It seems at the moment like there’s a massive conspiracy going on that makes access from my area to Milton Keynes into an absolute nightmare.
Last month, the Highways Agency started work on the M1 from J13 to 16, installing “smart motorways” stuff, and shoving in a dirty long 50mph speed limit, enforced by average speed cameras. (And there’ll be a post on those some other time) That work is going on ’til March 2022.
Next month, Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes councils are starting the second phase of their joint project to make the A421 dual-carriageway between J13 of the M1 and Milton Keynes. That’s going to have a 40mph limit on it, and will be in place ’til the end of 2020.
So for the next 18 months minimum, the two primary routes into Milton Keynes will be speed-limited and being worked on at the same time.
And then just to top things off, one half of the other primary route (on the other side of Milton Keynes) is undergoing resurfacing work for the next couple of months – which means that my only other primary route is going to be handling all the traffic that should be on that one.
Like I said, it’s all just seeming like either a sinister plot, or a massive organisational clusterfuck. Both of which have the same results, when all’s said and done.
While driving down to London yesterday (of which more in another post) my car started to make an odd noise. Primarily a whining noise when under acceleration, and generally not all that well.
I called my usual garage, told them what was happening, and got told “Oh, first time we can look at it will be September 3rd”. (The usual “fob off the customer” approach that they’ve excelled at so many times) So instead I contacted the other dealership in the area – part of the same group, but run as a separate entity – and the person there made noises of “Oooh, that’s not good”, and asked if I could bring it in the next day (today)
I did so, and as I’d suspected, the turbo is on its way out. Bollocks.
So the car’s booked in for the work – not cheap, but less than getting a replacement vehicle – and I’ve got a replacement vehicle while they do it.
So far, the new dealership looks really promising – the service department have been great so far, and the deal I’ve got from them has been positive. It may be that they turn out to be shite – but if not, I’ve got other options.
It’s surprising to see the difference between the two dealerships – the previous/main one (as I’ve mentioned before) consists of a patronising bunch of fuckknuckles. They seem so complacent about everything, and their idea of customer service appears to be to make the customer feel like a fuckwit.
What they’ve never understood – and the new place appears to – is that the service department is just as much of a sales tool as the actual cars in the showroom. If I’m being treated like crap by the service department with the current vehicle, what on earth would make me buy another car of the same make, and lock myself into further years of being treated like crap?
That’s what the new one seems to understand – that this is the way to keep people coming back. It’s what the Saab garage I used with the previous car understood – and so did the Ford one before that.
We’ll see what happens now, and how things go after the repair. I’m hoping that this time won’t have the same knock-on after-effects that it did when the same thing happened on the Saab. (Although this time it’ll also help that the turbo was just on the way out, rather than having gone pop when travelling at speed, as the Saab one did!)
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the dumb-ass “Would you recommend this hospital to your friends and family” survey that I received. Between here and Facebook, I received a number of comments from friends saying “Yeah, we keep getting those as well”.
So I complained to the hospital about it, and how stupid it was as a question, and how ill-thought-out it was.
Turns out, this question is that this is the “Friends and Family Test“, which is the NHS’ major/primary metric on what people think of their hospital visit.
According to the NHS, it’s “an important feedback tool that supports the fundamental principle that people who use NHS services should have the opportunity to provide feedback on their experience. Listening to the views of patients and staff helps identify what is working well, what can be improved and how.“
Of course, that’s still garbage, because the question has absolutely nothing to do with what can be improved, or how the actual visit/appointment was. So it’s all a bit pointless.
So it’s worth knowing that if you are someone who gets a lot of these surveys, you can talk to the PALS department of your hospital and get taken off the survey list.
And finally, if you think it’s a dumb-ass question and a pointless survey, it’s worth registering a complaint with the hospital about the survey. The only way they’re going to learn it’s shit is if enough people keep telling them it’s shit.
Yesterday, I had a (non-urgent, outpatients) appointment at my local hospital. All went well, and I’ll be returning occasionally over the next few months. Which is all as expected.
What was less expected was a text message today from the hospital, containing a “Patient Satisfaction” survey.
The first question? “Would you recommend this hospital to your friends and family?“, and a set of five options for the likelihood of doing such a thing.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I really don’t recommend that my friends or family visit a hospital. Certainly when none of them are even in that hospital’s catchment area.
What kind of cretin comes up with this shit? Even more relevantly, what kind of cretin approves this shit?
And if I’d been – for example – visiting the Oncology department (I wasn’t) for treatment, I wonder if I would have received the same survey?
Every so often, I decide to play the role of “responsible human being”. Today, it turned out, was one of those days.
When I got in to work, I could see that three cars in the vicinity had been broken into (or at least had their windows smashed) so opted to do the ‘responsible human’ thing, and called 101 – the UK Police’s non-emergency number. No point in doing an emergency 999, as no-one else was visible, and the damages could’ve happened any time overnight.
So 101 it was. And while I get that it’s for non-urgent stuff and so on, but man alive, what an absolute faff.
The call goes through, and starts off with “Which police force do you require?”. (Probably because I called on my mobile – calling from a landline would’ve localised things. I assume) That’s fine, if you know who you need to speak to. But if I hadn’t known that Milton Keynes is covered by Thames Valley Police, I’d have been knackered from stage one.
Then we go on to a recorded message from the chief of Thames Valley. Why? No idea. I assume it’s part of the script of 101 – I’ve heard similar on other calls to different forces – but it seems (to me) to be utterly pointless.
And then we get the voice-response asking what you want to do. If you know the name/number you want to speak to, type it now, or press [whatever] to report a crime.
And then we get some piece of crap recorded message about victim support.
And finally, finally, when all that’s done, I finally spoke to someone – who was helpful, and made sense. But what a horrific fucking faff in order to do something I didn’t even need to.
All told, it certainly makes it easy to see why people prefer to call 999, even for non-emergency stuff. At least the response to it is quicker, and gets rid of all that recorded bullshit.
I’ve written before about my tendency to be horrifically early for things – I like having time to spare, and I’m happy with being where I’m supposed to be, with a book, phone etc., and can happily while away the time.
It also, on occasion, gives me time to sort things out when I’ve sodded them up – which was the case on Sunday.
The car’s air-conditioning has been noticeably weaker this summer, so I’d decided to have it re-gassed, and see if that made a difference. I booked an appointment with Kwik-Fit to get it done on Sunday morning, and turned up (early) to where I thought I had it booked in.
Only… it wasn’t booked in there. Knackers. I couldn’t find the confirmation email (still no idea what happened to that) so ended up having to call their main customer centre to try and find out. Turned out – either through my own stupidity, or some kind of system glitch – that it was actually booked on the other side of town from where I was. Knackers again.
But because I’d been horrendously early, it meant I still had the time to get across to the correct place in time for my appointment – and even had time to spare!
It all worked out fine in the end – but if I’d been punctual for the first one, I’d have been utterly kippered for getting to the proper place on time!
One of the things about being a techie is that I own a fair number of web domains. Some I’ve got for things like ongoing projects, business names I like, and a bundle of other stupid shit. A lot are in the “when I get a chance” state of being – the ideas remain, and haven’t been done by anyone else, but for now they’re kind of drifting.
However, one of the other things I do is have a couple of domains that are purely for use when buying stuff. They’re set to forward everything to my home email account, so it means I can set up anything @ the domain and it’ll do what I want. While it sounds a little bit mental, there’s a very good reason for all this.
For the purposes of explanation, let’s say I own a stupid domain, like myemail.com
So – when I buy something from a new company, I register with them using [company_name]@myemail.com . Any mail there will come to me – it’s a legitimate email address, just not one I’ll ever send an email from. (I can if I need to, but that’s a different point) Everyone’s happy.
The key, though, is that if [company] starts spamming me, I can block that specific address, rather than having to do any kind of weird and fragile message rules etc. It’s easy – I just add [company_name]@myemail.com to the ‘bin everything’ list, and there we go, it’s gone.
What I’ve found recently though is another interesting one – I can easily tell when [company] has been hacked, or lost its mailing list somewhere.
This week, I’ve been getting some *very* clever phishing emails (the ones about ‘just log in, give us your details, and we’ll sort this out’) to one particular address. They’re good enough that if they had come direct to my home email, I might’ve clicked on one by mistake. (I haven’t, but I could have) They’re *that* good. But I can see that they’ve come to [company]@myemail.com , so a) I know they’re shit mails, and b) I know that [company]’s mailing list is being used.
I’ve let [company] know, although there’s not much they can do about it now. But at least maybe they can notify their customers that their details have been leaked/stolen.
All told though, it’s another interesting reason to have that particular domain, and to use it in this way to keep my own information as safe as possible.