O2 New Street Birmingham Insurance Rip-Off

Boring post this, it’s just for Google to in case any other people are looking to see what’s happened.

I popped and got an iPhone 4 the other day, it’s nice (and it won’t cost me much once I recycle the old 3G – and the battery was dying).

I decided to stay with O2, I’ve not had problems with them and changing providers is fraught with hassle. The guys in the shop made it quite easy — except that I’ve discovered that the salesman lied to me to sell an insurance policy. This is a proper O2 shop (the receipt says Telefonica O2 UK Ltd and everything).

The salesman told me that insurance was compulsory on iPhone4 upgrades. That sounded fishy and I said I did not want it, only to be told a that it was free for 14 days and that I could cancel without being charged. I asked how, just to confirm, and they said by phone.

Then received my bill via email this am and that charged me for insurance at £15. The customer service rep on the telephone has refunded that and cancelled the insurance — confirming that there’s no such thing as compulsory insurance. But as it is credited in the next month’s bill,  how many £15s are O2 receiving and getting interest on for one month? How many people don’t check or cancel. How much commission is the liar (fraudster?) making.

Watch yourselves.

onBirmingham – let’s try local news on Twitter

Twitter is now pretty much established as the place where news can break most quickly — when news happens it’s becoming more and more likely a Twitterer will be somewhere nearby, or be one of the first to hear it.

But unless it’s huge World news whether you hear it quickly (or at all) is dependant on who you’re following. If you’re not following the “newsmaker” then you’ll wait until someone you do follow mentions it, or until a blog or even a newspaper picks it up (queue the “Twitter is fast at news” news story). There have been some attempts to use search or trends to help the process along, so you can follow one Twitter account that will notify you when a story reaches a critical mass — thing is for the more niche story that may never happen. Which is where the idea behind onBirmingham comes in.

The onBirmingham Twitter account retweets (with attribution) direct messages sent to it — from people that the account is following. Like this:

Kings Heath ...
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

It rests on building up a network of “newsmakers” around Birmingham, who have a nose for news and an itchy Twitter finger. onBirmingham will only follow those it trusts, and if they use the service to spam, then they’ll be unfollowed — it’s as simple as that.

So follow onBirmingham to get the news, and if you’d like to help make the news send the account an @ message and it’ll follow you back. And we’ll see how well it works.

Can you Get Satisfaction from your local Council?

I’ve been quietly impressed with Get Satisfaction, which is sort of best described as a “social customer service” site. Twitter and some other big-name players on the internet use it for their official support channels – the idea of the site being that employees of the companies join in with discussion of “problems” that people are having. Some employees just join to help, others are granted “official” status and can speak on behalf of the organisation.

Of course lots of problems that we have with products or services aren’t really problems (or are well know and documented) – in these instances other users are happy to help (very much like unofficial forums for software). ‘Users’ are also welcome to point out possible solutions to anything – and of course they do.

So, I thought, could this work for a local council? Imagine time saved by council officials if knowledgeable citizens helped answer questions, imagine the resources available (once someone had explained how to apply for a licence, the information would be there for everyone), imagine a monolithic body “joining the conversation”.

Rather than deciding to attempt to persuade my local council (Birmingham City Council – one of the largest in the UK) that this would be a good idea, I discovered that – as the site is “a space for an open conversation between you and other people with interests and passions in this organization.” – anyone can set a company page up. So I have.

I don’t have anything to ask at the moment, but I’m hoping that it might get used.

“Sometimes representatives from the company or organization may take part in the conversation too.” says the blurb — wouldn’t that be great?

Review: The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain at the Town Hall

Who ever heard of a concert starting at the time stated on the ticket?Originally uploaded by bounder

Who ever heard of a concert starting at the time stated on the ticket? This is the view of the uke guys doing Splodgenessabounds’ ‘Two Pint of Lager’ – it’s the last song in the first half and I’m outside waiting for a ‘suitable break in performance’ before being able to get in. Gah.

On top of this, my mood isn’t improved when the usher tells me to put my phone away as I get in – it was the bloody interval, and I only had it out to see just how late I was. Git.

So anyways The Ukulele Orchestra – a lot more cabaret that I expected, I mean skits in between and during some songs. This distracted from some superb musicianship and some great songs. They also seemed to pick obvious covers, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ – when they pulled something truly unexpected out Chic’s’Le Feak’ in the encore, for example they were a real joy.

Still could of done with a touch of George Formby.

Gwen Stefani at the NIA

Gwen Stefani (yes, I know, not my usual thing, a return of a longstanding agreement from the last time I dragged my other half to watch Belle & Sebastian or somesuch) is not averse to using the odd bit of popular culture – in the first half hour she’s played songs that piggy-back on Topol and Julie Andrews – so when she tells us she went to the zoo yesterday, I’m immediately thinking a hip-hop mash-up of Julie Felix is on the cards.

Turns out she really had gone to the zoo, held a baby monkey and fed the elephants. She tells the crowd this and is a bit nonplussed that we don’t cheer the zoo (and all the staff she’s invited to concert) loudly. What she doesn’t realise is a lot of us are trying to work out which zoo she’s been to. Dudley Zoo, for a start doesn’t have any elephants.

While she’s off for another costume change, leaving vocal duties to Bowie’s long-time bassist Gail-Ann Dorsey, I’m thinking Drayton Manor? No elephants there either.

While she’s fitting in an incongruous ballad, but refusing to sing anything from No Doubt, I’m thinking Wipsnade? She can’t think that’s in Birmingham.

While she’s rampaging through the audience, scaring the shit out of security (she got right up the back of the arena), running while singing the one that goes “You know we’re cool” that sounds like Belinda Carlile, I’m thinking Chester Zoo? Nah.

While the fibre glass goats (I’m not kiding) are put away and another lacklustre ballad stutters with breakdance interludes, and you start to wish for the return of The Go Go’s (actually I pretty much aways think that), I’m thinking – surely not London Zoo? No elephants I don’t think, and wouldn’t she have invited the keepers to the Wembley Arena gig.

While she encores with What You Waiting For and I remember why for all the GIRL, GIRL, GIRL fake hip-hop posturing and the sad demotion of ska in her affections she’s still a cut above most pop acts, I’m thinking Twycross.

Twycross. It has to be.

A fucking big duck

An f’in big duck

Originally uploaded by bounder

One of my favourite showbiz anecdotes refers to the wondrous Vic and Bob becoming personas-non-grata on the charity fundrasing circuit after a routine about “a fucking big duck” at a Stephen Fry organised AIDS do.

It wasn’t the routine, in which they made continued references to an offstage “fucking big duck” so much, as that Bob decided to shout “and a fucking big duck” during the endispiece where Stephen was listing those to whom the night was dedicated.

So when I saw this bloody large fowl today, I just stood there laughing. (Sorry about the Delilah quote there.)