Thursday, July 19, 2007

Random thoughts

Cambridge is full of loud, Spanish teenagers who are here ostensibly to learn English but actually to behave like a bunch of loud Spanish teenagers. They go around in large, loud groups, block roads and fast food shops and tills at corner stores. They are annoying.

To balance things out, England sends loud, drunken groups of lads and ladettes out to southern Spain, not to learn Spanish but just to behave like loud, drunken groups of Brits. On second thought, England is getting the better end of this deal. Much better.


Yesterday BBC admitted having cheated in a number of phone-in competitions. Some of the winners were actually members of production teams rather than members of public. According to BBC, this was unforgivable and so they spent about half of their main newscast and a big chunk of the following Newsnight apologising to people. They also said that the credibility of the company was at stake and public trust to BBC had been damaged, and they also revealed that they were planning to put their staff on training, where they were going to be taught that telling lies isn't nice.

This is of course a shock to all of us who measure the credibility of a broadcasting company and news provider by the way they run their phone-ins. I am so thankful that they went over these breaches of public trust case by case, and didn't bother us with too many details about the plane crash in Sao Paolo killing 190 people or the Berezovski murder attempt or some of the really blah blah -issues like war in Iraq or Afghanistan. Or the floods. A proportional response. Very responsible, BBC, well done.


There are cross-cultural differences in business. One of them is that the contract for the lease of my new flat in Finland fits well in one A4 page. Well, actually the signatures are on page 2, but that's because it's all relatively large print and spaciously laid out. The contract we had here, for a flat half the size and double the price was about 10 pages of fine print. Item 5.6.3 (or something) of the contract (that has been carefully drafted by a bunch of idiots who call themselves a letting agency), reads that in case the curtains and blinds are not so dirty after the tenancy that they'd need washing, the tenants can still be charged for the curtains to be washed sometime in the future. So, you pay to get them washed now if they are dirty, and you pay to get them washed later if they are clean.

The tenants pay through the nose for all kinds of great services that these leeches have dreamed up, none of which are necessary, none of which are even welcome. Paying more than 100 pounds to get some dodgy agency check your credit rating is a superfluous service, as they also required us to have a deposit, and guarantors, after disqualifying my income as proper income, because it was "European". So, they are already three times guaranteed to get their rent money, so these checks only benefit the credit check agency, and these leeches who probably get a cut of the business they put their way. I, as a tenant, can not commission these checks myself, from an independent agency, perhaps at a more reasonable rate, instead I have to pay premium for the agency that is actually owned by the same company that owns the company that operates the cloud of companies of which this letting agency is one.

We also paid 45 pounds to have a fat lady come over and count our forks and furniture and comment about stains in the cooker plates. On their website they advertise for a free inventory, but I think we used ours already when we moved in. Another company from this cloud of leeches has been trying to sell us home insurance. We had already sent them copies of our current policy in the beginning of the tenancy, but this didn't stop them from sending a letter saying "our records show you don't have a policy. We will call you to offer blah blah...". I did check their offer, though, of course. It covered much less than the policy we have, and up to about half the value. And it cost, I am not kidding, TEN times more than our policy. Admittedly the one we have is cheap because the whole family is insured by the same company and there are discounts for doing that, but it is still much higher than any quotes you'd get here in Britain.

In the moving out forms they had provided three lines to give comments about their service. I was very tempted to write "What service?" As during the whole tenancy they have been totally incompetent, unhelpful, unresponsive, slow to react, and seemingly only interested in touting these auxiliary and overpriced services.

Well, hopefully, Accent Property never again...

(Pic: random phases from

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