As part of my preparation for moving (about which another post sometime soon) this week I ordered some decent moving boxes from SafeStore. Yes, I’m sure there are other sources for them, and so on, but I was happy with the stuff on offer, and they’d deliver it, so *shrug*, it’ll do.
For cost-effectiveness (within the provisos of “I’m sure I could get it better somewhere else, but CBA to hunt”) I got one of their “kits” – 4 each of small, medium and large box sizes for considerably less than individual prices – and also added in some bubblewrap, tissue paper, and a mattress cover. All well and good.
It got delivered this morning, as expected and on-time. Two boxes – one the ‘kit’ box, and one for the bubblewrap roll etc. Except… there’s no mattress cover, no tissue paper. So I called them up to let them know, and the lady went off to check with the despatchers. And that was where it got weird.
“Have you checked in the Kit box? They say they might’ve put the extra things in there, to keep it all together“.
And it turned out that was exactly what had happened. But that boggles my mind.
Now, I assume (and I’m aware it’s an assumption and thus could be utterly flawed) that the kit boxes are exactly that – they come as a sealed box with the kit contents in. That makes sense to me. (Otherwise they’d be assembling the kit from box stocks for every order, which seems… odd)
So, if that’s the case, the despatchers opened a kit box, put the extra bits in, sealed it up, and then put it with the other box that already had bubblewrap etc. in it. Why go to that effort when there’s an unsealed box (with space in it) right there? Why make even more work for oneself?
[Note : I actually did better than expected out of this deal – because they didn’t send me the kit box I’d ordered, and instead sent one that’s larger, and should’ve cost about £10 more!]
My local council are, to be polite, utterly fucking useless. Their skills in organisation, communication, professionalism and competence appear to be absolutely zero – in fact, most of the time I doubt they could even spell any of those words, let alone be good at them.
But, after literally years of nagging, they’ve finally done two of the jobs I’ve been nagging them about.
First, we start with The Bridge
Six years ago (I’ve probably written about it before, but can’t be arsed currently to check) we had a mains water line burst near the village – a burst that was so powerful, it destroyed the bridge wall that the pipe was next to. Now, it’s not a main road per se (i.e. it’s not an A-road or motorway) but it is one of the two main roads from my village to Milton Keynes and the motorway. So it’s not short of a fair bit of traffic.
Initially, Anglian Water put up some cones/barriers and traffic lights so that the road was usable (kinda/sorta) but reduced to one lane, on the side that wasn’t missing half a bridge wall. That situation remained for about six months (with regular failures of the traffic lights) until I asked Anglian Water what was actually happening, and had they forgotten about the bloody thing. Turned out, they had forgotten. And there began the saga of getting it fixed.
Anglian moved things about, put in a temporary fence and barrier, opened the road up, and tried to get a repair done. (Which was fraught with its own issues around who actually owned the fucking thing, who was responsible for what, etc. etc.) The council insisted it should be done by their Highways department, who would do the work properly, and all that happy crap. So after eighteen months, Anglian handed the entire clusterfuck over to Central Bedfordshire Council, as requested, and washed their hands of the problem.
For four years I’ve been asking when it’s going to happen, what’s occurring, and so on. It’s outlasted four admin assistants, and two managers. And every time they’ve said “Oh, it’s all scheduled, we’ll hopefully have it done in about three months time“. I do realise there’ve been a lot of hassles – again, with who owns the bridge and the land underneath it, who’ll be stumping up the money, how it’ll all work and so on. But it’s been four years where it would’ve been all too possible for someone to come off the road, through the fence, and end up twenty-odd feet down underneath it. After every decent storm we’ve had, I’ve had to contact the council and suggest that they might want to come and put the fence back up, along with the holders/barrier that’ve fallen over.
But about a month ago, signs went up around the bridge saying that work was going to start, and take about eight weeks. And it actually started, and has been progressing nicely. (Not that anyone from the council has thought to send a message saying “Hey, just to catch you up, it’s all happening”. That would be expecting far too much from them!
Second – the other bridge.
Back at the start of the pandemic, in the next village to mine, someone went on a graffiti spree, writing/spraying stuff on all the village’s road signs and so on. Nothing monumentally offensive, just stupid shit that no-one needs to see. And in fairness, Central Bedfordshire’s Highways department cleaned most of it off comparatively quickly. (I think it only took them a fortnight to get rid of the stuff that was nasty about Central Beds Council, and then about another two months to get rid of the less offensive but stupid stuff)
And then when Captain Tom hysteria was at its peak (Captain Tom was from the village I live in, so it was all relevant locally) they sprayed a big message about him on one of the other local bridges. You can see some of it below, or go to Google Streetview here for the full experience
That’s taken two and a half years to get rid of, but finally got cleaned off last month. Of course, others who’ve seen how long it takes Central Beds to sort these things, have also taken to graffiti’ing local walls and so on. Fine, it may be an influx of new people, but before the first lot happened (and that person has since moved away) we never saw any happening. Now though, I can easily think of eight or nine sites that have been hit.
Again, allegedly there were problems for the council in gaining permissions/clearances to clean that bridge – it goes over a railway line, and they were saying they couldn’t clean/wash the bridge while things might be running underneath, although that sounds like bullshit. The cleaning job when it finally happened didn’t go over the top of the bridge wall at all, so nothing would’ve been affected. But there we go.
Purely personally, I suspect that if that graffiti had said “Central Beds council are useless bastards” it would’ve only been there a couple of weeks. But because it was about Captain Tom, I wonder if they thought it would be worse to get rid of it than to leave it. I don’t know.
Anyway. Both jobs have (finally) been done, and it’s really nice that I won’t have to nag the useless bastards any more. But things like this shouldn’t take that long to get sorted. If it had been me in charge of either project I’d have got the work done, and *then* chased whoever needed to pay for it, including court stuff if necessary. But the general public don’t need to see those delays, regardless of the cause – we just want to see stuff that’s been broken get fixed.
I don’t know what the answers are on all this – but government (both local and national) at the moment just seems like one giant clusterfuck of ineffectiveness and general incompetence. And surely there must be better ways than what we’ve currently got?
Roughly eighteen months ago, my energy supplier of the time (nPower, a company I’m epically happy to be rid of) sold their domestic customer base to eonNext – one of the few energy companies with a worse customer rating than nPower. (So, quite the achievement)
At the time, I had a credit balance with eOn, and expected that to go on the final bill. I was expecting that bill to happen within about two months, and pay any excess over the credit at that point. Except I didn’t hear anything from eonNext at all. I was still able to log in to the customer panel, but nothing else happened. So eventually I shrugged my shoulders and left them to their own devices.
Yesterday (June 2022, fifteen months after switching supplier!) I got a bill from eonNext, telling me what I owed them through to January 2021.
Thankfully, I remembered reading in the Guardian’s Consumer Champions pages about OfGem’s back-billing rules , which basically say that you can’t be billed for energy used more than 12 months ago if you’ve not been billed for it already (or informed by statement of account) . Within that information page, they also include a link to the Citizen’s Advice form letter for telling energy companies that they’re in the wrong – which is obviously extremely helpful!
So this morning I emailed eonNext back (I was going to phone, but decided it was better to have it all in writing) with my own adaptations of the form letter, and proposing that (as a compromise) they used the money I’d left in the account as a part-payment, and could then sod off for the rest. (I phrased it a bit nicer than that, but that was definitely the implication) Yes, I could’ve said “And I want that credit back as well”, but well, I haven’t had it for nearly a year and a half, so it doesn’t matter.
This afternoon I got a response from eonNext agreeing with me, wiping out the bill, and sending me a confirmation that my bill is now at zero. (I’ve printed both of those documents out, just in case they prove in future to still be fucking useless)
All told, that bit of knowledge/memory and research, and about half-an-hour’s effort (searching for the correct article, checking things out etc.) has saved me a couple of hundred quid. And that’s got to be a success by anyone’s standards.
Last weekend, I went to the wedding of a friend. That’s nothing particularly news-worthy (hell, nor is the rest of this, but there we go)
Anyway, the dress-code was “smart”, and I’d been considering getting a new suit anyway, but before I ordered anything, I decided to try on my current ones.
I was pleased (and more than a little surprised) to find that the one I’d bought for attending the wedding where I got together with Herself – eighteen years ago!
So yes, interestingly I’ve remained the same size for that length of time. I know I’m a fat sod, but at least I’m a consistently fat sod!
Today I had my first ‘crash’ involving another vehicle. (I’d only had one other incident before, but that was an icy road in Norfolk, nearly 13 years ago, and it was only me involved) Before anything else, I’m fine – the car’s got a scraped body panel, but it was all fairly low-speed, no air-bags needed, no injuries, nothing.
As it was, I’m almost certain the responsibility wasn’t mine – although the other driver insists it was my fault, so I’m just letting the insurance companies fight it out. Basically though, I was in the correct lane, the other car was merging in and for some reason expected me to give way. We’ll see what the insurance people say.
It was at a new-ish junction, and the signage isn’t the easiest to understand, but I’ve driven it enough times that I know how it works. (Although the other driver also does it fairly regularly, so should know better! 🙂 )
Using the photo below, I was turning right out of Mike Griffin Way. You can be in either lane (which is fucked up in the first place). If you’re in the left-hand lane then that becomes the direct route; the right-hand lane has another turn-off (the rough equivalent of a hairpin turn) and then merges into the direct route. It was, in short, designed by a fucking idiot.
So I was in the left-hand lane having come out of Mike Griffin Way, with the other car in the right-hand lane. And at the merge (top-right of the image) they decided to pull into the left-hand lane. No indication or anything, just pulling in.
Fortunately, I was aware they were there, and as they pulled across I was already braking hard and sounding the horn to let them know I was there. But still, impact. Rather than blocking the road, we went up to the nearest layby, pulled in, did the whole exchange of details, photos and so on, and then got on with life. I’m happy with how I did everything – making sure they were OK, but also getting names, details, numbers, registration plates etc., and ensuring that they got mine as well. Basically, I didn’t want there to be any chance of miscommunications, or “he just drove off” accusations.
Because there’s been no injury, no road blockage etc., the police haven’t needed to be informed (another thing I also checked with the insurance company, to make sure they were happy with not having a police incident number or anything) and I’m quite happy to not have to involve them..
I don’t yet know what the outcome will be. My car’s OK, it’s got some nice new scratches and a dent, but it’s perfectly driveable, and I don’t know if I’ll even bother getting the scratches repaired. My insurance shouldn’t be affected (even if they decide it was my fault) as I’ve got a protected 10+ year No Claims Bonus, which means I could even have another accident (not that I’m planning to!) before even beginning to worry on that score.
We’ll see what happens, but all is good so far as I can tell. I wouldn’t recommend it as a way to spend an afternoon – but equally, things could have been *so* much worse in so, so many ways.
A few weeks ago, I got a weird piece of post – a V5 registration document for a vehicle I’ve never owned, to a name I’d never heard of, but with my address on it.
Having asked around a bit (in case the person was just a cretin who put in the wrong address) it turns out that this is a semi-common scam, registering a vehicle to a different address in order to avoid parking and speeding tickets etc.
As such, some people suggest that it should be registered as SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notification) but that still connects the vehicle to the address, and leaves you open to receiving documents, fines etc.
Instead, I decided to instead return the document to DVLA, along with a cover note explaining that I didn’t know the car and didn’t know the person, and had been at current address long enough to know that the person hadn’t lived there any time in the last decade. I scanned in both documents so I’ve also got a record of it, should it be needed.
Yesterday, I got a response from DVLA, which confirms that what I did is the best thing to do. They’ve removed the connection of my address to the vehicle, although it’s still possible that some fines etc. may come to me – but in that case, to send the issuing authority a copy of the letter received, and confirm that It’s Not Mine.
So, interesting to see how things work. Hopefully I won’t get any further issues with it, but I’m as protected as possible if anything does happen.
In many ways it’s hard to believe that it’s already two years ago today that the UK’s first Coronavirus lockdown was announced.
Since then, time feels like it’s done some very strange things – some things feel like only yesterday when it turns out they were three or four years ago, but stuff that was yesterday feels like an eternity has passed.
Here, I’ve been lucky, as I still haven’t caught it – although that’s more by luck than judgement, and probably that’s helped by being single, antisocial, and without children, thus eliminating an awful lot of the potential vectors. I’ve also been lucky in that it hasn’t affected me in the same ways it’s affected a lot of people – I wasn’t suddenly thrown into a world of working from home, with a lot of my social interactions removed, and nor was I suddenly having to be in close confinement with partners or others.
It’s still not been easy, but it’s been OK. It could have been a lot worse – and obviously for lots of people, it was. And is. And will continue to be.
I don’t know how we’ll handle things in the future. I know that “going back to how things were” is a pipe-dream. We’ll find ways to accommodate life with Coronavirus, and it’ll affect us less (much as it’s already doing) but it’s not going to disappear, and things won’t ever be “how they were”.
Onwards, upwards, whatever.