Opinionated Git No. 83 – Estate Agents

I was sitting with a good friend who is a journalist for a national Sunday paper, and suggested to him that I really should have a column called “Opinionated Git” as all I seem to do at the moment is find reason to moan about cr*ppy service.

Now I know not all estate agents are bad, but please please show me a sign that mine is at least partially good at their job.

On Saturday we showed someone around our house (as the estate agent was too busy to, even though that service was part of their terms and conditions). My wife spent around 40 minutes with the couple, and given the time they spent, thought they may be a little interested.

We call on Monday just before 2:00pm to see if there has been any feedback at all, but only get through to an answerphone, so leave a message. we try again at 5:00pm but only get the answerphone (worrying if we were wanting to put an offer in).

Tuesday arrives and we havent heard anything so we give them a call. Apparently the person who is meant to be dealing with us is off sick – so we ask surely someone else can chase.

“Oh we usually leave it a while” but only on our insistence do they chase. Get a call back to say road was a bit noisy, but as we aren’t flexible on price not interested. So we say, of course there is always flexibility – can you stress this? Estate agent really not happy about us asking them to call potential buyer back – but we insist. Get a call back saying the potential buyer loves the area, really pleased we are flexible and has a few others to look at, but will be in touch.

Is it me, or are we having to tell the estate agent how to do their job? In this climate, wouldn’t you expect a little more proactivity in the housing selling game than perhaps took place when it was a sellers market?

Hmm.. maybe I am an Opinionated Git!

One Account – name the guilty ones!

Iain Dale has an interesting post on the subject of the housing market and whether any of the actions taken by Government are achieving anything.

I would say not really if my own circumstances are anything to go buy.

We currently have a mortgage with the One Account, owned by RBS, ergo owned by the taxpayer. Did they pass on the previous rate cut in full? No! Did the pass the rate cut before that? Not at all. When you look at the market their interest rate isnt that competitive, hence why we will be looking for another provider.

Given they have had billions in taxpayer funds, surely the Government would have more of a say as to how they should be helping people out with lower mortageg rates, or was it cash with no strings whatsoever?

Council tax bill thumped on the doormat

Well the day has finally arrived. The Council Tax bill came through the letterbox. I should have realised that given it landed with such a thump it was going to be a big one. Well I certainly wasn’t disappointed. As the local authority in their wisdom think that an empty second property which is on the market should get whammied with a 90% charge , as they think this will enourage it back into use, our total council tax liability is a whopping £3,397.38.

I’m not going to moan about whether it’s fair or not, even though there are only two us us, as the fairness argument is never ending. What’s fair for one person doesn’t seem fair for another.

What I want to look at is why for example has the police authority been allowed to increase what we pay to it by 4.9%? There seems to be alot of capital expenditure. Yes we have a lovely new police station in Newark. The problem is it’s never open. When you report a crime it gets reported to another town, and then after reporting the cime we still to this day have not seen anyone from the police. Of course the Chief Constable in his letter to me mentioned “limited resources” so maybe thats why they need such a big increase. I did of course point out my resources are now limnited, having to pay for an alarm system, as I certainly don’t have much faith in the force at the moment.

Perhaps its being spent on operational staff. Nope – For 2008/09 there were 3,072.7 and for the coming year… wait for it, 3,075.5! So much for more bobbies on the beat! An extra 2.8 operational staff! Wow!

Then there is the amount we pay to the Parish of Newark. Up 5.9%! Eh? What’s that all about then? Fire authority up 3.5%. At least Newark and Sherwood district council who will face the brunt of people’s wrath can turn around and say there has been no rise at all for their portion of the bill.

So all in all, most people getting whammied, and what extra services can they look forward to. Well not much that I can see.

I'm a bad credit card customer Egg!!

I remember when the credit crunch first hit quite a few credit card companies pulled the plug on customers credit cards. Not the high risk ones who may not be able to pay back their debt. No those who paiud the full balance every month – as the credit card companies don’t make much money from them.

I have a credit card with Egg. This is the company who sent me another card (without asking) and then because I didn’t use it, it actually damaged my credit rating when I checked with Experian. Seeing as  there was no credit history on it, as I had never used it, it counted against you as they couldn’t be sure if you may default on payments or not! Charming!

Today I get an email saying if I don’t use tmy Egg card (the original one) then it will be cancelled next month as it hasnt been used for some time. Even if I do use it, I will have to re apply to have the payments taken by direct debit.

And whats more interesting – because I have some money in an Egg saving account, it seems I will have to close that, as apparently its a condition to have a credit card. Oh well eh…. two accounts closed.  How to win friends and influence people eh!

John Redwood agrees too!

Good to see that John Redwood also agrees with both my take and Dizzy’s on the subject of Early Day Motions. I guess the question now is what should be done to reform the system?

What will increasing the price of booze achieve?

So there we have it. There is now going to be a push to increase the price of booze in England. So those that drink responsibly end up paying for the unruly, and unhealthy minority who don’t.

Now I have no vested in this issue as I don’t drink on the whole. If there was a tax on diet coke I would be first on the barricade.

One too many?

One too many?

What I haven’t seen is what evidence there is that increasing the price of alcohol will stop those who abuse it.

If you are addicted to alcohol, increasing the price will have no effect. Then of course we will get the argument that it may stop underage drinking. Hmmmm like the extortionate price of cigarettes ever stopped kids getting them!

No, the only effect a move to increase the price of alcohol will have is to penalise those who use it responsibly.

What a beautiful picture

All to play for in the premiership

All to play for in the premiership

Having supported Chelsea since I was a kid (yes before theuy started winning anything) this picture really made me smile.
Can you believe that there was a penalty awared against Man Utd at Old Trafford. What will Sir Alex say!

Playing into the BNPs hands

I have no time for the BNP, but this sort of thing only serves to give them publicity and plays into their very hands.

Are EDMs are just twitter for MPs?

I read with interest Dizzy’s post this week on the subject of Early Day Motions. Funnily enough, at that very time I was flicking through the hundreds of pages of EDMs which are published in hard copy every Thursday. As I understand it (and I stand to be corrected) any EDM which has a new signature gets republished every Thursday, and given the size of the document, it must cost a pretty penny to do so.

Now lets take the whole issue of EDMs. Would I get rid of them? Personally no. I think if an MP has a real issue of concern an EDM is a good way to raise it. The local press will cover it and the MP can get a bit of publicity for a useful cause, though of course I’m not sure all EDMs are on useful causes.

What I don’t see is why on earth do EDMs need to be published in this day and age in hard copy? Who on earth on a Thursday wants a hard copy of all EDMs that have had new signatories. Surely MPs only want to see their own EDMs, and that is easily done online. If they want a hard copy the y can just print one off.

That brings me to a second issue. Now far be it from me to criticise MPs, but is EDM signing a little like how twitter operates these days? On twitter you can get followers by following them. A case of I’ll follow you if you follow me.  Oh, and do feel free to follow me… it makes me feel wanted!

Is the same true of EDMs? An MP tables an EDM and waits for their parliamentary colleagues to “follow them”. The only reason I can think of MPs even wanting to spend time putting their name to 500 or 600 EDMs is that if they sign motions put down by others they hope when the time comes, they will have a few pals to sign theirs. A little bit sad don’t you think -but reminds me a little of what happens on twitter. The good think about twitter is that its all done online and doesn’t generate thousands of pages of paper. The problem with EDMs is that they do.

Jeremy Middleton's campaign video for the election to Chairman of the National Convention