Not surprising

One of my previous employers. Insight Fundraising, has gone into liquidation.

I can’t say I’m surprised. The place was one of the most poorly run I have ever worked at. It seemed promising to start with and appealed to me as they were raising money for charities. It would be a nice change from the selfish world of b2b publishing. And I wanted to work.

I’m not one for going on about “I’ve worked all my life” like some do, but I don’t like sitting at home doing nothing. Perhaps thats why, until I got my current job, I seem to have been taken advantage of by a succession of idiots. That is my responsibility, but back to Insight.

To start with, the call centre was run by an amazingly patronising woman and as ever with these cases, she had her little clique of favourites. The ops director walked out within six months of me joining & she was sacked not long after and replaced by a grinning bufoon who could not even do the job on the phones. He too had his little clique of favourites.

It was a constant battle to try & get decent pay out of them, staff turnover was horrendous, the average tenure being three months. The salaried staff were well paid whilst the real moneymakers were treated like cattle.

The offices were not fit to keep pigs in but I had bills to pay, I stuck at it. I wound up losing my voice for six months because they never bothered to keep their aircon clean, when they turned it one Heaven only know what germs were in there.

They went through twenty supervisors in a year!

Fraudulent selling was rife, & only addressed when complaints were rarely made. There were rumours that the company had been doing this on some contracts & a big scandal when someone did this on the Breast Cancer campaign. Otherwise if you got the cash in they didn’t care.

The owner is a doddery old fart who would totter out of his office occassionally, didnt know any of his call centre workers at all. I remember once seeing him shuffling around the gents with his trousers round his knees, looking for loo roll.

Their idea of a Christmas bonus for people bringing the money in was to pay 10p an hour extra, but you only got that if you worked all your hours. One day sickness & you got nothing.

And when they had staff parties they would make you sign a document saying that , if for any reason you didnt go, the company could dock your wages for the food they bought for you.

In the end, we parted company on “performance” grounds after a frankly ridiculous accusation was made to me. This was after a prolonged spell of ill heal caused by the work environment. I was glad to get away from them. Couple of false starts since then but I do seem to have found something I am very good at now, heres hoping it continues to go well.

I do feel for the staff who have lost their jobs; but the incompetents who brought the company to it’s knees ought to be banned from running any other company .

 

It’s flu.

Well after a week of feeling like death warmed over, and theorising what I could be suffering from (laryngitis, cold, noro virus) I rang the NHS helpline. I have, they tell me, all the symptoms of the flu. The good thing is, that having had it for five days I should be back to normal (whatever that may mean) by Monday.

DWP have finally got their act together which means that six weeks after my last illness I should get some sick pay. It will mean I am short of money for March and some plans I had will have to be put on hold, but at least it gives me an idea of how much longer I have to spend off work.

DWP inefficiency

Good old DWP. Still processing my claim for ESA for when I was off sick last time. They asked me if I was claiming again for this time round. Seemed pissed off when I said no, paid in since 1979 and they’ve made it hard enough to get what I’m entitled to as it is.

Just to put it in perspective, they lost the claim, they found it, they were supposed to write to me three times for further details & never sent the letters & today they rang me with the original form in front of them & asked me about the dates which were already on there.

This following a call yesterday when I had to ring back twice to speak to an advisor because the first one hung up on me without even speaking!

This is why I would never, ever reccommend anyone to go self employed, even briefly. There are too many hoops to jump through just to get your own money back if you are sick. I will be honest, Anglian Home Improvements have been very understanding whilst I’ve been ill, & Quattro, the agency I was employed through, is putting me on PAYE as a placed employee from next week. But if they hadn’t I would have cut my losses & walked away from the job.

It was living to work, not working to live.

Anonymity

A case of rape that wasn’t recently caught my eye. The gist is that an elderly actress alleged that she was assaulted in a tube station. Her supposed attacker was named in public . The CCTV footage showed that nothing happened but the case went to court & was thrown out by the jury. Yet the actress has not been officially named & nor has she been charged for wasting police time.

She has been named by various websites. I shan’t name her here. I’d never even heard of her until this case came up. She strikes me as a dangerous fantasist.

Since Savile’s sickening catalogue of depravity came to light, it has also shone a light of the more unjust side of such cases too. Harris, Hall, King ,Clifford and Glitter were all proven guilty of sex offences. Starr, Davidson & Gambaccini were all dismissed from similar allegations. Yet all were named. How is this fair? None of the false accusers were named, we seem to be following the disgusting legacy of the delators from the reign of the Emperor Tiberius, names being dragged through the mud in public & used to sell copies of the tabloids.

The time has come for a little common sense & basic decency. Whilst those guilty of sex crimes should pay the maximum penalty allowable by British law, until those crimes have been assessed by a jury of twelve good people the accused should be allowed the presumption of innocence rather than being trialled by tabloid. I am sure that there are, no doubt, those already named in the press that are guilty of such disgusting acts. But until they are proven guilty then they should be granted the right to anonymity. When guilt is proven then let  them face the public with all the consequences that entails.

And if the accusation is proven to be false, then let their accusers do the same.

Ill

I gave up the original incarnation of this blog last year. No time to write, nothing inspired me to write and too much to do in other areas. In my three week period of unemployment, after parting company with that idiot at Portal Voice & Data I started this one, but again time got in the way. Too much to do & no time to spare for random rants.

My health has not been good this winter though. I’ve been coping with stress , Julian had his heart scare, Mark has had mental health issues & I was flat out in my new job. As a result of not making time for myself I’ve had two nasty spells of poor health; nothing as bad as they have but enough to debilitate me for a month all told .

My new bosses are being very good about it all, but I seem to be prey for every bug going right now. Funny, when I drank red wine I was never ill, since I stopped I am laid up for at least a month every winter. Am I missing the beneficial effects of a daily glass of vino or is it just age (I am only 53 though!)

I excercise regularly, a brisk walk to & from work when I am there. Perhaps I need a little extra boost, which I why I am debating taking a supplement. I put myself on ginseng a few years ago for a while which seemed to help. Perhaps that again, or those vitamins they are always promoting for the older male….

Or perhaps I just need a short holiday. Who knows?

Luvvie Darling

VizAAA

Luvvie Darling is a character in Viz!, a ham actor who thinks he is more talented than he actually is. We have just such a character locally, I shall not name him but people in Cromer will know who he is. He’s a failed actor past his prime who makes interminably boring films on subjects that no one cares about.

He’s also a member of the local “gentry” and as far as I know has never actually done any real work. Now for some reason, possibly because I am, despite reputation, basically a polite person, he insists on regaling me with boring stories about his life in the “profession”.

At one point last week, he informed me that he was going back to acting as he felt “the call” and informed me that, in spite of the fact that he was past seventy, he felt he could play younger roles. In my view he looks every year of his age & so I tactfully suggested that he would be good for character roles.

“Oh no” quoth he “I could play roles half my age!”. Personally I doubt the veracity of that statement but when he continued in the same vein I thought I’d have a little fun. He asked me if I’d seen him in “The Wrong Box” which is one of my favourite films. Apparently he played a bugler (he only seems to get non speaking parts) and although I knew he was in this film I cannot recall seeing him in it.

“You must have been made up well” I replied “I didn’t recognise you in it at all!” . Taking this as a compliment, he continued in like vein, talking about his role (again  silent) about his role as a medical student. Now I have seen him in this, he appears briefly in a scene with Dirk Bogarde where someone falls into a bath & Luvvie is seen gesturing for her to get out.

“What did you think of my performance? ” he enquired.

“You have a very expressive wave” I replied in a spirit of gentle mockery. But this did not register with him. He even offered me a signed photo of the scene, but I declined saying that it would need  to be displayed in a prominent position to do it justice & I had no place to do so.

In a way, although I do not admire his opinion of himself, I do admire his persistence. His heyday, if ever he had one, is long past, but he remains , like Mr Micawber, hopeful that something will turn up.

So Luvvie Darling of Cromer, I wish you good luck!

What a difference a month makes!

My last boss used the excuse that I had to be micromanaged by him to get results, making appointments for sales reps. He said it stopped him getting his own job done. I said it was because their staff training was poor, but they went with his view.

A month on, I have a new job, proper training on the products, results are coming through and I’m being left to get on with it, advice when I need it but otherwise left to develop my own style.

Funny what a difference proper training makes; hopefully his manager will now realise that he cant do his own job & was using me as an excuse! I suppose it’s what you get when you employ a manager wth an ego from HArrods & a brain from Poundland.

I have to say it sums up the whole ethos at my last job. The sales rep I was originally booking for couldnt use the computer, didn’t keep us up to date on what he’d done & never followed up on any of the calls he made, leaving that to the people making the appointments. In addition, he would only make calls on certain days, which restricted what you could offer the customer. The sales manager was the same, although to be fair she did follow up her appointments herself. But it was almost like they were doing the customers a favour rather than looking for business.

The MD would shamble around the office whenever it suited him, making ambiguous statements and generally disrupting work whilst waiting for his next bad idea to come along .

It’s a shame, it seemed like a good place but it’s not well run in my view. If your face fitted fine, but I felt mine didnt. Still, lets keep going forwards.

Farting in a winter Chunderland!

An old favourite from Viz

In the lane, snow is falling,
and my butt smells appalling:
It’s Christmas again, and I can’t refrain,
from farting in a winter chunderland…

On my plate, is a plum-duff
that will brew up a bum-guff;
With twiglets & nuts rotting my guts,
I’m farting in a winter chunderland.

The family watch a Bond film on the telly,
gathered all around the Yuletide log;
Suddenly, the air is rather smelly,
but luckily, they think it is the dog!

I’ll go out, carol-singing,
though my ring will be minging;
They get such a fright when I pump “Silent Night,”
Farting in a winter chunderland.

Then next door, at the vicar’s,
I blow off in my knickers;
He’s praying for air, but I just don’t care,
Farting in a winter chunderland.

The neighbours build a snowman in the garden,
the biggest and the best one in the town;
Then, without a please or beg-your pardon,
I point my arse at him and fart him down!

Later on, I’ll see Santa,
after 12 cans of Fanta;
Blow the beard off his face, it’s such a disgrace,
Farting in a winter chunderland.

In the street, the Sally Army brass band
are raising cash for old folks and the poor;
I join in with a blast of stinky gas and
they’re falling down like flies upon the floor!

Walking home through the snow, with my butt-cheeks aglow,
I’m happy to say, I’ve spent the whole day
Farting in a winter chunderland!

 

The need for proper training.

My connections to Portal Voice & Data have now been severed. It’s sad in many ways as they are a good company, they treat their staff decently & pay a good wage. But where they fall down miserably is the quality of their training.

I was there eight months. For the majority of that time I was getting what they call Sandler training. A lot of it is basic common sense but most of the time it seemed like the trainer was just reading the subject up the night before & doing the training the next day.

On the job training was patchy to say the least . The parameters of the job were sketchy & the daily activities shifted about on the whim of the manager. Product training was non existent.

Now Portal argued that I did not need extensive knowledge of their products as my only job was to arrange appointments with IT managers etc for a rep to discuss their telephone needs. My argument is though, that these are professional people who know their subjects amazingly well from A to Z. Give them someone at the other end of the phone who is asking them what issues  they have with their phone systems & doesn’t seem to have any basic technical knowledge & they will not deal with you. So a little knowledge of telecoms would have been handy.

But it was not forthcoming. I had, in eight months, two very brief (ten minutes tops) sessions on the technical side, which were written upon a whiteboard in the office but nothing was provided in hard copy for me to refer back to.

I was also told that I would have the opportunity to listen to telephone calls made by more experienced members of staff. Again, this never happened. Even Insight Fundraising, an organisation that I consider to be incredibly poorly run, allows that to happen. Whether it was because the more experienced staff were too busy I don’t know. They only had one sales rep whilst I was there & he left the company, which meant that the sales manager was out on the road covering his job.

Sandler Training also means that you try to guide the customer into asking you to arrange a visit to them rather than asking them outright when they want a visit. Portal insisted on this approach being taken. Funny, when I was asking the customers directly I was getting four or five appointments a week, when I tried the Sandler way the success vanished like spring snow.

Also, feedback was non existent. My manager would ask me at monthly appraisals (which tbh more often than not did not happen) what I though had gone well but almost never told me what he thought I had done well at & what I could improve on. I’ve touched on what I perceive to be his failings in an earlier post. He complained he was being expected to micro manage me but in my view he did virtually no management of me at all, spending most of his time sorting out his personal issue or on admin. I view the “micromanagement” as an excuse he used to cover up the fact that he wasn’t making his own targets.

In the main, I am still of the view that Portal is a good company, but one let down by the quality of it’s training. If they can get that right then anyone who gets proper training & has the skills they need will do well. But the change, as in so many companies where there is one main director, has to come from the top; and I have a horrible feeling that, as in so many other companies, the feedback going to the top there is what the boss wants to hear rather than what he should hear.

My on the job training was non existent.