Saturday, 30 June 2007

Is This Really How Richard Branson Wants To Make His Millions?

As I've said below (and by the way, thank you for all the messages of support following my last post) I've been targetted by a silent caller. Thankfully this has now stopped. There is now a bar on the phone line so that withheld numbers can't get through. However I've had to really battle with Virgin Media, whose phone system I use, to get anything done.

When I first rang the malicious calls bureau at Virgin Media all they were interested in doing was selling me new products. Apparently they think that silent calls are a good way to make money. Their so called customer service advisors seem to be nothing more than sales people. Frankly I was appalled that they want to make extra profit out of people in this way. The advice that they gave me was also wrong. They told me that:

a) The police wouldn't want to do anything - not true, the police were very good and very helpful;
b) Making silent telephone calls isn't a crime - Even when I pointed out to them that I am by profession and training a criminal lawyer they stuck to this incorrect line - in case anyone has any doubt it is an offence under s2 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1996 to pursue a course of conduct which causes another person harassment, alarm or distress, and this sort of behaviour is exactly what the offence is about; and
c) That is was probably just an automated dialing system - not true because we are TPS registered, an ex-directory number and I could hear someone present at the other end of the line.

The malicious calls bureau also told me that it is impossible to tell where calls have come from without having a trace on the line. Friends who work for BT tell me that this is in fact something which is very easy to do. I'm no expert on that, but I'm happy to trust the expertese of my friends. Even when the police said that they wanted a trace put on the line to check where future calls were coming from Virgin simply didn't want to play ball.

I never signed up to Virgin Media. They bought my old phone company. The temptation to now change to someone else is very strong. I feel very let down by them.

I'm sure that somewhere in the higher reaches of Virgin they will have a customer service charter or something like that. The senior management will tell themselves that they really do put customers first. Unfortunately experience on the ground shows that this is simply not the case.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Silent Telephone Calls

Someone has been targeting me with silent phone calls during the night. Frankly this sort of behaviour is pathetic. If you don't like what I stand for then come and debate the issues. I'm fully open about my beliefs and opinions, and I'm always willing to discuss them and explore other points of view. If people aren't willing to do this, and instead try and resort to campaigns of harassment and intimidation, they have already shown the weakness of their position and just how small minded they are.

I've had to report this matter to the police. They have now arranged for a trace to be placed on my telephone, and to block caller withheld calls. If it's you whose been doing this the message is simple, continue and you will be arrested and caught.

Given my criticisms of the far right parties in recent weeks I suspect that they or their supporters are behind this campaign. If so, it re-inforces my view that we need to stand up against evil, and describe it for what it is.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Salman Rushdie

I have always been amused at the ability of fellow politicians to lose all sense of perspective at various times, but the comments of a Pakistani politician about Salman Rushdie being knighted really go beyond the pail. Their religious affairs minister suggested today that the decision of the British to give Rushdie a knighthood justified suicide bombers! This is a disgrace, and coming from a country which is meant to be an ally in the so called war on terror is frankly astounding. I trust that the Pakistani government will dispense with his services forthwith to show that such comments are wholly and totally unacceptable. All right thinking people, in all right thinking worlds, should be appalled by this.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Smart Energy

I'm all in favour of promoting green energy, as you will see from my web site, and I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is and invest in programmes that look like they have the potential to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. However I felt it necessary to add an item here to express my concerns about this company, Smart Energy, who promote and sell solar hot water systems.

When I saw their add I thought that it looked worth exploring and e-mailed asking for someone to contact me with further details. It took them a couple of weeks but then someone did contact me and say that they could send a rep round. Generally this is comething I'm not keen on but I thought this time I'd say okay. They offered an appointment for Friday in the evening. They didn't say anything about wanting to take all night.

My concerns were raised when their sales manager "Giovanni" then rang me to give me a special promotion code to pass to the rep. I'm really not keen on this idea - give him the code and he'll give you a discount. As a consumer I want to be offered the best price straight away, not just if Giovanni thinks that it's a good idea.

On the Friday the rep came at 7.15 like we'd arranged. We had a chat and he began his sales patter. However when he was only 2 pages into his brochure after 30 minutes I asked him to speed it up a bit because we weer going out later. He say he couldn't so I suggested that we re-arrange, but instead he walked out in a huff. You know, even if I don't like someone I'm dealing with I always try and maintain good manners but this was obviously too much for them. What was even more surprising was when Giovanni the sales manager telephoned me at 9am on the Saturday morning wanting to know why we had terminated the appointment and being, frankly, unacceptably aggressive over the phone. Up until that point I would have been willing to re-arrange as the product looks quite good, but given his conduct I told him that we were no longer interested.

Maybe I just caught them at a bad time, but it seems to me that a firm which treats potential customers so badly is one that people should exercise great caution about dealing with.

The ironic thing is that I first saw their web site following a link from the Google ads that I carry to finance my own site. I'm now going to be contacting Google about having that advert removed from my site. I wouldn't want anyone to think that I was in any way endorsing this company.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Betrayal Of The Poor

Last week the G8 leaders met in Germany. Despite all the spin they tried to put on it, the content of their agreement for the third world seems to have been that they are not even going to deliver on everything that they have promised previously. Whilst they were deciding that, about 20,000 people will have died of hunger in the countries most affected by their decision. This is a disgrace.

Two years ago I was in Edinburgh for the Make Poverty History March. The strength of world feeling was very visibly demonstrated by that, and the G8 leaders responded by making a number of pledges, the same pledges that by and large they have failed to deliver and are now trying to wriggle out of. The deaths of every single person to die from hunger, malaria and other easily curable illnesses are on the hands of the G8 leaders.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Climate Change

I was sceptical when I heard that George Bush was proposing a radical new initiative to tackle climate change. Having read his proposals I'm even more sceptical. America is suggesting a series of initiatives which will benefit American companies with no real commitment from the US to cleaning up it's act. It's a sham proposal, designed to do two things. First, Dubbya hopes it will derail the chances of progress at the G8 summit next week, and second he hopes it will take some of the pressure off him during the rest of his presidency. Sorry George, but you're wrong on both counts. You have been wrong on the environment from the start of your presidency, and it seems that you are going to end it the same way, still being wrong.

Climate change is the biggest single issue facing the world today. Everyone else can see it, but those in the American administration who are still pursuing their policy of grand imperialism are turning a blind eye. America needs to act, but for the sake of the world, not it's own trade balances.

As for Tony Blairs comment that this marks a major change in American policy, this just hows what a lapdog of Bush's he is. I have nothing but contempt for that man, who with Bush I view as a war criminal.