When I moved to the current place, I got a new phone number – not surprising, as I was in a new area, and a new (to me) house. As always, I registered that number with TPS and so on, and made sure it was ex-directory. I usually only use landline phones for broadband purposes – although it turns out I also use it here for some calls, as the mobile coverage inside the house is shockingly bad. So I have a phone landline, and a phone connected to it.
Unbeknownst to me, the number I got had obviously been owned by someone else before me, and that person was the type of fucking moron who’d sign up for all kinds of promotions, and ran up all kinds of debts. So right from Day One I was getting a couple of calls a week looking for the previous occupant. (Well, the previous owner of that phone number – it wasn’t a name connected to the house at all) And because they were for a previous person, it turns out that TPS doesn’t really apply. (Which is an interesting, and fucking annoying, loophole)
Even so, I re-registered with TPS, and put a spam-calls block on the line. (Which was absolutely useless, and so came off again) It was only a couple of calls a week, and usually while I was out at work. *shrug*
Over the last two years though, it got worse. The phone’s call log would get filled up in the course of a week, all with “Number Withheld” and “International” numbers, along with the ones who didn’t conceal their numbers, who left messages and blocked up everything else. I used a couple of other number-blocking services, none of which did much good. Hell, if I were cynical I’d say they were the ones who sold the number on and spread it ever further. Not that I’ll ever know for sure, one way or the other.
Late last year, the situation was ridiculous. We’d gone from a couple of calls a week right up to filling the phone’s call log every day. Nothing was working to prevent the calls, and it was just getting stupid.
So I bit the bullet, and changed my phone number. I explained to BT why I was doing it – in the hope that they now blacklist that number completely (although I doubt it, they’ll just have farmed it off on some other unsuspecting sap) – and got a new number allocated to me. Same set-up, it’s ex-d, and registered with TPS.
The big difference though, is that in the three months since I got it changed, I haven’t received a single solitary spam call. My phone call log stays blank (as I said, I don’t use it that often) and it’s lovely.
Sometimes these extreme measures are the ones we need to take. I wish I’d done this one two years ago…
Yesterday, I got a text message from O2, telling me that they were going to be closing their TuGo app (an app that allows phone calls to be made/received through my wifi connection, when the mobile phone signal is bobbins) at the end of November. It gave some options for enabling better alternatives, including their ‘4G & WiFi Calling’ through a range of phones, so it will no longer need a separate app.
That’s all well and good – and TuGo has always been a bag of shite anyway. So I started to go through the process, as ‘detailed’ by O2 of how to get it all set up on my phone.
Except that once I’d enabled it on my phone (or tried to) it told me I needed to do it via the O2 website, to activate it on my account. Bit of a pain in the arse, but OK, let’s get it done.
The page detailed in the message doesn’t actually contain the information necessary. I can see a link explaining how great the 4G and Wifi Calling is, but nothing to activate it.
So, I start up a LiveChat with one of their Tech Gurus, who tell me that it’s still showing I’ve got Tu connected to my account, and that needs to be removed before I can do anything. No worries though, they’ll sort it out. Give it about half an hour, reboot the phone, it’ll be done.
Except it wasn’t.
So I got back in touch with O2, this time by phone instead of LiveChat. Oh dear, oh dear.
I (eventually) got through to another of their Tech Gurus, who again says that Tu is still connected to my account, and that I have to uninstall the TuGo app on my phone in order to get rid of the connection. No idea why the previous tech person said they could do it, that’s not possible, it can only be done from your phone, sir.
So I uninstall the app, in the usual way. Oh no, sir, you haven’t uninstalled it. You’ll need to go back to the app store, reinstall the app so you can uninstall it. (Eh? What?) Yes, you’ll need to reinstall the app – you didn’t uninstall it, “you just deleted the little picture on your phone”. That’s a direct quote. From a Tech “Guru”. Who doesn’t appear to even know the word “icon”.
So. Let’s see how this goes. Phone call goes to speakerphone, so I can go through the process while the “Guru” is still on the call, and telling me what I need to do. I reinstall the app – and in order to get in to it, I have to rebuild the connection and association with my number – because uninstalling the app has got rid of all that information . Which is exactly as it should be.
I rebuild the connection, then go into the app’s Settings and Delete the Account. The Guru says “Oh there we go, I can see you’ve now uninstalled the app”. No, I haven’t, I’ve deleted the account. The app is still installed, I can see it. “No, it’s uninstalled”
All the way through the call, that “Guru” couldn’t tell the difference between “Delete the Account/Connection” and “Uninstall the App”.
It’s resulted in two further interactions with layers of O2 management, telling them the problems, fixing the issues, and generally getting it more sorted.
And all the way through this, all it would have taken was for that “My Device” webpage saying “You’ve still got an active connection to TuGo – you need to remove that before we can progress. Here’s how.” That would’ve fixed everything, and I wouldn’t have needed to speak to O2 at all, let alone a total of four times.
Sometimes I just despair of people, and companies.
A couple of weeks back now, I took my car to the local Kia dealership (as it’s a Kia) for its MoT. It had been serviced there a couple of weeks prior, and at that point the dealership hadn’t impressed me for a couple of reasons I won’t go into for now.
It passed the MoT just fine – needed two bulbs replacing, and that was it. But that evening, once I was home, the car wouldn’t start – the battery was completely flat. The only thing different to its usual treatment was the MoT, and the recovery guy who came out to sort things agreed it was likely they’d done something to flatten the bloody thing.
I spoke to the dealership the next day, and they denied all possibility that the problem was down to them. Couldn’t happen, sir. You left here fine (forgetting that it was running when I got in, I hadn’t had to start it) so it can’t be us. Just one of those things. If you really want to check, we’ve got a super-expensive tool for testing batteries properly, you can come in and we’ll do the check.
Which I did. Went in, and this super-tool said “Battery 100% OK”. Fair enough, it might be one of those things, I suppose. They were quite patronising about it all, and again insisted it couldn’t be anything to do with them. The only other way to find anything (“sir”) would be to drop it in for a couple of days, let it wait around and we’ll see if it drains, or what might be wrong.
However, the problems went on. It’s never completely flattened on me again, but I’ve been more aware of the delays on starting, and I’ve given it some bigger runs just to ensure the battery is as topped as possible.
So last week, knowing I’d got a hire car for a day-trip to Leeds (of which more in another post) I also booked it in to the dealership again for today, so they could have it a couple of days and find out what the problem is. It led to a bundle of fucking about, but it all came together in the end.
Lo and behold, this evening I got a call. Apparently, the battery *is* fucked, despite what their super-tool said a week ago. So they’re replacing it, and will then see tomorrow how everything goes, and hopefully I’ll collect it on Wednesday.
It’s fair to say, we’re going to have words when I do collect it. This has been a shitload of hassle, and it’s taken me a bundle of time away from work in order to keep on getting things sorted. My sense of humour has, as they say, somewhat failed about the whole thing. It’ll be interesting to see what happens – but I do feel somewhat vindicated about the whole thing.
What the dealership doesn’t seem to realise is that the servicing department is as much of a sales tool as the showroom is. I’ve got a Kia, and so far I’ve been quite pleased with it. I would have considered getting another one – and it would likely have been from that dealership. But if they can’t sort me out with a cheaper car and be competent, why the *fuck* would I stick with the same company once the current issues are sorted, let alone buy a new (to me) Kia?
During the working week, I regularly park in an area controlled by parking meters – not one per slot, but in big blocks, so you pay for your ticket/parking at a machine, and return the ticket to the car.
It’s an area/business that in many ways doesn’t seem to have kept up with progress at all, but in others is quite a way ahead of most other places. It’s very odd – and it seems like a lot of people are caught in that middle space between the two extremes.
You see, the meters themselves take cash, and only cash. There’s no facility to take card payments, let alone contactless. I assume that some of this is down to maintenance costs – the more things it can do, the more things there are that can fuck up.
Then at the other end of the scale, we can use online/mobile payment setups like RingGo to pay for parking, which is super-easy to do, and works really nicely. (There are other parking payment providers, most of which are worse than RingGo, but they’re still getting used by various councils etc. around the country) There’s no need for cash, it’s all smooth and simple to do, with the parking wardens having smartphone equivalents where they can check each vehicle’s registration and see if it’s paid for parking online.
Both solutions seem to work, either with the super-basic “put coins in the machine” or the semi-techie (but still really pretty simple once it’s set up) paying via mobile/online. There’s also the ability to pay by phone using RingGo, but that appears to be overly complex.
However, both options seem destined to confuse the majority of people. I regularly see people dredging pockets for change – which is becoming less common, with the prevalence of debit cards and contactless payments, so they’re surprised and unprepared for needing coins to park – or completely stumped by smartphone apps, or having problems with the paying by phone.
In some ways that harks back to people not being prepared, but at the same time I do understand that these meters are a bit of a surprise. They’re so low-tech in many ways, and people just don’t seem to expect that. But they’re also unprepared for using their smartphones – despite this whole pay online/app thing becoming more and more common for parking – and don’t have the relevant app, or have it set up. And even with 4G coverage etc., it seems that a lot of them are utterly unable (or just unwilling) to sort out installing the app and just doing things the easy way.
I don’t know what the answer is. I think we’re in this weird hinterland at the moment, where we’ve still got simultaneous low-tech and hi-tech solutions, and people are just caught in the middle, too advanced to be happy with the low-tech, but a large number also still unhappy or uncomfortable with the hi-tech alternative, so they’re stuck in some kind of mid-tech wilderness.
It’s very odd, but interesting to watch and see how things go.
Over the last week or so, I’ve been trying something new (well, new-ish) in the financial sector – Monzo.
I’ve been aware of a few of this type of “new banking” start-ups of late, but Monzo interested me when I read this article that talked about how closely it kept track of payments, and their whole customer service set-up. In my own experience with banks, it’s customer service that is their greatest weakness, so I’m interested in how other ‘non high-street’ new financial organisations address it.
At the moment it’s “only” a pre-paid credit card option, driven entirely through a smartphone app – but they’ve got their banking licence, and are aiming to be starting a current account as well, again all driven through smartphone apps.
So far, the experience has been pretty good. (Note – for purposes of this, I used my iPhone – I can’t say anything at all about the Android version) I got the app through the App Store, and went through the initial stages. Basically, just a name and date-of-birth for verification purposes, and then they order your card.
This took some time – but the expectations were managed all the way through, showing the queue of applicants, where I was in that queue, how many people were before me, and how many after. Now, my cynicism kicks in slightly here, as I noticed that the number of applicants always stayed around the 25,000 mark, so it *could* just be a steady flow of incoming customers, or it *could* be all smoke-and-mirrors guff to make me think they know what they’re up to.
It took about four days to get to the top of the queue (I could’ve jumped places if I’d promoted Monzo on social media, but frankly, fuck off) and once that happened, I got a notification to say so. This was where the identity stuff came in, and needed address details, plus an in-app photo of driving licence for proof-of-address, and a 5-second video to prove I’m real.
I’ve done an initial top-up (of a completely manageable amount – if the entire thing turns out to be a scam, I won’t be screwed) and the card has been sent to my home address. It’s due to arrive today, at which point I’ll have to connect it to the app – slightly annoying, as surely they know all the necessary details already – and then it should be ready to go.
I’ll write more about it in a month or so, once I’ve used it and seen how I feel about the entire thing. So far, though, it’s been an interesting and positive experience – I hope it continues to be so!
Yet again, my home broadband connection has gone to pot over the weekend.
It’s an ongoing problem – basically, there’s a leak in the outdoors part of my connection, so when it rains heavily, water gets in, and corrodes the connections in the master socket. I start to know it’s going to be bad when any phone call I make (not that I make many on the landline, but still) starts to get crackly. After a while, it then gets bad enough that the next ingress of water breaks things properly, and leaves my modem/router dropping the connection and reconnecting on an all-too-frequent basis.
In the five-and-a-bit years I’ve been in this house, I’ve had four master sockets. Now soon to be a fifth.
BT refuse to believe that this is the problem – this has been going on for ages, and they’ve done line checks etc., but won’t replace the outside part of the connection, for some reason.
So we go through the farce of doing fault-tracking, “We can’t find anything” and then booking an engineer to come out. Every time, I get told “If it’s a problem past the master socket (i.e. with my own wiring) then it’ll cost £129.99 on your next bill”. It won’t be with my wiring, because I’ve got precisely one socket, and one connector/splitter (also supplied by BT) on it.
Everything else will be fine, it’ll just be corroded connections in the master socket. Again.
This time, I’m going to aim to get the engineer to reinstall the master socket, but do so higher up the wall (so water doesn’t get in, as it can’t climb cables) or on a longer cable inside the house, so I can put it on a shelf or whatever, and again, let gravity deal with the problem.
The engineer’s coming out on Wednesday morning, so we’ll see what happens from there. It’d be nice (and really quite novel!) to have it sorted properly this time. But only time will tell whether that’ll happen or not.