Thursday, 23 October 2014

Co-op energy - customer service fail

Just a quick one - here's the email trail following a request to be able to pay a bill :-)  Please read from the bottom upwards!

Sent: 21 October 2014 11:13
Subject: RE: Payment details

Hi Lee

Thanks for your rather rudely composed note.

Could I suggest that in future, instead of making demands on your customers to use their registered email addresses, and arrogantly 'allowing' them to get payment details when you deem it fit ("on this occasion"), you just give them the ability to pay by publishing the bank details on your bills and the website, and save us all the hassle and time we have to spend to get you to do your job right in the first place?



Good afternoon

Thank you for your email

I have not been able to locate your account using the email address you sent your query from. For future correspondence can you please use the email address registered on your account .This also allows us to record any emails we have received from you

On this occasion I can advise you of our bank details 

Barclays Bank
Sort code  :20-53-22
A/c No : 73303527

Please ensure you quote your energy account number as the reference on the payment so we  know where to allocate the payment

If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team on: 0800 954 0693

Kind Regards,

Lee Masters
Customer Service Advisor

Co-operative Energy, 
Co-operative House,
Warwick Technology Park, Warwick,                                                  Tel:  0800 954 0693
CV34 6DA   

visit our website or email us at

Company number 06993470.
This e-mail is confidential and is for the named recipient(s) only. If you are not the named recipient(s) please do not disseminate or copy this e-mail, but please delete it and any copies from your computer. Co-operative Energy has taken reasonable precautions to ensure that any attachment to this e-mail has been checked for viruses. However, we cannot accept liability for any damage sustained as a result of any such viruses and advise you to carry out your own virus checks before opening any attachment. Furthermore, we do not accept responsibility for any change made to this message after it was sent by the sender.
Please don't print this email unless you really need to...

Sent: 19 October 2014 11:49
Subject: Payment details


I'm trying to pay my bill, but I've been unable to locate your account number, sort code and bank name on either the bill or your website.

I'm not comfortable with using my debit card on your website.

Please provide bank acocunt details so I can make payment from my internet banking service.



Tuesday, 23 September 2014

National Grid yellow jacket moron

I was driving home yesterday, and spotted this National Grid employee parking his car on a busy roundabout.  He put his hazard lights on (thereby acknowledging he was in the way), then a yellow jacket, and just walked off as though he could choose to park anywhere he liked, regardless of the dangers.  Here's what the highway code says - 

You MUST NOT leave your vehicle or trailer in a dangerous position or where it causes any unnecessary obstruction of the road.  Laws RTA 1988, sect 22 & CUR reg 103

I stopped and ran back up the road to film him, and the outcome is below.  You can see that by parking where he does, other traffic has to fit between his car and the roundabout (when one is going straight on and another turning right for example).  As a biker, this increases the risk of someone hitting me if I was turning right, and all to save him 30 seconds walk.

I tried to ask him to move it, as there is plenty of safer parking 40m up the road in a public car park, but he wasn't interested, he just told me to 'get a life'.  Ironic really, given the lives he was unnecessarily putting in danger.

Upon calling National Grid, I made a complaint and asked them to respond, but Roslyn didn't seem too bothered about doing something to fix this problem - she chose instead to hide behind the Data Protection Act.  True to my word, though - if they do respond and let me know what they're going to do to correct their staff ignoring the law and parking where they like because they have a yellow jacket on, I'll post it here.

Update - 30/9/14

Here's the reply from National Grid, posted as promised...

Dear John,
I write following your report of an incident involving a National Grid Engineer and the parking of his vehicle on Monday 22 September 2014.
Firstly I wanted to thank you for bringing the incident to our attention. National Grid is passionate about the safety of our employees, customers and the public. We welcome any feedback where the correct safety behaviours are not being followed.
I also want to assure you that this is not typical of the types of behaviours that are displayed by our employees, and we are extremely disappointed with how our employee reacted to your concerns.
Following the information you have provided, we are carrying out a thorough investigation into the matter and appropriate action will be taken in line with our HR policies and procedures. I am sure you are aware that we will be unable to provide you with the full outcome of the investigation, however I want to assure you that  National Grid do not tolerate this type of behaviour from our employees.
Finally I again wanted to thank you for bringing this incident to our attention. If you’d like to discuss this matter further, please contact the National Grid Complaints Team on 0345 0700 203, option 2, Monday to Friday between 8am and 8pm
Yours sincerely
Stacy Randle
Customer Operations
National Grid
t. +44(0)345 609 1543

Monday, 7 April 2014

Alright, Dave?!

I had a letter in the post today, from none other than the Prime Minister!  I've scanned it and you can read it by clicking on the picture below.  Best do that now, eh, before reading my response!

Big noise from a small trumpet... Click to read it in full.
And here's my reply, sent today...

Dear Mr Cameron

Thanks for your undated letter regarding the Employment Allowance, to which I refer.

Your opening paragraph is my first bone of contention.  I was under the impression that charities, doing good work for the population at large and funded by the meagre leftovers taxpayers can afford to contribute after they've handed over the best part of 70% of everything they earn in taxes, were not fleeced by the government in the same way as commercial enterprises.  From your letter, it seems that might have been a naive assumption.

So essentially, here's what I think you're telling me, and let's take Help for Heroes as an example.  We send our men and women off to fight in conflicts around the globe (and for the purposes of this discussion, lets ignore the fact that the only reason they're sent is to protect our access to natural resources.  It's certainly not to allow the nations in question to achieve peace and democracy, otherwise why aren't we wading into Zimbabwe and the like?!).  When they then return home injured, maimed, limbless and in the most awful cases no longer with us, the government arrogantly and heartlessly chooses not to provide them and their families with the support, care and assistance they need.  Instead, they have to rely on charities such as Help for Heroes, even though they risked their lives for our country.  That in itself turns my stomach and makes me ashamed of the way my country treats those who offer to sacrifice themselves for its cause. But now you tell me that in fact, those people working for Help for Heroes, providing the lifeline these men and women need, are then having to pay NIC contributions, and somehow you're trying to be the hero by suggesting that a reduction of £2,000 per annum (and not per person, thats the entire charity), should elevate you to the moral high ground?  What morals do you have, if any?

Your second paragraph then talks about how tough it has been recently, what with the recession and the bank bailouts.  Well, I do agree - it has been tough, but not for the banks!  The primary reason banks found themselves in hot water was down to the government allowing a light touch regulatory framework within which the banks were allowed to take greater and greater risks, until the walls came tumbling down.  What did you do at that point?  While cutting public services by £6bn for all those paying for the bailout, you then took our money and gave over £200bn to the banks.  Nice.  What happens if I take stupid business risks and end up on the ropes?  Do I get a bailout too?  No, I didn't think so.

I'll skip paragraph three, as that's clearly a 'keep repeating and they'll buy it' statement.  If Tom and Jerry had won the last election, they'd also have to have a long term plan for the economy.  When your arse is on the floor, the only way is up!

Paragraph four starts badly.  Thanks to my hard work, you are seeing the results.  Well it's certainly not thanks to your hard work is it?  Given that most people are working from Monday till Thursday lunchtime to line your pockets, while Thursday afternoon and Fridays efforts they can keep themselves, you should be grateful they haven't yet risen up and told you to stick your tax bill up your shiny, polished, well worn public school hoop.  But it's only a matter of time, Dave, only a matter of time...

You go on to point out that businesses are telling you they want to invest and grow, and that this £2,000 is part of that plan.  Er - hello?  What planet are you currently on, Dave?  When businesses need to expand and grow, just the costs of hiring someone would be more than £2,000 in many cases.  What businesses really need to grow is having a bank that acts like a partner, rather than a money vacuum.  Perhaps if you had a stronger regulatory framework for the banks, you could insist that they lend to profitable SME businesses if they want to be protected from their own reckless, stupid decisions by the taxpayer.  That would be common sense though, and I guess you can't have that.  Why not just give them the bailout, ask them to lend it out but not actually force them to do so when they refuse, and then watch as they dish out the cash to their staff as bonuses or 'salary adjustments' to get round the rules?  Nothing like rewarding failure, eh?!

Your next paragraph made me roll around on the floor laughing.  If I didn't, I'd have to assume that you are a complete, utter, contemptuous moron, and you keep telling me you're on the ball, so who knows?  But to claim that £2,000 could be used to hire more employees is simply beyond the pale!  Now I know you'll claim that you have interns and the like earning less than that, and you're probably right.  The difference is, they're not relying on that to live, pay bills, buy a house, you know, all the normal things people do, as they're still either living of their wealthy parents, or the inherited wealth that's required to get a seat on the good ship Tory.  However, back in the real world, where most of us reside, £2,000 gets you roughly nada, nowt, nothing.  It certainly doesn't allow me to consider hiring one new employee that I wouldn't have before, never mind multiple employees (and you did put an s on the end of employees on purpose, right?)

Simplicity seems to be the key message for paragraph five.  So tell me, if it's so simple, why isn't every small business currently paying NIC's enrolled automatically, saving us the cost and overhead of having to apply?  I guess it's because you can then claim to be doing 'something for the economy' when really you're hoping that apathy kicks in and only a small number of businesses register, and you avoid losing all that lovely taxpayers cash that you'd rather lavish on your banking buddies, vanity projects, or more 'fines' to the EU because we haven't done this, that or the other.

The rest of the letter is simply pointless repetition and pleasantries to try and make you appear 'supportive', when in reality we all know this is just shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.

I'm not stupid - of course, I'll take all the help I can get as we fight against red tape, excessive taxation, ludicrous rules thrust on us by unelected, unaccountable EU bureaucrats and our own weak economy to grow our business.  I just urge you, in future, to reconsider sending me letters like this before trying to view the content while walking in my shoes.  I'd imagine there are business owners up and down the country who, like me, would prefer to see you get on with something useful rather than blowing your own trumpet while the ship is sinking.

Good luck for 2015, by the way.  You'll need it!


Tuesday, 1 April 2014

If hands that do dishes were as soft as your face...

Here's a little gem - these two bottles of Fairy washing up liquid were on the same shelf in Waitrose, at the same price, for the same product, in the same volume.

But look - one suggests it's 'Up to 50%' better than the next leading brand, while the other says it's twice as good.  Ignoring the fact that these stats are probably plucked out of the air in a pretty unscientific manner, how can one bottle deliver a third more washing power than the other?

Let me tell you how - Proctor and Gamble consider their customers to be morons, who'll believe anything they're told, so they'll stick any old claim on the bottle, no matter if it's true or not - as long as they sell more, more, more.

Which is why I chose the Waitrose own brand instead....

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Bracknell Forest Borough Council - promises, promises

I was asked by a friend recently to attend a council meeting with my camera, to record the handing over of a petition by the Binfield Village Protection Society (BVPS), and a submission made by Mr Butcher, representing the group.

Blue Mountain golf course is an area of open space that has been protected by a 'covenant', such that developers could not apply to build on the land.  This protection was intended to ensure open space was kept between Bracknell and Binfield, and I'm sure many homeowners in the area made their decision to purchase on the basis that this was meant to stand for 125 years from the date of the covenant, 1990.

However, Bracknell Forest Borough Council decided that they wanted to remove the covenant, as the golf course has been earmarked as a site for future development.  They claim that back in 1990 they didn't know how fast the town would grow, and so naively entered into the agreement.  Didn't know how fast the town would grow?  What are we paying them to do?  And if they weren't 100% sure, why agree to the covenant?  Was it simply to make the town more attractive, until the new housing stock had all been sold?  Was it to increase the value of those new properties, and thereby increasing council tax revenue, when in reality they knew they'd be breaking this promise less than one fifth of the way into the agreement?  Why did they not have contingency plans, should the town grow faster than their estimates?  What are we paying them for, if not for the above?

Now I'm no legal eagle - and in all honesty, I wouldn't want to be one of those parasites - but if I make a promise to someone, and put it in writing, then I expect to be held to that promise.  Not BFBC though.  The problem is, the council are both parties (they signed it, and they can rescind it), and have little regard for the impact their broken promises will have on the residents in the area.

Arrogance and contempt like this is common it seems.  Interestingly, I phoned the council the day after and asked if I could change the agreement I have with them to pay council tax on the basis that when I agreed to start paying it, I wasn't aware of how ineffective they are, but they were reluctant to play ball.

So in an effort to demonstrate what a joke the proceedings were, how three minutes is the most a member of the public can speak for even on a topic that affects this many residents (thousands), and how little interest in seeking the views of the residents the council members are, take a look at the video.  It's quite long, but I've kept it unedited for the benefit of the BVPS.  I sincerely hope that someone with a legal bent gets onto this, and takes the council to the cleaners.  If we have local government that wilfully rips up agreements it has made with it's residents against their wishes, then really they're not a council at all - they're a dictatorship.  When the people fear the government, that's tyranny.  When the government fear the people, that's democracy.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

PC Plod and Parking Properly Problems

Spotted this on a recent visit to the petrol station at Tesco's.  Police contempt for the public is well demonstrated here.  Why park a short distance from the front door and leave spaces for shoppers who might have heavy bags, when you can show the public how little you care by swinging the van in across the nearest three spaces to the door, get out leaving the lights on, and do your shopping?

Click to enlarge

Saturday, 4 January 2014

A couple of successes...

Scammers Central!
Just a quick post to let you know of two recent successes - a £200 cheque from for selling my email address without my consent, and the Brighton and Hove parking ticket cancelled on appeal.

Interestingly, A Lauder (the signatory to the parking ticket appeal letter linked above) noted 'If you do find that a pay and display machine isn't working it doesn't mean that you can park without payment'.  Well, clearly with the cancellation of the ticket, that's not the case!  S/he goes on, 'the position is you are required to purchase a ticket from an alternative pay and display machine or move your vehicle to a different bay where the parking machine is working.'

Well, thanks for making your position clear, A Lauder!  Now here's my position, repeated for clarity.  I am happy to pay to park my car, and will always attempt to do so.  That's my side of the bargain.  Your side is to make sure I am able to pay, by emptying the machines, and not sending out traffic wardens to catch out those who are unable to pay due to your thumbs being stuck up your arse.  If you fail on your side of the bargain, then that's your problem, not mine.  I will not waste my time and fuel looking for an alternative space or machine if you think treating those who pay your wages with such contempt and arrogance is acceptable.

On the thing, this was an easy one.  I'll post how it's done step-by-step soon, but for simplicity, here's how it works - I have a £10 per year internet domain (e.g. with a special 'catch-all' email address, where anything can be used before the @ to make an email address (so for example, the same inbox will receive email sent to and

When I use online services, I always use the name of the company, then the bit, so for, the email I used when I did a search for cheaper car insurance was ''.

Now, when they go ahead and sell your email address without your consent, chances are you'll never know because you can't tell where the senders of the spam in your inbox got your email address from.  But if you use a unique email address for each online service you use, when they sell that address, it's easy to tell - so when I received a spam email from BT trying to sell me broadband, it came through addressed to '' - jackpot, they've sold my details!  A brief complaint to the Information Commissioners Office resulted in them being found at fault and viola, £200 cheque in the post!