Parenting, profundities and humour

The Great Sofa Delivery Scam — August 11, 2015

The Great Sofa Delivery Scam


We have been waiting for our new sofa for weeks…. It feels like decades…maybe eons.

Our new lounge is not currently in use as we have no seating in it.

Soon Middlest is having a sleepover party for his birthday. In order to escape 5 ten year olds- who will no doubt commandeer the TV for Wii playing and DVDs- we would really like our new sofa. So we can retire to our parlour…like large spiders.

Imagine my delight, then, when last week I got a phone call from the shop we ordered from advising that the sofa was in their warehouse and asking me to call to arrange delivery. Well actually they wanted my husband to call to arrange delivery as for some strange reason when we ordered in the shop his name went on the documentation. Some lingering sexist misogyny on the part of the sales person, no doubt.

Anyway they had my phone number and my e mail address because clearly it was I who was going to have to wait in for one of the 7 hour time slots on offer- being as husband works outside the home. So the lady had called my phone number.

I was away at the time but called her back as I had another delivery due from the same store and wanted to try to amalgamate them. Of course this was not possible. The van was already full. So I arranged a different day whilst trying to recall the contents of my diary – which is in calendar form on my kitchen wall and so not accessible from my hotel room in Bristol.

Of course I got back home and realised the date I had booked was not going to work.

So I called back today to move the date.

I spoke to a nice lady. But she was insistent that my husband needed to ring as his name was on the order. Quite often in these situations I give up. And wait five days for my husband to have enough time to call. And then hope he gets the day right.  By which point the delivery date I wanted has filled up with speedier customers.

But today I wasn’t going to stand for it. I have reached the end of my ‘pointless security measures’ tether.

I asked her why she needed to speak to my husband as I was present at the ordering of the sofa. She just re-iterated that as his name was on the order she could only speak to him.

I asked her if the van men would refuse to deliver the sofa to me if my husband was not actually present because he was unable to wait in for the required 7 hours. No they would deliver to me, even though I was ‘not on the order’.

I asked her what possible risk she could possibly be taking in changing a delivery date on a sofa. She wasn’t sure. I assured her that had we wanted to change the delivery address then I would have asked my husband to call (or a man who sounded like, well a man, as she has no idea what my husband sounds like) to confirm as clearly I could see an actual risk in this.

She went away. To presumably take advice from someone higher up.

Whilst waiting I tried to imagine the risks myself. I guess she might be subject to an irate phone call from my husband who was mightily upset that his wife had unilaterally decided to wait in for a sofa for 7 hours on a different date convenient to her.

Or maybe they have experienced pure malice from wives who have deliberately changed delivery dates to scupper World Cup football parties/ Eurovision parties and the like.

Or maybe there really are gangs of badduns out there who steal sofa order details from innocent members of the public, call up pretending to be their wives. And change the date. For kicks? Maybe I am being harsh. Let me think again. I guess a real criminal mastermind could stake out the house, find a seven hour time slot when no householders are ever present, change the delivery time to that slot, pretend to have locked themselves out and persuade the delivery men to put the sofa in a white van. And make off with it. I am sure there are better ways to make a criminal name for yourself.

But really I failed to see any actual concrete risk.

When she came back (you may have gathered it took a while) she too had failed to find a risk, certainly not one worth the bother of turning down Ms Stroppy Cow Customer. She asked me to confirm what the order was for and when I could provide this information in detail (as I WAS THERE WHEN WE ORDERDED) she agreed to change the date.

Sense prevailed.

But I had to get arsey. Which really isn’t me. Well not in person. That’s what this blog is for…

Open Sesame — May 29, 2015

Open Sesame


I have recently moved house…I know, I know, I have mentioned it before.

We are now in our new abode  and aside from risking life and limb every day shuffling around rooms piled higher with boxes than any self respecting health and safety officer would agree was safe and loosing sleep through lack of curtainage things are getting more settled.

So today I decided to start tackling the ‘change of address’ process.

Originally I was going to do this in a reactive way having paid more than a small fortune to the Post Office to redirect my mail. It’s at times like these that I regret not using my married name as the process has cost me twice as much due to the fact that good old Royal Mail charge per surname as well as per address. Money for old rope… And don’t get me started on the burning hoops of fire I had to jump through in order to set this highly extortionate process in motion. I wouldn’t mind so much but we have literally moved around the corner. And I am on first name terms with my postman…and actually my buyers…but, hey, I am British and therefore hate to put anyone out.

Then I got to thinking about it and decided a reactive process might just draw out the inevitable pain too long. So I changed to proactive mode. And started logging on to various web sites.

I am going to let you in to a little secret. My memory is not that great. It might be my age or just they way I am made but I forget things. I may have told you this before, apologies.

When the Internet banking/ shopping/ membership management/ forum revolution started in earnest it quickly became apparent to me that I was not going to be able to retain all the information required by these sites to gain access to their wonders.

I can remember my bank card PIN, and make sure all my cards have the same number so it is fool proof…In fact if anyone cracks my bank PIN they will also be able to steal my bike from it’s combination bicycle lock, access the numerous mindless games downloaded by my kids onto my I pad and deactivate the house burglar alarm, that we never use. And good luck with Crossy Road…which as far as I can see is Frogger with different animals (capybara anyone?).

Those of you with a security bent are no doubt horrified by this laxness but as the PIN is truly random (given to me with my first ever card by some Bank or other, probably Lloyds, Sheffield University branch) and does not relate in anyway to birthdays or some such nonsense it is relatively safe. Except my kids now know it…and I have to prevent them shouting it out in unfortunate places, for instance when they are withdrawing money for me from an ATM… In my defence I need to teach them how to survive in the modern world, and anyway they still have wonder that money appears for free from the wall…

It soon became apparent that this simple (yet actually quite difficult to break) code was not going to suffice for these new fangled internet sites.

It started with banking. Along with a lot of people, I imagine, I search diligently every new tax year for a relatively decent interest paying ISA account in which to stick some funds, should we have any spare. Of course the ones I already have are never the best ones going forward and as I am too lazy to move the old money out of the old ISAs (to be honest it just seems soooo complicated) I have built up quite a collection of banks and building societies and airlines….

Of course the best rates are always on line. And anyway the on line financial institutiton doesn’t know I am not my husband. So I can manage all his money too. He trusts me. Evil cackle…

That doubles the number of accounts. And the number of passwords. And the number of user names. And the number of ‘memorable questions’. And the number of card readers. And the number of random number grids.

Over the years the Financial Institutions have upped their security game, some key stroke capture avoidance or something.  In fact my most secure account (I think it may have around £200 in) has a randomly generated User Number, needs my date of birth, a card and card reader and a PIN which is unchangeable and not the same as my ‘normal’ PIN. The letters that arrived, separately, containing all this information asked me to memorize the numbers and store the card away from the reader. I laughed, heartily, and stuffed all the correspondence in the padded card reader envelope in my drawer. I didn’t write down my DOB as I can manage that (and my husband’s) but any one who is savvy enough could find it on Facebook and steal my money if they raided my man drawer. Frankly if they can navigate the security system they would have earned that £200.

You can imagine the process I needed to go through to change my address with these people. Which they never use, as it is an a on line account with paperless statements. I think they have now changed it. I got a normal email telling me there was a secure e mail waiting for me on their secure system, and I have yet to find the energy to re log in.

At yet another institution I was asked to change my password for a more secure version. Apparently my original password did not have the right combination of upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers and random punctuation, nor was it long enough. I defy anyone to remember such a password.

And then there are the memorable questions. My main bank uses these to identify me on the phone. Every …single….time…I ring up I am offered another form to fill in with my answers to these ‘memorable questions’  as some of the answers are clearly not that easy to remember. If you are me…  First house….god knows what I answered to that. I have lived in 18 houses over my life time. I never get it right…

But it’s not just banks. It is all the shops, memberships of charitable organisations, the cinema, Facebook and other essential social media sites, my supermarket, this blog host, my BT (ARGHHHH) account, paperless utility bills, the TV licence and on and on and on…

I have a file full of post it notes on which I jot, as I join any new web sites, the user name and password.

So I am a security risk. If I ever get burgled my life will be quite literally open for all to see. My only saving grace is that I never store my bank card details on any web site. You see I have no problem remembering numbers (in four digit parts) its just all those pesky words…and difficult questions.

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