Monday, December 21, 2009

Some people are easily excited

Somewhere in the past ten years, the expression "we're excited about..." has become one of the most abused phrases in the English language. We think Microsoft was one of the first companies that started to abuse this utterly fatuous expression when attempting to get the attention a jaundiced press and public, and kid them that it's latest attempt to monopolise the world of IT with second rate software and systems was anything more than very tedious indeed.

It is high time that HM the Queen set up The Queen's English Language Rights Society to crack down on such abuses of her language in the same way that just about anyone who claims "rights" now pays some bunch of ex-coppers to threaten the public with terrible retribution for any misuse/abuse and vague naughtiness where those alleged "rights" are involved.

TMP could get excited about seeing the witless PR and marketing droids being sent to the Tower for a summary topping. Couldn't you?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

LLoyds Bank: the fat cats that got the sour cream

Lloyds Bank always enjoyed a reputation for being staid and stalwart - the last sort of bank that would do anything foolish. Indeed, when its champagne socialist Chairman, Victor Blank, did a deal with Gordon Brown over a cocktail party to save what amounted to the entire Scottish economy and any hope of Labour ever winning another seat in Scotland, by bailing out HBOS and its various allied disaster zones, there was an air of triumphalism that the cautious tortoise had won some sort of race with the reckless hares of the banking industry.

We now know rather better. Lloyds' many small shareholders reflected the prudent and conservative nature that the bank had always projected up to that point - and now after 85% dilution, they have been and truly sacrificed on the altar of Brown's cunning, and Blank's hubris.

Many Lloyds customers are similarly dissatisfied with the performance of the bank at the basic functions of being a simple bank, never mind all that nonsense about wheeling and dealing and saving nations - and political hides - including us. So TMP went googling for alternatives business account providers - and the site linked below at the top of the google search for reviews of business banking - and lead to this page where Lloyds is rated by its customers: "1.2 out of 5", with respondents complaining that they were not able to rate Lloyds service with "0" - because the range on offer was 1-5.


However, the same site largely confirms that the mainstream clearing banks are pretty much regarded as equally dire by all their victims. Alliance and Leicester appeared to score better than most and always boasts winning customer surveys - but a call through to them suggests that they are no better, and about to become fully "Santander, and thus imbued with the same "maƱana" attitude that now seems to blight O2 since Spain's Telefonica took it over.

So it's the devil we know for a while longer until someone comes along with a really different and better proposition. Most banks seem to think that free banking is a big deal; but trust us, you grotesquely overweight felines, we're perfectly happy to pay for competent banking - so try and see if you can still remember how to provide it?

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Dialling up another stealth tax

The way that UK cellular networks all charge the same and offer the same levels of dire services suggests a cartel in operation. When doing some research in the local Orange store, TMP was told unequivocally that it was pointless waiting for Vodafone to get iPhones, because they will be charging the same anyway.

We don't think this was sales banter but the dishonest truth - Apple is controlling the iPhone market with the skill and brutality that it controls all its markets. The keenly complicit cellular networks are familiar and comfortable with market-fixing cartels, since the government has effectively allowed them to all get away with murder for years.

The Faustian deal was done when the embarrassed networks paid barmy money in the 3g spectrum sale, and simply had to be allowed to find ways to recover their donations to the treasury, by overcharging their customers. So in reality, the 3G spectrum sale was the stealth tax of the century - and in a "nod and wink" deal, Broon allowed the networks to do whatever it took not to go bust, and squeeze a few more taxable quid from UK punters and businesses; probably anticipating that they would go and blow any profits that they ever made on another spectrum auction.

The "latitude" extended to the cellular network operators included turning a blind eye to them operating as cartels - where everyone charges the same (albeit with as much effort at obfuscation as possible with intelligence-insulting marketing schemes) and either you pay a grossly inflated PAYG rate - or you will be lashed to a very tedious 24 month contract, hacked straight from your account by direct debit - or else...

The way in which banks are paying bugger all interest - but still charging borrowers as much as ever - is clearly another very handy form of stealth tax on prudent savers. And again Broon has assembled a handy cartel of behemoths who are prepared to "do business" with him in return for cartel favours.

Everywhere we look in Labour's benighted Britain, the big guys have been allowed to reach cartel and monopoly proportions where they are simply too big to care anything for customer service any longer, and immune from serious competition, in return for "doing deals" with the government, in return for acting as agents that are operating the dreadful Auld Fraud's stealthier raids on your cash.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Green with stupidity

The current questioning of Green presumptions is the fault of the those zealots who saw it as an opportunity for global social engineering, preaching the ethos of the "nanny state" - and irritating anyone who likes to at least try and think for themselves.

A moment's thought reveals that concern about energy is very real - but that price and politics of energy are definitely real, whereas the science oif climate change has all the hallmarks of a religious cult, where superstition and half truths are spun into an ideology where all opponents must be burned at the nearest stake.

Another moment of rational thought reveals that a wholly undeniable issue concerns population - which affects much more than just climate issues.

However, the question of "breeding rates" risks exposing the Labour Party's many sacred cows, especially that the UK population that has been suddenly grown by the unfettered immigration that politicians insisted was somehow "good for us". However, many "ordinary people" are packed like sardines in overcrowded trains and on jammed roads - and thereby daily witness the growing strain on the nation's infrastructure, and suspect that the open door policy is not the good thing that the Labour hierarchy has been telling us.

Leaked emails now confirm that Labour's migration policy was part of a process of carefully considered gerrymandering to dilute the nasty xenophobic native population with a rainbow influx of likely Labour voters, and to provide cheap domestics for Lady Scotland. But meantime, drowning polars bear and the climate distraction is a handy smokescreen for the apparatchiks of the BBC to bore us with, under which Broon and Co are imposing all manner of specious taxes and laws in the name of saving humanity.

The phoney war

The cellphone operators raise TMP's blood pressure as much as any of the cartels that 13 years of Labour misrule has allowed to flourish and torment our lives in this benighted land.

TMP exists on the fringe of coverage for all the networks, rumour has it that a local resident once objected to the location of a relay mast, and around 500 residents have been cursed with indifferent to crap coverage ever since. Even a

For reasons of pure inertia, and the effort Orange puts into preventing its customers from finding ways to escape from its clutches, we cannot presently recall, we've put up with Orange for the past 10 or so years. However, 10 years ago, TMP world HQ was located in an area of urban coverage. 5 years ago TMP relocated - but with the relatively dull services possible at that time, it wasn't a terrible nuisance to be out of cellphone range. However, over the past 5 years the integration of the internet and cellphones have made the absence of cellular coverage a major factor of social exclusion. Maybe not quite as bad as living just off the broadband coverage map, but a pretty close thing.

So TMP has become increasingly agitated by the lack of coverage, and started to shop around to see if any of the other networks were any beter. We always checked with visitors to see if their phone worked and if so, what network. O2 seemed to come off better than Orange (anything was better Orange), and there was some talk of O2 making a picocell/femtocell - a miniature local base station that looks like a wifi router (which is what it basically is) that you plug into a broadband router for backhaul - available in fringe areas.

We are also weary of lies told by cellphone salespeople. We switched one from Orange (France Telecom) to O2 (Telefonica) two years ago, and were assured we were in a coverage area. Of course we are not, but we simply couldn't be bothered to go through the huge hassle again of baling out of 02, and transferring the number again. And O2 and the rest know it.

The efforts that their marketing departments go to in order to invent obscure and confusing "subscription plans" is quite astonishing. Orange feel the need to call their hideous creations banal but cuddly names like Dolphin and Panda. Rat and Louse would be more appropriate and reflect the nature of those tormenting the punters more accurately.

TMP will keep you advised of our experiences of getting PAC numbers from Orange and o2, and then setting up a deal we can all understand with Vodafone. We are expecting pain.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Democracy: dangerous stuff!

The recent Swiss referendum that decided to prevent minarets being attached to mosques was one of the more defiant gestures of public opinion of recent times, albeit outside the EU.

Those Swiss leaders that were pleading for a vote to allow minarets, were doing so purely to avoid upsetting militant Muslims and thereby risk turning Switzerland into a target for reprisals. The Swiss are not noted for their ability to take sides and make a stand on matters of international discordance, in case you had not noticed.

And the predictable list of unelected global busybodies has pitched in to tell the Swiss what they should be thinking. And of course the ever vigilant Guardian is seething with indignation, accusing Switzerland of being Europe's hotbed of Nazi insurrection.

Somewhat closer to home, TMP can't get planning permission for a modest enclosed porch on the front of TMP world HQ that is not visible from any road, that no neighbours can see, that blocks no light, that does not cross any building lines. All because the owner here before us was a bit "creative" with his planning permission interpretations, and the bearded wally in the council planning dept left a note on the file to refuse anything else ever again, on principle.

Our biggest mistake in this benighted land of barminess is clearly one of not being a Muslim or other culturally diverse minority. But we can soon fix that, if it helps.