CSA Complaint, they consider the matter closed

I received this reply from the CSA a while back when I complained about how they were charging me arrears when I’d been paying my ex-wife’s mortgage the whole time. They’ve made a catalogue of errors and have summed them all up in this letter.

This took me some time to type up, so I hope you appreciate it?

Dear Mr Jamieson

Thank you for your letter dated 13th January 2008 which was passed to me for reply.

You raised the following issues:

  • You say that your caseworker Steve Gibson failed to respond to your telephone calls throughout January and February and that you only managed to speak to Steve in March.
  • You say you were misinformed by your caseworker as to what you were eligible to claim through a variations application.
  • You raised concern that you were asked to complete a second variations form, despite being advised we had received the first one.
  • You asked that we amend the amount on the deduction-from-earnings order to take into account the mortgage payments on your jointly owned property.

The following action was taken to resolve your complaint

  • Firstly I must apologise unreservedly if you feel you have not received the service you have a right to expect when we failed to reserve your calls.
  • I am unable to comment on what you say you were advised regarding the variations application as I am unable to retrieve the actual call from our records. I do assure you however, that our staff are fully trained in all elements of their casework. I apologise if there was any misunderstanding at the point of contact and understand that this has since been resolved in your telephone call to Nicky Taylor. I have also provided written clarification of the process you application followed below:
  • Regarding the variations form, I see from the case papers that this already been discussed with you. Despite the apparent loss of the original form, it is clear that we did consider your request.

You may find it helpful to have an update of your case so far. We received your variation application on 13th April 2007. You applied for the variation on the following grounds; contact costs, car loan and entertainment costs. Under Child Support Regulations Mrs Jamieson was given the opportunity to comment on the information supplied by you. A letter was issued to you on 20th June 2007 advising you of the comments received from Mrs Jamieson. The outcome of this variation application was as follows:

– Contact costs – Mrs Jamieson did not dispute your mileage estimate and agreed that you did visit your children initially but Mrs Jamieson also stated that you made the journey for work related purposes and that you owned a property in the same area as Mrs Jamieson therefore the journey was not solely made to visit your children. You have also indicated that subsequently you have had no contact with your children since 16th June 2007 yet still choose to make the journey.

– Car Loan – Mrs Jamieson confirmed the loan amount and that she still owns and drives the Honda Civic but stated this was paid for outright from the sale of the jointly owned Land Cruiser. Mrs Jamieson stated that the Land Cruiser was sold for approximately £10,000. £4,000 of which was used to purchase the Honda Civic and the remainder being used to cover a few sundry expenses and debts. Mrs Jamieson went on to add there is no outstanding finance on the Honda Civic. Mrs Jamieson has an invoice confirming this transaction. Mrs Jamieson reiterated the car loan was for your BMW sports car which was stolen but then returned and hat you took out a further loan for a Hyundai Coupe which she believed you were still paying for.

– Entertainment Expenses – Mrs Jamieson agreed that you had paid an average of £15 per week entertainment costs when you did see your children, she also confirmed you had paid £36 per month into Savings Accounts for the children the last of these payments being made at the end of April 2007. Mrs Jamieson stated she was willing to accept these payments, which totalled £839, in lieu of maintenance. We adjusted your arrears balance accordingly on 12th October 2007.

We wrote out to you on 22nd November 2007, rejecting this application as above and enclosing a new application form to apply for a variation on housing costs.

– We received this Variations application on 28th November 2007. You applied for a variation in regard to mortgage payments you made on the property 190 Oaksford, Cwmbran. However included in the application was a letter in which you stated you were not prepared to forward any documents. Mrs Jamieson stated that the mortgage on this property had not been paid since 31st July 2007 and was subject to a repossession order due to be heard on 12th January 2008. Therefore this application was rejected as it failed contest stage due to insufficient evidence supplied by you and as per Child Support Variations Regulations 2000, Prior Debts regulation 12.

  • We are unable to amend the amount being deducted from your salary. The amount is set for the amount of regular maintenance, based on the circumstances at the time your case was assessed plus an additional amount to recover arrears. Your case falls under new rules post 2003 legislation at a rate of 25% of your net income for your three children Casey, Kira and Robert. The net income figure that was used is £419.54. The assessment was calculated at £105 per week. An additional £58.74 each week is being deducted to recover the outstanding arrears balance which currently stands at £3,054.48. The total weekly amount falls just short of the 40% of net income we are able to deduct to recover arrears.

Your letter states that you have mentioned the names of our employees, Nicky Taylor, Steve Gibson and Ryan on your website www.mrsdaz.com. This has been done without their consent. I ask that you remove the details of our employees from this website and that you confirm that you will not mention their names on any other websites or any other kind of public communications. Please confirm within 14 days of the date of this letter that you have taken steps to remove the names of our employees. Should you fail to respond within 14 days we reserve the right to consider further action.

Your letter further states that you intend to place all of the telephone conversations you have had with members of staff on your website. The Governments Regulatory Body for Telecommunications (OFCOM) makes reference to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. This allows individuals to record telephone calls or emails, however it prohibits them be made available to a third party if consent has not been obtained. Please confirm within 14 days of the date of this letter that you will not be placing these calls on your website and that you have removed the call already logged on “u tube”. Should you fail to respond within 14 days we reserve the right to consider further action.

All action has now been taken to resolve your complaint, and the Agency now considers this matter closed.

If however you do not believe that this response satisfactorily deals with your complaint, you can, within the next 6 months write to Martin Connor, Client Service Director. He can be contacted at the Child Support Agency Centre, Post Handling Section, 2 Weston Road, Crewe, CW98 1BB.

Yours sincerely

Judi Cass
Senior Complaints Resolution Manager
North West Area

Well Judi Cass, I’m pleased the child support agency considers the matter closed, however I do not. My reply will be here very shortly, and winging its way to your good self as well.

What are the best decisions you’ve ever made?

While writing an article just a few short moments ago about photography, I suddenly found my mind wandering and thinking to myself; what are the best decisions I’ve ever made in life?

No, I don’t understand how I strayed onto that subject, but seeing as I did, I thought I’d blog about it here, without any preconceived plan about where I’m going with this. Though I’m fairly sure there’ll be a blog just around the corner countering this one, as that’s the type of negative person I can be sometimes.

Anyhow, while thinking about this I thought how powerful would some of my websites be now if I’d used WordPress from the beginning, and how strong would they be if I could take WordPress 2.5.1, go back in time, and use it around the year 2000?

So, the best decisions I’ve ever made in life? Let’s see…

  1. Spending money to register the domain www.thetransformers.net in August 2000, when I had a website already but it was on a free hosting site called 20m.com (which meant 20 megs free space). That decision was quite a good one!
  2. Then, just a short while later I bought www.transformersthemovie.com (much to Don Murphy’s disgust a year or so ago, claiming I was jumping on the bandwagon). That domain was bought, I think, in December 2000, when I made a website about the original animated film. That domain has done quite well of late.
  3. Not selling the aforementioned domain when someone inquired to buy it. Yes, that was Paramount.
  4. Leaving my job in Cardiff to move to Manchester and work for an SEO company. That has to be pretty high up there. You have to challenge yourself in life and work for the companies that will offer that.
  5. Buying a HP Smartphone and installing voice recording software to record ALL of my phone calls. The CSA aren’t too keen on that one, but it paid for itself after just a few days.
  6. Getting in touch with DVD suppliers and PR companies when I worked as the web designer for GAME. This allowed me to build up contacts I still use today, create the website WhatDVD.Net and become involved in the Transformers DVD releases for Maverick and Metrodome. Thanks to the guys at GAME who thought no one would actually send us DVDs for review because GAME didn’t buy enough units, so they let me do it. Had they known how successful I’d be they’d have done it themselves. Cheers Jonny A and CJ Ravey!
  7. Working for GAME in the first place. I have to say this I feel, it was my first 9-5 job in August 2000 and I worked there for a few years, made some lifelong friends and have never really found anywhere else like it.
  8. Buying a Jedi outfit… that one’s self explanatory 😉
  9. Trying out Google Adsense when it launched in 2003, and at the time I though Commission Junction was the best thing since student grants. It made just a few cents a day at first, but sticking with it proved a brilliant move.
  10. Finally, and this one hasn’t proven itself yet but I feel it will, not selling my house at the beginning of the year. I risked financial ruin to keep it when I could have sold it and walked away with a few grand to my name, however I kept hold of it, went to wire and now it’s happily rented out and providing me with something for the future. That may still fall down on me, but I’m confident.

There you have it, the best ten decisions I think I’ve ever made in life, not necessarily in the right order, but equally important.

As I say I no doubt expect there’ll be another blog soon with the ten worst decisions I’ve ever made… though that might be in several parts 😉

Another reason why Americans are stupid

Following on from my recent post on how stupid Americans are, and why the world laughs at them, I thought I’d mention something that’s been bugging me for a while.

It all started when I was editing an article submitted by someone who was, shall we say, American focused. They mentioned the season ‘Autumn’, though referred to it as ‘The Fall’. The fall, as we all know, is an American term (yes, I know it originated in England but we ditched in favour of a proper name). However this article writer, while not being from America, was so enchanted with Uncle Sam that he kept slipping Americanisms (or as I call them, Twatisms) into his work.

Now, why in the name of all that is glazed in sugar do the Yanks insist on calling a season after the most obvious thing that happens at that time of year? Is it because ‘Autumn’ is too hard for them to understand, learn and spell? Perhaps. Why then don’t they take it further and rename the other seasons?

They could have The Fall, The Sunny Bit. The Snow and… the other one.

Wouldn’t this be simpler for their tiny, rather simplistic minds?

We’ll wait and see if they adopt this new naming convention.

Simon Billington, thickest person in the UK?

Every now and then I received emails from people who have been offended by the website YourCarIsShit.com. They’re usually from thick chav scum who drive crap cars, naturally, and the quality of English in the emails is hilarious.

This latest email is from a moron called Simon Billington. This twat seems to think he’s Westwood, who’s also a huge twat, by coincidence.

I usually just put these emails up on the YourCarIsShit website, but I thought I’d expose this retard here, as I think he has a special sort of problem that can only be cured by laughter, laughter at him accompanied by pointing and sniggering.

Mate, you’re one of life’s losers. When I eventually meet you in person, and I will, could I get a Big Mac, large fries and a coke?

—–Original Message—–
From: Shit Web Page [mailto:simon.billington2@virgin.net]
Sent: 24 June 2008 22:11
To: Daz
Subject: Message about Yourcarisshit.com

Your web page is up-doc m8 nuf sed in-it

word is bond

Best Regards

Mr S S Billington aka(da ofority)

u iz a cuny

Facebook sexism

I just had an email from Facebook (or rather one of the applications on Facebook, the Compare Friends I believe) to tell me which of my single friends were the fittest. How sexist is that!?!

I mean, people voting on who they think is hotter, and grading them in a table for everyone else to see. Absolutely terrible.

So without further ado, here’s the top five, according to their friends on Facebook!

* “Who is hotter”
1. Alexandra Eber (364 points, voted 410 times)
2. Julia Buckley (182 points, voted 304 times)
3. Laura Richardson (87 points, voted 136 times)
4. Anna Chu (59 points, voted 77 times)
5. Helen Keen (71 points, voted 138 times)

Hmm, I have to say I agree with the #1 choice, though they deserve their place in the top five. Well done girls. For those who didn’t make it, better luck on the next email!

Number one on ‘The Google’

Anyone in the SEO industry who’s had to speak to a client who knows nothing about SEO will know it’s much better than speaking to a client who knows a little. This video from YouTube is a classic example, albeit intentional, of a client who knows a little SEO.

He wants to be number one on ‘The Google’.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Anyone actually had clients like this? Betcha have!

Universal Search for Michael Jackson

I wrote an article recently for a media publication on how to optimise for Universal Search within Google. universal Search is relatively new within SEO circles and had been fully utilised by Google of late. When you search for something in Google, and it’s a popular search term with a lot of media, you may get videos, images and news results appear on the front page.

This makes regular SEO much harder, because you’re competing with other factors for first page placement. For example if your website used to rank at #8 on Google for your main keyword, and that keyword now shows results from Universal Search, you’ll be pushed down to the second page.

Ah, the horror!

However, it does open up new opportunities in SEO (as I wrote in the article) as SEOs are now able to optimise for Universal Search specifically, with the use of images, video and even Google News.

An example of this is one of the key phrases I’ve been receiving a lot of traffic for recently, ‘michael jackson thriller costume’. Not very competitive, but with Halloween not that far away it will start bringing in the numbers. Searching for this phrase in Google shows up some images on the front page, with my own personal Thriller jacket there too.

You can see Google’s SERPs for ‘michael jackson thriller costume‘ here.
Michael Jackson

Universal Search is something worth experimenting with if you haven’t already. You can see my original post, the one that ranks in Google’s Universal Search, here.

Friends Reunited is free, does anyone care?

Friends Reunited unveiled yesterday that their website is now completely free. No longer do you need to pay £5 (or whatever it was recently) in order to contact your old school friends. Of course when Facebook launched, and was free, everyone found that using Facebook was much better for contacting friends, old and new.

The entire site is now completely free to use including sending messages!
Stay in touch more with your current friends with your new Friends list
We’ve improved your profile page and made it easier to share photos and videos
You’ve now got your own Timeline to record and share the moments that matter
And did we mention it’s free to send, receive and reply to messages?

Friends Reunited had the userbase, they had the monopoly, but by refusing to change their model they lost everyone to Facebook. Now Friends Reunited stands as one of those failed websites. One of those Internet businesses that has simply been passed by.

Now no one cares about Friends Reunited. If they’d changed their business model years ago and made the site free they could have been the company courted by Microsoft and valued at $16 billion.

But they didn’t. They sat in their ivory tower and watched as their users disappeared across the road into Facebook, and then acted far too late.

So, to the guys at Friends Reunited. Well done on spotting your mistake, should have realised it years ago.