Most days, around about 3.15 the phone rings. Sometimes it’s just quiet at the other end, other times it’s someone from a spurious call center business with a very official-sounding name like the “National Free Window Replacement Service”. Whoever it is, they never leave their number.
If I dial 1471 to check on their calling number I invariably get a message that includes “The caller withheld their number”. And the perceived wisdom is that that is the end of the matter.
But why should it be like that? The caller has just broken the law – my number is registered with the Telephone Preference Service to stop nuisance calls and call centres that operate legally know how to suppress dialling machines to stop listed numbers from being called. So on a point of law we ought to trace these people.
There’s something else that worries me: when telephone calls are made, phone companies like to charge for them. I remember that from when I setup CableTel South Wales, which grew to be NTL and eventually Virgin Media. And they way they charge is relatively simple, they capture bits of data to make a call record and that is the basis of the bill.
The call records consist of “A Ends” and “B Ends” – if my memory serves me correctly – and the A End is the calling party the B end the Called Party. The call record then says, in digital terms, “A” called “B” for XX Seconds at this time/date. Computers turn and bills are created.
But here’s the rub: the A End has to be associated to a phone number, otherwise the bill can’t be raised. So can someone please explain to me how it is that “the caller withheld his number” and yet the phone company can still raise a bill for the call they made. Someone somewhere is not telling the truth whilst some are making money just as some are making a nuisance.
This morning I had reason to query some payments from my bank account and ended up having to call the fraud team.
When they answered they took me through security, but not by using the account or online passwords or codes I normally use. Instead they asked me detailed questions like: my full name and date of birth. Not very secret at all.
Then when we had discussed the details of the possible fraud I was asked to answer a series of pro-forma questions. One of them was: have you given your account details to anyone?
When I asked what “account details” meant I was told that it was my account number and sort code.
With that account information on every cheque that I write, it is potentially a very long list of people who know my details or, as I suspect, a remarkably stupid question!
I live in Cardiff, but am lucky enough to spend a lot of time in Aberaeron in Ceredigion.
One strange thing I’ve noticed is that the 2 councils place different recycling demands on me, and other residents, and are not working in a common national agenda.
For example: we’ve all got those horrid little food recycling bins now, one in the kitchen and another that probably sits outside or in our shed for the larger collection. With such a small market in Wales you’d expect them to be the same throughout the country. One single purchase would have got the best price surely. They are not the same; both the small and large variants are different in both locations.
But then of course so are the bin bags: different colour, different printed messages, different contents accepted.
Recycling is inconsistent with bottles (beer and wine for example) being acceptable in Cardiff but not in Aberaeron. When I’ve got empty wine bottles in Ceredigion the policy is to take them to the local collection point. Consequently one can regularly see people driving to the big bins to drop off their glass. That does not seem to promote a green agenda as far as I can tell.
I accept that there are challenges to be addressed in terms of managing our recycling and I am not anti any of the efforts to manage our future better. I do however object to a small country like Wales having different implementations of such simple policies, creating decision points that don’t need to exist, working to differing local agenda and, in the final answer, wasting money that could be spent better elsewhere.
No doubt someone will claim that “we are doing so much better than them” and I commend them for that. But let’s adopt the best practice and spread it across the whole country whilst removing the need for rubbish decisions to be made at local levels and at unnecessary cost.
Riverside Picnic Spot in Aberaeron
There’s a really pleasant walk along the riverside in Aberaeron. It’s perfect for a lazy stroll and for many it offers an opportunity to picnic in the shade whilst listening to the sounds of the passing River Aeron.
I took a walk down there yesterday with Ben my Labrador and was appalled at the state of the path.
How can an area of pleasant natural beauty that is a magnet for tourists, be left to grow to such an unkempt state?
Much of the grassed areas in the town are like this with extremely long grass and a general air of malaise.
For a town that relies so much on tourism the authorities responsible for such a decision should hang their heads in shame, once they’ve finished the strimming the grass.
Mobile phone coverage is pretty patchy in west Wales, but when I was getting a poor service indoors in Aberaeron I decided to look at the service provider map for the area. It gave some interesting results:
This first map is off 3’s website and shows the indoor and outdoor coverage for the town.
If you look at the second image you can see where the town is andand the vast expanse of unpopulated land around
If you compare the 2 maps you’ll see that Outdoor and Indoor coverage either occurs at sea or where there are no houses. It certainly doesn’t happen in the town.
Which makes me wonder why it is that mobile operators don’t built networks to cover the areas where people live?