Archive for April, 2008

Why you should always read the small print

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

At the bottom of an ammeded terms and conditions for some weather service I’ve never used:


I’m beginning to question how much I value my own freedom…

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Following Charles Stross‘s and Cory Doctorow‘s recent public shunning of Virgin Media (who I still prefer to call Telewest as the company has nothing to do with Virgin, a brand I generally have some respect for), we are left with a similar type of dilemma. We are moving house in a couple of weeks and one of the many myriad of stupid things that we have to do before we move in is to sort out the broadband in our new house. At the moment we get bingo bonus free broadband (from because of a promotion (from virgin mobile) which came up last year, this offer no longer stands and some wiredupness shopping around seemed in order.

When I did start shopping around, taking into account the cost of my mobile phone (whatever the cheapest contract is possible where I get some minutes and I don’t have to buy a phone), our land-line (something which occasionally gets used but very rarely) and our broadband, I wasn’t particularly surprised to find that the cheapest combination of services was sticking with a new set of contracts from Virginwest Medianlt.

The problem is, that I don’t like Virgin Media, and all of the things that I was able to put up with because of the (lack of) cost of our existing service are now starting to bother me. I don’t particularly like their attitude to net-neutrality, I hate their eagerness to adopt Phorm followed by their attempts to cover up their involvement with it, I don’t appreciate the fact that their network is so heavily contended and all of our local traffic gets routed via Leeds, I physically don’t want their TV service (I have already seen every episode of DS9 and this is all they seem to show), their web site doesn’t work and had problems with handling the billing on our free, un-billed connection, I don’t liked being forced into 12 month contracts every time I do anything with the service (this is a legacy of the Telewest days who re-newed the twelve month term (albeit in the second month) on our old broadband contract when we canceled our dial-up account, which Ironically didn’t have a minimum term), nor do I like the fact that in order to fix anything (including canceling their service) you have to ring a premium rate number.

My dilemma is that the next-cheapest service from a company who I don’t hate as much as I hate Televirgintl will cost us over £15 a month more for more or less the same notional level of service. That is £180 more over a year which at the moment seems like a lot of money (probably because this is six times more money than I have in my bank account to last me until the end of the month, but still…). The problem is that a little voice inside my head is saying that I don’t value the quality of service and the preservation of my (albeit petty) principles at at £15 a month and that I should get whatever is cheapest and be happy that I’ve saved the money, the big voice, the one that I usually talk with, except when I haven’t had enough sleep, is protesting but I can’t help but feel that it might loose this one.

One alternative which I have considered is a “morality off-set scheme” whereby I might be able to off-set the unhappiness and self-loathing that would almost certainly be caused by getting broadband from Virgintl Mediawest by investing the money I save in something which would give me a higher net-happiness than if I’d got broadband from somebody who doesn’t suck. I mean I probably wouldn’t even have to spend £15; the television is always telling me that for a mere £2 a month I could save an orphan in Africa, or rescue a donkey from a life of toil and torture in Starbucks coffee plantations of South America, or kittens, there must be something that the kittens need, right?

I think it might just be because I’ve got a case of market fatigue, or possibly that I’m just getting older, but this is really bugging me .

So, anyway, which will it be.. good broadband or kitten happiness….


Friday, April 11th, 2008

My old job us up for sale here. It’s a good job…. Hardly done.