The Real Stephen Booth
Silent calls from 01612127801
Recently I've been getting a lot of silent calls from 01612127801. Silent as in when I answer there's just silence on the line for several seconds then a voice says "Goodbye!" This I gather is what happens when a company uses an automatic dialer to call numbers. Basically to minimise delay and not have their agents listening to dial tones whilst waiting for someone to answer the automatic dialer calls and waits for the person to pick up then assigns the call to the next available agent. If there's no agent available it hangs up.
As I recall John Hemming MP had a bit of campaign against these some years ago. I am writing to him to see if this campaign is still on going or might start up again.
This is the same as was happening most of the times I got calls from 01618149905
which turned out to be 'Versatile' trying to sell PPI claim assistance, when there was finally someone to take the call at their end. Even the voice saying 'GoodBye!' sounds the same. So what are the odds of two different companies, both in Manchester, both calling the same number (which has been registered with the TPS pretty much since I got it) with an automaic dialer and both not having enough staff to handle their automatically dialed calls?
This new number seems to be quite new, when I googled it I could only find one site
that listed it and that only had four entries going back just under 2 weeks. But I did find a page on WhoCallsMe about this number
ETA: had a response from John Hemming. He said he'd have someone look into it and confirmed it's OFCOM's responsibility to deal with silent calls.
ETAA: Had a response from the person John Hemming had asked to look into this. They said that they had spoken to OFCOM who had said that as they have no details of who that number belongs to they can't do anything about it. I'd had a similar response direct from OFCOM as a result of my contacting them directly.
Labels: john hemming, manchester, nuisance calls, phone, spam, Telephone Preference Service, TPS, versatile
Nuisance call from 08435600125
Just had a call. Guy identified himself as being from 'Pension Aid' and said it wasn't a sales call, he then asked me if I was aware of the 'pension crisis'. I explained that I was but as I was in a final salary scheme to which I was making 18% of gross salary contributions I should be OK. He agreed I should be OK and said he'd update my records. I asked for a 'Do Not Call' note to be put on my records.
Number has been on TPS for over 10 years. Submitted complaint to TPS. Suggest others do the same if they have calls from this number or similar: https://complaints.tpsonline.org.uk/Consumer/
Labels: 08435600125, nuisance calls, Pension Aid, Telephone Preference Service, TPS
Let's get this economy started!
Watching the news about the Cypriot plans to tax savings got me thinking that that's something that might actually work, but maybe not in the way they expect, so long as they are careful about which savings to tax (or at least tax most). The thought actually started with Tory (and US Republican) claims that the tax breaks for the wealthy would help the economy as they are 'job creators'.
That claim makes me hope that they are lying, or at least being disingenuous, because I'd hate to think that people so devoid of knowledge of how business works are running this country (although looking at the backgrounds of the Tory front bench makes me fear that they may be). Anyone who has run a small/medium sized business (say 10 - 300 employees), or even just worked in one and taken an interest in where their pay comes from, knows that (with the possible exception of family members) you don't take someone on (i.e. create a job) because you can afford to. You take someone on because if you don't you can't meet the volume of production your customers demand. You have the fewest number of jobs that you can get away with, no more. If you want to create jobs you first need to create the demand for the output of those jobs. The great thing is that properly managed this becomes a positive feedback model where as more jobs are created they also create more demand.
Here comes how taxing savings, so long as the right sort of savings are taxed, might help. Most savings are essentially dead money, the bank may leverage them to fund investments (if they were investing right now) or bolster reserves but other than that they sit there earning small rates of interest. If Low Interest/High Liquidity savings were taxed (especially at the 40% rate proposed in Cyprus) that would incentivise the savers to stop sitting on them and spend them. This would prime the pump for extra demand leading to job creation. The difficult part would be keeping the demand in country so as to avoid the money simply going to China, India &c so helping create jobs there and to keep the keep the demand flowing long enough.
Nuisance calls from 01618149905
Had a number of silent calls from this number. Just now they called
again and I got a woman with a strong Manchester accent who told me that
the company name was 'Versatile'. In the background I heard typical
'call center' noise. I said I'd never heard of the company. She said
that the company did exist and was based in Manchester. I told her I'd
guessed that from the accent. She acknowleded that she had a Manchester
accent. She said that they were regulated by the Ministry of Justice
and the National Credit Database had shown that I was owed money from a
credit agreement I had taken out. I said "Please stop calling me.
Please remove my contact details from your system. If you or anyone
from this number calls me again I WILL contact the Information
commissioner, I WILL get you fined." then hung up.
The number they called has been registered with the Telephone Preference Service for well over a decade. I have made a complaint via TPS./
It seems that quite a few people are getting such calls and calls for different reasons
ETA: Had an email from TPS yesterday. They have been unable to make contact with Versatile, they can't find any contact details. They have parked the case.
Vocational training in schools
Yesterday the CIPD published an article on their site about a call for an alternative to A-Levels
following recent results. I posted a comment which they moderated (edited for length) but I feel they lost the link between the first two paragraphs they published, below if the full comment:
During the Olympics I saw a number of people questioning why a disproportionate number of Team GB and, in particular, Team GB medal winners were former Independant school kids. This reminded me of my own school days. From age 10 to 14 I attended an Independent school on a scholarship. when that school went bust I returned to the state school system attending a Secondary Modern.
At the Secondary Modern the school day ran from 09:00 to 15:30 with a 10 minute break mid-morning and an hour for lunch either 12:00 to 13:00 or 13:00 to 14:00. The only sports were one hour of PE a week for half the year (the school didn't have the facilities for a whole year group to do PE at the same time). The choice was Soccer or 10 pin bowling for the boys and netball or ten pin bowling for the girls. The only vocational training was art, woodwork, typing (which was only open to girls, although I landed up doing it due to having Dyspraxia) and child care (again, girls only).
At the Independent school the school day ran from 08:30 to 17:30 with a 15 minute break at 10:30 and an hour for lunch at 13:00, 4 days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday), 2 days a week (Wednesday and Saturday) it ran, with the same breaks from 08:30 to between 16:00 and 17:00. In terms of academic lessons we probably did a little more than a state school but not much. The bulk of the extra time was taken up by sports (upto 11 hours a week), Combined Cadet Force (CCF, boys only) and vocational studies (all boys did at least 3 hours of woodwork a week and 3 hours of art/craft (which could include cookery, although in my time there only 3 boys (including myself) took the option); all girls did at least 3 hours of Cookery, 2 hours of typing (whilst the boys were doing CCF) and 3 hours of art/craft (which could include woodwork although in my time there only one girl actually took the option that I know of) a week). Additionally there were compulsory hobby clubs for 2 hours every Thursday (during which boys could take typing, although in my time there I was the only one to take the option). I understand that this was fairly common in the Independent sector.
Is it any wonder that Independent schools turn out more Olympians and people with more rounded skill sets?
Based on my experience I think we should look to extend the school day, certainly in Secondary schools, keeping the academic hours basically the same and filling the extra hours with more sports and vocational studies. Eleven hours of sports a week is, perhaps, excessive for most pupils but 5 or 6 hours a week would allow for a greater variety of sports to be tried and fitness to be improved. Offering a variety of vocational studies, along side the academics, from the start of secondary would give all pupils (even those who eventually go the academic route) a firm grounding in useful work skills and allow those who prefer vocational to academic work to get a taste of the options. Some time could also be allocated to developing cross subject skills such as debate, study skills, critical thinking, time and priority management, project management, basic finance &c.
The main thing from my experience that I would seek to avoid having repeated would be the gender divide in subjects. Girls should learn at least the fundementals of woodwork and/or engineering and try Soccer and/or Rugby. Boys should learn at least the fundementals of typing (or rather it's modern equivalents) and/or cookery and try netball and/or hockey. If CCF (or similar) is on offer then it should be open to both genders.
If I'd won that £148million on the Euro lottery last week I'd be looking to set up a Free School based on just those aims.
Of course, another advantage of the longer school day is that parents don't have to scabble to get into work after doing the school run only to leave pretty much straight after lunch to pick the kids up again.
Labels: a-levels, education, sports, study, vocational, Work
Spam sales call from 07720590063
Called, hung up when I answered then called again. Asked to speak to the Three network account holder. Identified company as 'Sprint Communications'. Tried to sell me a renewal on my Three contract (which is up in November) and a new phone. When I said I wasn't interested in renewing my Three contract he offered to transfer my number to a different network. I pointed out that I already have a phone on a different network (some years ago my sister chenged to Three and I worked out it would be cheaper to have a phone on that network than to call in from my normal phone, she's now going back to the same network as my normal phone) and wasn't interested in keeping that number. He tried to sell me a contract on another network again. I repeated my reasons for not wanting to move to another network and after a while he accepted it.
I pointed out that the number was registered with the Telephone Preference Service
(TPS) so, as I have no relationship with Sprint he should not be calling me. I asked him to have my number removed from their systems and from any lists they sell on or use. He said he'd try.
Also reported this on Who Calls Me
Now I'm off to shop them to the ICO. I suggest others do likewise if they get a call on a number they have registered with TPS.
Giving bad news at work
Just listened to a podcast from Manager Tools called "Giving Bad News
" about what to do when something goes wrong at work andyou've got to tell your boss. Reminds me why I stopped listening to them. Should have called it "The Career Suicide Podcast".
One of the key points they make is that when things go wrong you should own the responsibility and not blame anyone else, even if they're the guilty party. They say your boss will understand. Not any boss I've ever met, they probably don't have time to try to understand. If you're standing in front of your boss and 'owning the responsibility' then you are responsible
. That's responsible as a synonym for 'to blame' and 'at fault'. Other phrases that go with the word responsible in that sense are 'poor review at annual performance review time' and 'dismissed for under performing with predjudice and no references'.
About the only saving grace I heard in the podcast is that if someone's failure to do something is the cause of your work being late or incomplete then you should do all you can to make sure that the othr person doesn't fail. True, but there are limits to what you can do. You can remind people and chase them up but, unless you have role power over them, you cannot instruct them. You certainly cannot countermand an instruction from the person who does have role power over them.
Here's an example:
I was working on a project where I had a task to do. It wasn't on the critical path but the task that followed it was so I had a firm deadline. Before I could start my task a colleague on another team had to do another task on which my task was dependant. Both tasks were a few hours each. I couldn't do his task for him so ewas dependant on him doing his task. As neither task was on the critical path there was a significant period between when we were assigned the tasks and the deadline. In the time between when we were assigned the tasks and the deadline on his I'd periodically ask him if he'd had a chance to do it yet. He'd responded not to worry it would be done on time. A week before his task was due to be complete I reminded him of the deadline and asked if he'd had a chance to do it yet. He just came back with don't worry it'll be done on time. I spoke to my line manager and pointed out that I was concerned that he hadn't done the task yet as leaving it to the last minute ran the risk of something else coming up and preventing him from completing his task. My line manager said to see him again if the task hadn't been done the day before it was due. I also fired opff an email to the project manager, who didn't respond. Each day I prodded my colleague with a reminder of the due date and askign him if he'd had a chance to look at it yet. Each day I got a don't worry it will be done on time. It got to the day before the deadline, still no joy so I tell my manager and email the project manager. The dealine passes, I raise it again with my manager and with the project manager (who was, for a change, in the office and responded "What do you expect me to do about it?"). 2 days after the deadline on my task my colleague finally does his task and notifies me right at the end of the working day so I have to stay late to do my task.
Roll forwards about 9 months. After a restructure we're all reporting to different managers and my colleague somes up to me and tells me what the situation was. He had been specifically instructed by his line manager to not do the task until after the deadline. Apparently she had had an arguement with my line manager and wanted to cast his team in a bad light by making us late on tasks.
Should I own the responsibility there? Heck no! That's an extreme example but it's rare a week goes by where I don't see or hear of a situation in our company, one of our suppliers or one of our customers where someone has failed on a task due to circumstances beyond their control.
In the podcast they say that bosses like it when people own the responsibility. Of course they do, I expect lions are quite happy when a baby zebra wanders into the middle of the pride and lays down for a nap. the bosses need someone to blame but are too busy to go looking, fortunately for them there's someone standing in front of them saying "I'm to blame. It was me."
The above is the work and opinions of Reverend Stephen Booth as a private individual. © Stephen Booth 2004, 2005 &c.