Life at the end of the road

January 24, 2015

Goodbye Vodafone :-)

It’s been a while I know but I’ve just not had the time as most of the spare bits in between work have been spent trying to restore communications at ‘past the end of the road’.

Now I may do much ranting on here from time to time but I’m not actually one for complaining much when it comes to ‘goods and services’. Some people seem to make a career out of it but not me, if it’s carp I generally just go elsewhere and slag it off on here. Life is too short and I’ve far better things to do with it than spend hours on the phone trying to get refunds or freebies.

However my ‘communication dilemmas of late have driven me ‘right to the top’ of both Vodafone and Talk Talk. Not that it’s done any good yet, but we live in hope. As you know from my last ramblings, we’ve been living half a mile down a rough track without any means of speaking to the outside world since we moved into ‘The Old Schoolhouse’ a couple of weeks ago. The mobile phone signal at Arnish an Torran, IV40 8PF having ‘gone west’ sometime in December. Initially it being of little concern as we had a landline at ‘number 3’ and to be perfectly honest we were not going to bother with a new one at the new house.

The mobile works fine up there and you can get an unlimited phone calls SIM only contract for £10 a month. So what’s the point of having a landline I thought? A few weeks without a mobile phone signal soon put the brakes on that idea Sad smile Being a loyal customer of Talk Talk for years I thought I’d stick with them and just move my phone and number the 160m to the new house.

Actually that’s a bit of a ‘porky’ I tried various other companies online but no one is interested unless you take up ‘a package’ of carp that we neither want or can actually access. Eventually I gave up and went to Talk Talk’s website to do the ‘three easy clicks’ and was very quickly pointed in the direction of an 0800 number. Which of course I could not access cos I don’t have a working phone!!! No bother, I’ll do it from ‘number 3’ thought I and was eventually connected to the usual Bangalore call centre and told to phone back in 24 hours. Sareena did tell me why but I couldn’t tell what she was saying and gave up.

Another week passed by and still no hone signal so I thought I’d give Talk Talk another bell, sure enough it was the Indian Subcontinent once more and this time Rajeev who assured that he’s have me sorted in a few questions. First of which was “what is the postcode” whereupon I informed him that it was the same, so far so good, hurdle number one out of the way. Then came question two “what is the house name or number”, “Sonas” I replied, “that will be Gaelic for happiness” though I think that was wasted on him cos he didn’t know what Gaelic was. When he informed me that he couldn’t find it on the Royal Mail database alarm bells started ringing, ‘here we go I thought’ and said “well it wouldn’t be, it’s not finished yet and we’ve just thought of the name”.

Rajeev then informs me that he cannot install a phone in a house that’s not on the Royal Mail database, “how no” I replied off the cuff. That will be a bit of Glasgow speak I picked up from the wife and I could hear that it threw him off balance. Sorry, I mean why not to which he told me that it was impossible, but if I was lucky Royal Mail would have it on their database with 28 days after which I could apply again and they’d aim to get me the phone moved in 10 Sad smile 

He then apologised and asked me how I felt he’s dealt with my enquiry???? Well says I, “you’ve been polite, courteous and well spoken but I’m not very chuffed with the outcome”.  Chuffed? says he, pleased I replied Smile As soon as I was off the phone I was on the net looking to register my address with Royal Mail. Well what a joke that was, they want you to create an account, password and ask you everything bar your shoe size!! Beggar that I thought and dug further into the bowls of the Internet and found an email thanks to some dude who had been through the same performance with ‘big brother’.

Sorted methinks, not a chance, the day after they replied telling me they couldn’t do it because I wasn’t registered with the council. Straight onto the council website goes I only to discover the sharks want to charge me £88 for the privilege. You could not make this up could you, £500 planning, £900 building warrant, £50 to extend building warrant, God knows how much for the ‘completion certificate’ and the next 25 years council tax and they want £88 so they can send the bills to the right friggin address.

Fortunately my good friend Andrew just happened to give me Dido Harding’s email address last year and I still had it Smile Must be the time of year for our landline was off for a month last Christmas too.

Hi Dido,

it’s me again, Paul Camilli from Raasay. Of course I’m not expecting you to remember me but it’s a year since I wrote and I don’t think I ever thanked you for getting my phone fixed. Since then I’ve been very pleased with your service and thought I’d stick with you when we move next door. If only it were so simple!!

I am building a house 160m away and would like to install a landline there, you would think that to be a pretty simple request from a long time customer wouldn’t you, not a chance. Firstly I tried to do it online and never got by the ‘three easy steps’ before being told to phone instead, so I did. I was then told by the nice Indian lady to phone back in 24 hours!!!! what’s all that about? Anyway, I got distracted and never managed it for a week. The second time I called, Rajeev told me he’d be glad to help and it would be a easy task, just a few simple questions. Whereupon he asked for my postcode, same one says I, IV40 8PF all the houses at the north end of Raasay share this postcode. OK so far, then he asked for the house name to which I replied Sonas, which if you’re interested is Gaelic for happiness. I can’t find it says he, to which I replied, well it is there I can assure you, but it’s not registered with Royal Mail he replies. So what I says, my wife is the post lady so she’ll be able to find it don’t worry. No good says Rajeev I can’t install your phone until it’s registered with Royal Mail, that’ll be 28 days and then we’ll try and install your phone within ten!! But the house is just next door says I, what’s the problem. Can’t do it without it being registered he assured me then proceeded to ask me how I felt he’d dealt with my enquiry. Well says I, you’ve been polite, spoken clearly and done a great job but I’m not very chuffed with the outcome. Chuffed was a word I don’t think you must teach at the ‘Talk Talk’ training school so perhaps you should include it. I’m not actually from Yorkshire but it’s a very common word there.

Anyway I got in touch with Royal Mail and they told me they cannot register my address until it’s registered with the council!!! So I toddles along to the council website and the sharks want to charge me £88 for registering my property!!! They also advise me to do it very quickly as it can take a long time, though how long is not very clear.

So in a nutshell you have a long time and faithful customer here who just wants to transfer his phone next door and you won’t do it because the address is not registered. That’s a bit bonkers is it not, my account is set up, my credit good and I’m only moving 160 meters!

Cheers, Paul

Well Dido has someone who obviously is not from India ‘on the case’ and I’ve to phone her on Monday Smile

The Vodafone debacle

The phone signal finally returned to the schoolhouse on the 19th, only problem being it was on a network that none of us use. I’ve been taking the ships phone home at night which is on 3, and ‘lo and behold’ a constant signal on that phone and none on the three VF ones. Well I gave it a further 3 days and reluctantly signed up to 3 network. I’d emailed Jeroen, spoke to numerous help lines and wasted hours on line and all to no avail. I got my SIM and welcome pack two days later, stuck it in my phone and that was that, went home last night, full signal on my phone and none on the three other VF phones in the house. And there I would have left it, had I not got a letter today from Jeroen’s office telling me they were sorry I was leaving now and they had fixed the phone mast on the 22nd!!

Well, I was ‘spitting feathers’ and phoned them up, sadly it was once more ‘the script’ and the ‘merry-go-round’, this time from the delightful Catherine who kept me on the phone from Raasay to Sconser. She assured me that it was fixed and that the phone signal was patchy in my location because I was 12.5km from the mast, blah, blah, blah. Of course telling her that 3 had managed to give a signal from the same mast cut no ice, as did the fact that the phones have worked there for over a decade.

When I mentioned that my wife and son’s phones didn’t work she quickly told me she could not discuss those. To which I told her that I was so Pi55ed off with Vodafone that I was going to keep my contract going just so I could hassle them Smile

Better calm down now before I bust a blood vessel. I won’t even start on my other preoccupation of late, my solicitor and the Crofting Commission. That would really ‘wind me up’ Smile

Fourteen years

After such an absence, and with such a poor memory I’ll just have to scan through the pictures  and see what turns up. Fortunately I have some ‘crackers’ sent to me by a couple of readers.

 

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This will be the ‘Old Schoolhouse’ in the 1970’s courtesy of Mark, a former ‘inmate’ and geologist. I dunno if he’s in the picture but that is our bedroom!!!

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Another great picture from Mark, this time the Nicolson’s house at Torran, which was at that time the Post Office and you can see the telephone wires in the shot.

 

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The electric shaver somehow got lost in the move, consequently darling wife said I looked like a pirate so gave me a pirate outfit as an anniversary present Smile I don’t think she could find anything else to go with the olives, roll mop herring and Dorito’s she bought me. well it was unusual to say the least but I got ‘in the spirit’ of things.

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Though I’m sure there is something in the company manual about ‘improper dress’ Smile

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It’s been a while, but our old friend Fraser turned up with one of Hugh Mackay Plant’s diggers on the back of his immaculate Scania.

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Digger in

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digger out, telephone Hugh on 07861 457 260 for all your roads and ditches, it’s not just Raasay he serves.

The house has also been getting much attention from Lachie, Donald and ‘John Norman’ http://macphersonelectrical.com/about-us/ and his team.

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Chris and Jamie came over despite heavy snow and treacherous roads, did the ‘roughing out’ and much more. Unasked for they put a power supply in the roof space for antenna booster, added extra switches and made some excellent suggestions on the positioning of phone an TV sockets etc. I was severely impressed by their quality of work, cheerful disposition and enthusiasm for our renewables.

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MV Loch Seaforth

Next to progress on the house, the highlight of the week so far has to be yesterday’s visit by Cal Mac’s newest and largest ever vessel the 7800t, MV Loch Seaforth http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MV_Loch_Seaforth_%282014%29 . With both her Master and Mate from this fair island it seemed like a good place to do ‘anchor trials’ on her way south to Gourock.

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She certainly has a good turn of speed, the AIS clocked her at over 20knots down the east side of Skye.

 

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Those were mine taken from Hallaig

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but these are from Perry who snapped the Hallaig and Seaforth from the shore at Braes on Skye.

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great pictures for sure, thanks Perry.

Three Network 5 Vodafone nil

Well, that’s me back home after a long day, it’s 22:30 and guess what,

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it’s Vodafone nil and 3network 5, and this will be after Catherine from Vodafone assuring me that "We can confirm that the issues affecting network service across the Highlands, Scottish Isles and Inverness-shire are now fixed."  Aye right. Look at that, a full five bars on the 3 phone and sweet FA on Vodafone and I’m not the only one http://forum.vodafone.co.uk/t5/Network-queries/IV51-9NP-Isle-of-Skye/td-p/2325297 Kath has problems too.

January 18, 2015

It feels like home :-)

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:05 pm

Well our deluxe residence at Torran on Raasay is really starting to feel like home now, indeed I’ve caught myself on more than one occasion calling it so. I guess we’ve been in here a couple of weeks and more altogether but this will be our tenth night in a row in the ‘Old Schoolhouse’ at Torran and we’re all getting quite settled now into the routine. It’s been hard with the weather and lack of phone but we’re getting used to the ‘wee quirks’ of living in a ‘bit of a mansion’ half a mile down a rough track. In fact I’d go quite as far as to say that we’re actually enjoying it, for we can’t get away from each other in the ‘great hall’ that serves as kitchen, living and dining room Smile Also the shower room upstairs is warm, the water pressure brilliant and the view awesome. Not that I’ve had that many showers here, I tend to take mine on Hallaig after work and get changed there.

One thing for sure the place will never have seen so much ‘STUFF’ since it was built some 150 or so years ago. Not only have we introduced a TV here for the first time. I arrived home from work today to discover MiL ironing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

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Having the TV forced upon me was bad enough but an iron and ironing board too, what next, a sun bed?

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I never said anything but just watched the Studer inverter panel in horror as the load increased into the yellow every time the thermostat kicked in. It says something about this Swiss made inverter and the Rolls batteries, in that it never complained once, and as you can see the voltage quickly recovered. I have only two gripes with this ‘Studer Compact C2324’ inverter, one is that it is a nightmare to program as the instruction manual is written in gibberish, the other is that you actually need to buy the above bit to actually change any of the settings Sad smile That said, and considering this house is a holiday let used by numpties, it is brilliant. It’s only rated at 2.3kW but quite happily runs the whole of this huge house, and despite MiL’s best efforts with the washing machine drier and iron, the generator has never been on yet.

I’m kind of just assuming you all know what I’m talking about there but just in case, let me explain. Like our old house and our new one, all the properties at the north end of Raasay are ‘off grid’. Torran, Arnish and even Fladda had the opportunity of an electrical supply in the 70’s via 95% EEC grants but ‘fluffed it’. Personally that suits me just fine for the lack of electricity made this part of the world more desirable to me as I’d lived without it for years prior to moving here. A grid connection makes you a slave to the ‘big six’ who charge you a fortune for something you can pluck out of the air, shines from the sun or pours on your head. I am of course talking wind, solar and hydro.

Now the Daily Fail and Torygraph may tell you that these technologies are expensive, intermittent and unreliable but when was the last time you had a power cut and how much do you pay PA for gas and electric Smile Me, well I’ve had half a dozen in 25 years and all of those have been for minutes not days. All the mains electricity for this part of Scotland comes from dams built by government schemes after the war. They paid for themselves ten times over in the last 50 years yet the inhabitants of the west coast pay more for their grid supplied electricity than the coal fired south, you really could not make it up.

Of course the reason your electricity is so expensive is because of all the wind turnips, the huge grants they get for being installed and the money they receive for NOT generating anything when its windy. Aye right, what the Fail, Torygraph, Fox News and Sun neglect to tell you is that ALL generators, be they wind, solar, coal, gas or nuclear get paid for not producing in times of low demand.

Sorry, ‘went off on one’ there and got distracted, where was I Smile

Sunday

Saturday was a long enough day with a late sailing for just one foot passenger but I arrived home safely at 22:00 and after one good coffee topped up with Bailey’s went to bed. Sunday arrived around 7:30 and I left Torran an hour later in daylight for the first time.

 

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After a brief sojourn down to Brochel I continued onto work and our day of ‘silent running’ on the Hallaig. Sunday being the day that we sail in ‘Battery Only’ all day.

After the first sailing, the ‘Big Breakfast’ and the usual fire drill and maintenance I settled down to trying to get some sense out of Vodafone http://forum.vodafone.co.uk/t5/Network-queries/Why-don-t-you-LISTEN/td-p/2341950 . Of course it took me the best part of two hours to actually ‘log on’ but I got there in the end and managed to post this

 

Well, I’m sorry if I sound a little abrupt but that’s me a full five weeks without a signal at home IV40 8PF at the north east corner of Loch Arnish. We have no landline, there are 4 Vodafone users at the house with different phones and there is not even the tiniest infinitesimal signal in, around or near the house. There has been a good signal here for ten or fifteen years and we NEED the phone. Our only way of contacting the outside world is via a poor satellite broadband link which will NOT support my Suresignal. We are half a mile down a track with no vehicular access and getting severely annoyed.

Trying to get hold of you chaps at Vodafone is a joke, the website won’t load properly on my satellite link and when it does the ‘Live Chat’ will not work. Obviously I cannot phone and you don’t give an email address, or if you do you hide it well. Eventually I managed to spend the best part of a Sunday morning in a nearby caravan with a better internet conection having a ‘Live Chat’ with ‘Mack’ who was absolutely no help despite doing his best.

"What is your postcode"

"I’ve just given it to you"

"Can I phone you back on another phone"

"There are no other phones, I’ve just told you I have no way of contacting anyone other than email"

"Do you have a landline"

"NO" (fortunately you cannot shout in a ‘Live Chat’)

"I see you have a ‘Suresignal’ can I use that"

"NO the internet protocol is only good for texts"

"OK, I’ll get an engineer to phone", whereupon Mack ended the chat.

Feeling a little dejected I had to wait until Tuesday when I was 40 miles away and had finally got a phone signal. The usual half and an hour going around in circles with exactly the same questions and answers followed. Only this time there was a promise of an engineer to phone back within 30minutes. I waited for an hour and the best I got was a text from the customer care department asking me to rate their response to my complaint. Despite being in a blizzard at the time I stopped in the middle of the road and spent the next twenty minutes replying. That would have been Thursday night I guess and I’ve still not heard a cheep, despite now having full service at work ten miles away and a weak one at IV40 8PF half a mile from my house.

I am not complaing because it’s inconvenient, it’s more than that, we are COMPLETLY reliant on a phone signal and if you look at my records you’ll see I’ve used about 9 minutes this month a probably less last month.

Could someone please LISTEN or at least READ and not just keep following ‘the script’

Thanks to Patrick I also managed to email Jeroen the CEO, doubt it will have done any good but you never know. My good mate Andrew from Finisterre managed to give me Dido Harding’s email and that worked wonders Smile

16:00 came around soon enough and once more we silently headed to Sconser

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this time into the setting sun.

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