Abandon All Fear

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Archive for the ‘Takeback’ Category

[Filesharing] The Cost Of An Idea

Posted by Lex Fear on June 22, 2009

David Dunham at CaPC poses the question “So is the judge making an example out of her or does this seem like a reasonable price to pay?”

I started commenting but realised it was too long and so I’ve moved my response here.

Let’s start by saying that these fines are supposed to be representative of lost sales.

Forget the fact that many people who download music tracks wouldn’t buy them anyway (and – shockingly – might even delete the crap ones).

What I think the lawmakers have glossed over is the fact that if you fine one person for *every* *lost* *sale*, then there should be no-one left to pursue for the downloading of those tracks she shared. Ie. if I had downloaded those 24 tracks from Jamie Thomas, it’s OK because she is already paying for *my* lost sale – as well as – literally – millions of others.

I’m pro-filesharing and I file-share.

I look forward to the day that these media companies grovel in the dirt – I’ll make no bones about that fact. Increasingly I’m ‘coming out’ to many friends and people I wouldn’t have before, because I see it as a revolution, a cold war, where as many people need to be recruited as possible.

I look forward to the day that we look back on these events in history and marvel at the ignorance of the politicians and industry that supported this 21st Century ‘House of Un-American Activities’.

I see filesharing as the future – setting knowledge, information and arts free – like they used to be before the 20th Century. Perhaps it’s not ‘the future’, perhaps it’s simply restoring values of the past.

Did any of those black slaves or their families who worked in the cotton fields see a ‘dime’ for their musical contribution to the blues? Intellectual Property is about as anti-creativity as I can imagine.

How do you prevent new ideas and human progress? Introduce ownership of ideas by long lasting corporate bodies to buy up and own *ideas*, then sue anyone who independently thinks up, tries to share or improve that idea for an arm and a leg.

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Posted in Bad Company, Copywrong, Corporate Irresponsibility, Free as in Speech, Little Hitlers, Morals & Ethics, Predatory Systems, Profiteering, Resistance, Takeback, Technology, Terrorist State | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

[Copyleft] Obama And The Copyright Act

Posted by Lex Fear on February 20, 2009

From Wired:

In a few weeks, we’ll likely know the Obama administration’s position on whether it supports hefty monetary awards in file sharing litigation brought by the Recording Industry Association of America.

The Bush administration’s position was clear. It supported the Copyright Act‘s penalties of up to $150,000 per infringed song.

“Congress acted reasonably in crafting the current incarnation by ensuring that it serves both a compensatory and deterrent purpose. Congress established a damages range that provides compensation for copyright owners in a regime in which actual damages are hard to quantify,” the Bush administration wrote in 2007.

Now it’s President Barack Obama’s turn, and we’ll see how tight he is with Hollywood.

One thing I’ve thought about that I don’t see mentioned anywhere by bloggers and media, is a challenge to how the MAFIAA justify their 9-to-1 ratio cost of a single music track.

No, I don’t mean how constitutional or fair it is, I mean challenging it on the basis of lost profits. Surely, after winning* their lawsuit against Jammie Thomas, all lawsuits should have stopped right there. You see they didn’t just sue Jammie Thomas for the tracks that she had downloaded or owned (worth approximately $1 a piece) they sued her for all the other people who otherwise would have bought the shared track too**.

Therefore if the MAFIAA recovered all that lost profit from Jammie Thomas (and someone can’t own one downloaded file twice over), then the score is even and there are no further profit losses i.e. no further lawsuits needed!

Am I just stating the obvious that no-one has thought up yet, or am I missing something?

*I say ‘won’, but it’s been public knowledge for a while now that the original judge has dismissed the original trial as a mistrial and it will be heard again.
**I’m obviously ignoring the fact that ( a ) many filesharers will buy an album anyway and ( b ) many other fileshares would not even buy if it was not available for download – so no profit to be had in the first place.

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Posted in Bad Company, Bollotics, Buyer Beware, Copywrong, Little Hitlers, Morals & Ethics, Predatory Systems, Profiteering, Takeback, Technology, Wealth Creation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

[Heroes] Fax Off

Posted by Lex Fear on February 13, 2009

This has to be one of my favourite stories of 2008:

OK. Fine by me. One great advantage of my VOIP provider (Primus, for anyone who cares) is that their base package includes many interesting features, including the possibility to redirect any number to another. Thirty seconds later, I had the fax number redirected to the receptionist’s number.

From: The Consumerist.

See my previous post on Culture Wars – dealing with corporate bullshit.

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Posted in Bad Company, Buyer Beware, Financial Terrorism, Ha-has, Predatory Systems, Takeback | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

[Politics] Agorism – an Introduction

Posted by BHudson on January 24, 2009

Foreword – This is an introduction to the political theory of agorism, which Lex has kindly allowed me to talk about here. I hope you find it thought-provoking and interesting. Sorry it’s so long (but I think it’s worth it).


A (Fairly Brief) Introduction to Agorism

‘Just once, wouldn’t you like to read a manifesto that’s been practiced before it’s preached? I wanted to. And I did it.’ – Samuel Edward Konkin III, Preface to the First Edition of the New Libertarian Manifesto.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Civil Disobedience, Opinion, Propaganda, Takeback, WhatTheyDontWantU2C | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

That 3am Phone Call

Posted by Lex Fear on March 22, 2008

Regrettably I haven’t weighed in much on the Democratic primary race between Obama and Clinton, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot to say about the subject. As a Brit I don’t get to vote on which President gets to decide on which policies our Prime Minister implements, but for what it’s worth I’m backing Obama.

Like God, I don’t claim to be a conservative or a liberal (but maybe more liberal leaning), so when I vote, it’s usually for who I think will do the least harm, or even just to get the current incumbent out.

Anyone who has been reading my blog for a long time will know my feelings about politics and the current President. I think the Bush administration has done incredible damage to America’s reputation, it’s economy, international relations and of course to citizens in various parts of the Middle East. America is a great nation, but the Bush Administration, especially men like Dick Cheney remind us of how easy it is to turn to the dark side.

That’s why I’m hoping for Obama to win. Not because I think he’s perfect, or that he doesn’t have faults, but it’s that he is promoting hope, change, he’s not resorting to negative campaigning and most importantly he is not relying on the politics of fear. It’s safe to say, that if Obama gets in the we may just see the end of this fallacious and idiotic War on Terror and most certainly the politics of fear.

It’s the politics of fear that were the motivation behind what is becoming known as Clintons’ ‘3am Call’. There’s a phone ringing in the white house, America is under attack again (presumably by motivated by the thoughts of a black Democrat winning) and who do you want to answer that call? Well, it seems like the little (now big) girl whose stock footage was used in that ad wants Obama to be the one answering it:

I’m not even going to comment on the damage that Hillary Clinton is doing to her own party and the Democrats chances of beating the Republicans for the White House. If you want some good commentary then add The Osterley Times to your rss reader.

For both myself and my wife there is something sinister about Hillary Clinton, an insincerity that comes across and is affirmed by her forced smile, her desperation and her rhetoric. In a comment to kel over at The Osterley Times I mentioned that I’d prefer to see McCain in the White House over Clinton. However I certainly don’t see McCain as any better. If McCain becomes President, he’ll make Bush seem like a man of wisdom and integrity. So I guess I’d rather not see McCain or Clinton in the White House, I think I’ll just despair.

Finally, I’m surprised not more people have picked up on this but when I first heard about Hillarys’ 3am Call and the question “Who do you want answering that call?”, the image in my head was not the one of Hillary picking up the phone above, but of this:

So for those that still buy into the politics of fear -and clearly many residents in Texas and Ohio still do- when that 3am call arrives and is picked up, do you want the President to tear up and get emotional or take affirmative action?

Posted in Opinion, Propaganda, Realpolitik, Takeback, Video | 1 Comment »

Is ‘Web Sheriff’ just a Cowboy Outfit?

Posted by Lex Fear on September 2, 2007

Here’s a hypothetical question.

Web Sheriff is some asslochen on the internets issuing ‘legal’ threats to fans of music bands who have put up tracks for listening and promoting said bands on their websites and blogs.

I did some checking and discovered the “web sheriff” was set up by a company called Entertainment Law Associates which claims to offer “Business Affairs & Management Consultancy”. They claim to offer some vague legal services, but sound more like agents than lawyers, and in fact, on their front page, they feature the disclaimer:

“ELA is not a law firm (and indeed it must be emphasised that we are not practising solicitors)”

Interesting, considering that Mr John Giacobbi a.k.a. self-proclaimed “Web Sheriff” claims to be “protecting your rights on the internet”. Just look at the media quotes on the front page of Web Sheriff’s website:

“Web Sheriff, an organisation that patrols against infringements of intellectual rights and reputations” Sunday Times

“Web Sheriff, which patrols the internet for illegal music recordings on behalf of record companies” The Guardian

“Web Sheriff, an agency that policies online piracy of copyrights and trademarks” Mail on Sunday

They sound more like Wikipedia definitions than rave reviews, don’t you think? In fact, delve deeper into the site and see the services the Sheriff offers:

“Internet Auditing”

For the rest of us, this means ‘googling’.

“New Release Protection”

That means googling for a title before it’s released.

“On-line Rights Enforcement”

We write a threatening letter that we have no way of backing-up, apart from hiring real lawyers.

“On-line Rights Administration”

We show you how to set up a fan website.

Now for the hypothetical part…

A quick google round the internets will pull up lot’s of indexing services that list Web Sheriff in the ‘law’ category: here, here and here, even describing the Sheriff in terms of ‘legal enforcement’.

About 5 years ago (sorry, the only archive I could find in a short time) a prison officer narrowly escaped jail for sending fake legal letters. He faked the letters himself, threatening court action against the recipient. The letters were discovered to be fake after the recipient showed them to a real solicitor.

Since Web Sheriff is “not a law firm” and neither “practising solicitors”, presumably, letters written by Web Sheriff to someone sharing a music file on their website are also not legal letters. In fact, could it be argued that they are fake if they make certain claims or threaten legal action?

What would happen if someone was to take a letter written by Web Deputy, to their solicitor for clarification and that solicitor declared it to be a fake?

I don’t offer music tracks here, so I can’t test this hypothesis, however I would advise anyone who has recently received a letter from this pretender to immediately consult their solicitor and determine the legality of the letter in question (though, if I one day make enough money, I would gladly test this one).

Maybe we can get this Web Deviant hauled before the real Sheriffs office?


For a hilarious response to one of “Web Sheriff’s” threat letters (and ensuing dialogue), check out The Pirate Bay’s legal section.


Posted in Bad Company, Copywrong, Little Hitlers, Predatory Systems, Profiteering, Takeback, The Love of Libel | 1 Comment »

Ghost Master

Posted by Lex Fear on August 14, 2007

So I bought this game on Saturday for 97p from Tesco and I haven’t been able to stop playing it, which is why I haven’t blogged. I tend to only buy old games, (1) because they’re cheap, (2) because they’re guaranteed to be compatible with my newer system and (3) I like retro.

So I’ve begun testing wordpress for this blog, for compatibility with the existing content I have on the server. I’ve just had to purchase another database for the testing itself which is a bit annoying, but my plan is to have this temporary setup before I start surfing for a new web-host.

So far I found a real good sounding web-host which is compatible with the values of this site (and paranoia that one time something I publish will cause me to be shut down): nearlyfreespeech.net

You pay only for your server and bandwidth usage, they give you a private mailbox (so your own address is not revealed), a special phone and fax and a custom email address.

Here’s a statement on their FAQ (my bold emphasis):

“If you wish to host a controversial site in the US, it behooves you to know the law, particularly this one, and how to use it to your advantage in the event of a dispute. You should also be prepared for a downtime of some or all “allegedly infringing” material for a couple of weeks if the copyright owner wants to fight.

We adhere to the entire law very closely. We do not generally pull the plug on an entire site if, for example, someone claims that a single graphic is infringing. We do our best to remove only the content that the copyright owner specifically identifies as allegedly infringing. We allow and encourage the use of the “putback notification” process when material is incorrectly identified as infringing. But we do not automatically terminate a member’s service merely for receiving a complaint alleging infringement. (However, actually infringing someone’s copyright does violate our TACOS and will generally result in immediate termination.)

Keep in mind that while we aren’t lawyers, neither are we idiots. We can tell the difference between people harassing our members via the DMCA and cases where our service is genuinely being misused, and we can adjust our attitude accordingly. Fortunately, both of these cases are very rare.

Of course, not all complaints are DMCA complaints. We very much enjoy “I hate that site. I demand you take it down!” messages, of which we receive a very large number (from, ironically, a relatively small number of people). Other than pointing and laughing, however, we tend not to respond to such demands.”

Pretty awesome huh? Unfortunately they take payment in US$ so I need to contact them to discuss that, not sure what the risks are in terms of the exchange rate or how I’d go about paying.

If anyone knows of a UK equivalent, I would love to know. Lyc0s offer a pretty good service in terms of support and installation but something I read in .NET magazine recently by a Lyc0s executive caused me concern in how they would handle a copyright or libel complaint. As you can see I mention no names and have taken precaution to hide keywords!

See you on the new blog…

Posted in Metablog, Morals & Ethics, Takeback, The Love of Libel | Leave a Comment »

Holiday Hiatus

Posted by Lex Fear on July 29, 2007

Munich (37) Alex Fear and the Mrs are officially on holiday for 2 weeks from tomorrow, so the blogging will be light. We’re actually looking for new flat to rent but we may just skip to the beach if the sun keeps (or catch a cheap ‘environMENTALly unfriendly’ flight away for a few days).

In the meantime, any time I get at the ‘puter will be devoted to testing a new CMS and thinking the best way to go about transferring this to a WordPress blog (domain name/content). Look forward to changes, and better organisation of the resources (devoted to social action etc).

In the meantime, click on one of the labels below to read through some previous topics.

Posted in Absolute Power, Apologetics, Bad Company, Bank Robbers, Copland, Copywrong, Duh!, Fallible Design, Financial Terrorism, Global Alarming, Ha-has, Housing Market Myths, Justice & Mercy, Laymans Theology, Little Hitlers, Londonland, Morals & Ethics, Opinion, Pharisees, Predatory Systems, Profiteering, Propaganda, Property Market, Realpolitik, Religion & Science, Takeback, Technology, The Love of Libel, The Purpose Missing Church, The Religious Wrong, Tick-Box Culture, Uncircumcised Philistines, V for Vendetta, Video, Wealth Creation, WhatTheyDontWantU2C, Xenophobia | Leave a Comment »

Bank Charges: How I Did It – From The First LBA to Post-Account Closure

Posted by Lex Fear on July 21, 2007

 Your exclusive is finally here! I’ve been waiting for the final letter from the FOS before I blogged this one walkthrough for anyone who wants to do it but is worried about the repercussions.

Previous posts on excessive bank charges here: Its Time, Banks Behaving Badly, Everyone Should Do This, The Public 1 HSBC 0, Accountability Advice, Calls to Stop Illegal Activity are Unfair
What the MSM says here: £100,000 Will Help Customers Fight Unfair Charges, Claims Cost Banks £200m, The Latest on Bank Charges, FSA Faces Calls to Take On Retail Bank Regulation
Other rages against the machine? Fight the Fear!

Before I begin I must acknowledge that this would not have been possible without the information provided by the Consumer Action Group. They were one of the first, if not the first, groups to take on bank charges and offer comprehensive advice and templates in their forums.

To be honest, I did not get a lot of responses when I posted in the forums, so instead I had to search through other users posts myself and adapt the templates to my personal situation. This does not negate the hard work the CAG put in, I just hope that by offering a full walk-through of my own experience, it saves you the time of trying to piece together different experiences. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Intro: Momma always said to save all my paperwork…

So I did. By 2006 I had suffered 3-4 years of unfair practices by the companies I banked with. The last bank I signed up with had already charged me over £400 for overdraft fees and direct debits. You see, I graduated with a Computer and Management Sciences degree in 2003, but the UK IT job market had effectively gone bust so the only job I managed to land for the first year was a customer services job answering a phone. I was not earning a graduate salary, but I had graduate size debts to pay off and was working under supervisors younger than me, who hadn’t gone to university, being paid more than me. To be honest, my bitterness was difficult to put off.

I was basically living beyond my means, and finding myself going over my overdraft limit constantly, then having to ask the bank for an extension each time so I could buy things like food. When the bank started to cut me off, I decided to switch. My credit rating was decimated so I wasn’t allowed to open another grad account, instead I had to settle for a basic. My previous bank did not like the idea of me leaving and so they switched my account from 0% interest to standard 15% interest without notice. I did not know how the law works or how it was supposed to protect people like me at the time so I didn’t do anything. I simply tried my best to pay off what I could, when I could.

Now I had my basic account, I was able to use all my wage at the end of the month, but I usually found myself with pennies left by the last week. Which meant, when an emergency came up, that tipped me over the edge and into red- for which the bank automatically slapped an extra £30 on top- thankyou very much. As the months went by, even when I managed to bring my spending back in line, an extra £30 from the previous month put the current month in the red and bang- another £30. So by the end of 3 months I could easily rack up £170 in charges (month 1= £30, month 2= £60, month 3 = £90).

So when I was finally sufficiently pissed off enough to search for some solution online- I found the CAG, and my eyes were opened. I had also been sufficiently screwed with my credit rating that I had nothing to lose- and pay attention anyone reading this who works for a bank – I was backed into a corner- when you back someone into a corner, then you leave them no option but to fight. The banks here have effectively dug their own grave by profiting off the back of the weakest in society.

Now, I had kept all my statements, so I went through them and totaled up all the charges. For those of you who don’t have your statements, you will need to file a Data Protection Act request with your bank, CAG supplies the details here. Once you have your statements, read on.

Step 1. Gimme back my money

First thing I did was take the CAG’s template and adapt it slightly for my own circumstance, then sent it to my bank.

Preliminary Letter (pdf) | (odt)

They simply ignored the letter or lost it, so after 14 days had timed out, it was time to fire a warning shot across the bow.

Step 2. Letter Before Action

Letter Before Action (pdf) | (odt)

This provoked a swift worded response 7 days later:

“I am writing in response to your recent communication and was very sorry to learn of your disappointment with the service you have received.

Thankyou for taking the time to highlight your concerns, we are currently looking into the situation and will be writing to you with a more detailed response.

In the meantime, I am enclosing a leaflet which explains the steps we will take to handle your complaint.”

Meaning, we are not going to give you back your money, however give us a bit more time to make up an excuse.

To which I sent the following reply:

Response Letter (pdf) | (odt)

I then got a second letter from the bank 11 days after that:

“Thank you for your letter dated 26 May, please may I apologise for the delay in replying.

I am unable to comply with your request to reimburse the charges applied to your account as they were debited correctly in accordance with our published charging tariff… blahcakes”

Step2A. This is where I went wrong

I had every intention of filing a claim with the Small Claims Court. But as I mentioned above, money was tight, I lived hand to mouth, and it was going to cost at least £50 to file the claim, which a the time I couldn’t afford (I had already fi
led one that month against my first bank for the overdraft change- an entirely different legal matter still with the courts).

I’m not proud of myself for it, but I just decided it could stay on the back-burner. Besides they had refunded all the charges from screwing up my account switch-over, and reinstated my direct debits.

I strongly suggest that you don’t let the initial cost of the claim deter you, but if you did fail to follow up your legal threat, read on, be encouraged.

Step 3. 9 months later

A new job, a double income and some good financial management later, I pondered the legal threat I had made 9 months ago, and whether I’d have to start fresh, or be able to pick up where I left off.

I read back through my letters, then did a quick check online and in the forums, then I thought what the heck, go for it. So here’s my second LBA, this time I was determined to follow it through, but they didn’t know that:

LBA 2007 (pdf) | (odt)

This time I got a much more detailed and wordier reply which can be downloaded below:

Bank response to LBA (pdf)

Step 4. Small claims online

Since this was a LBA, not a fresh start with a simple preliminary, I waited for the 14 days to time out and did not give the bank any further warnings before filing my claim online which came to £80.

I basically used Money Saving Experts statutory interest calculator, to calculate my total charges plus 8% interest which came to £611.24. When you file your claim online your fee will be added to this automatically (£611.24 + £80 = £691.24).

HMCS MoneyClaim is easy enough to understand and the fields hardly need explaining, just go through and fill in your details, defendants (your bank). Then you will come to the ‘Particulars of Claim’ which is the difficult part, especially since you are limited to 500 characters. Again, I took the example provided by the CAG in their template library and edited the wording slightly to fit:

Between 01/12/04 and 28/12/06 the Defendant applied numerous default charges to the Claimants bank account. The defendant contends the charges were debited in accordance with its contract with the Claimant. The charges applied are an unfair penalty under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations, which state: ‘A term is unfair if it requires any consumer who fails his obligation to pay a disproportionately high sum in compensation’.

The amount charged does not reflect the cost of the breach. The charges are an unlawful ‘extravagant’ penalty. A charge is a penalty if it does not reflect an items true cost. Under the County Courts Act 1984, the claimant is entitled to interest at a rate of 8% per annum from the date they were first deprived of the money. This totals £61.24, continuing to accrue at the statutory daily rate of 0.021% until judgment or earlier payment. The Claimant therefore asks the court to enter judgment in their favour for £550.00 plus interest, totaling £611.24.

Please note that this is an old wording and CAG currently provide a new one in their template library (registration needed) which they ask not to be printed outside of the private forum.

HMCS Claim Form (pdf)

Step 4A. Be prepared to go to court

I have published the steps I took so far, under the assumption you already have researched claiming back bank charges. If not, I should warn you before you get to this stage that if you are going to file with the small claims court you should be prepared to actually go to court. You are not defending yourself so you don’t need a solicitor or lawyer- it is the bank who decides if they want to defend themselves against your claim.

If your bank decides to defend in court, it is best to seek advice from a website such as the CAG, MoneySavingExpert or ThisIsMoney forums- don’t pay for the advice- there is no need! The charges are illegal and unfair but if you don’t state your claim properly you could end up like this man. It’s completely wrong, but remember the banks have a whole legal team working for them.

Step 5. Wait…

A few days after filing online I got a Notice of Issue through the door, it felt good to hold in my hand…

Then the next day, a short (disgruntled) note from my bank with Acknowledgement of Service. Yessssssss. This was followed by the AoS from the court. Interestingly you will note bottom left of the AoS the bank ticked “I intend to defend all of this claim”.

Acknowledgement of Service (pdf)

Step 6. Bank Owned!

Bank Settlement Letter (pdf)

£700 of my money, stolen from my account returned!

Ooh I don’t like the sound of this:

“As it is clear that you do not accept the terms and conditions for the operation of your account we will shortly be contacting you to discuss its future operation.”

Step 7. The Empire Strikes Back!

And sure enough…

1st Notice of Account Closure (pdf)

“The decision should not be regarded as an admission of liability on the part of the Company, nor should it be regarded as any sign of weakness…”

Ooh they must have taken it personally.

“Therefore as it is clear that you do not accept certain aspects of our terms and conditions for the operation of your account we regret that we are unable to continue to offer you banking facilities…”

Err… which certain aspects of the T&Cs were those… the ones that were unlawful? The ones you were unwilling to defend in court?

Of course it was an attempt to piss on my victory parade, and if I’m honest I was not only annoyed but slightly nervous. The last account switch-over didn’t go to well (see above) and I actually did get good service from A&L.

A brief check in the CAG forums and other online places only seemed to return results for people going through a similar thing, but no resolution or some brief mentions but no details.. how.. what.. when?

Step 7A. Pulling the cord

Most guides you read will advise you on the first step to open your parachute account. I haven’t mentioned this yet because I still had my f
ormer account with HSBC which was currently dormant, so I knew I’d be able to do a quick transfer myself into it.

Nevertheless, I had got my first taste of blood, I wasn’t going to let them get away with retaliation and forcing inconvenience and further stress on my person.

Step 8. Go ahead, bank, make my day

I wrote a strongly worded letter right back to them asking things like: “If you felt that your charges were ‘fair’ and not unlawful, why did you offer full payment and not proceed to defend them in a court of law and prove my particular case wrong?”

I then mentioned I’d spoken to someone in customer services who had confirmed that other customers were having their accounts closed after claiming back charges. This was true, and it was important for establishing it as a retaliatory measure, not just a vague “breakdown of the relationship”.

Finally I used some of my own initiative and creativity to issue a further warning about closing my account:

If you go ahead with the closure of my account I will be forced to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service myself and be claiming further compensation. I take this opportunity to remind you the FOS is ruling in favour of customers who have had accounts closed in retaliation for claiming back charges. (See attached adjudications ‘Mr A’ and ‘Mr L’).

In order to make my point, I enclosed print-outs of an article from ThisIsMoney and both adjudications from the FOS website. I did this to make it clear I knew my favourable legal standing.

Warning Letter on Account Closure (pdf) | (odt)

You will be advised that it is the banks discretion who they do business with, so even if they are wrong to close an account, it can’t be stopped in anyway legally.

The bank did take notice of this letter. I received a shortly drafted letter from them advising they were “currently looking into the issue you have raised and will let you have our response as soon as possible.”

I then got another letter 7 days after that to advise that “the issue you have raised concerning the closure of your account has been forwarded to the relevant department who will contact you direct.” That got their attention didn’t it?

Step 9. We’re gonna do it anyway and risk the consequences…

… because it’s all about risk isn’t it? If we keep this customer, we can’t make any money off him anymore, if we close the account, we’ll only lose a couple of hundred pounds.. you do the math.

2nd Notice of Account Closure (pdf)

But they extended the the closure date… can’t really think why, they already decided they were going to close it. I suppose they expect I should be thankful for this gesture?

So I get online and transfer all my standing orders over from one account to the other. Let the HR girl know at work (thankfully I work in a small company), and write a letter to companies I direct debit. Those I missed, got in touch with me- Ha!

Step 10. The last laugh

Next stop FOS website to download their complaint form. It took about 15-20 minutes to complete. Mostly cut-paste-edit job and photocopying a bunch of letters. Print then send.

Had a response by 12th June from the FOS:

“Thankyou for sending your complaint form. Unfortunately, I have to return this as you need to sign it.”


2nd Response from the FOS (pdf)

The 3rd response from the FOS on 16th July  was just to inform me of the guy who had my case dumped on him, and to inform me they have a heavy workload so it may be sometime before they can progress my case.

Well, I think they’re doing a great job BTW but I immediately had an idea of how they could reduce their workload. Stop writing letters to inform clients you have a heavy workload! I think that will probably reduce it by a quarter at least.

banker4th Response from the FOS – The Gold! (pdf)

“A&L has now told us it would be prepared to pay £200 compensation to cover the distress and inconvenience the closure of your account may have caused…”


And that folks, is how I did it, it only took me 12 months, but I did have a rather long and unadvised break in between. Like a surgical procedure, unpleasant, but you get to take time off afterwards and eat cookies. Anyone can do it.

Posted in Bad Company, Bank Robbers, Duh!, How I Did It, Morals & Ethics, Profiteering, Takeback, WhatTheyDontWantU2C | Leave a Comment »

[Target Culture] The Processed Life

Posted by Lex Fear on July 4, 2007

This Post Is Rated: N for Nothing to hide… yada yada. Warning: More commentary on our total lack of discretion and humanity in today’s culture.

I’m aware that I’m going to reference another ‘old’ news item now but I’m just catching up with some of my saved rss feeds and occasionally I come across an item that is worth my comment but I’m too busy to compile something at the time.

Last month the BBC reported that, now, even the police are fed up of the target culture.

The list of compiled cases showed incidents where officers had been “under such pressure to deliver it has resulted in an arrest or caution when even the officer themselves thinks it is ludicrous”, he said.
“Understandably, when the public hears about this they ask ‘What the hell is going on?’.”

Of course those who read police bloggers will not be surprised, but what people should be realising is that it’s part of a much wider cultural endemic that has been going on for some time.

We no longer know how to relate as human beings. We may even empathise with our victims customers’ personal situation, in the knowledge that we are making decisions that will deeply affect their circumstances, but there seems to be no will to to try and break the cogs of this giant machinery that is called ‘authorisation’.

How many times have you heard the words to the effect of “Yes, I understand, but I’m sorry sir I cannot do that as I don’t have the authorisation” or “I’m sorry I have to process this now, I can’t stop it”. What they actually mean is:

“I can stop it, but if something goes wrong, it will be my head on the block, or I am financially disincentivised to do anything to help you”.

I’m glad the police are concerned, we should all be. We are moving towards, nay, already in a society that sees people as assets to be put in boxes and processed. If someone doesn’t fit into the box, discard them or fail them. Why should we be concerned? Let me give you an example from my own life,

You may already be aware of the trouble I had with TalkTalk at the beginning of the year. I ended up cancelling their contract to go with Pipex in February. Today I received the 3rd ‘Final Demand’ for money on an account that should have been closed 4 months ago (2 phone calls, 1 letter). This is no longer a human looking at the details and realising the error of their ways, this is a machine, that has not been given the right instruction and without intervention, followed through to logical conclusion will pass this onto a debt collection service.

I don’t trust those who currently stand for authority, not until I can see an example of a person or organization who can utilise technology responsibly, and not rely on it to cost cut human decisions over human lives.

To slightly modify an old mantra used on this site:

Databases exist to for people, people do not exist for databases.

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