Bounty offered - who are "Callvalue"?

Automated marketing calls to a TPS number.
Ask who they are and it is "callvalue working in conjunction with BT"
They will say no more.
Ask more and they hang up.

I am fucking sick of it.

If I find who they are they are getting sued and reported to the police.


If you work for call value - you are working for a criminal. You may be a criminal yourself even. QUIT NOW.

OK,OK, details for people that do not know.

They are calling with an automation asking if I want unlimited calls or some such. You press 2 to talk to someone and they are trying to sell a call package. They won't say who they actually are. They keep calling all sorts of numbers.

1. Illegal to call with a recording message without my prior agreement
2. Illegal to make a marketing call to a Telephone Preference Service listed number
3. Illegal not to identify the company

They are also using the BT brand, and I have reported that to BT already with call recording.

BOUNTY: If anyone else with a normal BT land-line gets a call, can you sign up and get details. You *can* cancel under distance selling directive and if you are out of pocket as a result I'll personally reimburse as long as you get me actual details of who they are, as I'll be suing them for my costs (well, first person that gets me details). I'll also sort a bottle of whatever you fancy to drink as a reward...

This should be interesting

Well, the bunch that did not refund for my blu-ray player order have now refunded the original amount. It arrived yesterday (27th Jan).

Now, the question is, can I get my £35 court fees. To be honest, whether I get them or not, the outcome is a very cheap training course in the practical application of the law and the county courts, so this will be interesting and well worth £35 to know.

The timing is interesting. The law says they had to refund "as soon as possible", which would have been late December (Order was cancelled 24th Dec). They refused to do so.

I gave them a deadline of the 8th Jan else would issue a county court claim.

I waited until the 25th to issue it which is 17 days after my deadline and 2 days after the other deadline in the law which is "not exceeding 30 days".

Now, money getting to my account on 27th probably means they sent the refund on the 25th which is also after the 30 day limit, but they are definitely well after the "as soon as possible" requirement by many weeks. However, they almost certainly sent the refund before receiving the claim. And who knows if the law means "send a refund within 30 days" or "refund must have arrived within 30 days". I don't know!

So I think I was completely valid to issue the county court claim as they missed my deadline and the legal requirement (twice).

What will be interesting is if they file a defence to the claim, and what it says. I'll wait. They have 14 days. If they do not, then I can simply request judgement on the basis they have not paid the whole claim. If they do, it will have to admit their original liability for the refund, and that should mean I can ask for judgement for the balance (my £35 court fees) without any hearing (as they admit they owed the money).

The question comes if they somehow convince the court I raised the claim too soon.

Probably not worth actually going to a hearing over this.

As I say, even if I do not get the £35 court fees, I'll learn something.

And trading standards will be on their back as well anyway.


Abbey encouraging people to pay mortgage late

A relative wanted to get her mortgage changed to interest only for a few months.

It is sensible planning - she does not want to get behind paying and is short of money, it happens. So rather than take the piss and just not pay properly, she is asking in advance.

Interest only is good for the lender. She is not negative equity so they have no risk, but they get to charge more interest because the capital is not being reduced. And it is only for a few months.

But computer says no yet again. Apparently they will do it for people in financial difficulty but that means she has to be paying late or missing payments or bouncing DD's else they do not believe she is in financial difficulty.

So basically, what they seem to be saying, is that she should pay late and miss payments in order to get what she wants, which is interest only for a few months.

And we wonder why some banks had problems?!?!


Almost as bad as "unlimited'... FREE!

OK, saw ad for our favourite telco Total Broadband on TV.
Big feature was "FREE customer service"...

I suspect they mean a freephone number. Then I wonder what people think FREE means in that case.

After all, we don't charge for calls to our customer service - they are normal geographic numbers so we make no charge - can we say that is FREE?

Of course, if someone says FREE customer service, does that include SFI engineer visits I wonder. That would be a good argument if you have broadband with them and they charge you for SFI which is clearly part of the customer service that is meant to be FREE. Hmmm

Devil's advocate mode.

Computer says no.

Hi Adrian,

I’m not sure if you do “guest rants” on your Blog but if you do I have a classic you’re welcome to use…..

A colleague of mine was going to Subway for his lunch and asked if I wanted anything bringing back. As I had some nice smoked salmon in the fridge at work I asked him to simply bring me back a foot long bread role so I could make my own sanwich. When he got there and asked for it they wanted to charge £4 as the only way they could put it through the till was as the cheapest foot long sandwich from the menu.

He then noticed that you could buy soup for 99p or soup and a roll for £1.50 so he asked if he could buy a roll for 50p but they wouldn’t even do that…. FFS, I’m starting to think that maybe the Little Britain sketch is not so funny after all…… Computer Says No



Distance Selling Directive

Well, if digitaldirect.co.uk don't think they have to refund me they can think again - county court claim issued. Isn't moneyclaim.gov.uk nice :-)

Also very strange. The web site is one company, listed a dormant with an overdue return.
The emails to them reply from another company (vba.ltd.uk).
The card payment shows a different web site for a different company (digital.co.uk).

Sounds iffy to me. I've emailed their tradings standards office too!

FYI - ordered blue-ray player, week later no joy, cancelled under DSR. They insisted they would not be refunding me as soon as possible as required by the directive and that they had 28 days. The directive says as soon as possible and within 30 days so no idea where they got 28 from. Anyway, in spite of threats of legal action no refund has happened even 30 days later. Oh, and they tried to deliver weeks later and we refused delivery but they still did not refund.


Grrr - who uses faxes still FFS

Some bozo by the name of Debbie, in ING car leasing is giving out my home number as her fax number.

The faff to fine and get working a fax machine, and divert my phone to it, just to find out why people keep calling me and going "beep"...

Oh, well, printed the faxes, and posted them on to ING with a bill!

The new word "Unlimited*"

I think OED should add the word "Unlimited*" to the dictionary as a word in its own right, meaning "limited in some way".

It looks like it is even being treated as a word by some. See this where it has the phrase Unlimited****, yes that is four stars.

However, the page only has foot notes *, **, and ***.

The only possible explanation is that they use the new word "unlimited*" followed by *** which is Subject to Fair usage policy. Either that or they really mean "unlimited", but what this chances of that!

P.S. The 20GB limit has ***, i.e. Subject to Fair usage policy which is a tad odd - is it 20GB or fair usage policy limited I wonder.
P.P.S. "Upstream speeds, at up to 10Mb/s, will be the fastest in the UK" is not entirely true as we do fibre links at up to 10Gb/s if you want.
P.P.P.S. The name is silly, I can't help thinking Stargate Universe.


BT tower

OK, had fun in the BT tower as usual - always an interesting view.

Afterwards - in to the nearest pub, and unsurprisingly many BT people there, and I had a few drinks with them for a while. Interesting talking to an atheist Sikh as well but that is another story.

Of course things did not start that well - Andy, a senior BT bod, goes to buy drinks and it's "sorry, we can't take cards, cash only - the card machine is not working because we're waiting for BT to fix the phone line". Ooops :-)


SFI: Meet in the middle

Whats the issue with SFI charges?

As discussed with our favourite telco today the issue is when we say we are not at fault (and neither is our customer) but they say they are not at fault (using their limited diagnostic tests) and we reach an impasse?

So - we, and our customer, are prepared to go to the master socket where the service is delivered by sending a replacement router and testing with that. Even replacement splitter and cables. We are prepared to do that with no risk to them.

But our favourite telco are not prepared to go to the master socket without making a risk to us, currently of £144+VAT.

That is where it is wrong!

After all, we do offer them our standard fault investigation service to resolve the empass, at a mere £144+VAT, where we send pre-configured router and splitter and so on and do on-line ATM tests and all sorts. But for some reason they never want to buy that service from us?

They are being stubborn and refusing to resolve the empass and meet us at the master socket.


Sued for clearing your driveway/path

Why are people even discussing this.

The thing on TV even had someone saying "If you cleared you drive with a kettle of hot water and it froze over and someone then slipped on the ice you could be sued"???

When did common sense die.

I have to wonder:-
  • If you cleared the snow, and it was not freezing but just cold, yet next day it froze over, can you be sued
  • If it just rained and froze over night and before you even got up, can you be sued
  • If you clear the drive with a spade, and then it rains and freezes, can you be sued
At the end of the day, if it was not made unsafe by what you did, i.e. you left it in a safe state, and the elements caused it to be unsafe, how can it be your fault???


Episode where bad guys break in to an ISP/data centre...

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
  • They want to break in to a data centre but there is iris scanning door security, so they blow the local substation?!?!
  • Security staff have no access to data floor, WTF
  • Door locks have no battery backup, WTF!
  • Data centre has no UPS backup, WTF!
  • Data centre has no generator backup, WTF!
  • Substation takes out whole tri-state area by cascade failure, WTF!
  • They wonder what has been stolen "Millions in company secrets". So they do an inventory to find whats missing, forgetting that data can be copied, WTF!
  • They use an old mechanical stencil/ink-transfer type copy machine to copy a normal hand written sheet of paper. I am pretty sure they work using special paper to make the original.
  • Part of the plot was that all iris scanners have a back door, but it was someones eye? If you did that it would be something you could print on a card not tied to a specific living person!
I'll watch what else they get wrong.

FFS, story is that the power was off so they could replace a server with another server to bug the internet. Arrrrrrrrrg!



So the advert says "you can do your tax return at hmrc.gov.uk" and even shows "hmrc.gov.uk" on the screen.

hmrc.gov.uk does not resolve - no A record (or AAAA record).

Seems www.hrmc.gov.uk does have an A record though.

How hard is it to make a web site work without the www on the front? Clueless or what.

(and before anyone says, no, www.me.uk can't work without the www. It's one of the few exceptions).


Don't upload more than you download!?!?

Seems our favourite telco have a very strange idea about internet usage.

We are getting a lot of faults coming back "Throughput tests show user is maximising upstream throughput which may impact downstream performance" which makes little sense, specially when stated on lines that have almost no upload for weeks in some cases.

The latest is fun...

"Checked on Radius Logs check to check if Upstream throughput greater than Downstream throughput or not
Radius Log Check details:
MBytes In: 555224878
MBytes Out: 534731696
Radius log check shows Upstream throughput greater than Downstream throughput, this means the customer is maximising the upstream throughput."

It finally gives some clue as to WTF they are doing. They seem to look at total upload and total download on the current session (which may have been running for months) and if upload is greater than download (regardless of how low the figures are) they say that the users is maximising the upstream throughput, like that is a bad thing.

What kind of muppet does that sort of test and makes that sort of conclusion?

Oh, and the stats which say this user transferred 555 terebytes each way in 4 days, make no sense. Maybe this is stats of like ever for the broadband line or something. Actually, we checked, in over 2 years of service on both of their lines added together, this customer downloaded 8TB and uploaded 227GB. A far cry from the 555TB they claim.

Ha! latest is: Your customer is uploading more than they are downloading, and this can give the impression of poor downstream performance


Is it criminal fraud

As you may have seen on the company status pages we get a wide variety of responses on fault reports. This is especially clear when it is a single common cause of a fault and all the same report text, which our favourite telco clearly simply do not read!

What gets me is the sheer number of wrong statements they make in order to send a fault back to us.

These statements are not just mistakes but are outright lies. For example they claim to have carried out throughput tests that show the user maximising their upload (so?) when the user has not in fact used the line for months (i.e. it's a backup line). Clearly they have not done the tests they claim and they clearly do not show the result they claim. They are just making up LIES.

Why do it? so they can send the fault back.

There is compensation (pence) for having a fault open for 40 hours, and sending it back stops the clock. So these lies result in a financial gain for them.

Lying for financial gain is criminal fraud. Its illegal. People can go to prison over it. Companies can get big fines for it. It is not allowed!!!

So, do I just report this to the police? It really is starting to piss me off.

The plan is to try and get the whole fault system improved. This will probably take many months. We're pointing out the criminal fraud anyway and asking not to be lied to. That is just one thing that needs improving.

Ho hum.

And people find our statements confusing

Council sent us a statement dated December. They list the total charge, the amount received and the amout due and the payment schedule. They all make sense. Amount received is what we had paid by that date and what the payment schedule says we should have paid by that date. So why send a statement I wonder?

But wait, they also have a column saying "total due" on the statement which is different to the "amount due" that they show in the main body by around £150?

And better, they list the total charge for the year as a different (lower, nice!) amount than the actual rates bill we got at the start of the year. This means we have now actually paid too much.

And odder still, they also sent a cheque, for an amount that does not fit with anything. Their own statement works out that on the date the cheque sent they think we owe them. And its not what we have over paid, or the difference in the charge originally and now, or well, anything. It makes no sense.

How on earth do councils manage without basic adding up skills? Is the rest of the government like that (silly question).

Liquid Calcium

OK, my toothpaste proudly proclaims "with Liquid Calcium®"


(a) How can you trademark something like that. It's a simple name of something that exists already?!?!

(b) How can they just lie like this? Anyone that did any chemistry knows it is clearly a lie. According to wikpedia the melting point of Calcium is 842 °C. If would not put something that hot in my mouth!

When are we going to get someone with the guts to stop adverts telling blatant lies like this?

Its like "unlimited* text" with small print "* 3000 texts per month". So the word "unlimited", meaning "no limit" is used where there is in fact a limit.



Well, we are working of a hybrid of shit and fan today with our favourite telco.
Seems some senior management not aware of congestion fiasco.
And I have copied press, so they will hassle their press office for official response.

We wait and see if they consider a shite service acceptable or not. And if they do, a lot of ISPs will be finding a new faviourite telco, not just us. We have had a good service for 9 years and now we have congestion, latency, loss, and reduced throughput.

Well, lets see what happens.


The dreaded tie pair modification

Why is it less disruptive to change the telco we use for a broadband line than to get our favourite telco to actually fix a fault?

The answer is the dreaded tie pair modification or TPM.

The tie pair is a link from the main frame where the wires for your phone line get to the exchange building, to the DSLAM and back and then on to the phone exchange itself.

It is possible for this to be faulty, but not that common in our experience.

However, our favourite telco will use a TPM to rectify a fault some times. We find that on the whole faults are fixed by a random selection of a repair action rather than any logical diagnosis of the fault. That's just our view from what we see. But sadly it means that some times a TPM is chosen. We have seen several over Christmas. The cynic in me says that it is an easy fix as it gets rid of us (so they think) for 3 days which is after Christmas.

The problem is that this is done with no consultation. The first we hear is a fault update saying a TPM has been ordered and it will take 1-3 days.


WTF! Why? Apparently the process is to disable the existing (and typically mostly working) port immediately and then request an engineer move the service to a new port on the DSLAM (1-3 days) which is configured ready to work. So the line goes off for UP TO THREE DAYS.

Of course, there is no way to cancel this once it has been started.

But wait, it gets worse. We are told today that when they say "1-3 days" they mean "1-3 working days". WTF?!?! That could be 1 to 7 days in reality.

Bear in mind this is all for a fault repair process that is meant to fix faults within 40 hours.

So, I suspect this is the first of the broken parts of their fault process to tackle this year.
It is totally crazy.


Happy New Year

Well, I'll try and play WoW a bit over the weekend. Maybe try and level. On 73 now...

After that it's all back to work on Monday. Doing new XML interface stuff to our favourite telco this month. That should be fun.

I guess I'll have to dream up some advertising and marketing this year. That will be fun. How to try and attract more technical customers.

Should be an interesting year.

So Happy New Year to all my readers.

TOTSCO moving goal posts, again!

One of the big issues I had in initial coding was the use of correlationID on messages. The test cases showed it being used the same on a se...