my final payment (surely?) – it’s just that I’m not prepared to do it on estimated readings – knowing how you’ve managed to transpose them in the past I have asked for a bill based on confirmed readings.

Is that such a hard thing to do?  I mean the Government is always encouraging us to switch – or is it your policy to make it as inaccurate and complicated (for the customer)as possible to test their resolve and win through “inertia”.

So the ball is in your court – it has been for some time – so perhaps I could paraphrase the words you use in your email.

It is very important that you sort this now to avoid compensation being added to my account.

BTW – I don’t respond well to threats – you’ve tried that before and look where it got you!

Yours in ever increasing levels of both frustration and concern that we may end up in the ombudsman’s office – again!

etc etc.

The truth about the A34 Oxford southern bypass works

Here what the council says and what the reality is!

What is happening?
Improvements to the Hinksey Hill interchange and Kennington roundabout were identified as critical to reducing congestion on the ring road and A34.

We realise we ***ed up by not widening the A34 (a major trunk road!) when we decided to use it as the bypass for Oxford but we’re still going to ignore that issue!

Kennington
The Kennington Roundabout will be converted to a ‘hamburger’ style layout. A new carriageway for eastbound traffic will go through the central island providing a more direct route through the junction.

However we’ll still ensure that there plenty of queues as we’ll make sure there are loads of traffic lights to stop you!

For westbound traffic the roundabout will be widened to provide two segregated lanes for people travelling towards the A34. There will also be two lanes for traffic turning at the roundabout to travel into Oxford via the Abingdon Road.

Yeh, whatever

Hinksey
The improvements at the Hinksey Hill Interchange on the A34 that will include a new ‘free flow’ slip road from the Southern Bypass south onto the A34, by widening of the approach to the roundabout and removing the need for traffic to stop at the traffic lights.

Because we’re ignoring the fact that the problems are actually for traffic trying to get off the A34 both South and North at peak times – not getting onto it!

Traffic will be able to travel through the area during the work, and businesses will be open as usual. However drivers are advised to plan their journeys in advance to take account of anticipated severe delays, however, this improvement work will bring major benefits to the flow of traffic to this congested part of the city.

We’re going to make you suffer – and if you believe that this will improve your journey to work if you have to go past Hinksey Hill – you’re living in cloud cuckoo land!

The decision to allow the A34 to be used as a ring road for Oxford – without widening it in the first place – ranks along side the decision to allow Esso to build a garage in what was the obvious place to continue the ring road around Bicester. Both the product of deluded minds!

The lights! The lights! “I’m blinded”

Well dear readers it’s time for a new rant! And what subject should I choose?

The furore around Clarkson attempts to NOT us the “N” word? No I don’t think so – I’m far more interested in the good christian fellow who decided to leak the video to the Mirror – I hope he or she doesn’t live in a glass house!

Or perhaps the fact that farmers seem to be able to time their ability to leave shit all over our roads at exactly the same time it pours with rain so the shit gets transferred to our cars!

Or perhaps Bucks CC decision to paint nice white lines down our village road when we’d rather they FIXED THE BLOODY POTHOLES!!!

No, none of these – today’s rant is on the topic of car daytime running lights – why? lights We don’t live in bloody Scandinavia, it’s actually “light” as in “daylight” for most of the time that peak volumes of cars are on the roads!

As I drove down the A34 this morning on my way to work I became aware of a 2013 Honda CRV – as it got closer I became sufficiently aware that I thought I might lose my vision as my retinas were beginning to glow as the glare from these xenon, kryponite or whatever powered “LED” lights – usually arranged in some “trendy” (oh dear god do they really think that?) arrangement and designed to do what? I really don’t know what they’re designed to do.lights2 Even in grey cloudy skies like this morning around 8am visibility is still many 100’s of yards so I don’t really see the need for them.

Perhaps they’re designed to help people coming up behind them to avoid running into the back of them? Well clearly they aren’t as said CRV didn’t actually have ANY lights on at the rear – I deliberately pulled over to let it pass so I could check!

And anyway – haven’t we already got sidelights, headlight and fog lights – front and rear? So rather than trying to blind other road users – have you noticed dear reader how headlights are getting brighter and brighter? – why not focus on making lights come on and off automatically – if it’s a safety thing that’s behind them…? Well I looked into the EU – yes that’s where this came from – and their final report said this:

7. Various sources of variation in the effects of DRL for cars have been examined. It
was concluded that:

  • a. The effects of DRL are greater for fatal accidents than for injury accidents, and greater for injury accidents than for property-damage-only accidents. Evidence of effects for fatal accidents is, however, highly uncertain.
  • b. The effects of DRL are likely to be greater at latitudes further away from the Equator than at latitudes close to the Equator. The evidence for such a relationship is, however, somewhat noisy.
  • c. It is likely that DRL has a favourable effect on accidents involving pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists. An adverse effect on rear-end collisions has been found in studies of the aggregate effects of DRL.   DRL  combined with switched-off taillights can counteract this effect, as well as the use of high mounted brake lights.

So!  They don’t work for rear end shunts then – well maybe they need to be switched around then.  Make the rear lights really bright and tone down the power on the front lights! Clearly this is just another example of the McDonald’s “Hot” coffee syndrome gone mad, and those wastrels over in Brussels decided it was someting else they could claim their expenses on! If you really want to read the whole thing it’s here – Are you Mad? and for those of you who really should know better the actual EU law is here Abandon hope all yea who enter here

In all seriousness I’m beginning to wonder when the first motorist is going to use the defence of “sorry m’lud this damn Audi, Merc, Honda appeared in my rear view mirrors and it was just the the Hairy Strikers on Soccer AM – “I’m Blinded”.

 

 

Sobell, so bad, so why bother?

I’m so disappointed that I’m writing this post.  Sobell House is a marvellous institution – I know from personal experience – and they deserve all the support that they can get.  Unfortunately they really need to get their back end sh*t together or they’ll continue to lose value income.  In the current economic climate with services being cut because of central government policies and people’s disposable incomes being squeezed by static wage rises and inflation that verges on the criminal.

I had bagged up a load of my wife’s clothes, along with some of mine – all of them new, clean and in excellent condition – some never worn.  But donating them to Sobell proved to be a near impossibility.

Usually by the weekend their shop in Bicester is unable to take any more donations – yep, wasted my time driving into town on that fool’s errand and even then I knew they could only take a couple of bags at a time….

So I looked to see what other facilities they had to enable me to donate.  I found their website and the following information http://www.sobellhospicecharity.org.uk/node/148 – so it was only open on the 2nd Sunday of each month…not the most customer friendly, nor convenient for someone like me who lives almost 27 miles away.  anyway I stored everything in the spare room and waited for the day to arrive – last sunday.  Now obviously this wasn’t the only chore I had to perform on a sunday so I set out before the opening time – it’s a 40 minute drive after all but it was another wasted journey.

When I got there I could see from a black and white sign on the wall outside the unit that there was a sale on.  There were a few people around – I saw a couple coming out having purchased a paperback!  What the sign also informed me was that on sale days they cannot accept donations!

Now I had about 10 or 12 bags of clothes with a resale value of in excess of £100 (maybe much more) – even at charity shop prices.  Despite my irritation I thought I’d give it one last chance and drove back to Bicester and into Market Square to see if the shop was open – it wasn’t.

So the one choice left open to me – as I wanted to resolve the situation that same day – was to drive to the tip in Buckingham.  Which I did and a very helpful man there helped to unload my car and 80 odd miles and over 2 hours later I got back home.

What a waste of time and money – and I’m not referring to my time and petrol money which I’m happy to “donate” no I’m referring to the staff at Sobell’s warehouse.  I saw at least 2 jobsworths standing around outside the warehouse – doing nothing – then could have been unloading the donations I’d brought – or updating their website to let the public know that they’ll be wasting their time is they think they donate on sale days – maybe pre-publicise the sale days…..

And as to the waste of money well on the basis that the recycling centre’s clothes recycling is done on a commercial basis – absolutely none of that money will go to charity!  As I said what a waste of money – and remember that it currently costs around £4 million a year to run Sobell house, much of which is raised through the support and generosity of individuals and companies throughout the community.

Does Steve Webbs the Pensions Minister really exist?

I was pleased to find a response from Steve Webb in my inbox – well I was until I read its contents….

What is the point of offering to answer a question via the contact form on your website if you are now passing the buck!   Is he afraid of answering or does he actually never answer these questions?  In other words is his website just a sham – does he really exist?

 

From: Steve Webb MP [mailto:steve@stevewebb.org.uk]
Sent: 19 July 2013 12:47
To:
Subject: FW: Form submission from: Contact form

 

Dear Mr West,

Thank you for your e-mail to the constituency office of Steve Webb, Member of Parliament for Thornbury and Yate.

If you are contacting Steve in his capacity as Minister of State for Pensions, you can e-mail ministers@dwp.gsi.gov.uk .   You will receive a reply from the Department and the target for replies to letters and e-mails is 20 working days.

However, if you are seeking a detailed reply to your specific circumstances you should contact your local MP who can raise your concerns with the Department and obtain a reply from the Minister.

Thank you for your e-mail.

 

Constituency office of Steve Webb MP

—–Original Message—–
From: webmaster@stevewebb.org.uk [mailto:webmaster@stevewebb.org.uk]
Sent: 19 July 2013 07:18
To: ingrid2@stevewebb.org.uk
Subject: Form submission from: Contact form

Submitted on Fri, 07/19/2013 – 07:18

Name: Paul West

 

Comments:

I think it is immoral, unethical and downright wrong to tax Bereavement Allowance – discuss!

My understanding is that if your husband, wife or civil partner has died you may be able to get Bereavement Payment: a one-off, tax-free, lump-sum payment of £2,000.

You might also be able to claim Bereavement Allowance if you’re a widow, widower or surviving civil partner between 45 and State Pension age.  It is paid to you for up to 52 weeks from the date of death of your husband, wife or civil partner.

 

Now presumably these are to help you get over the initial impact of the loss of income from the person who has died – it will also help cover any expenses that you have to pay out for example the cost of the funeral – or for that matter the cost of getting certified copies of the documents you’re going to need to sort out the late person’s estate.

 

The Bereavement Allowance is however taxable!  Which seems to me somewhat unethical, immoral and downright wrong.  The amount you get is based on the amount that your late partner paid into the state via their NI contributions and is paid on the basis that your partner will not be able to receive the state pension that would normally be paid, for the duration of their life after pensionable age.

So in my example where my wife died at 54 having paid her NI contributions for over 30 years and with a normal life expectancy for women of what 80(?) she could have expected to receive somewhere in the region of £85,800.  So it would appear that instead the amount the government will have to pay out is in the region of  £5,500.  So in my case the government is in profit to tune of over £80,000.

So tell me Steven John Webb, better known as Steve Webb (born 18 July 1965), is an English Liberal Democrat politician, the Member of Parliament for Thornbury & Yate and the Minister of State for Pensions – how do you justify making that benefit taxable?

According to Wikipedia, Webb was born in Birmingham to Brian and Patricia Webb, and attended the local comprehensive school (Dartmouth High School), before going on to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Hertford College, Oxford. He then worked at the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London, where he specialised in researching into poverty, taxes and benefits.

In 1995, he became a Professor of Social Policy at the University of Bath.

Sound to me like he researched into how to increase poverty by decreasing benefits and increasing taxes. As he says on his website…..

If you are not one of my constituents but would like to raise an issue related to my role as Pensions Minister, please check the contact page at the Department of Work and Pensions or write to me at: Department for Work & Pensions Caxton House Tothill Street London SW1H 9DA.

So Steve answer my question – just how do you justify this policy?

 

The results of this submission may be viewed at:

http://www.stevewebb.org.uk/webb/node/9/submission/448