Thursday, July 18, 2013

Identity Theft, Privacy, 'it's all moo'*

Good Morrow Dear Reader, I wonder how you are in this Great Heatwave of 2013? If you are anything like me you may well be wilting.

You see what I did there? I'm a wilted, English rose - just a pity the image is a Lancashire version and not the beautiful white rose of Yorkshire. I confess that I don't like the heat, I don't like the sun and, for the past few weeks have been permanently sat in front of a desk fan in an effort to prevent heat induced grumpiness, nausea, and exhaustion.

So, what's new in the world of jottings I hear you cry. Well Dear Reader I have a salutary tale to tell. You may, or may not, be aware that the British banks have recently been found guilty of mis-selling Payment Protection Insurance (PPI). This has resulted in them having to re-pay a great deal of money. We didn't think we would qualify - being self-employed for so long meant that we never bothered with that sort of thing. However, we did get a no-win no-fee financial advisory service to check for us. We quite quickly received a small payment which was WONDERFUL.

Some time later the financial people informed us that one of the claims they had entered on our behalf had been referred to the Ombudsman who had then told the bank that they HAD to pay this claim also - this was considerably more, we tried to contain our excitement, being more cynically minded than most due to events in the not too distant past and being life-time members of the 'I'll believe it when I see it' approach to things. However, the bank did indeed send a cheque. Sadly they sent it to the wrong address. No problem! I rang up and spoke to a very nice lady in the Philippines who informed me I needed to go into my local branch and fill in a change of address form. I won't bore you with the whole sorry tale, just the salient points -
  1. We no longer bank with this bank and haven't for at least 6 years
  2. We have moved house three times since then and never filled a change of address form in - because we no longer bank with them
  3. The account is in my husband's name
  4. I had completed ALL the security checks
  5. We had already received one cheque without completing a form of any kind.
  6. After three phone calls no form has arrived.
  7. The phone number is an 0845 number - which means it costs me money every time I call them
 As you can imagine Dear Reader I am, by now extremely irritated. Even though we were never expecting this money, now that we know we are getting it we need it!! Silly though that seems. So, I rang again and, well, I ranted, I was polite, but, nevertheless a rant was had. Eventually I said I was going to submit another complaint to the Ombudsman because, in light of points 1, 2, and 3 above  I felt that the bank was time-wasting and using delaying tactics in order to avoid paying the monies owed.

 Funnily enough the Customer Advisor then advised me that the cheque would be in the post shortly. In fact she said 'I see Mr Inan that it is marked on your file that the cheque is to be sent out soon'.

Dear Reader, please note items 3 and 4 in my list and also note that I am, in fact a girl middle-aged woman.

Which brings me to the salient point of my blog, and let's face it what use is a blog without a cute picture of a dog AND a salient point.

Privacy issues and identity theft - easier than you think! I regularly make phone calls on behalf of my son and my husband - indeed even when making phone calls on my own behalf I regularly get referred to as Mr JottingsbyJools. So, Dear Reader, you may well want to beef up your security with regard to personal information and all that jazz.

*And, finally, if you are not a Friends aficionado, (if not, why not?) then watch this clip.

*Waves goodbye* 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Manners, Compliments and Being English

Good morning to you Dear Reader, I have a number of thoughts rumbling around in my brain and thought I would share with you. They are linked, in a tenuous kind of a way.

The first is manners - good or bad. In recent days sleep has, due to the heat, eluded me, when that happens I tend to listen to the BBC World Service and it was here that I first heard the news item concerning a customer in Sainsbury's who was refused service at the checkout until she had finished talking on the phone. The customer was outraged and complained vociferously - Sainsbury's apologised, until, that is, Tweeters and Facebookers took to cyberspace and voiced their support for the shop assistant. Evidently many of us, me included, think it is the height of bad manners to talk on the phone whilst involved in almost any kind of transaction. Happy days. It used to be that, as a society, we knew and understood what good manners were and why it is important to use them.

Now, I am quite sure the whole world knows that we Brits are experts at waiting our turn - indeed our expertise in queuing is world famous. But what about the rest of this little list? If we are talking on a phone whilst being served, anywhere, we clearly are not listening, cooperating, appreciating, or complimenting the server - nor are we able to speak politely or even give thanks for their efforts.

It used to be, in the not too distant past, that talking loudly in public was frowned upon - regarded as 'common' in fact and the epitome of bad manners, not any more, now many of us have no qualms about sharing any of our conversations, not just those taking place via a mobile phone, with anyone and everyone.

Safe to say then that I am greatly encouraged by the number of people who defended the actions of the worker in Sainsbury's and hope that, perhaps, we will all try and mind our manners a bit more.

This brings me nicely to my next point. Compliments. In recent days I have been subjected to a number of unsolicited compliments Dear Reader - I know, quite, quite shocking. The problem is accepting compliments makes me feel uncomfortable - and, I suspect, I am not the only one. It is not often I receive a compliment - when one is a stay-at-home mum it seems that one's efforts tend to fall into the 'taken for granted' category. So, to receive compliments connected to things I do as *me* rather than as wife/mother/daughter etc. is quite a novelty. I do have, after all, that infamous Stiff Upper Lip 

So, apparently, the etiquette for accepting a compliment is not to fumble and fudge and make the complimenter feel uncomfortable, but, rather to graciously accept said compliment and move on. Even if one is British.

Which brings me nicely to my final thought for the day. English or British? Well, Dear Reader, as you may, or may not know, last Sunday was a red letter day for the whole of Great Britain, after 77 long years Andy Murray became the first British man since Fred Perry to win at Wimbledon. The nation went into meltdown as a result of the ensuing hysteria. Andy Murray is a proud Scot, a Dunblane survivor , world's number 2 tennis player, Olympic gold medalist and of course a Brit. Many of our Celtic citizens are keen to be designated by their individual nationality (Scottish or Welsh mainly - the Northern Irish, ironically, want to be British whilst seeming to dislike The English intensely). I can understand being proud of one's roots - I am after all a Yorkshire lass, through and through.

However, for those of us who choose to designate ourselves as English things can get a little tense - largely due to the unpleasant behaviour of the English Defence League I suspect. It seems that things may be changing, a recent article in the Irish Times indicates that  more and more of us English Brits are referring to ourselves as English first and British second - perhaps the worm has turned due to perceived injustices in the tax and education systems, who knows? And is it a good thing? I am not sure. A sense of national identity is important - but surely no-one wants to be perceived as a 'Little Englander' - even if they are anti-Europe.

In conclusion it seems that as an English Brit I find accepting a compliment difficult, but, understand that it is good manners to do so graciously; despite appearances to the contrary many of us do still think good manners and courtesy are important and, finally, it is OK to say that I am English first and British second - and doing so does not make me a racist. Glad we sorted that out.