21
Aug
12

Die, Duck, Die!!

Have you ever been sat on a train or in a restaurant, just minding your own business, when you sense the tell-tale sign that someone has farted? You grimace a little because it’s a well-known known fact that everyone else’s farts smell worse than your own.

So you slowly but discreetly take a little look around (to avoid drawing attention to yourself and have people think it was you that layed it), but no-one ever claims those phantom farts and no-one wants to announce its prescence for fear of being labelled the owner. So everyone knows it but no-one acknowledges it and you all resign yourselves to just riding it out in the hope it doesn’t have stamina, and in the hope that the owner has quietly left the area.

… and just be glad you didn’t order the duck.

heh-heh… nobody will ever know…

25
Apr
12

Giving Cold Callers the Cold Shoulder

Like many of you out there I get pretty pissed-off at cold-callers, “survey” calls, recorded messages, as well as doorstep religion, politics, and utiliy callers. I suppose in some stupid way it’s become part of life – as iditotic as that sounds it’s sadly true – but as exasperating as these things are there are without doubt ways to fight back – and have some entertainment at their expense.

Disclaimer – I will point out right now that there are people who have legitimate reasons to call you, whether you think they’re annoying you or not. Financial and other contracts give companies the right to call you for certain reasons, so some of the tactics listed below should ONLY be applied to unauthorised callers and visitors, and not be used to avoid speaking to companies you may have a financial commitment to.

Firstly, here’s a few things to consider:

1) These people DON’T care about you – all you are to them is a phone number or a door number – one of dozens they will call on daily. So forget good manners – treat them as the privacy intrusion that they are

2) They will persist, because they don’t get paid if you don’t get hooked.

3) They will NOT listen to you. They follow a script and will control the call/visit (unless you take action!). They’ve been trained to get and hold your attention.

4) Despite Do Not Call, TPS, and FPS lists, they won’t stop. Many ignore the rules, and some operate from out of the country so are not bound by the lists.

So, what can we do about these bloody nuisances? I don’t believe in losing my temper at them, although there would be nothing wrong with doing that if you’ve had a bad day – a great way to give yourself some stress relief! But here’s my top tips at dealing with cold-callers, and turning the nuisance into something else – usually more enjoyable:

PHONE TACTICS

1) Don’t answer it. It’s a simple tactic, one that avoids having to talk to them. Useful if you have caller ID and you can recognise (or not) the number that’s calling.

2) Answer, and as soon as it’s clear it’s a cold call place the phone near your TV or HiFi so that’s all they hear. Or just put the phone down on a table and leave it for a minute or so. They’ll hang up quickly.

3) Engage the person, but answer every question with a question. Examples – “Why are you asking?”, “What company are you?”, “What’s your name”, “Why do you need to know”, “Why is that important?” and so on. They are trained to try to control the conversation – ie they ask and you answer – so it’s really easy to put them off their stride by returning questions to them. They’ll soon get fed up and hang up.

Example: This was an actual call I took a few days ago:

Caller: “Hello, I’d like to talk to your about your computer”

Me: “Which computer?”

Caller: “The computer you are using”

Me: “I’m using four, which one do you want to talk about?”

Caller: (slight pause) “I’d like to talk to you about the computer you use every day”

Me: “You called me, so which computer do you want to talk about?”

Click…. the caller hung up

The reason they hung up is because they had no idea whether I used a computer or not when they first called. They were fishing for information so that they could then move on to offering me insurance or a warranty. If they were a company that I already deal with regarding computers, they would be more aware of the facts. By using the above tactic I called them out and they couldn’t continue.

4) Hang up as soon as you realise it’s a cold call. Don’t be shy about doing this. many people don’t like to do this because they feel it’s bad manners. They also feel, in some strange way I don’t understand, that because a person calls up that they need to continue talking to them and answering their questions. Cold callers rely heavily on that – they rely on people being polite and compliant, and before you know it you’re giving out details about services and equipment you own and being led into a sales pitch. Realise that these calls are ignorant and impolite and an invasion into your privacy – so set manners aside and hang up without a word – or even if you get started talking to them, if you don’t feel comfortable just hang up.

IMPORTANT – Never EVER give out ANY personal information to a cold caller – period. Never CONFIRM any information they say they have. Remember, they called you, not the other way around, so you have no idea who they really are. There’s even a justification for NOT giving out personal information to callers who may be legitimate companies you have contracts or associations with, but more on that later.

5) Turn the call right around on them. Have a list of questions that YOU ask THEM, starting immediately:

“What’s your name, please”

“Which company are you with?”

“What is your company’s head office number?”

“What is the nature of your call?”

“Did you check the Do Not Call list before you made this call”

If you get as far as the last question without them hanging up, you can pretty much guarantee they will after you ask it! If they actually answer that last question and are still on the line, simply say “Thank you for your call” – and hang up…

6) Answer “NOT interested” in a firm voice to each and every question they ask, no matter what it is. See how many times you can say it before a caller hangs up. My record is nine!

7)  Blowing a whistle down the line. I’ve heard of a number of people who do this – to very good effect – but it’s illegal under UK law. Not sure about US though.

8) Engage the person, as if interested (without giving personal details over), for as long as possible. Keep it going, seem interested, ask questions about the product/service. Then when it comes time to make the appointment/agreement, ask the person if they really think you are that gullible, then hang up (or wait for the response to THAT question!).

9) If it’s call wth a recording, simply sit the phone to the side and go about your daily business for a couple of minutes and let the call run its course. Hey it’s their bill.

10) If the caller addresses you by name to begin with, it’ll mean they got your details from some mailing/number list they purchased. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it must be important if they know your name. First of all don’t confirm that it’s you they are talking to. The call could go like this:

Caller: “May I speak to John Doe”

You: “Who is calling please?” (this gives you a moment to find out if it’s a legitimate company you do business with. If it’s not, continue with this)

Caller: “This is Great Insurance You Must Get”

You: “I’m sorry, John Doe is deceased”

That usually ends the call right there, but some will actually switch the cold call to you, thinking you are a new opportunity! But you can safely deal with the call in any of the above ways.

DOORSTEP CALLERS

These are harder to deal with for most people, because being face to face gives the edge to the caller over people who normally aren’t impolite or dismissive face to face. But remember, that these people are coming to YOUR door uninvited and unauthorised. Treat them as invaders of your privacy.

1) If you have a peep-hole and you don’t know the person, simply don’t answer. If it’s really important they’ll put a card or message in your letterbox, or find some other way to contact you.

2) Close the door on them. Don’t be polite, because the longer you stand there the longer they feel they have a chance to get you to sign up to something. They have no interest in you personally, only your signature.

3) If by chance someone actually does the old salesman trick of putting their foot in the doorway, slam the damn door on it and tell them to get off your property.

4) Use the repeated “NOT interested” responses as indicated for phone calls above.

5) Beware of callers suggesting they are your current phone/utility/insurance provider. Some use this method. They don’t actually state they are but give the impression that they are. Never EVER allow anyone inside your home. Ask them their name, and tell them that YOU will call your phone/utility/insurance provider and check. Get the person’s ID and note the details – just in case. Then say goodbye and close the door.

6) Consider having a notice on your door or better still at the start of your property stating: “No Unauthorised Callers. No Soliciting. Callers by Appointment Only”

7) Charity callers. Thes are harder to deal with because good causes are something most people enjoy contributing to. However, the same principles apply. The callers are cold-calling you – they want something. Personally I contribute monthly to several charities so I don’t feel too bad when I say I do enough and can’t give any more.

LEGITIMATE BUSINESSES AND THEIR CALLS

You may be faced with calls from companies that you have contracts or associations with. Some of the calls they make may be legitimate with good reason to call you, but an increasing number of companies use the association with you to call you with “account reviews” or “product updates” or “surveys”. These are verging on cold-calls, if not actually that. The biggest problem you can face with these calls is that legitimate companies have your personal details on record, and when they call they will ask you to “Confirm Security Details” with them. Trouble is – since THEY are calling YOU, you actually have no way of knowing that they are who they say they are. They could be posing.

I have problems with two of my credit card providers and one bank. They will call me and the first thing they ask is for me to confirm a personal detail about myself. I ALWAYS refuse. I tell them I do not give out personal details on an incoming call. I ask them to verify who THEY are, but of course they cannot because they don’t have that ability set up. It CAN be done because my other bank allows it. I am able to ask them questions that only they will know the answer to. Let’s put it this way: if someone calls at your door and says they are your utility provider you are recommended by everyone to ask to check their ID to prove who they are – yet when that same company calls you on the phone they don’t seem to think that’s important! Hilariously, when questioned about ID they will often offer you a phone number to call. Yeah, sure, you’re going to call a number giving by someone who’s identity you haven’t confirmed!

I would suggest you adopt your own policy of NOT giving out any information on incoming calls. Ask who the company is then hang up. If, for example they said it was your bank, you can then call your bank on the number you know is correct and find out if anything needs dealing with.

But, cold calls needn’t be the annoyance that they used to be. There’s some fun to be had at the expense of these annoyers, using the above tactics. Waste as much of their time as they waste of yours. Now, I know that yes these are people just doing a job and that it’s probably a thankless job. They’ll be hung up on repeatedly, shouted at, sworn at and so on, but I have NO sympathy – sorry. If the job is that bad find another one. Your company doesn’t care about you in the same way they don’t care about me. You’re just a person who can use a phone. If you don’t do it they’ll find some other sap to do it. So if you’re a cold-caller – err, Telemarketer – don’t expect cooperation from me if you call me.

Expect exactly the opposite. I’ll tear you to pieces.

Surly

25
Jun
09

Kills 99.9% of all germs…

You’ve all seen the ads, haven’t you? Cleaning products that are apparently so good they clean

We're safe! We're 0.1%!

We're safe! We're 0.1%!

“99.9% of all germs”

Yeah … Ok, if you can make this claim then you MUST know what 100% of all germs are. The only way you can deduce what is 99.9%, is if you already know what 100% is. If not, then you’re lying, plain and simple.

So, by deduction, if you know you can kill 99.9% of all germs, whay can’t you just go ahead and kill 100%? Or, what the hell is this 0.1% Super-Germ that no-one seems able to kill?

The claims are utter bullshit. Advertisers CAN’T claim 100% killing because they know it’s not true and they’d be liable for litigation if anyone got sick. So, the 0.1% is the advertisers “get-out”. If something bad happens thay just turn around and say, “Well we don’t claim it kills 100%, only 99.9%”

It’s called covering your arse, because if you don’t you cover it, your arse is out the window…

SurlySod

20
Jun
09

Why old people shouldn’t be allowed to win the lottery

Old people shouldn’t be allowed to win the lottery.

What the Hell do we want with millions at our age, for crying out loud? All we want is a tidy garden, a nice cuppa tea, and “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” on the telly. We prefer to see others winning the dosh.

Old folks aren’t expecting to win anyway. We only pop down to the shop to buy a ticket so we can get out of the house for a bit, have a chat with people we meet, and pick up the cat food for Tiddles. It’s just habit, that’s all.

Take recent multi-millionaire Brian Carswell. The 74 year-old won £25 million on the Euro Millions draw. He didn’t even know he’d won – because he just buys a ticket out of habit –  and only handed it over to the shopkeeper to check the ticket.

So what are 74 year-olds going to do with £25 mil? Brian wants a “flash car” and his wife wants her hair done and some new make-up. Oh, and a water feature for the garden… See? Oldies like us wouldn’t even know what to do with ONE million let alone twenty-five! We shouldn’t be allowed to enter the lottery, or if we do the top prize should be capped at a million, and the rest rolled over to let folks with better ideas on how to spend it win the cash.

We can’t even give it away either. If you give away cash you’ve won and kick the bucket within seven years, the recipient has to pay 40% inheritence tax. So what’s the point in the first place? No-one is exactly going to receive cash and think “Oh, let’s set aside 40% in case Gramps pops his clogs too soon…” You can imagine relatives dreading the old boy trying to give them money.

All that aside there’s the obvious health issues too. I wonder how long it’ll be before some oldie drops dead after finding out they won. It’s too much of a strain worrying about money at our age. Besides, it’s impossible to stuff under one mattress. We’d need to buy a new bed too.

It’s all too much.

Surly Sod

22
May
09

Don’t want a ticket? DON’T SPEED!!

Cha-ching!

Cha-ching!

Speed cameras.

Ever had a ticket? Ever had that letter through your door containing a fine for speeding from one of those automatic cameras that snaps you and bills you? Annoying isn’t it?

DON’T SPEED THEN!!

Nothing gets my goat more than people who complain about speed cameras. The only people who complain about speed cameras are the ones who get caught speeding! If you’re going to be annoyed, be annoyed at yourself for not f**king paying attention to the road and your driving like you should.

What do people complain about?

“They’re just there as a cash-raising function for local councils” Oh really? Well stop speeding and they won’t raise anything! Idiots.

“Everyone else was speeding. I was just following the flow of traffic.” No, you mean you weren’t watching your own speed. It’s always someone else’s fault … What are you, a f**king sheep?

“Police should have better things to do than catch people speeding.” IDIOTS. Speeding causes DEATHS. You’re a f**king moron if you come up with THAT reason!

Bottom line is this: DON’T SPEED, AND YOU WON’T EVER GET A TICKET. End of argument.

SurlySod

22
May
09

M.P.: Member of Parliament, or Manipulator of Perks?

All aboard!!

All aboard!!

You know, some people just have a real f**king brass neck. And the ones with the brassiest neck of all are our sleazy, sound bite loving, “holier than thou, peasant”, politicians. They are a piece of work, pure and simple. While everyday nose-to-the-grindstone folks like you and me struggle to put food on the table, kept (by these same sleazebags) to minimum wage raises – if at all, laid off, made to pay extortionate amounts for petrol and utilities, these guys – you gotta love their cheek if nothing else – get expense accounts.

Not just happy with expenses, because let’s face it, a politician does run up expenses during the course of his duties – and that’s pretty fair, they’re representing our “best interests” after all, but these snivelling, sneaky rats aren’t happy with that. Oh no. Not only do they claim for legitimate expenses, they get greedy. They abuse the system. They make false claims, unethical claims, and claim literally THOUSANDS of pounds that they shouldn’t have.

What really pisses me off though, is that all this has come to light due to release of information under new freedom of information laws. So what we’re getting to see right now, is just what has gone on THIS YEAR. How f**king long have politicians been milking the gravy train to excess??

It’s disgusting. Here you have people VOTED IN to REPRESENT the people who voted them in. Gravy train?? This is more than just a gravy train. This is a gravy train you get a luxury limo ride to, and a f**king private jet away from!

Here’s just some of the things our illustrious “representatives” have claimed as “legitimate” expenses.

  • Ongoing mortgage interest on second homes, AFTER mortgages have been cleared.
  • Claiming repairs, home improvements, and maintenance on homes they own.
  • Hundreds of pounds by one MP for “changing light bulbs”.
  • Same MP (Anthony Steen) claimed a total of £80,000 in “expenses” for work on his £1M mansion, including pruning 500 trees… (he’s since resigned, ha!!).
  • £2115 claimed by David Hogg, to clean the moat at his home (MOAT? Who the f**k has a MOAT??)
  • David Heathcoat-Amory, Tory MP, claimed for 550 bags of horse manure! (well you can’t call it bullshit…)
  • Geoff Hoon claimed for a top of the range motorised lawn mower, to sit comfortably while he does his lawn.

That’s only a few examples. It is so bad, that Parliament is sacking MPs and re-writing the expenses rule-book.

MP’s practises have now also been called into question (no surprises there, then). Practises like “flipping” the statuses of their two homes to avoid paying capital gains tax when selling one of them (you have to register one home as your main residence, if you sell the other, you pay capital gains tax). And then there’s the practise of buying a second home with taxpayers’ money, seling it later at a profit, and pocketing the cash!

MPs are now panicking. A few weeks ago when the information started trickling out, there was a unified “We’re doing nothing wrong” stand by MPs, confident they could stand firm. Then as more and more outrageous claims came to light, there was the sad and pathetic sight of MPs falling over themselves to pay back claims. Too late for many. Several, including those responsible for the examples listed above, have had to resign, because WE, the everyday nose-to-the-grindstone folks, are not standing for it.

And you now have the totally ABSURD, and AMAZING claims by potential politicians putting themselves up for election that they will “VOW TO ACT ETHICALLY”. That is nothing short of astonishing. It’s hilarious too, in that you have someone saying “Please vote for me and I’ll promise not to abuse and cheat the expense system”.

So this is what the great government system that we have has come to: claims for expenses completely unrelated to the duties of a politician; fraudulant claims of non-existant mortgage interest; cheating, yes CHEATING, the taxman by not declaring the proper status of a second home.

You or I, dear friend, would be jailed if we attempted the above.

We are governed by greedy, coniving, cheats. But, hey, what’s changed?

SurlySod

17
May
09

So we’re all broke…

The World's Economy

The World's Economy

Yep, the world’s going to Hell in a handcart. We’re all broke, you see? Every country in the world is having to borrow millions and billions and trillions to hand out to failed businesses to prevent those failed businesses from dragging their countries into the economic “black hole”.

Just hold on a f**king moment. Doris, pull your knickers up, this is important. Yeah, our so-called wise leaders have pumped obscene amounts of cash into failed businesses, to let them continue operating. Christ, even though that sounds as illogical as a Bush/Blair “How to test for Weapons of Mass Destruction” seminar, you can almost … almost … grasp the reasoning were it not for one thing: If the whole world is skint, who the hell are we all borrowing from??

Where’s this super-rich entity that has enough cash to bail out a planet? Who are these mysterious people? I reckon there must be a sixth continent no-one ever told us about in Geography. I reckon that’s where all the rounded down fractions in your monthly pay go. Can you imagine how much that would come to? When there’s a natural disaster and your country announces it’s sending 300 million dollars worth of aid, even though you struggle to get a job or pay your rent, I bet that where it comes from. They all got ATM cards to this “black hole” bank on the sixth continent.

Dammit, I never did understand economics.

Surly Sod