Monday, 30 January 2012

Lottery strategy

When buying a lottery ticket, only buy one row on the card. The odds against winning are so remote buying additional rows doesn't make a great deal of difference. It's a bit like dividing infinity by two, it is still infinity. Your lucky day will either happen or it doesn't.

Now I'm going to suggest something contrarian. If you buy one ticket, always buy a second ticket but using exactly the same numbers for the same day as your first ticket. In that way if you win the jackpot you guarantee getting a greater share of the jackpot if other people also get the winning numbers. At the very least you can tell the wife that you have a winning ticket for the lottery in all good faith ....

Monday, 23 January 2012

Stupid Vendors

It's been a really annoying past couple of days. The angst has been caused by stupid vendors and their idiotic approach to identity checking. The trouble started on Sunday when my wife tried to change mobile phone supplier and purchase a new phone. The phone was only £70 and the monthly contract was only £20 a month. She's already got an existing mobile phone service supplier, but has to change for external reasons, at her new offices only O2 has any real coverage and she's with Vodafone. So after waiting close on 20 minutes for an O2 shop assistant and another 15-20 minutes while he fussed over the paperwork while my wife gave full personal details banks, accounts, produced bank cards, etc the assistant finalises the order then peers at the screen and announces that my wife has to produce a passport or driving licence plus a utility bill. Why couldn't he have done that at the start?

We found it really annoying, I had my driving licence, but that was not good enough. We've lived in the same location for 29 years, own the property outright and have good high paid stable professional jobs. My wife didn't have a passport/driving licence with her, so we told they they'd lost the order and walked away. When we got home we placed the same order on-line with Carphone Warehouse and it was accepted, or so we thought.  This evening we got an email from Carphone Warehouse saying the order with O2 had failed on a credit check!! We have do debt, we've never been late in paying bills. Carphone Warehouse cynically suggested we tried other vendors through them, but if we wanted to check the credit issue we should talk to Equifax. 

To talk to Equifax we have to create copies of three identity documents and send them to Equifax, wait for that to be processed, create an account, purchase a credit report (using the same credit card rejected by O2) and wait until the report is delivered. If there is anything wrong on the report we can then "challenge" the record.

It was at that point I remembered getting a call from the (a catalogue company) security department asking if I'd raised an on-line credit account with them. To which I replied "No, I never use credit accounts." After a couple of weeks they came back to say they'd investigated and realised that someone other than use had used our address and obtained goods on credit and then not paid for them. ISME put a marker on our credit file. We'd not done anything wrong, but ISME had been stupid enough to send goods to another address, because they'd never delivered to our house. So through ISME's poor procedures our home address has a black mark against it through no fault of our own.

O2 are probably relying on the Equifax report which probably has reference to the ISME screwup. It doesn't appear to be relevant to O2 that I already have two active  mobile phone accounts with them registered to that same address. They'd prefer to mess my wife around with their crude credit processes.
Well, they will pay the price for their poor procedures. I always punish such bad service. They're going to lose one of my mobile phone accounts and that will cost them dear. If Equifax has the slightest wrong data on our files I'll be getting them to provide evidence in support or I'll be off to the Information Commissioners Office.  O2 and their parent Telefonica will pay in the long term too, unless they come up with a respectable solution. I often get the opportunity to steer the telecomms business of some quite large companies in many locations in Europe.

To top it all Amazon's computer system insisted I use instead of It really screwed up the testing I doing for the release of a new book. Nice one Amazon, set your business policy on what Amazon execs want rather than what the customer needs.

Edit 26th Jan
My wife decided to bite the bullet and go back to the O2 shop with a print of her clean credit record, driving licence, utility bills. We were in the shop for 105 minutes as the shop assistants struggled through the O2 computer procedures to issue a £70 phone. It is unfortunate that O2 have a service monopoly in the large building where she works otherwise we'd have told them to get lost. However they won't escape my punishment.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Send to Kindle

I've recently come across a free new tool from Amazon. It is an application which allows you to send documents from your PC to your Kindle device. It converts to either pdf or azw. The application can be found here. Here's some more information about the tool. It seems to work quite well with a couple of minor issues on font conversion which I'll investigate further.

It is definitely worth a try.