Life at the end of the road

January 7, 2014

Spitting feathers :-(

Filed under: Croft house for sale, daily doings, shed/house — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:24 pm

I’m really going to struggle writing this post without swearing, I know, I know, swearing is sign of a lack of vocabulary, ignorance, poor education and an ineptitude for proper expression. However there are times when a long string of expletives has no equal and the descriptions of dealing with call centres and banks is one of them. The banks that were in no small way partly responsible for the economic mess we’re in now and the banks that rip you off for every single thing you do with them.

I’m writing this now at 18:00 because if I leave it any longer I’m likely to open a bottle of wine and really start ‘effing and blinding’. As you know, we’ve been minus a usable phone since the 6th of December, though in all fairness to Talk Talk I didn’t report it until the 9th. Actually, that’s not strictly true, I did try and report it on the 7th but that was over a line that was so noisy that India couldn’t here me.

It’s not been all bad news, for we’ve had no, begging charities, PPI, car accident or solar panel calls, however I’ve not been able to pay any bills either or speak to the bank. I thought that Dido had fixed the phone yesterday but apparently not. After feeding everyone I settled down with a pile of invoices and paperwork to catch up on important stuff, picked up the phone and was greeted by a piercing screech in the lughole Sad smile

Yes, I do know about the marvel of internet banking but you can’t register over the phone, online or even at the local branch!!! you have to speak to your ‘relationship manager’ and what a friggin joke that is. There used to be a proper local one in Broadford with a real phone and number, he even knew me by name and would phone me up occasionally. Of course all that ‘went west’ a few years ago when he was ‘rationalized’ or whatever they call it, now it’s the (and I must stop swearing) flipping call centre in Edinburgh. Still, I suppose that’s an improvement on Bangalore, anyway the last ‘relationship manager’ I spoke too didn’t even have an outside line!!!! You couldn’t make it up could you, a billion pound bank and you can’t phone a so called manager directly.

You really couldn’t make up the conversation I had with this clown a couple of years ago. There was some ‘cock up’ with my account, my telephone banking had ‘vanished’ and I had to phone them, so after getting through the ‘firewall’ I speaks to Richard. Of course I then have to tell Richard everything I’ve just told the automated message and his sidekick Judy who transferred me. “I can’t seem to find your account” says he, “what’s your postcode”,then after a pause, “that post code isn’t registered to any account”. Well, as you can imagine ‘I lost the plot’, “I’ve four accounts registered with you at that postcode, you send me at least four statements a month to that postcode  and heaven knows how much unsolicited carp”. I then went onto explain that I’d had a business account with them for some twenty years and had been ‘telephone banking’ ever since it was introduced ten or fifteen years earlier. To which he told me that my details must have been lost when they migrated to another system and he’d send me the forms out to re register. They managed to lose those too and it took me three more attempts to get some kind of service but it’s still not automated and takes me ten minutes every time I have a question.

Well today’s question involved my overdraft or lack of it. Now I’ve been with Bank of Scotland since 1985 and had a business account with them since 1989, and I have to admit the first eighteen years were a pleasure. I dunno how long I’ve had an overdraft facility but we’re talking decades and despite rarely using it I renew it each year. Actually what happens is they send me a letter each year inviting me to renew it and charge over a hundred quid for the privilege. This year however I don’t remember getting the letter and after receiving my bank statement and seeing how little was in it I thought I’d better phone and check I still had it. What had got me thinking it had vanished was when I tried to pay a bill before Christmas and the card was turned down. At the time I thought nothing of it as I’d just done lots of transaction and sometimes they do that as a security measure.

However after being incommunicado for a month I thought I’d better find out for sure and clear my debts, so it was off up the hill with the mobile. I’m in my oilskins, the wind is howling and the showers frequent, I’m not best pleased with Talk Talk or the bank before I start. Eventually I get through and put on hold, only for the connection to drop out after about five minutes just as the ‘real person’ takes the call. Second time a little less luck, I get put on hold with a ringing tone and the connection drops again, third time lucky? Well it was after I’d moved to a wetter and windier spot, I got the first person who asked me all the security questions before passing me to Leanne ( a relationship manager Smile ) who asks me the same ‘security questions’ again before telling me “I cannot take this call any further as you’ve got one of the security questions wrong”. Now, I’m trying to stay calm here because one of the security questions is ‘do you have an overdraft facility and if so for how much’ !!!! The thing is Leanne, that’s why I’m phoning, I did have an overdraft facility, I’ve had it for twenty years and you charge me annually for it, I rarely use the thing and I think it’s vanished. I’m sorry I can’t take this call any further, you’ll have to go into your local branch.  I’m on an island up a hill in the pouring rain, I’ve to drive ten miles and catch a ferry to another island, you’ve removed this overdraft without telling me and I’m going to go in the red, you will then charge me extra, send me a letter and then charge me for that too. The reason I got the security question wrong is because I thought I had an overdraft, I’ve had it for twenty years, been with you for twenty five years, have four accounts with you can answer any question you care about my account. I’m sorry I cannot take this call any further. “Could I please speak to your supervisor”  says I, to which I’m put on hold again, tell the same story, get put on hold again, then after a couple of minutes lose the connection.

Life is far too short for all this carp, I’m pish wet through, raging and Molly is shivering, time for a cup of tea methinks Smile 

So, I’m still no wiser as to whether I have or have not got an overdraft facility anymore but have vowed not to renew it anyway and make another attempt at setting up an online banking facility. That way at least I won’t have to speak to the bunch of clowns in Edinburgh, which is probably a little unfair because it’s a job I couldn’t do and they probably get paid buttons.

Flush and fire


Prior to the raising of my blood pressure I’d got some bedding out of the ‘cat nest’ to go and clean out the ‘lurve shack’ at the bottom of the hill. That’ll be the ark that Rocky and Ellie are sleeping in,


I say ‘cat nest’ because Splodge must have been sleeping in that little nest amongst the rushes and bracken.



Mummy cat was sleeping in another shed



and the ‘mad cat’ in the garden. I’ve no idea where this one came from, though I have seen one very similar at Brochel, wifey calls it the ‘mad cat’ because of the strange noises it makes.

The serious work of the day was up at the new house, Lachie and Donald were busy doing the plastic fascia  boards prior to slating and I was prepping the caravan for their use. I know uPVC isn’t the greenest of materials but I’m building this house for an easy retirement and don’t want to be painting them or replacing them in a few years time.



Plumbing the soil pipe into the septic tank was the first task


and I managed all but 6m using various bits around the croft, albeit all different colours, black, orange and grey. The black and grey are UV stabilized but the orange should be buried, however it’s only temporary so should be fine. I also managed to get water connected to the toilet and the gas piped in and working. I never piped the water o the shower and taps as the blue MDPE was used in a previous life for diesel, and whilst it was years ago and has had fresh water running through it for yonks it’s still only fit for flushing the loo or mixing concrete.


After lunch, and with the wind moderating I clambered up the mast behind the house to put a rubber band on the tail of my Rutland wind turbine. Without this piece of cut inner tube around the tail the turbine turns out of the wind far too quickly and its performance is very poor. The inner tube is cut about 2” wide and stretched over the tail and its stop, it still turns out of the wind but the inner tube holds the tail straight for longer before it stretches and yaws out of the wind. It was something I discovered quite by accident many years ago, I did try bolting the tail solid first but that was a little too severe and one or two of the turbines shed blades and self destructed.


A couple of years ago I would scamper up and down this mast without a second thought, nowadays it fills me with dread, and I really must remove that satellite dish now we have proper wireless broadband Smile


It’s a fine view from up there right enough but I’m thinking I should be moving that weather station up to the new house.



You can see the mast there on the right and the solar powered hen shed on the left, which I’ll get back on with as soon as the weather improves.



Lachie and Donald worked by head torch until it was time to set off for the last ferry, me, I managed to get the cooker working, the gas fire heating and the toilet flushing, I was well chuffed Smile



  1. I don’t think Bank of Scotland deserve your custom.

    Comment by basketbob — January 7, 2014 @ 9:39 pm

    • I don’t think they deserve anybody’s custom Bob 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 8, 2014 @ 7:53 am

  2. Not only do I think the Bank of Scotland don’t deserve your custom, but I hope Dido doesn’t have a good night because in my opinion she shouldn’t be a happy bitch! So much for customer service!! Typical UK crap.

    Comment by yractual — January 7, 2014 @ 9:48 pm

    • Morning Iain, wondered where you’d been 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 8, 2014 @ 7:55 am

  3. I feel your pain Paul but honestly reading that, a script writer on a TV show couldn’t have made that up. Well written, no wonder you have had so many visits to this blog.

    Comment by Alistair — January 7, 2014 @ 9:55 pm

    • It would have been much better with some swearing 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 8, 2014 @ 7:55 am

  4. I know how you feel Paul! I never phone the bank very often, so each time I do I’ve forgotten the various passwords or security questions. I still have an account I’m locked out of and I really don’t have time for the drive to the nearest branch to sort it out. I have what I think is a very real fear – that in old age I’ll be broke, destitute because I won’t be able to remember any of the security stuff or log in details! Lord help us all!!!

    Comment by fingalextravaganza — January 7, 2014 @ 10:11 pm

    • in old age I’ll be broke, destitute because I won’t be able to remember any of the security stuff or log in details! Lord help us all!!!

      Either that our we’ll be broke because we’ve been using the same simple passwords for so long that our accounts have been cleaned out by some hacker 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 8, 2014 @ 7:58 am

  5. I don’t even know who my ‘business relationship manager’ is any more and the only time my ‘business relationship manager’ spoke to me was to try and get me to move my personal banking over to him and while I was at it what about a mortgage. Since I said No and no I haven’t heard from him. Gone are the days when your ‘business relationship manager’ used to take you out to lunch (and charge you for it) to discuss your overdraft requirements.

    Comment by Alistair — January 7, 2014 @ 10:19 pm

    • Aye Alistair, I remember those days too.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 8, 2014 @ 7:58 am

  6. Oh dear. I’ve been in that similar ‘Up a hill in the persisting rain and howling wind trying to get a signal’ position myself, and it is so hard to explain to the people in their cosy warm offices that NO I WILL NOT HOLD OR CALL BACK IN 10 MINUTES!!! I feel and share your pain.

    Comment by Andrew — January 7, 2014 @ 11:15 pm

    • Welcome to my world Andrew. I can just imagine people thinking ‘why doesn’t he use his mobile to pay bills’ well you’ve summed it up nicely 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 8, 2014 @ 8:01 am

  7. I wouldn’t touch the Bank of Scotland with a barge pole. I banked with them for 30 years but they refused me a mortgage and then, to add insult to injury, they refused me a credit card because I had been refused a mortgage! Walked into RBS and walked out with a 100% mortgage though they didn’t know me from Adam. That was in the good old days, of course!

    Comment by Anne Macdonald — January 7, 2014 @ 11:20 pm

    • Had a similar experience myself Anne, it took me hours on the phone to arrange a £1000 loan with them, I told them a gazillion times I didn’t want PPI. It’s only £80 a month says I, I don’t need PPI. Sure enough when the forms came through to sign there had been PPI added and it came to almost as much as the premium!!!! Like you I’d been with them for donkeys years and had a regular income going into my accounts. It took over a month to get the money as the forms had to be sent back and redone. All this was whilst I was at sea fishing and done over an expensive mobile phone, my skipper at the time who’d just opened an account with RBS walked into the Portree branch and came out with the same amount to buy a car!!! A few years later the charlatans did exactly the same thing when I went to borrow £10k for the wind turbine, I DO NOT WANT PPI said I in capital letters, sure enough the paperwork came through with a PPI policy included!!! Fecking bandits.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 8, 2014 @ 8:12 am

  8. Paul,

    Let us hope Miss Dido has read this and as you slept last night is moving heaven & earth and sending a minion (tell I received Despicable Me 2 FOR Christmas) to Raasay to identify and fix your phone issues.
    Then, maybe Mr Antonio Horto-Osorio, the CEO for Lloyds if I am correct will resurrect your bank account, well we can but hope. Good to see how the internet is making life so much simpler……………….when it works.

    Cracking picture from the top of your mast, ever thought of a web cam mounted up there? ?

    On an aside, do you know of anyone who still makes a Tairsgear?


    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — January 8, 2014 @ 5:28 am

  9. mán. i thought spanish banks were bad. if you have broadband why don’t you use something like skypeout? we’ve been banking online for 15 years without any trouble. maybe get a dutch bank?

    Comment by kanton bubahsky — January 8, 2014 @ 8:37 am

    • Hi Kanton and welcome, yup, time for a change 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 10, 2014 @ 10:33 pm

  10. you know what they say Paul, don’t get mad, get even……switch banks, as a recommendation First Direct are the best, being they were the first telephone and internet based retail bank, their online banking system is first rate and on the rare occasion I have to ring them up, the person on the other end of the line can always help and they have Scottish accents! Life is way too short to put up with idiots, vote with your feet.

    Comment by Jackie — January 8, 2014 @ 8:48 am

  11. Somebody in the bank should read this, if they were interested in their customers it might help them look after them !!

    Comment by Stan pyke — January 8, 2014 @ 9:10 am

  12. gave up on tele-banking years ago due to unreliable bandwidth where I lived and fumble-butts at the other end of the line!
    That said, I very rarely have any problems.
    Anyway, down to earth! I’ve lost count of the number of times you’ve had problems with 45 gall drums, but this reminded me
    2 old truck /tractor wheels that would fit snugly over the ends of the drum, rectangular frame, hinged at the front corners and incorprating 2 ball hitches which would fit in the centre of the wheels (with a wee bit of modification!), A-frame and hitch for the quad / Landy … I’m sure your ingenious mate the fabricator/welder could knock it up in no time! No more runaways!

    Comment by caadfael — January 8, 2014 @ 9:37 am

  13. Paul i have a solution 🙂 You need to contact Catherine MacPhee, I’m not sure what her title is but she will sort out your account problems, she is really lovely, knows her stuff backwards and is super efficient, i couldn’t recommend her highly enough. I came across Catherine after a similar experience and everything was sorted in a trice, effortlessly. Please contact her 🙂 Catherine works from Kyle but you can see her at Portree or my preferred place Broadford. 01599 534 268.

    Comment by finniedog — January 8, 2014 @ 10:36 am

  14. Paul have sent you Catherine’s e mail address

    Comment by finniedog — January 8, 2014 @ 10:47 am

    • Thanks for that Carole.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 10, 2014 @ 10:31 pm

  15. There are some occasions for which the “f” word was invented and this was/is definitely one of them. I feel your pain. We are now into day 6 with no phones or internet as our house (in deepest far west Cornwall) was hit by lightening last Friday. We are swarming with BT engineers today who have finally admitted that “the problem is bigger than we first anticipated” – no s**t Sherlock, really?!! Fortunately I have internet at work so poor eldest son (at home from University) is sitting next to me doing work which needs to be handed in on the first day of term. Western Power managed to replace two telegraph poles and restore power within 9 hours!

    Comment by Julia — January 8, 2014 @ 11:33 am

    • Hi Julia, I had to laugh at my latest email from Talk Talk, “BT openreach say that your area has been declared MBORC or Matters Beyond Our Reasonable Control.” you couldn’t make it up.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 10, 2014 @ 10:27 pm

  16. Hi Paul, As far as banks go, I can recommend FirstDirect. I’ve been banking with them for over 15 years and have allways had great customer service. They do telephone / internet banking & even have a smartphone app, if you can get a signal 😉


    Comment by OverSpecSteve — January 8, 2014 @ 12:24 pm

    • Cheers Steve and welcome, on here at least 🙂 thanks for the link, I’m seriously considering it.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 10, 2014 @ 10:31 pm

  17. Like your picture from the top of your mast, hate climbing ladders especially when the gutters need cleaning thats as high as I will go. You have probably seen this one its been around for donkeys but climbing a mast 1700ft you must be kidding

    Comment by Alistair — January 8, 2014 @ 12:45 pm

  18. Paul, now that you have a decent broadband that isn’t provided by talk talk, why don’t you get a Skype account on your computer (or even a smartphone, don’t shout at me!). You can put credit on the account and use it as a spare phone line when you need to. Drop me an email if you want to know more, or ask the dude to sort it out 🙂

    Comment by Simon — January 8, 2014 @ 8:49 pm

  19. I expect tomorrow you will tell us the story of how you climbed the mast again in order to get a phone signal, in order to call the Bank and get a loan for a new mast up at the new abode. However, while dismantling the weather station to move it to the new house, you were dive bombed by three sea gulls and a pelican, causing you to slip. Saving the valuable weather station you instead broke a leg, then sued the bank for requiring you to communicate with your relationship manager via semaphore atop a mast. Because the jury were all residents of Rasaay, you were awarded a zillion dollars and lived happily ever after. I can’t decide whether to believe your hilarious story, or wonder whether you have been watching a Python marathon !

    Comment by drgeo — January 8, 2014 @ 10:36 pm

    • I expect tomorrow you will tell us the story of how you climbed the mast again in order to get a phone signal, in order to call the Bank and get a loan for a new mast up at the new abode. However, while dismantling the weather station to move it to the new house, you were dive bombed by three sea gulls and a pelican, causing you to slip. Saving the valuable weather station you instead broke a leg, then sued the bank for requiring you to communicate with your relationship manager via semaphore atop a mast. Because the jury were all residents of Rasaay, you were awarded a zillion dollars and lived happily ever after. I can’t decide whether to believe your hilarious story, or wonder whether you have been watching a Python marathon !

      How did you guess!!!!

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 10, 2014 @ 10:20 pm

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