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Monday, 1 Aug 2011 (Only #Miscellany)

With the impending rise in cost of gas and electricity, I'm considering getting solar panels fitted to my house. Doing some research online in my lunch hour I came across the Energy Saving Trust website.

Once there you are offered the opportunity to complete a "Home Energy Check", so I figured I'll have a go. It is a multiple page wizard, taking you through a number of steps asking you about your house.

The first thing that irritated me was that it called me a liar when it told me that my phone number was invalid. Dear reader, my home phone number actually has only 10 digits. Now I appreciate that this is uncommon - UK phone numbers typically have 11 digits. Mine does not. It's an old BT exchange or whatever, but I get 10 digits.

So I add an extra digit at the end, just to get through the validation, even though it will make my phone number incorrect, and carry on. After another few minutes I think I was close to the end of the quiz, and I was presented with a bank wizard page, announcing:-

Sorry, a problem has occurred that has prevented us from processing your information.

If you would like to complete your Home Energy Check over the phone with an advisor or would like to send us an enquiry by email, please refer to the contact us page.

Here's the page:-

I don't at this time wish to complete the Home Energy Check on the phone; that is why I chose to try the online quiz.

And the net result is that I have had my energy wasted after all. This just adds to the impression of amateurish cack-handedness that the eco-friendly movement has historically enjoyed.

Wednesday, 13 Jul 2011 (Only #Miscellany)


I have just sent this inquiry to French Connection UK, via their website's contact form at


I have noticed that your brand is often shortened to the unpronounceable expression, "fcuk". I frequently see these letters on t-shirts and other items of clothing that people are wearing in the high street and about town.

You must surely have noticed, or had it pointed out to you, that these letters are an anagram of the word, "fuck", and indeed, it is quite easy to mis-read the brand name as this ancient English word.

My little children, who are learning to read and write, often switch letters about in words they are trying to pronounce. I am just waiting for the day when my little boy sees a teenager wearing one of these t-shirts and asks me, "Daddy, what does 'fuck' mean?" I have not figured out yet how to reply.

Does any of this bother you?

Yours in bewilderment,

-James Collett.


Bless them - they acknowledged my inquiry promptly:-

Subject: TID 014126 Re: Product question

Thank you for taking the time to contact us.

This acknowledgement is simply to let you know we have received your email. You will receive a response to your enquiry within 24 hours.

Kind Regards,

Customer Services

French Connection
0844 557 3285

I know it was just an autoresponder, but still it's prompt.


And here is the actual reply that came soon afterwards:-

Subject: RE: Fwd by:[] Product question

Dear James,

Thank you for your e-mail.

We would like to thank you for taking the time and effort to contact us regarding your thoughts and comments on this subject.

We would like to offer our apologies if you have been offended in anyway by our advertising campaigns. We would like to inform you that the slogans that are used on our garments are designed to be ‘tongue in cheek’ and are in no way meant to corrupt or destruct any of our customer’s lives.

We can assure you that our designers and buying team do respect our customer’s comments when deciding on new styles for these ranges. Therefore a copy of your letter has been passed onto both departments to be considered in the future decisions that are made.

Please accept our apologies once again for any offence and inconvenience that has been caused to you or those close to you.

Yours sincerely,

Kirren Lyall

Customer Services Manager

French Connection Retail

Saturday, 4 Dec 2010 (Only #Miscellany)

I get a regular trickle of spam comments under posts on this little blog, and I delete them. I just have to record this one item, which arrived today, minus its URL. It reads as follows:-

I'm really dejected of frank of this internet page. I have never seen so fatal articles, absolutely debilitate of outdated!

You couldn't make it up, could you?

Wednesday, 10 Feb 2010 (Only #Miscellany)

Occasionally I run across humorous signature lines in people's forum postings. In the tech forums it's quite common for geeks to add a clever saying or motto to show how much of a greymatter dude they are.

Today I came across one at SQL Server Central that I've seen before, and it goes like this:-

In Theory, theory and practice are the same...In practice, they are not.

This sounds pithy and clever, doesn't it? You know - "In practice they are not." Yeh, very good. But I ain't convinced. Theory and practice are very rarely the same in any discipline - that's pretty well established, isn't it? - so that would make this a bad theory in itself.

So in theory, and in practice, theory and practice are usually not the same.

Umm... I think.

Wednesday, 25 May 2005 (Only #Miscellany)

The chicken or the egg, the firewood or the fire, the investment or the return....

A: "Come out of that ditch! - it's lovely and light up here!"

B: "Would love to - but I have no ladder."

A: "There's a super ladder up here - come get it and you'll never want another ladder again, this one is so great."

B: "Err, but...." Beacon