Local areas now dependent on supermarket donations?

How have we got here?

Example: A local park, mostly looked after by volunteers, "wins" £2000 funding from tesco. Hurray shout local residents.

Think about this.
First of all, that £2000 comes from tesco profits - coincidence that at the time of posting they are laying off 500 staff and closing their tesco direct due to not being profitable.
Next, the £2000 isn't free money that tesco have sloshing around their bank account, it comes from profits, not overall sales, but profits. That's profit from the products they sell from their local council bias, planning permission stores, that have closed down many genuine local businesses and been detrimental to local markets in many cases.
This profit comes from the pockets of the very same local people cheering about how good it is that tesco have "donated" or "given" £2000 to a local project.

Next consider this... YOUR local council tax stands at record levels, when was the last time you saw a reduction in council tax?
If your area is like mine, I cannot remember the last reduction.
This same council tax cost, covers parks and gardens, maintenance and upkeep, etc.
So I'm paying record amounts for services locally, yet the very same parks and gardens are dependent upon tesco's scheme of "donating" money?
Why are so many volunteers tending to parks and gardens in my area? Why not council staff that take wages from our ever increasing council tax?

I don't see how this set up can be considered beneficial to the parks and gardens and my family who use them.

My council tax keeps increasing.
Any purchases made at tesco, are over priced. (If they can afford to "donate" £2000 a time, then I doubt they are "running on tight profit margins").
Any profits from tesco are given to shareholders with no connection in my area, meaning money earned is spent elsewhere (as opposed to local shops profits being respent within my area, increasing commerce for where I live)
Tesco playing the "local" card, when in fact a proportion of their £2000 donation will be written off their tax bill, meaning even less for UK services, like health, education, housing, roads, police, fire, etc. The list goes on.
Tesco's very position locally, means that fewer businesses will survive, bring less business rate funds into our local council, meaning yet more tax increases and less money for local services, to cover the shortfall.
Tesco get free publicity out of it.

We, the local people, get £2000 spent on a park or garden, that we already pay for.

How we came to be in this sorry state, needs explaining, by those in power.

Frugal blog: Surprise bill

After a buzzing Monday, one of those where loads of little jobs get done, Tuesday (today) has been a day of starting fast and steadily getting more tired, something I do a lot these days. I run out of energy much quicker, tiredness plays a part, until eventually I land home at around 5pm and I'm zonked.

I've tried eating more fruit and veg through the day, tried extra couple of hours of kip, but nothing really improves.

The focus' washer pump has gone, in days gone by it would lead to a trip to the scrappers and a couple of quid, a quick lift of the bonnet and a simple replace job, connect the pipes up and away we go again, good as new.
In todays' "easier" world, it will now involve a ten quid outlay, two day wait for the shop to get it in and, I'm reliably informed from various ford focus forums, jacking the car up, removing the passenger side wheel, removing the wheel arch cover, then the windscreen water bottle. I'm told that the pump is located underneath this and can be changed via a bolt running through the top of the little water tank.
"Easier world" car work results in a 2 hour fiddly job, whereas a previous world job, was 15 minutes of messing with little that could go wrong.
Pound to a penny, when I remove the wheel arch cover, one of the screw heads will ping off or I'll need a special tool, etc.

There's nowt on the box again tonight, so I'll try and get an early night after reading a few pages of my latest book, "Working for victory" which is a diary of two women during the second world war, working in a tool makers factory.
54 hours per week they did on various shifts, to help the war effort, learning a new trade and having only one week per year off and one day off a week. Todays world wouldn't be able to stomach the workload, conditions or lack of holidays, that includes me.

The dog has started chewing my cheapo picket fence panels, put up in a useless attempt to stop her sitting in my strawberry beds!
On the subject of strawberry plants, could not believe my eyes when I saw B and Q (that bastion of do-it-yourself knowledge... not) were selling strawberry plants for £6 each!
If you want to save yourself some cash, speak to an allotment owner or gardener, they'll give you some for free. Starwberry plants should be moved in your garden beds every three years, you can also thin them out once they've flowered and they will sprout new plants out, once established, cut the sprouting stem off from the baby plant, hey presto, more strawberry plants.

Frugal blog: A typical Sunday

A slow start, finally got a decent nights' kip.
Managed to fix a new copper tap on to the outside water tank (to collect rainwater for the garden) using the old one I'd replaced on our out door tap front, the tank is an old loft water/central heating tank we had taken out when the new boiler was fitted.
I can add comfy leaves again to the water in there, but with no rain for over a week now, levels were running low due to watering in the strawberries everyday. (They are in rain guttering fixed to to the fence, part of my upward growing effort due to lack of space and a dog that eats everything, when it's at ground level.)

The dog hasn't yet eaten the fruit trees I planted last year at corner points in the garden (to take water out of the lawn and killed most of the clover/weeds) it did eat them last year, the stumps are sprouting leaves again.

Pressure cooker threw up a top tea of steak, onions and gravy, with buttered mash and carrots, life saver. H was able to sun herself in the garden for a bit before sitting with Mum tonight.
Only one more week until I have to get the compost/manure for the no dig front garden, lifting the old carpet I put down is going to be a job and a half, but it will be worth it if we get some veg out of it.
Enjoying a quiet night, with no hassles now sprog2 is in bed, flat out, must be doing something right...

Protect your data online - Tips

Our personal information is being gathered at an alarming pace, in everything that we do, everyday.
Protections exist, we are always told, regulations prevent businesses and their third party businesses are there to "Hold business to account," a whole host of small print and exclusions, buried in reams of "Terms and conditions" can be read on their websites.

I don't care about any of it, one jot. The only person whom is going to protect my information, is me!

Here are some tips for you, that I use. (Right or wrong, misguided or not):

BOOKFACE:

  • Never wish anyone a happy birthday.
    I value all my friends/family's privacy, why would I pass their date of birth on to a private company and it's third party associates?
    My timeline is full of children's birthdays... all being collected by the platform business. Why would I protect my own date of birth, then hand over the date of birth for my children?
    It's a process, so that in the future the platform won't need to go hunting for it, they already have it on file. (Besides which, children are not permitted to have facebook accounts, yet their personal information is being gathered from an early age, via their family's accounts.)
  • Never reply to a "Do you remember..." post.
    Have you seen the switching website business adverts, that show Skeletor and He-Man dancing, etc?
    They are appealing to a demographic, an age group born at a certain time, falling in an age bracket.
    Same applies with posts.
    I like/comment on them, puts me in a demographic, along with those in my friends list.
  • Tagging in photos.
    No thanks. Facial recognition is being used by most businesses nowadays, via their "security" cameras in branches.
    Greggs uses it, yes Greggs!
    I went in with sprog2 to pick up my Mum a doughnut, looked up at the security screen and red squares were around both of our faces. Asked the staff to turn it off, they didn't have a clue, "I just serve at the counter!"
  • Profile pictures - No.
    Big NO from me.
  • Open a new browser before logging in to any other website.
    As I move from bookface, to another website, many websites track which website you go to. Bookface goes a bit further and I have proof!
    If I open a web browser and look at my timeline on bookface, then click on my address bar and say, visit the twotty website, you'd think that would be it?
    All bookface would see is the website that I've gone to right? Wrong!
    A few times now, I've had my speakers on in the background as I surf the web, I've gone from bookface to twotty, yet whilst browsing twotty, the ping noise (of a new post to my timeline on bookface) has sounded.
    I go back to bookface and there is indeed a new post to my timeline!
    How could this be? I'm not logged in to bookface, I'm not on their webpages, etc.
    Yet whilst browsing their so-called rival, twotty, I still get their new post ping?
    I asked both twotty and bookface why this is the case... guess what?
    None of them will ever reply.
    So now, I always close bookface in the browser and open a new browser window before visiting another website.
    (Frugalways does not track which websites you come from/go to, if you honour us with your time and website visit. I am neither interested nor want to know your choice of browsing)

CONFIRMING DATA PROTECTION:

We've all had it happen to us, "For data protection can you confirm your date of birth?"
Unless it's a government department (ie. tax office) or a NHS department, not a single business has a right to ask my date of birth, hold my date of birth on file, etc.

When asked where the business obtained my date of birth from, not one single business can provide me with a straight and open answer as to why they have it on file.
It is none of their business!

SMART TECHNOLOGY:

Have a smart TV?
NEVER connect it to your internet. It can collect as much information about my household as it wants, but I will never let it publish that information, via my own i.p. address, back to the business/manufacturer.
There's a reason that none smart TVs will not play certain file types via their almost useless USB sockets. So you buy a smart TV!
The smart TV then claims you can view tubeyou, filxnet, etc, via your equipment, as well as playing basic MP4 files (for music, TV and videos) via the USB sockets.
Smart TVs also collect your data.
They can listen in on conversations, using algorythms, then target advertisements (so they say) to your needs (how considerate of them).
What data are they sending back to businesses/manufacturers?
Numerous examples of smart TVs having their "reporting back" function being turned off, only to discover (via their internet connection scans) that it continues to send back information, therefore deceiving the user into believing that they have control over the smart TV, when in fact, they do not.
Many of the "web browser" features listed with TVs are not actually full browsers at all.
I tested a sony blueray player's claims and found that the browser on the blueray play returns different (and fewer) results on internet searches, than my borwser on my PC.

There's a reason why business/manufacturers don't like people using PCs and prefer people to buy smart devices... PCs can be scanned to check for things, most smart devices cannot. (Not just for the obvious profits from selling and updating smart devices either!)
Exactly the same applies to smartphones, smart meters, smart appliances, etc.

CASH MACHINES and CREDIT/DEBIT CARDS:

It has become almost unavoidable (even by a saddo like me) to avoid all use of supermarkets.

These businesses are perhaps the biggest users of our personal data out of all of them.
One such supermarket, runs an "income tracker" and quotes the findings of it to the industry (and which other businesses I wonder?).
I have asked this supermarket a few times, where exactly do they obtain the data for their "income tracker" to report each month?
They have yet to provide a single answer to any of my questions.

  • Do supermarkets have some access to our bank accounts when a customer pays by debit card?
  • Are supermarkets collecting our data when we use their cash machines to withdraw money? (Even more apparent lately, with the news reports of many cash machines to close down)
  • Are supermarkets collaborating with credit card companies to obtain our data?
  • Or are supermarkets using algorthyms that are wildly off and simply guessing/pigeon holing most of our data, then selling it on for profit? (Read misleading).

Whatever the methods used, whenever I'm forced to use a supermarket, I pay by cash. I refuse to contribute to supermarket's gaining any information, as regards which company I bank with, account details, etc.
I even mix up the times I visit, sometimes early doors, sometimes late at night, sometimes not for weeks at a time.

I will be adding to this post as I come across more instances of big data collection, etc.
Are there any instances of big data collection that you've come across that I have not mentioned?

Car insurance companies delaying claims for profit

Insurance companies are deliberately delaying no-fault claims to increase profits.

When you have a bump and the third party do not reply, the renewal process takes any "outstanding" claims as justification to increase premiums.

Our car was parked up in a car park.
A huge wagon, working on filling in holes for united utilities drove down the narrow car park to fill in a hole.
So big was it, it was unable to drive back out, so had to reverse.
As it did so, it swung around the corner it had come in through and hit our car and drove off without stopping.

In the process, writing our car off.

I obtained the united utilities job number/reference number and reported it to them and our insurance company, Axa.

A simple job for the insurance company axa, contact united utilities, quote job/reference number, obtain 3rd party details of wagon working on behalf of united utilities.

It's been over a year and a half and still axa have not been able to obtain this information (so they tell us).

Axa's so called legal team have asked four times over the past 18 months for us to provide details, we have, they say nothing for months then ask the same questions again.
We have gone so far as to provide points of contact at united utilities for axa - still no progress.
We have provided a copy of the united utilities job sheet four times - still no progress.
The legal advisor "dealing" with the case has been removed and a new advisor put in place - still no progress.

Axa's legal team (DAC Beachcroft) then sent us an email telling us they were taking united utilities to court, forms to sign would be sent out in the post, that was over a month ago, we are still waiting for them.
We have emailed axa's legal advisors for the forms, again no reply, nothing has been sent out.

Delay, ignorance, lack of effort, failures to adhere to basic standards and failure to respond to their own timescales and correspondence.
Why have our insurance company axa took so little action?

The answer lies with the renewal process.
We pay monthly for our car insurance, when renewal comes up, the case is still outstanding, so is used to remove 14 years no claims bonus and "deem you a risk" - which in basic English means, the monthly insurance premiums triple in price.
As the saying goes, follow the money!

The customer is left hanging, paying out more money, the insurance company (axa in this case) makes more profit, the customer loses their no claims bonus so can't go elsewhere.

We recently had another no fault claim, when a driver pulled out on us, axa emailed to say "we have still not had any response from Esure (the other insurance company)" and so the familiar lack of action begins all over again, just in time for our next insurance renewal...