Thursday, September 22, 2011

Can't Resist the RANT!

Hallo fiends.

The requests for an update have been overwhelming (no, really, for once I'm not making this up) so, in lieu of anything major to report, it's time for one of my patented 'one size fits all' rants.

The move into the new home is complete. It's unfair of me to gloat, but we really have lucked out with our house and everything about it. A close friend describe our existence as 'idyllic' and it's hard to disagree. Apart from the fact that one of us has to go to work (practically) each day is beside the point. That it is both 'apart from the fact' and 'beside the point' would indicate that it is important nonetheless.

So what do I have to rant about? I'm glad you asked, but I fear you soon won't be.

Firstly (yes, there's going to be more than one) I return to a previous rant about everyone's favourite telco - BT. FFS! I'll get the thumbs up out of the way early; the move of house (as far as our phone/interweb is concerned) went without a hitch. Thank you BT. But her parents came to stay a couple of weeks ago. Her parents cannot live without television. So, while we could care less and have done splendidly without it, we decided to hook up to a BT Vision package in order to entertain the 'in-laws' during their stay. Yeah, 'sif! I ordered our BT Vision a week or more before they were due to arrive only to be informed that the 'activation period' (WTF?) would be ten days. Brilliant. So we're going to have to talk with them for three days of their stay, but's that's alright I suppose. So I order it anyway. The day before the equipment is due to arrive she says 'You don't really expect it to arrive on time, do you?' to which I replied, 'Of course I do, what could possibly go wrong?'.

I am obviously an idiot.

The morning of our BT Vision activation comes and goes with no sign of our equipment. So I go online to check the status of the order. As is de rigeur for such interweb sites I get a message saying the website is unable to provide details of the status of my order, so I'll need to call them on the phone. A chill runs down my spine. I've tried phoning BT before, and the results still terrify me. Anyway, long story short and all that, they tell me that my order was move to their credit department for a credit check. What? That's right, a credit check. Despite me paying our phone and internet to BT on time every month for the past six months via direct debit they decide to ping me for a credit check. WTF? Obviously our recent change of address has flagged something, but my previous credit check and account status apparently means nothing. And it's not just the fact that I've been credit checked again, but the fact that (despite giving them my phone number - which THEY gave me remember - and my email address) they failed to advise of this development made me steaming with rage. Add to this the fact that not only had my order been transferred to the credit department, but the credit department had not processed my credit check and had somehow forgotten all about it. To say nothing of the fact (except that I'm actually now saying something about it) that after they phoned me back to explain what was going on they advised me that they could proceed with the order but would have to charge me a ₤50 deposit. Apparently I'm now a greater credit risk in a home I have just bought after paying them on time for six months. Are they mental?

So furious, I concede to their burning hoops and ask for them to proceed with my order. Great, let's just leave all of this nastiness behind us, shall we? However I am then informed that, because my order was in credit check, it never actually proceeded in the first place, meaning they have to schedule a new activation date. Some seven days away. WTF? The 'in-laws' will be gone by then. I ask to speak to managers up the line (I know you call centre people hate folks who do this, but I was livid and was going to exhaust every avenue) who all assured me that there was nothing they could do to expedite the activation period. So, because the 'in-laws' were going to be gone by then I had no need for their televimetric broadcast reception device and could they please cease with my order. And then they had the gall to talk to me as if I was being unreasonable. FFS!

BT, you are a joke. A ridiculous, brain-squeezing, stress-inducing JOKE! Where do I get compensation for having to speak to the 'in-laws' every single day of their stay? Oh, the HUMANITY!

Which brings me neatly (some would say segues) to my next rant. Television Licensing. For my Australian (and other international) readers, the BBC is partially funded by the issuing of television licenses to (almost all) UK households. It's not exactly cheap. It's around ₤150pa. But for those who can't afford it all in one go there is the option to pay in instalments. Brilliant! Now, because we've incurred a few incidental charges lately (like buying a frikken HOUSE!) I decide we'll opt to pay by instalments. I was going to pay upfront, but it made some sense to spread it out. That is until I got to the online checkout. Having chosen 'pay monthly' the site paid me the courtesy of listing the scheduled monthly deductions before I hit 'confirm'. I glad they did. My maths isn't terrible. I can do most sums in me 'ed. I don't always get the perfect answer to problems arithmetic, but my approximations are always pretty close. So I figured I'd be up for around ₤12 per month. However, this TV licensing website was going to charge me closer to ₤30 per month. WTF? My maths isn't that bad! It took me ages looking at various websites (not all of the relevant information was easily to hand on the TV Licensing site) to discover that the penalty you pay to pay via monthly deductions is to be charged six months in advance. Whose idea was this? The people who are most likely to have to opt to pay in instalments are those that are less likely to be able to afford to pay more than those who would likely choose to pay the fee upfront. Am I wrong? so why are you charging them six months extra? And don't try to tell my that it's a one-off advance. It's forever. You are NEVER going to get that six months advance back. You are always going to paying an advance in your TV License. Do they refund it to you AFTER YOU HAVE DIED? Seriously?

Deep breath.

After by BT debacle I have saved the TV License fee. But not before they have sent letters resembling court summonses threatening me with prison unless I fork over the cash. Pfft.

Thirdly, and finally for now, I will rant about car insurance. I have been driving for around twenty years. I have never had an accident. Ever. I have had a couple of minor (and a couple of major) indiscretions during my driving career, but nothing that has resulted in an insurance claim. I drive like a granny - usually. I have had advanced driver training whilst obtaining my motorcycle license (via an intensive, competency-based program). I am also over (well over) the age that insurance companies deem that I am an automatic threat to society given that I possess a penis (although I hear that that form of mandatory discrimination is now illegal). So I have just obtained my UK drivers license in order to be added to her car insurance - in the unlikely event that she would ever let me drive her car. I couldn't be added without a UK drivers license. So now I've got it (complete with the obligatory photograph that makes me look like a criminal) we phone the AA to get me added. so after all of the questions and back and forth, some 30-40 minutes (thank your non-existent god it wasn't me on the phone) the deal is done. Then she tells me that it cost an extra ₤400pa to add me to her insurance. Her insurance was originally ₤600. Now it's ₤1,000! That's a 66.6% increase (I told you my maths wasn't bad). WTF? It's the same car. It's not like it can be driven twice simultaneously. It didn't suddenly increase in value (in fact I guarantee you that car isn't worth half what she paid for it - but don't tell her I told you that). There is nothing that adding me as a driver could possibly add to the risk concerning an insurance company. Nothing. I would have gotten in a lather had they added ₤100 as some kind of 'administrative charge'. But no, they are extorting us out of an extra ₤400pa. I think I've got a right to pop a freaken nerve. ₤400? They have got to be joking? And it's not a one-off charge, either. It's a charge that will exist (decreasing incrementally for each year I hold a UK license) for around ten years. This theft is enshrined in law. It is illegal to drive without insurance. The insurance companies are all colluding to ensure that you cannot escape these charges. It is not only immoral, it is unjustifiable.

And I'll give you a quick lesson in insurance for anyone that may doubt me. Insurance companies don't hold your money in a box ready to pay you when something goes wrong. They invest it. They earn money (BIG money) on all of the premiums they collect. But it's not like they are some benevolent care givers earning revenue to distribute to people forced to make claims. No! Insurance companies actively (and in some cases menacingly) seek restitution of the monies they pay out in claims from those responsible for the claim. This means that when you are in an accident and the insurance company pays money for repairs it is not the end of the action as far as the insurance company is concerned, even if it is the end of the transaction as far as you are concerned. The insurance company will HUNT DOWN those responsible and take COURT ACTION against them to recover the funds. So in fact the insurance company rarely, if ever, pays for the cost of the claims out of the money they have collected (and subsequently invested) from you. and this extortionate profiteering is all sanctioned by government legislation (as opposed to any other random kinds of legislation).

Another deep breath.

Before I resort to extreme profanity I am going to curtail this ranting post. I've got a lot of things off my chest, and I thank you for listening. I am about to go and pour myself another coffee and promise to return with a post of EPIC WIN. Really. It's not all bad news.

Until about an hour or so . . .



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