New Glasses

As I said in an earlier post, I now have new glasses again.  I had been due to get my eyes checked back in March, but as I was getting to the time when it was due, of course Coronavirus did its thing, and we all got locked down.

I’d known that my eyes had changed, that things weren’t as clear as they had been. It wasn’t anything major, but definitely something that needed to be sorted.

So when I finally got an email from Specsavers saying “You can book again for an eye test“, that’s what I did. The process was a pig – I haven’t seen browser-specific stuff in a long while, but it took a change of browser before things got sorted.  But it got sorted, I got booked in, and on we go.

The actual eye test was smooth as usual – although there were fewer people in the store at any time, no drop-ins, and everyone wearing PPE – but it all went fine. Somehow my left eye had improved, and my right had got worse. I’ve no idea how that’s possible or makes any sense at all, but there we go. Anyway, I chose the frames I wanted, paid a metric sod-load (even with  one set of frames being free, the lenses I need are still cocking expensive) and waited two weeks.

The collection of them was the only thing that was a pain – because of current situation, they weren’t doing the usual proper fitting appointment, so collection was “we’ve adjusted them to how we think they’ll work for you” and off you go.

Safe to say, those adjustments weren’t right for me. For whatever reason, the initial fittings never do – I assume my head/face just doesn’t fit in with the standard fitting algorithms and so on – so I made an appointment to go back and get them redone.  That also didn’t work, so I called them back again and pushed for a proper “no, we need to re-measure this” appointment, got that, and got it all sorted.

All told, it took a couple of weeks longer than usual (just because each re-fitting took a week to organise – they’re ridiculously busy, with the reduced number of customers allowed in at any time) but I’m now happy with the new glasses. Hopefully it’ll be another couple of years before I need to get anything else sorted!


Lockdown – Blinds

A while ago, I ordered a vertical blind from Tuiss (Edited on 23/05 : who now sell as Blinds2Go – sorry, forgot to add this before) to replace the shitty curtain in the front room, and got it fitted.  I’ve been really pleased with it since, and it’s generally handled life pretty well.

However, two heavy-footed felines stomping in and out of it had meant that some of the clips to hold it all together (plastic chain with connectors onto each slat of the blind) had snapped, so it was beginning to look a bit ropy.  (Additionally, the fabric I chose is slightly rough, so grabs cat fur like an absolute bastard, but that’s a different issue)

Anyway, the number of snapped connectors was getting close to outnumbering the ones still intact, so I got in touch with Tuiss to find out whether I could get some replacement weights and chains.

As it turns out, when I say it was bought and installed “a while ago”, it turns out I meant “nearly six years ago”. All things considered, that means they’ve lasted pretty well.

Tuiss found my order, and we discussed what bits I needed – and at each point I was clear and said I was happy to pay for the pieces, it seemed only fair after six years.  But they’ve kept on insisting that they’ll just send them out – and they’ve done so.

The bits arrived yesterday, and are now all in place on the blind. I’m really pleased with it, and impressed with Tuiss. Depending on how things go, if I decide to replace the blind then I’ll go back to them and do so, and see what they’ll charge me for a replacement blind without needing the infrastructure (the actual holding frame/mechanism and so on)


Reinsuring

The world of Car Insurance is very, very strange.  I truly don’t understand how it all works.

My car insurance is due for renewal in October, so I recently received the renewal gubbins from my current insurer.  They’ve put my insurance up by £60 for the year.  Bear in mind, I’ve not even spoken to them all year, let alone made a claim, and I’ve now got another year’s no claims discount as well.  And yet it’s gone up.

So I shopped around, doing the usual comparison website thing (Meerkats rather than opera singers) and got one that’s actually £120 cheaper than what I was being offered by the current insurer – and with slightly better cover.

Brilliant, I’ll sign up and do that.  Job done. And this is where it all gets weird(er)

My new insurer is actually one I used a couple of years ago. So when I log in to their ‘self-service portal’ to see my new policy, all I can see is the details of the old one. Fuck sake.  (It looks like the policy is actually tied to a combination of my username and password – so I can change password, and now view the new details instead – but I didn’t know that at the time)

So first things first, I call my current insurer to tell them I won’t be renewing with them. It’s the usual automatic phone gubbins, and gives the name of the insurance provider – let’s call them ABC Insurers, for the sake of argument.   I give the correct information, go through, tell them I won’t be renewing, explain why, and it’s as easy as that.

Then I call the new insurers. Who are also using ABC Insurers.  So I go through the correct information for the new insurance, get things sorted, get the documents emailed to me, and it’s as easy as that.

But it’s weird – I’ve used two different companies (well, two different front-ends) and given them the same information (obviously) but one faction is offering me a significantly better deal than both the one I’m on, and the renewal quote from the one I’m on.  But they’re both the same company underneath!

How the fuck does that make sense? Offering the same person two completely different prices (and slightly different packages/benefits)  Why not allow my current insurer to offer the same price as my new one?  It’s all just a bit bizarre.


Anniversal

Having gone through the six years of the bankruptcy process (as I’ve written about many times in that period) today marks a year since that process completed. Time flies, and all that rot.

It’s the final real anniversary of any significance though – even though it came off my record a year ago, most of the banks work on a “Six years plus one” basis (fuck only knows why, but that’s their choice) when it comes to ‘full’ current accounts and the like.

So that’s where we are now – the full “six years plus one” is complete.

It shouldn’t affect things much – it would be nice to have a ‘full’ account with overdraft facility and so on , but only because that’s another thing that is good to have.  I’ve done fine over the last seven years with no overdraft and never needing one, and I don’t see any reason why that would change now.

However, it does mean I’ll almost certainly move away from my current bank’s offering, purely because they were lying dicks about it all the way through the process. Once I’d gone through the first year where I was officially bankrupt, I was fine to have a basic current account. When I got it, I was totally honest with the bank, and they said I could try to apply for an upgrade to a ‘full’ current account on a regular basis (every six months or so) and see how I did.

It was only after three years that anyone mentioned that they wouldn’t give me an account until the “six years plus one” – ‘but it’s not that we have a policy, sir, it’s just that’s how it works, we won’t do it before then‘ – and so had basically lied and wasted my time for all those reviews.  That did cost them money in the end – a complaint went all the way to the Financial Ombudsman, who found in my favour.  (The rule in this case is keep a record of all paperwork and appointments, so you can show a history of wasted time, and stuff that you wouldn’t have done if they’d been honest and said to not bother for seven years!)

So yes, I’ll probably change banks for the current account – I’m not yet sure who to, but we’ll see what happens.

But the most important thing really is that now, seven years on, there’s nothing else keeping me back.


Wallets

Back in October, based on a recommendation (and a liking of the style) I bought a new wallet from Rains. Not the cheapest of things, but also not world-shatteringly expensive, I liked the (slightly weird) sort-of-rubberised material it’s made from, and that it wasn’t leather.

Over the last three or four years I’ve swapped wallets a few times, trying out new things and designs, most of which haven’t really worked out for how I do things.So far though, the Rains one has suited me pretty well.

However, last week I realised that the rubber holding strap was breaking – along the line of the cut-in company name, which wasn’t really a surprise.  But for a not-cheap wallet, I would still have expected it to last better than that.  So I emailed Rains to say about this problem, and attached a photo of the problem.  I could’ve lived with it – once it finally snaps I could cut the strap off completely, and it wouldn’t affect the actual functionality at all – but still, might as well let them know.

Within the day they’d come back to me, offering a replacement or refund – and either way, to not worry about returning the faulty one.  I chose a replacement, which was sent out the same day, and arrived (from the Netherlands) a couple of days later.

I’ve again offered to return the faulty one (I figure they could at least see what’d gone wrong – but maybe it’s more of a common thing, I don’t know) but they’ve insisted on me keeping that as well, so fair enough.

All told though, I’ve been really impressed with Rains and how they’ve done things. There’ve been no questions or quibbles at all, just a simple smooth process that really stands out from most places. It shouldn’t stand out just for that (ideally this should be just how things are done) but it definitely does.


Disconnecting

As part of the whole bankruptcy process (now well and truly complete, of course) I’ve been using a couple of free services to keep track of my credit score.  It’s been useful to know what’s going on, and where things stand.

I primarily use ClearScore (who use data from Equifax) and CreditKarma – who used to be Noddle – and use data from Transunion (which used to be Legatio)

Part of the reports from both of those (and from Experian, whose ‘free’ service is an absolute dumpster fire, and absolutely refuses to allow me to view my own data) involves past addresses, and people with whom one has had a credit connection – things like a shared mortgage, or whatever.

Looking through the CreditKarma stuff in particular, I noticed that they still have a record of my old addresses going right back to Bracknell – bearing in mind, I moved there back in early 2005…   It also still had me linked to Herself for the mortgage we had back on the Norfolk place (which must’ve been 2007/8, if not earlier)

So, I asked them about why this stuff was still on there – bearing in mind, credit stuff is supposed to stay on one’s record for six years and then go – and got a response back that was… less than encouraging.  (Note, I’m going to edit some of this so it’s comprehensible without being comprehensive)

There are several reasons why TransUnion UK hold historic address information [including] something called asset reunification, which is when TransUnion UK helps clients trace the holders of lost or forgotten financial accounts, such as pensions or bank accounts.  So, if you have an account associated with an old address that you don’t know about, financial institutions will be able to find you.

Another reason [we hold] old historic address information is to help organisations trace individuals who have moved without telling their creditors where their new home is (this is known as debt tracing).

For now, let me confirm that TransUnion UK holds address information indefinitely. However, they are reviewing their policy to see if a fixed upper limit can be set on how long they will keep address data for.

The “Indefinite holding” of that data is definitely a no-no. So far as I know, it’s still the case that if a company doesn’t get in touch with a debtor at all for six years, that debt is no longer viable, and is effectively written off.  So historic data could be stored for (I’ll be charitable) seven years, and then get erased. I’d be OK (ish) with that, at least.

But this is information going back more than twice that time.  I’ve now filed requests to lose all of that data – I’ve now been at this one address for longer than the six years usually required – and also to take away the connection to Herself. (I can’t imagine she’d be overly happy to still have that connection either)  We’ll see what happens on those things.

I’m also going to refer this to the Information Commissioner, because I’m pretty sure they’ll be interested in anyone who claims to be storing personal data indefinitely…


Weirdly Consistent

When I moved here six-and-a-half years ago (and yes, that does still freak me out) I got a Cineworld Unlimited card, so I could see as many films as I wanted to.  It’s a decent deal, less than £20 a month, so as long as you see more than one film per month, it’s paid for itself.

Because I’m a geek, I also started listing what I’d seen, with a separate sheet per year.

And it seems like I’m really quite consistent in how many films I see each year – not through any plan or schedule, it’s just the way it’s worked out.

The totals are

  • 2012 – 26 films (although that’s in under six months, as I didn’t get the card ’til July/August)
  • 2013 – 61 films
  • 2014 – 64 films
  • 2015 – 64 films
  • 2016 – 54 films
  • 2017 – 66 films

And so far this year I’m on… 62, with a couple of weeks to go.

Each year I think I’ll up my quality control a bit and see fewer films (when you’re not paying anything to see them, it’s remarkably easy to just say “Yeah, fuck it, I’ll give that a go”)  And yet it all ends up being much of a muchness.

It’s odd, but I’m not going to complain. At least I know I’m getting value for money out of my Unlimited card.  (It’s an outlay per year of £215 all told – so each film is costing me an average of £3.30, which is one fuck of a lot cheaper than the £10-ish for a single ticket!)