Monthly Archives January 2007

Business from Football but Nowhere to Park

I should consider the location of my premises as quite fortunate. At least twice a month a mass exodus of avid football supporters pass by my window twice.

The second event such as this since I opened up to the public and put displays in the window will occur between 19.00hrs and 22.00hrs this evening (31.01.07).

This time the sign is bigger. This time there is a (removable) leaflet holder fixed to the window frame, populated with informative reading. (I’m thinking about putting something on them like a football related game so more people keep them….).

This time, I will be out….

The match is a 19.45 kick off and the posters display a closing time of 7pm! I know, I could be ultra dedicated and stick around but I made a commitment and I’m sticking to it.

And about the parking. There’s limited parking as it is, permits are required for residents but there are more residents cars than spaces so it’s pot luck even if you pay for a permit. The parking zone is only ever policed when there’s a match on, so twice a month I move my car around the corner and go back to, well work mostly!

Emails Not Getting Delivered

Following on from a previous post about BT broadband it seems as if the problem is getting worse.

Emails are not being delivered across the nation and beyond…!

The problem seems to lie with an organisation called SORBS. They are responsible for IP and email blacklists which are used by many SPAM filtering systems.

This is affecting people with ‘dynamic’ IP addresses which are used by almost everyone that accesses the internet.

Extract from Wikipedia:

‘An IP address (Internet Protocol address) is a unique address that devices use in order to identify and communicate with each other on a computer network utilizing the Internet Protocol standard (IP)—in simpler terms, a computer address. Any participating network device—including routers, computers, time-servers, printers, Internet fax machines, and some telephones—can have their own unique address. Also, many people can find personal information through IP addresses.’

A dynamic IP address is one that changes everytime you log into the internet which provides additional security to the end user.

The problem with dynamic IP addresses is they are not liked by SORBS.

If you send an email from your own domain name eg: you@yourdomain.co.uk it gets routed via your ISP and if it’s tracked back it can look as though it’s come from your ISP and not yourdomain.co.uk. This can potentially flag the IP address of your ISP as SPAM because it’s sending mail that it is saying is coming from somewhere else ie. yourdomain.co.uk.

I’m getting a ‘static’ IP address for my broadband connection but I have no real guarantee that this will work and solve my failed email delivery problem.

The alternative is some clever person out there already knows a simple solution and I just haven’t found it yet…

Giant Tesco

Tesco are building houses! Britians biggest supermarket chain plans to oversee the buildiing of 2000 homes in the next three years.

A £400m scheme at Woolwich for over 900 houses will all be situated, yes, you guessed it, near a big, new store!

It’s brilliant! Build houses and fill them with customers! Will they also have Tesco Expresses as local convenience stores?

Will it be like a ‘Tesco Village’…..? Wouldn’t that be strange..!

Kwik-Fit now do Home Insurance

Yes that’s right, Kwik-Fit can now insure your home!

Kwik-Fit have been providing car insurance for a while now and they have recently moved into home insurance.

This is the same company that is known and loved as the tyre and exhaust people. They may also do brakes and clutches but my memory is uncertain.

So a company that has exhaust centres dotted across the country that offer a ‘while-you-wait’ service in their lovely blue overalls, can now protect your home as well as your car.

It’s just another example of an organisation branching out into the finance arena and quite a common sight today.

Halfords, the people that sell all things automotive from car stereos to wiper blades also offers a range of financial solutions including insurance.

Tesco, Sainsburys and other large chains have been providing financial services for quite some time now and the transition is complete. Most of us now know we can walk into our local supermarket and apply for a credit card but at first the idea did seem a bit odd!

Which is why it’s hard to imagine a well known brand like Kwik-Fit (who do exhausts) providing home insurance. I’m sure they have all the necessary infrastructure in place to handle the move otherwise they wouldn’t have done it.

They’re probably re-branding another providers cover like so many others but with their own special perks and incentives.

Reclaiming Bank Charges by Phone

I originally intended to send to my bank a copy of the letter on my previous post, the letter for reclaiming bank charges.

I reviewed my recent statements, totaled up the charges I felt were unlawful based on information I found at thisismoney. I also noted the dates on which these charges occurred.

I then realised I didn’t know the correct address to send the letter so I called my bank to ask them. While I was on the phone I asked the assistant if he could help me with the claim or if I had to send the letter. I also asked what my overdraft protection fee was protecting me against.

Within moments I was speaking to a customer services manager and it turns out the overdraft protection fee is not required so I was immediately offered a refund of 12 months payments. £48. As I had to date had no use for the service it provided (in event of illness or redundancy my overdraft would be repaid), I accepted the refund.

I then mentioned the unlawful fees of which there were 3 and I was also immediately offered a refund for 2 of them. OK so it’s not the full whack but I’m not greedy and to be fair that covers the cost of the letter, the envelope, ink and postage and the time of the nice lady I spoke to, plus a small tip.

I was fortunate that my fees were small by comparison to some of the horror stories I’ve heard and also very infrequent. The three I’ve mentioned all happened in the space of 5 days over Xmas when I was guilty of forgetfulness and frankly not interested in banking!

If you’re going to attempt to reclaim your charges over the phone the most important 3 things are:

1. Know the facts. Find out all you can so you know your rights and where you stand. 

2. Be prepared – have all the details of all the charges you feel are unlawful to hand.

3. Be nice. – You’re talking to a person at work not ‘the bank’. I get the impression the banks are geared up to handle more of these claims and at the moment the law is on your side SO THERE’S NO NEED TO SHOUT!

Reclaim Bank Charges Letter – Get Back Unlawful Fees

So here it is. The letter that could help get your bank charges repaid to you.

There’s been a lot of hype about this recently and I’m actually about to give it a try for myself.

Replace required sections with your own details:

 

Dear Sir/Madam,

Ref: account number: (your account number)

I understand that the charges applied to my account in relation to the following (enter details of what charges were for) are unlawful.

When I opened my account I entered into a contract with you, at which time you agreed to act lawfully. The fees you have been applying to my account in relation to the above are unlawful under Common Law, Statute and consumer regulations.

You have taken (enter charges amount here) from me, plus the following in (enter overdraft interest amount here) overdraft interest and I would like to request repayment of this (enter total sum) total sum. I also ask you to ensure any default notices entered against my credit record are removed entirely.

Please repay this money in full and remove any default notices within 14 days. If this is not done, I will begin a claim against you for the full amount, plus interest and my costs.

Yours sincerely,

(Your signature)

 

Personally it seems a bit too blunt but if it gets the job done…!

Saving Paper and Junk Faxes

So junk faxes are farily inevitable and there only seems to be one logical way of saving at least half of the paper they usually waste.

Just turn them over and out them back in the printer/fax machine and when you want to print something yourself, put in a fresh piece.

 

BT Broadband for Business Email Problems

I have BT broadband for business and recently I found certain emails were not being delivered.

I checked with my host, tried sending email from addresses in different hosting locations and had no luck.

I could receive email from these people but not send it and I kept getting the same delivery error message.

I discovered the error message (550 Rule Imposed Mailbox Access) was consistent with SPAM software known as MailMarshall. I also discovered MailMarshall auomatically updates itself from known ’email blacklists’.

Naturally I was concerned when I entered my IP address into an ’email blacklist’ checker and found my IP listed with SORBS, a well known email blacklist company.

The reason my IP is listed is because I send email via a ‘private mail server using a dynamic IP address. Mail sent using my mail server mail.myURL.com gets directed through a dynamic IP something like: host81-153-31-221.range81-153.btcentralplus.com and because the two are different, it could potentially be spam!

So how to fix it? Well, BT broadband abuse team told me I could try turning my router off for an hour and I should get assigned a new IP address (the old ‘turn it off and on again’ trick). This did not work.

I left my router off all night and when I turned it on I was assigned a new IP address but this was ALREADY listed with SORBS!

SORBS must have literally thousands of BT IP addresses on its database.

One simple straightforward solution is to pay more money. It’s possible to pay BT another £5/month for a ‘satic IP address’ which will solve the problem.

Another solution that only costs time is to change the outgoing mailserver settings so instead of using mail.myURL.com I need to use smtp.btconnect.com.

If I use smtp.btconnect.com and use my own domain name ie. me@myURL.com, I also need to let BT know what myURL.com is otherwise their system wont let me send any mail from it!

If you’ve experienced a similar problem, some useful contact details are below.

BT Abuse Team.

These guys are very helpful and know all about this poblem and they’ve known about for well over a year. (strangely, other BT broadband divisions claim they’ve never heard of it! Funny that.)

abuse@btbroadbandoffice.com – 0870 243 0209

If you use smtp.btconnect.com and need to notify BT of your URL you need to call:

0845 600 7020

 

Energy Saving Light Bulbs

Installing just one energy-saving light bulb can save up to £9 a year on your electricity bill!! How many normal light-bulbs do you have in your house? To make it easy, if you have 10, you save £90/year on lighting! Not to mention each light bulb will reduce carbon emissions by 40kg so again, that’s 400kg for 10 light bulbs!

So just three average houses running only energy saving light bulbs can reduce carbon emissions by over a ton!!

OK so the bulbs themselves cost more than normal ones but if you shop around you can get them for much less than you think!

I’ve seen energy saver light bulbs in the ‘Pound Store’. My local Aldi (which stocks some great Pesto!) also has energy saving bulbs for a little over £1.

ebay is also a pretty good place to start but as ever you need to take a bit of time finding the best deal.

I found 3 bulbs for £0.49 plus £2.20 postage which works out at £0.90 each including postage so beware of people selling for £0.90 each PLUS postage of over £1! Although it’s also possible on ebay to buy 12 for £18.76 including postage which works out at £1.56/bulb but you get all the bulbs you need for your house for less then £20 and in the first year still save £70 on bills.

Energy Savers Direct sells subsidised top brand bulbs at £0.99 each +VAT. A box of 10 costs £11.63 inc VAT with postage at £2.95 making each bulb £1.28.

And just in case you’re wandering, I don’t sell energy saver bulbs on ebay! Or anywhere else for that matter. I just replace my old ones with energy savers each time one blows.