Blog DOB: 22 Aug, 2006
Name: Mark O'Connor
Me in the Antarctic
Really Annoying Sh##
This is my blog where I can dump all the sh## that really annoys me. It stays here, I can get on and enjoy myself. It's like therapy, and you can join too for free. Just add yourself as a blogger and get rid of all your sh##.
The UK's information watchdog warned, during the week, of a danger of the UK "sleepwalking into a surveillance society". Richard Thomas, the information Commissioner, was most concerned about the national identity card scheme, a population register planned by the Office for National Statistics and a proposed database of children which includes their fingerprints.
When I bought a DVD player this morning I was incredulous I had to fill in a form for "TV Licensing", giving my name, address and whether I had a colour or black and white TV. All this will be fed back into the TV database to ensure no one eludes paying their TV licence. Incredible!
Who is TV Licensing? It's actually "a trading name used by companies contracted by the BBC to administer the collection of television license fees and enforcement of the television licensing system."
George Orwell seems increasingly to have been a prophet rather than a novelist. Now you can't even buy a small electrical appliance without it being entered in a central database.
As I get the overland and Jubliee line to Canary Wharf my car is ordinarily
curled up asleep on the driveway. Last week, in a hurry to get to Gatwick,
I jump in, turn the ignition. Nothing happens. A moment of panic. No jump
leads. AA home start cancelled several years earlier. I get out, push open the
front door, sift through the cumulative letter box junk. Eureka. A business card
for a taxi company. I can't press the digits on the keypad fast enough.
"I need a car to Gatwick please"
"What time do you need it for?"
"Now", I blurt out.
The weekend passes, back in the train reading Mr China ("The incredible story of a Wall Street banker who went to China with four hundred million dollars and learned the hard way that China doesn't play by Western rules"). One night, after work, still in the office, gazing out of the 23rd floor I remember, and call the AA from my mobile.
A recorded voice advises me I am in a queue. I may be holding for five minutes. Did I want to call back at another time? I hold. I hold for ten minutes. The same AA adverts replay and replay and replay, without interruption, before someone finally speaks.
I quote my membership number and enquire,
"My car needs a restart at home. I don't have the home start option on my membership. I wonder if it's possible to add it, and have a a call out at some stage tomorrow?"
"You can add home start and that will be valid up until your renewal next year", he responded, quoting me the full price, even though my renewal would be two weeks earlier (i.e. pay the full price for fifty weeks rather than fifty two - 3.8% bonus for the AA) He continues confidently "You would have to pay a surcharge for your call out tomorrow. The total price including your membership upgrade would be £89".
I hesitated. Home start is £44. The surcharge is £45. I paid the home start sub. for many years, never using it. Cancelled it in the end as it just seemed a waste of money. Somehow I actually feel as if I am being ripped off, not just because of the two weeks but the fact it just didn't seem right after being a customer for eight years.
"I'll leave it" I answered, already thinking about the RAC
for next year.
"Is there anything else I can help you with?"
In the morning I go to Maplins and buy a portable car charger for just under £40. If I had planned better I could have bought one on the internet for £20.