Category Archives: Economy

Call out for consumer stories

Hello, friendly people! I am planning a small series of blog posts exploring how certain bad corporate practices can become endemic within a given industry. To help me out, I might need some help from the hive mind.

If you experienced poor service in any of the following areas, then please let me know via email, it would be a great help to marshalling some ideas together. Let me know as well if you’re happy to me to follow up with more questions (also via email). I won’t be releasing any personal information on the posts themselves.

The areas I’ll be talking about:

  • Misselling of financial products by banks (although please only send stories for stuff other than PPI)
  • Rising costs of insurance under ‘automatic renewal’
  • Complaints resolution from telecommunications companies

Any stories, no matter how trivial or dull, detailed or short, shall leave me very grateful. You can email meat timballantine [at] googlemail [dot] com with CONSUMER in the subject line.

Cheers in advance, all you lovely, lovely people.



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Filed under Banks, Economy, Personal

Nailing "Dependency Culture"

The refrain we hear from Tories, and conservatives in general, is that welfare creates dependency. That once we start giving people jobless benefits, or disability benefits, the population becomes a bunch of layabout scroungers with no drive to improve their lot or become productive.

Mitt Romney revealed just how deep this opinion runs among the super-rich, and the more measured rhetoric we normally see is how this package of hatred for the poor is sold to us. In the wake of the Mitt Romney scandal, conservative columnist for the NYT nails exactly why we should write off this narrative of a dependency culture:

But, of course, no middle-class parent acts as if this is true. Middle-class parents don’t deprive their children of benefits so they can learn to struggle on their own. They shower benefits on their children to give them more opportunities — so they can play travel sports, go on foreign trips and develop more skills.

We are no more than the sum of the opportunities we are offered, and are able to take up. Offering opportunities for success doesn’t guarantee success in later life, but denying real opportunities definitely guarantees failure.

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Filed under Economy, Politics

Youth Unemployment and the Bloody Media

I’ve been planning a post for while concerning how irritating much of the mainstream media is on the subject of Youth Unemployment (imagine there’s a lot of reverb when I say those words, Mysterons-style). The condescending tone and vague sound of surprise from puffed-up journalists, a large portion of whom will have been privately educated (the successful ones, at least, as I am reliably informed by Owen Jones).

However, I haven’t managed to find a suitably pithy and witty response to such arse-water, and the topic is swiftly forgotten as my mind becomes enraged by some other piece of absolute bull within a few minutes.

But I need try no longer! For the awesome and far-funnier-than-me-by-half Vagenda have beaten me to it. And as a person who didn’t fall into unemployment following graduation, all I can offer is solidarity as opposed to the Vagenda’s genuine empathy.

I was one of the lucky ones, and I’m not so arrogant as to think it was my genius which got me my graduate position, and that anyone who failed to graduate into a job must by definition be an overindulged moron who’s long-term suffering is merely the price we must pay in a society where intellectual superhumans like myself can reign supreme. I definitely don’t think that.

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Filed under Economy, Feminism, Journalism

The Olympics Think I am Unemployed

Or so rich that I have my own butler. Actually, on second thought, that’s more likely. Since the roads are only going to be used by ‘VIPs’ anyway during the Olympics, and mostly the only people who actually got tickets are the ones who avoided the lottery altogether and instead got the London Olympic Committee to simply give them all the tickets they want via the company they happen to be a director of.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Olympics. Obviously I oppose the Sound Cannons, the Surface to Air missiles, the freebies for the rich, the special roads that the poor aren’t allowed to use, and the fact that we (read: the Coalition) are spending ridiculous sums of money on a two week long party for Visa directors while simulaneously fucking the poor, the old, women, workers, the disabled, anybody earning less than £45,000 a year, families, young children, small business owners, the sick and anyone who wants to make life better for others.

At the same time, I know I’m just going to enjoy every moment of the sport. I’m fully prepared – holiday booked for the entire period, all important engagements cancelled, cupboard stocked with Doritos, and all my comfortable tracksuit bottoms washed and ready to go.

I fully expect to be well-versed, by the end of it all, in the ins and outs of Algerian judo, in Usain Bolt’s favourite pair of shoes, and in the environmental ramifications of competitive skeet shooting. I expect at least once to burst into tears seeing a plucky underdog, from some tiny country, wearing a burlap sack, win a gold medal against all the odds in his/her nation’s home sport (I don’t know what yet, maybe Klondike, we’ll see).

So after all the cognitive dissonance, detailed above, which was necessary to get me actually fucking excited about this Olympics; and after all the elation I felt at winning some tickets (2 tickets to see two games of the qualifying rounds for the basketball, thanks for asking), it somewhat irked me to receive the following email from London Ticketing:

Dear Tim,

Your London 2012 tickets

The Olympic Games are just around the corner, and soon you will be holding your Olympic tickets in your hand.
Tickets will start to be delivered from late May with deliveries continuing into July. This email tells you everything you need to know about how to make sure you get your tickets safely.
Your tickets will be sent using Royal Mail‘s Tracked® delivery service. You will receive a notification by email and/or SMS (if you have provided your mobile number) from Royal Mail on the day your tickets are due to be delivered.
Someone will need to be there to sign for your tickets. If nobody is there, Royal Mail will leave a ‘Something for you’ card. You will also be notified of the delivery attempt by email and/or SMS. Your ticket package will be returned to your local Royal Mail delivery office and held securely for 18 days.
You can visit the office to collect your package, or contact Royal Mail to arrange a redelivery to the same address. In the event you don’t collect your package, Royal Mail will send you a reminder notification by email and/or SMS before it is returned to London 2012.
If you have changed address since 6 February 2012 or have any further queries regarding ticket delivery, please visit the FAQ section on the London 2012 ticketing website.

[Emphasis mine]. Note the three sections I felt important enough to highlight.

Tickets will start to be delivered from late May with deliveries continuing into July

Okay, not so bad, essentially a 2 month window for my tickets to arrive in. There’s a lot of tickets to send out, and it’s a big logistical challenge.

You will receive a notification by email… from Royal Mail on the day your tickets are due to be delivered.

Again, how very nice of them to tell me, at least that way when I get home from work I’ll know to expect them – I wouldn’t want them to go missing, after all.

Someone will need to be there to sign for your tickets.

Wait, WHAT? So someone needs to be at home on the day my tickets arrive, a day which I won’t know about until ON THAT DAY ITSELF. So I may need to spend a day at home waiting for a delivery on any day between late May and “into July”, but have absolutely no idea which one. What to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games think I am? Rich enough to afford a dogsbody?

Bloody Nora, I thought the crackdown of freedom of speech through suppression of protests was bad, but this really takes the biscuit.


Addendum to above post:

I apologise to all unemployed people for the title, now that I think about it. We all have much better things to do than sit around waiting for tickets for two months, and given the number of hoops people who are unemployed have to go through to receive even the pittance that prevents them from starving while searching for work, it’s kinda thoughtless to assume they have it easier than I do.

So, sorry to you all.

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Filed under Economy, Sport