Archive for June, 2011

NatWest – lost debit card process

Posted in Customer Service on June 21, 2011 by thecognitivekey

The NatWest are currently running a series of adverts showing the service they provide should you lose your debit card. All you have to do is phone them up, pass security and then they will give you a number which will allow you to draw cash from an ATM. I did wonder about this when I saw it for the first time, did I need to register for this or what? I don’t have telephone banking so how would they verify my identity as they have so little information about me. If I lost the card then I’d struggle to remember the card number…and I never remember account numbers, I’d expect some secret question to be in place.

Well I can now share some experiences of the process. My daughter got a text message from the NatWest on Monday to say that the new card she had ordered was on its way. She phoned them to say she hadn’t ordered a new card and then it all came out. Someone had called the NatWest claiming to be my daughter and to have lost her debit card. Following the security check a number was issued and £60 was taken from her account. NatWest have refunded the debit now but they are unwilling to take matters further and report it to the police, nor are they willing to tell where the debit was made, they must know the machine which was used. NatWest Security seem reluctant to help, in fact they are almost obstructive. Once things have been settled my daughter will close her account, she is not happy with the level of security provided by NatWest.

I shall be in the branch later in the week and I shall be telling them that I want this ‘feature’ disabled from my account. I didn’t think it was very secure when I first heard about it, but to have been opted-in automatically without proper security controls is outrageous.

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A New Job

Posted in Work on June 14, 2011 by thecognitivekey

Just last Friday I was in Eastleigh being interviewed for a job as a Systems Administrator with Mott MacDonald. Yesterday I got the call through from the agency running the recruitment to say that I have the job if I want it. I certainly do, it’s a very challenging role and the company is very impressive.

The start date was set as 4th July, tentatively.

I heard from HR this morning and they want me to start 27th June – wow. Just two weeks time. I now have to cancel JobCentre interviews and Outplacement meetings. I just didn’t expect to be placed quite so quickly. It’s just a shade over a week since I left IBM, a week exactly between the agency first contacting me and being offered the post. How is that for speed. There is some paperwork to be sorted out and references to be organised and a week and a bit to get it done.

A brilliant opportunity – hurrah.

Wickham Church Fete

Posted in General on June 11, 2011 by thecognitivekey

It was the church fete today, St Nicholas in Wickham. I’m not a member of the church, I just write the crosswords for their parish magazine, and attend the fete. It’s a good traditional fete, cheap books and records, food and drink, raffles, music and best of all a coconut shy. Music, was live country, jolly good, plus there were Morris dancers – Wickham Morris – they are fun.

A cup of tea and a piece of cake to start. Then off to the coconut shy. Three shies for 50p is a good price. Knock a coconut of and you get a can of coke rather than the traditional coconut – the nuts are in short supply and expensive. No worries, I don’t like coconut and coke is not very nice stuff, I just enjoy the throwing at a target.

The only time I throw anything is at the fete so my arm is out of practise. The first three are way off. A walk round the fete and then another go. Better. I knock one down, one can of coke. A tour of the field then another go. Knock two off, both broken, then with another three shies take down another nut. I have enough coke now so decline the offer, the two broken nuts are now mine though…this is a new rule they have introduced…smash the nut and you can have it.

Another tour of the field then a final fling…another coconut shattered…I am already carrying two do decline the newly broken one.

Not too bad – have knocked off 5 coconuts, three of which were smashed. Excellent day’s throwing.

This year it was a bit harder than last year. I am a year older and I must admit that there were a couple of very wayward throws, something I have never done before. The distance we had to throw was much greater than previous years. I did question this…apparently the chap Mark (I think I have remembered his name) who organises the shy measured the distance at a funfair shy and adopted that distance for the church fete shy… it was 12 paces. It took a little getting used to.

Mark has been running the shy for the four years I have been going, probably much longer…and he remembers me from the very first year. I think I am probably the oldest thrower…the trouble is that he tells everyone which is a bit embarrassing when shots go badly awry. ‘You are a legend round here’ he says, haha, hmm I think not. It has something to do with my throwing action apparently – and the power of my throw. Anyway he shakes my hand, he runs an excellent shy and I am happy just to throw at the targets, no prizes necessary, though there is a certain kudos in leaving with two smashed coconuts. I shall have to get a bit of practice in before next year’s fete, those wayward shots are bothering me.

The Morris Men were great as usual. It’s a temptation to join, but I think there would be a conflict with the Hospital Radio, plus I have no aptitude for dance, light on ones feet is not a description that has ever been applied to me.

Roll on next year’s fete…

Job Interview #1

Posted in Work on June 11, 2011 by thecognitivekey

Yesterday I had my first job interview since leaving IBM. The post was a System Administrator with Mott MacDonald, based in Eastleigh. Mott MacDonald are an interesting company, a lot of civil engineering in there alongside consultancy services. They are a big company too…in 150 countries. It’s been a few years since my last interview so I wasn’t sure what to expect but things weren’t as bad as I feared. Interesting questions, some of which I could answer, a challenging post, but I get the feeling I haven’t done enough. Oh well.

Redundancy Part 3

Posted in Work on June 3, 2011 by thecognitivekey

Today was my last working day at IBM. I have been paid up to the 5th but they aren’t expecting me to go in this weekend. My P45 arrived yesterday so they obviously weren’t expecting to pay more overtime.

Not the easiest of days to survive. Far more emotional than I expected. Lots of people I didn’t shake hands with or say farewell to…I don’t think I’d have survived, all I wanted was to get away.

The enormity of the thing is starting to hit home. I have been sending my CV out for a while but with little reaction. Maybe they want younger people. Early days I know but the early signs are not encouraging. Stay positive is the catchphrase. I am looking for work in testing or payroll. I have been a tester for many years, and payroll is such a fun area to work…all maths and processes, brilliant. To find something that combines the two would be heaven.

Other than that I wouldn’t mind doing radio work or even voice-overs, but I think those depend very much on who you know, I don’t know anyone in either area. Oh well. It’ll have to be traditional type work.

Interestingly a lot of people said we’ll see you next week back here as a contractor. It doesn’t work like that any more. If indeed it ever did. The latest rule is that if you take redundancy then you cannot return (unless in a managed service) until the time that the redundancy payments cover has elapsed. So I guess that will be around a year. Further, there is a restriction on how long you can work for the company as what they call a consultant. A consultant is far as I can see is a self-employed contractor. They are restricted to one year’s work. A contractor working through a company like Manpower, or maybe even an umbrella company, where you pay PAYE would appear to be allowed an unlimited time on return. Of course Manpower pay far less than the traditional contractor gets. It’s the future…and you heard it here first.