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On it's way Soon!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Update On New Place For Blogged On Service With New Jimdo Website Update

Thanks for being a reader of this blog: we are now moving over to Wordpress, due to some layout issues on bloggerOur new URL is:


Hope to see you soon at our new Wordpress blog-the new wave of blogs will have a lot more of our completed updates and features, lots of new stuff and be updated very regular. Please also note the content style and features of this blog will continue just with lot's of added stuff too.
For more info on what these blogs and our other websites and features are all about visit:
http://blogged.jimdo.com/Thanks again for using this blog, and thanks Blogger for having us over the years, and now it's time for our new era at Wordpress.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

We Are Moving!

Hi, many thanks for for reading this blog over the months it has been online. Many thanks to all contributors too. Due to a large layout issue with Blogger, we are moving over to wordpress where this blog will continue, with many more new features too. For now content for Blogged On Service will appear at www.stuffblogged.wordpress.com along with all the other Blogged websites new content that would of been posted on blogger. Then, once our new wordpress templates have been created over on wordpress.org and our new domain setup is completed their will once again be a blog for each of the blogged blogs, and they will even more content and features then before. For now we hope to see you over on www.stuffblogged.wordpress.com
Oh and if you would like a follow up on the stories, that I posted regular on this blog about the quality (or mostly lack of it) of the Job Center Plus and Department of Work and Pensions, I'll be recapping and following them up, along with a dedicated website with jobseekers information, job hunting info and much more at: www.bloggedonjobseekers.webnode.com. The sites still in early development, so in construction, but more and more will be added to it. Feedback will be very welcome.
Have a good one,
Ben Stuart

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Free 20 Quid.Com Review

Want a free £20? That would be nice, wouldn’t it. Is a legit website going to just hand it over like that? Well it’s unlikely, and that is exactly the case for Free 20 Quid, as we can confirm they will not be handing you out a £20, the moment you sign up, ‘just like that’ as Paul Daniels used to say. But you do have the chance to earn money, with what is actually another cash back site. But not only do you not get a free £20 straight away to use as you please, the amount of money you need to earn before you can redeem the mentioned free 20 quid of the websites name, is a further £80. So actually, this site could take longer to earn then similar sites, with it’s much higher redeem threshold. Having said that, if it's quicker to earn the cashback (for example more generous cashback amounts then other websites, and more opportunities to earn) then it might end up been a more generous cashback website.

The website does loose points for using a classic misleading marketing trick. Do you know how I first got to Free 20 Quid’s website? Not by directly visiting the website. I received an email from Survey Central with this message:

free samsung galaxy sII

After clicking the message I was taken and joined up to, Free 20 Quid. You might well of received this offer by email too, as after this one I received about three more from other companies, in my junk and inbox. You might be wondering from the above advert if the offer is genuine or another scam. Well to save you time filling the whole offer in, when it could just be another misleading marketing promotion, I thought I’d test out how the offer does indeed work for you. After taking up the ‘Sign up now’ option, I was then asked to fill in a lot of questions, often expanding into more questions depending on your answers. Basically it’s one of those surveys where they ask you the usual questions about household, money and all that kind of thing, then they ask you if you would like to sign up to any offers, based on the answers you gave. Then you’ll have more pages of offers to sign up to. You’ll be told somewhere in the survey that as well as the phone to test you get a free £20. If you manage to complete the whole survey, you’ll then be taken to free 20 quid.com, you know despite that website not been mentioned once. The website mentioned was Product Testing.uk.com but no sign of those guys yet, or any further information about that free Samsung Galaxy SIII to test. Right so, if you have just completed all those survey questions, you will find yourself at free20quid.com as well as being the sites newest member of a site you didn’t ask to sign up to . Internet marketing trickery, never goes out of fashion. OK, we’ll next we’ll see if they can redeem themselves a bit for the trickery with providing a great cashback site, so we will keep you posted (ironic that expression on a blog) on our findings with the site as we test it out.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Letter Reply On Job Centre Plus Bad Service

I have now received a reply from the Department of Work and Pensions which was sent to my local MP Andrew Rosindell, after Andrew Rosindell MP contacted Ian Duncan Smith, Secretary of State, on my behalf regarding my DWP and JCP complaints. The response from the DWP is not from Ian Duncan Smith himself though, but Elaine Benn, Head of Continuous Improvement Division, as she was asked by the Secretary of State to respond. Below is the letter received, I have added in brackets my comments to point out the things that Elaine Benn has wrongly suggested, all writing in brackets is me, you can let me know what you think of her response, I know I'm not exactly satisfied with it!

Dear M.r Rosindell,
Thank you for your letter of 1 May to the Secretary of State about M.r Ben Stuart (personal details edited out!) and his experiences (one way to put it) at Romford Jobcentre. I have been asked to reply.
I am sorry to hear that M.r Stuart is unhappy with the service he has received. We telephoned him on 15, 21 and 28 May to discuss his concerns but were unable to speak with him. (That's because I never received the calls!)
On 16 February we arranged to discuss the Work Programme with M.r Stuart at his next appointment on 28 February (After I had asked them time and time again, over the weeks, about the course). M.r Stuart contacted us on 27 February to say he had a job interview with Specsavers (True) on the morning of 28 February (Also true). We therefore rearranged the appointment for a later time in the day but M.r Stuart failed to attend. (Actually M.r Stuart did not fail to attend as M.r Stuart went to where the Job Centre Plus is located where I was due an interview, walked through the doors, queued up to alert reception staff that I was here, went into the waiting area, when I was called over for my interview I had said interview, then I left the building. Call me old fashioned but I don't call that failing to attend. Furthermore all the staff who met with me that day could verify my visit. I had arranged a time for the interview and attended the time given to me, and I explained about the time change to the advisor I saw who accepted my reasons, so I have no idea what Elaine is talking about here). M.r Stuart did attend on 1 March and we undertook his fortnightly job search review (in other words they did the usual routine of not a lot really) and asked him to come back on the 2 March to discuss the Work Programme. As M.r Stuart did not attend this appointment and did not contact us within five days (I did contact them within five days), we closed his claim. We checked our records and can find no record that M.r Stuart telephoned us (I promise you I did, no wonder their are so many mistakes made if they wrongly record who's rang them and who hasn't).
I believe that we have taken every opportuni ty to accommodate M.r Stuart's requests to rearrange appointments (huh!) and at no time have we told him that he cannot attend job interviews (they did, a lot). We have been fully supportive of his efforts to find work (er......no you haven't) and, as a result, I believe it is acceptable for us to expect him to attend appointments at his Jobcentre  (which I had been making every effort to, despite JCP's unreasonable attitude around them) within a reasonable (huh! reasonable at JCP!) timeframe.
Nicole Mercer, Manager at Romford Jobcentre, wrote to M.r Stuart on 30 March and fully (I wouldn't say fully) explained why we stopped his claim (which was for the wrong reasons, note she has still not mentioned their mistake). I note that we have attempted to begin three rapid reclaims for Job Seekers but on each occasion he has failed to attend the required appointment ( after I found out at the time what rapid reclaim would mean I had good reason why it would not be a good option for me, that was explained to them many times, she has neglected to mention this, so I cancelled the first one, why they started three rapid reclaims up is beyond me). As a result M.r Stuart has not received JSA since 1 March. If M.r Stuart wishes to claim JSA and any arrears that he may be due, (£748.03 but hey who's counting) I urge him to claim online at www.direct.gov.uk or to call us on (if you can get through to anyone on the phone before money stops existing) 0800 556688. If M.r Stuart claims JSA again, I strongly advise him to attend any future appointments we arrange or have rearranged for him (if M.r Stuart claims JSA again, I strongly advise staff to not keep saying customers did not attend appointments they arranged or have rearranged when they did in fact attend them). We also tried to arrange a meeting with M.r Stuart on 23 May (after said M.r Stuart pressed you for weeks, verging on months to do so, after a selection of staff members at JCP Romford phoneline,delayed the meeting taking place in a variety of ways) to resolve his concerns but he contacted us to cancel this meeting ( one I had to as a financial matter I had to sort out caused by the Job Centre Plus stopping the benefits) and we have been unable to book a further appointment convenient to him (that's strange, why not, as at the time I gave them many chances for booking a slot, loads, they had a wide range to choose from, and I kept trying to remind them to call me when they had a time available. I was ready, just waiting for them. Elaine seems to not have mentioned any of this, nor how they kept cancelling appointments). We would of course still be happy to discuss the issues M.r Stuart raises (good, that 3,500 page letter will be on it's way) and talk about what we can do further to support his search for work (Further? But that implies you already did support my search for work). M.r Stuart raises a question about what would happen to a single mother who had experienced the same issues as him. I can confirm that we tailor our service to support the needs of the individual jobseekers. (I can confirm you often don't). We are happy to make a number of adjustments to accommodate the unique circumstances of each claimant, such as allowing them to look for jobs that have fewer hours per week or changing the time that they have to attend the Jobcentre to enable them to pick up their children from school.
If M.r Stuart requires further information (no thanks, I'm alright, seeing as much of the 'information' you provided in this letter is untrue anyway), Nicole will be happy to help on 01708 774232 (if you enjoy waiting for 6 hours to be connected) or by post at Romford Jobcentre, 30 Main Road, Romford RM1 3HH (if I posted a message to them every time I had a complaint then I'd need £1,000 worth of stamps please).
If M.r Stuart is not satisfied with the action taken by DWP (of course I'm not satisfied with it), he can contact the Independent Case Examiner within six months of the date of this letter. ICE offers a free, impartial resolution service but does not consider matters of law or government policy, ICE can be contacted by telephone (0845 606 0777), in writing (The Independent Case Examiner, Jupiter Drive, Chester, CH70 8DR), or by e-mail (ice@dwp.gsi.gov.uk). Full details are available on the ICE website at www.ind-case-exam.org.uk.
Yours sincerely,
Elaine Benn
Head of Continuous Improvement Division

And that's the letter from Elaine Benn

Next it's ICE

After I received my underwhelming reply from Elaine Benn, she noted that if I'm unhappy with the response to my complaints from the Department of Work and Pensions, then I could contact the Independent Case Examiner (ICE). This was something I did plan to do. I wanted to also try various organisations that are independent from the government, in particular the DWP departments (including Job Centre Plus).
If you have complaints and issues your trying to resolve with DWP or JCP, you could try ICE. ICE was set up in 1997 and is meant to offer a free, impartial resolution service, but does not consider matters of law or government policy, as our friend Elaine mentioned.
Here are ICE's contact details:

Phone: 0845 606 0777
Write: The Independent Case Examiner, Jupiter Drive, Chester, CH70, 8DR
e-mail: ice@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
If you'd like more details on ICE from their official website it's:

Notice something in that e-mail address of theirs? Theirs a '.gov' in their, which means this organisation, which was set up to give an impartial resolution service but does not consider matters of law or government policy, is part of the government. Hmm. I hope they do stay impartial, but I can completely understand people's concerns I've read on other websites about ICE, such as if the DWP actually advice ICE on what to say to those who have contacted them about issues with the DWP, when they have these links to the DWP and the government in general. Also, note that it was ICE Elaine picked to mention.
On my letter from Elaine Been it say's that to receive this service from ICE, I must contact ICE within six months of the date of the letter, which I'd like to point out is a bit of a cheek really. Why do certain organisations think we should have a limited time to complain about something, then if we don't do it in that time,  the complaint should be forgotten, doesn't work like that, shouldn’t work like that.  I'll let you know how I find ICE's services after I've contacted them and if Elaine Benn or anyone else gets back to me in reply to my latest letter (the reply to the one I just printed in this post for you. It's an eight page letter reply, I thought maybe with more volume she might take the hint about my dissatisfaction with her reply, and actually give me a reply on the right lines, including without the way she neglected to mention the JCP and DWP's mistakes, and making out various things that were not true. Then again she might not, and the Job Centre Plus/Department of Work and Pensions dissatisfaction saga will continue. How comes in TV soaps they never have these kinds of problems.

Frozen PayPal Accounts Tip

Find When PayPal Say They Will Release Your Funds (For Frozen Accounts)

Right, you know if you have PayPal holding your money ransom until either one of their diva demands are met, or until a certain amount of time has passed (Why? Why must they do this?). Yes, well if you click on the part on your PayPal account where it shows you your pending balance amount, on your statement , you will then be taken to a page where you may find, if PayPal have filled it in on your account, a section that tells you when it is that PayPal actually plan on allowing you each of your funds back, that their currently holding. Their will be a date given, i.e 23th July. Remember though, this is the date they have given you, not the date you should have to wait, if like me, you believe PayPal have no excuse for the whole frozen (sometimes called limited accounts). Also, the date is when they say your funds will be released by, not when the frozen status of your account will be removed.    

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

(The Paypal Review:How Good Is PayPal's Service, Really? (Or How Bad Is PayPal's Service, Really)?


The Introduction

I thought it's time for a review here on Blogged On Service, about the electronic payment company PayPal. And also a warning, if your thinking of using the site. You see in theory the idea and service PayPal offers is great. But that would be the theory. The theory is one thing, the practise is another. Their are many valid reasons you might want to use PayPal. Anyone who is a regular user of the Internet is likely to come across this company at some point. But their are some things about the way the brand operates with their users accounts, that if you knew before signing up to them, you might well choose not to use them at all. Theirs various examples of why PayPal's service isn't as good as they make out. Like why your money in PayPal might not be available to use when you want it. Like why their customer service can be, and often is, of a very poor standard, making it difficult to sort issues out with them, regarding your account.
Their is a lot to say about PayPal, unfortunately a lot of it not positive. As well as mentioning the problems many users around the world have had with PaPal, I can speak from experience on this one too: I currently have an on going case with them which I’ll get to later. And please, feel free to share your views and experiences on their service, not only will that help to raise awareness of how PayPal operates, but also it can help others to read them. Which is why over the coming posts I'll be reviewing PayPal, looking to also highlight problems with their service such as the way they treat customers  their often awful customer service, the problems with using an eBay account linked with PayPal, and more. I'll look at what you can do if you find these problems affecting you, to help you try and solve this issues.
Now, I'm sure some people have had good experiences with PayPal. Many people have used this service and not had a single problem with them, and maybe they never will. But, too many have had bad experiences. I'm not talking about the odd bit of bad service, either. It's a frequent stream of bad service, which PayPal very often don't admit to, often saying what they did was right. And it’s bad service which can mean you are unable to access your money when you need it, and bad service that doesn't cover you financially as much as PayPal tries to usure you.
This blog will also take a look at what some people may call PayPal's partner in crime, eBay, the company who own PayPal, and the problems using a PayPal account connected to an eBay account. Please remember though, that when I'm talking about eBay in this post, I mean the company itself, and not any of the buyers or sellers who use eBay (overall I find your service has been so much better, you could show these two companies a thing or to). And before I go on, I'd like to note that I didn't just wake up one day and decide for no reason I hate PayPal (but I do wake up and remember I hate PayPal), and I would start a vendetta against them just for the fun of it. No. Their are valued reasons for this articles highlighting PayPal’s problems. I'm not completely against their service in every single way, the same for the running of eBay. Some departments, such as say PayPal’s cashback one, seems to run pretty smoothly, just a real shame about the other departments that certainly don’t. And as for eBay, it’s one of the websites I have brought from the most, and I am grateful for the website's existence, but as I have said before, I firmly believe it's the good buyers and sellers that make eBay great, the running of the eBay company to it’s sellers and buyers is often not always as good as it could be. Though, personally, I don’t have nearly as many problems with the way the people behind eBay run their service as PayPal, and they have done some good work with the brand, but their are still some issues I think are worth noting, that they really should sort out. And I added eBay to this article on the problems with PayPal, because when those to are linked problems can arise. I wanted to raise awareness, as it were, of these issues.
So PayPal is an online service that, when it works as it's meant to, it is absolutely great. Such a handy website, which allow you to send and receive money over the internet, it can be a brilliantly quick form of payment. Further enhancements have been made over the years, such as the recent PayPal mobile app. Being able to send money from a mobile phone is truly a good idea, so it's even more disappointing about PayPal's low service standards. They offer other services too, such as a cashback part of their website. It's a massive company, and is indeed used all around the world. With loads of users, PayPal has become a fast moving and expanding brand. By how many people use the service, it's a popular choice.
OK, so what do PayPal offer, that has earned them so many users? First of all, the reason for PayPal's rise in becoming this massive company they are today, is not all down to award winning customer service. Nor is it because they offer a better service then other online electronic payment websites, in any single way. No, the reason why so many people use PayPal, I suspect, and choose it over it's market rivals, is more then likely down to the fact that, out of all the available electronic payment methods, PayPal is by far the most accepted at retail merchants across the internet. And over recent years, the number of websites has been increasing, more and more, and not just on retail websites, but on other websites that require online payments. Another reason for their  increased user amounts, is the fact that some websites such as eBay require you to use PayPal. For example If you live in Australia or the UK it has been required that sellers give PayPal as an option for payment to sellers. So that would mean you can’t avoid some dealings with them if you are a seller in any of those two places on eBay. PayPal was an early starter in the e-money market, when it launched in 2002, giving it a good head start over it’s rivals too.
Now with PayPal's rise in users, their rise of complaints has also increased.
For all of PayPal‘s achievements, like how good the idea behind the service is, the expanding of the brand, the thing is PayPal have got up to some pretty dubious stuff. Just because PayPal is a registered company officially, that does not mean, and in their case certainly isn't, a grounds to say PayPal are always in the right with what they do. Because over the years, theirs been plenty of ground for customers to rightly take legal action against them. So you may well wonder, how they manage to retain the high position they currently do. You see, a thing with PayPal is their not a bank. Not technically in how their officially listed in the eyes of the financial serves law, anyway. But if they were a bank, I’ve got a strong feeling they would not of got away with a lot of their bad service for as long as they have, or certainly more awareness of it would exist and perhaps they would be much better regulated. This is one of the things I things I campaign for, a better regulated PayPal.
For many online transactions, PayPal are the form of payment that is most convenient for people, it might be the only one that can be used for some, out of the choices on the website their using. What I would like to see, is the less well known, but much better managed and quality customer service rivals of PayPal to be accepted, at more and more websites. Then people will have much better choice in how they can pay online, and not have the problems many PayPal users face and are fed up with.
We have had PayPal under review for a while now, and during this time, and taking into account the many problems users have had with them, we can tell you they have shown some less then reassuring ways of 'looking after your money'.
In these articles, I'll try to help weigh up the pros and cons of using PayPal. See if you think the pros outweigh the cons or not. OK, so on we go.


What PayPal Say About Their Service

OK, firstly what do PayPal say about their service and why we should choose to use it:
(Taken from paypal.com's homepage)
'It's safer, faster and everywhere. Use PayPal to shop at thousands of websites, knowing your financial details are never shared'.
'It's safer' is the first part of that statement, and the very important part. After all, if your allowing this company to store your money in their system, essentially ‘have hold of it’, you want it to be safe, right? You want to know you can get to your money when you need it, right? So how safe is money in your PayPal account? And how easy can you get to it, when you need it? It is sometimes said that storing your money in a system like PayPal is one of the safest places you could ever store your money. And in many ways I can see where this statement is coming from. While no financial system can guarantee 100% against every factor that could effect the safety of your money, PayPal do offer a number of technological features and service guarantees that help to keep your money in a truly safe position. They have a record of many safe transactions, and a good record of money been stored safely in their system without anyone outside your PayPal account managing to fraudulently take your money, through hacking accounts or in other ways. Their is good protection inside your account from those outside trying to wrongly access  your money. In many ways a good record of money safety from the company. But do you know who I don't think PayPal money is safe from being tampered with? PayPal. Yes, PayPal themselves. Their are different ways which PayPal has been known to tamper with people’s money, but let’s start with one way they commonly do. You see, I find it hard to trust money to a company that can choose to prevent you from accessing that money, for the various reasons they come up with, without any warning, either. Various reasons which, I believe most to be, a load of complete rubbish. 

PayPal's Freezing Accounts

What I'm talking about is one of the big problems with using PayPal. You can login to your account one day, only to find they have kindly frozen your account, meaning you are unable to use your funds until PayPal's requirements (or diva demands as I like to think of it) are met, despite you not doing anything  wrong with your account. Or not doing anything wrong with an account linked to it, like say with your eBay account. If your account is frozen you'll notice their will be a mention of how much money is in your primary balance and your pending balance. You should see something like this:
paymentpending pp
So the PayPal balance area tells you the overall amount of money in your account. The Available balance tells you the amount PayPal are allowing you to use of your money. The Pending Balance let’s you know the portion of your money PayPal is keeping from you, refusing to allow you access too. So remember PayPal regularly do this to people’s accounts from time to time, with no warning before it happens. PayPal still seeming attractive?
You'll also notice, PayPal will have put on your account, in a red box, a message (just above the payment balance area), stating the reason for your account being suspended, and if your like me, you might find the given reason does not really wash as been fair. At all. The red box and text inside it will look like this:
These requirements to take your account out of frozen status that PayPal require, can vary, but their are some regular ones they like to use. These include PayPal telling you that a certain amount of good feedback on your eBay's seller account, will be needed to have your account unfrozen, yes that’s right PayPal is getting involved with your eBay account usage, despite you could be wanting to use your PayPal money in a way not connected to eBay. . Now this is a  flawed practise because some people only (as is completely their right) sell items on eBay occasionally. So say they have sold the odd two items on their eBay sellers account. Well one of the amounts of good feedback PayPal have wanted, before taking the hold off the account is eighty. Well now that would mean to have their account unfrozen, they will have to sell 78 things, when they didn't want to! It's completely ridiculous of PayPal, and indeed eBay for allowing this practise.
Anyone who is experiencing a frozen account, I know exactly how annoying it is, as the same thing is currently going on with my account! When they first froze the account, while it was very annoying, not only as their was money in their I wanted to use but also because of all the problems a frozen account causes, I had a couple of pounds in the account and the rest of my money was elsewhere, meaning I still had other funds I could use, so in that way I was glad of that. But, what about if someone had most, or even all of their funds in their account and it was frozen? A real problem, as it really isn’t easy ‘unfreezing’ a frozen account, where PayPal are concerned. And you see, since that time when my account was first frozen, more money has been making it’s way to my account, and yet I have been unable to use most of it, as it’s gone straight into pending status, that includes my pay from my work online and other business ventures, so effectively PayPal is keeping my wages! Now, you may begin to see more why I hate this company! And that is why if you are in a work position where you are paid through PayPal (for example those who freelance on the internet are often paid this way) you might want to ask for an alternative method of payment wherever possible (I wonder if PayPal staff are paid through PayPal? Nah, they probably reward their staff by not doing that-a perk for working with them!)

Well I think most people are going to be annoyed if they find that their unable to access their money in PayPal after an account freeze, but if say someone needs to seriously get to that money urgently, their likely to be even more annoyed. This is another of the reasons I'd seriously reconsider PayPal. It’s by no means a guaranteed way of access to your money, stored electronically. Say you needed to urgently send money to a friend or family member, but PayPal decided to put a block on your account preventing you from being able to do this. Also, what if late fees occur on a service you would normally use PayPal to pay with, but you were now unable to, thanks to a block on you using your funds.
So PayPal tell us they freeze accounts for safety. Now how about we rephrase that sentence, translating what is actually meant by freezing an account: So PayPal tell us they prevent us from accessing our money for safety. See where I'm going with this?
So I don’t understand PayPal, how does preventing us access to our money, help keep PayPal a safer place for anyone at all?  Do you know what PayPal? It doesn't. And I'd like to know why PayPal insist on this. What I think PayPal aren't getting, or are choosing to not get, is that what their being trusted to do, by all those who use them and allow them to hold money on an account, is for them to look after it. This money of ours they hold in a PayPal account is still our money, it hasn't become their money. So really, PayPal shouldn't be allowed to decide to stop you from getting your money, certainly not for the unfair reasons they have been coming out with. And this is one of the things that really annoy me about PayPal. I believe this is a bad practise of PayPal, whatever they I say.

Contacting PayPal And Some Strange Going Ons……

If you have found PayPal have decided to put onto your account a block preventing you from accessing your money, well we have found it's unlikely PayPal are going to have a change of heart (ie.see sense) and allow you access to your money, so the next step you may want to take is to contact PayPal and ask them to remove the block.
The quickest way to speak to a human at PayPal (although after sampling some of their customer service, you might prefer a robot) is through using their telephone number (which PayPal spent years seemingly hiding). So to call them ( lines are actually open to 10pm weekdays, if they were a helpful phone service that would of been a great plus for  customer service)-dial and then you will be asked to input a unique code that was given to you, if you pressed the contact PayPal link whilst you were signed in to your account. You don't have to put this code in, but it means when you ring PayPal they will already have your account details, though they might still ask you for them anyway.
You need to get passed the recorded messages (can't skip them by pressing random buttons) that ask you to state what your question is and wait for question examples to be given, such as 'How can I reset my password?' 'What do I do if I expect fraud?' And 'What Can I do to stop PayPal preventing me from accessing my money and messing up my account all the freaking time?' I may of made one of those up. Tip: if you can't get your replies to the automated system to work, just say nothing for a minute or so and eventually you'll be put through to an actual human. Now this is where you may find yourself getting even more annoyed. PayPal seem to be trained like such great customer service examples such as the Job Centre Plus staff, to offer some of the worst phone service heard to man (or women). If you are lucky you might get one of the better staff members , some I've found to be better then others, some can be OK, but some are just  terrible, repeating the same set phrases, even after you have explained something to them that would make that phrase no longer applicable, often talking over you with the same point when you haven’t even had the chance to get your point across. Once your connected to a staff member, after they have checked your account details for security reasons, you can then try and explain to them, that you would like your account to be unfrozen. What will sound like a perfectly reasonable request to you, will seem to be taken differently by PayPal. It's likely that the staff members will continue to deny they were in the wrong by freezing your account, and insist that you can not have your account unfrozen until their say so, saying it’s until you have a certain amount of feedback, saying it happens to all members of PayPal, and it can get very frustrating. But despite some very bad shows of customer service, with staff that can act in such an annoying and unfair manner, if you are able to, it's worth persisting on the phone with this company. Because, remember it’s our right to the money PayPal is holding. You may still get no joy, by continually ringing them, and you may want to then look at other methods of sorting the issue.
After I kept ringing PayPal multiple times in a row (partly because I kept getting the same member of staff who I was just going round in circles with, a sometimes another member, do they only have two members of staff on the phones?), I began to notice the variations in what staff were telling me, the inconsistencies. Not only that, some staff began to comment that they could see I had continually rang through out the day (I averaged around three, but sometimes five calls a day), and I though that perhaps they were starting to take the hint-I wanted access back to my money and my frozen status lifted. I finally got a member of staff to allow me around half my money out of my pending balance. Which hilariously, she said she was doing as a curtsey gesture! She spoke as if it was generally a nice gestured favour. How kind she's allowing me some of my own money back, which previously was been held to ransom by PayPal. When I thanked her, for at least doing better then the previous PayPal people I had spoken to had managed (eventually), by allowing me back some of my money, and asked could I please have the rest, she informed me that she understood that I needed the money to pay people I had brought items off, so she allowed me some, but that it was a once in a lifetime thing never to be repeated, and so no I could not have the rest of my money. Like with any other call to PayPal staff I have ever had, we then proceeded to go round in circles.
If you don't get where you need with one staff member, ring up again and try another staff member. As I say, none I have ever found to be brilliant, but some are a little better. People have found this to work, and I can say it has got some results for me. Only some, mind. As my account is still frozen, any money I get goes straight into pending, and this has been going on for ages. I have been calling them almost every available day, trying to let them see how unfair what their doing is-I mean among the mentioned reasons it has made me unable to pay money I owe to people through PayPal! Thankfully, all have been understanding, and they have been aware that PayPal do these things to people (and have often experienced it themselves so know very well what their like).  Even though it's not funny when your account has been frozen and your trying to desperately get the use of your money back, I found it funny some of the things PayPal came out with. With all this having to contact PayPal to sort out their issues, we should be entitled to ask PayPal to pay our phone bills, though really. In fact we are, so feel free to send your phone bill to PayPal. I’m sending mine, I reckon it will be at least £100. They don’t even offer to ring you back to save your bill.
One staff member failed to identify if PayPal had a manager, she seemed to suggest PayPal didn't. I asked if I could talk to the manager, but was refused their name, or the chance to be put in contact with them, or even their contact details. I knew for a fact that their is a manager who's contact details do exist, which is why I asked for him. Ringing again a few days later, I was then told I would be put through to the manager (after staff kept insisting, as they had always done to me, that they were the highest point of escalation and the manager could not be reached on the phone). Well this member of staff said she would put me through to the manager, and this is where things begin to get surreal. After talking to the manager, who had a similar unfair (and not very professional for a manager) attitude like other PayPal staff, I then proceeded to go round in circles with her, as she would not budge in helping me sort out my issues with PayPal. I did not get anywhere better with the manager after a while had passed. She went on to explain how it did state in PayPal’s  terms and conditions that an account could be frozen, and like every other PayPal staff member I’ve known, seemed to miss the point, that whatever the terms and conditions, it’s not right of them to do it. She offered to show me where the terms and conditions stated this, and take me through it on their website, over the phone. I said OK, as even though I was aware of the terms and conditions, I thought maybe I could get my point across with them after she has read them through. She told me to stay on the line why she goes and access them (but if she had a computer in front of her, would they not already be accessible?). I waited for her to return. And waited some more. It must of been ten minutes, and she still hadn’t returned. I thought that maybe she got cut of the line or something. So I called up again and (once again got the same member of staff, just before I had been passed over to the manager) and so I asked to speak back with the manager. Though no matter how much I expressed that I wanted to carry on speaking with the manager, to carry on our conversation, the staff member would not put me through to the manager, and began to repeat about the manager not been available on the phone, that they don’t have a manager that talks to customers over the phone. Also she kept on repeating how she was the highest form of escalation.  I kept trying to protest that I had spoken with the manager, but she denied it, saying that I only spoke with her before and never the manager. She said it wasn’t on record that I had ever spoken with the manager. It wasn’t until I began typing this article up, though that something dawned on me. The manager, the person who I spoke to believing to be the manager, and the one that when I asked if they were the manager said yes, was a she. Who sounded a little like the previous member of staff , who said she would put me through with the manager. In fact when I was talking to the manager or ‘manager’ as it’s looking increasingly like, well you know sometimes when you have a thought that keeps going into your mind based on a feeling, well I kept getting one about how the staff named as  manager, sounded a lot like the lady who spoke to me before her, just with a slightly different tone in her voice. Hmmm. Now, I don’t know for sure exactly what went on their, but theirs something not quite right with the whole manager thing, and I’ll be looking further into this one.

A part on this blog will be set up to include details of contacts you may want regarding PayPal, including contacts for complaint procedures and reviews of them. Their will be lots more on the perils of using PayPal on it’s way, including more on eBay too. Plus you can join us on twitter with our brand new page on The Truths Of PayPal:


You can tweet Truths Of PayPal at: @TruthsOfPayPal 

The page that will be tweeting all about PayPal, and aims to challange the bad practices of the company, raise awareness too. Not only that, tweet us any problems your having with PayPal and we will do our best to try and help with suggestions to combat your issues.

50 Shades Of PayPay

Alternatives to PayPal? Their are some, in fact in the upcoming post: 50 Shades Of PayPal,  this blog will  post on 50 PayPal alternatives, with reviews on each service, looking at how they stack up against PayPal.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Monday, 25 June 2012

Cold Calling

Get cold called? If it's anything like the landline I use, and to a lesser extent the mobile line, you'll have cold calling and scams most days. I find on the landline often it's more like five plus, a day.
Now cold calling is an intresting one, it's in effect a completely legal practise and can be applied for as a legal job (job seekers may notice cold calling jobs advertised in Job Centre Plus branches, or on the Direct Gov job listings). But, just because something is legal in the eyes of the law, that dosen't make it right, and many people find cold calling an unreasonable and annoying practise. Some have found it a form of harrasment, with companies repeatedly cold calling despite people asking them not to, and often calling all hours of the day. On the other hand, many people have found themselves taking on the role of a cold calling job, after they have not yet managed a job in all the other avenues they've tried previously, and at least some earnings for the job is then made, and their in employment.
You'll have to decide for yourself, if you haven't already, what you think of cold calling. Part of the problem is not just the cold calling itself, but how it's conducted: it's one thing to face cold calling and another to be met with a rude cold caller, who's behaviour can verge on harrasment, as I have sometimes found. I've also spoken to some on the phone who are very polite and understanding when you tell them your not intrested in what their trying to sell you, or you are a bit busy to talk with them at that moment.
So it'll be intresting to see this documentary from BBC's Panorama, which looks at all the  calls companies put out, as well as texts, as part of their marketing, which were not asked for by you. The show is on this coming Monday.
For details on the programme:

Monday, 18 June 2012

Dream On With Nationwide

I'm always facinated by dreams, and earlier on I dreamt that Nationwide had answered my complaints letter, that I sent a few weeks back in real life. In the dream when I recieved the letter I knew that it was from Nationwide, though the funny thing was I don't remember anything the letter actually said, only that Nationwide had sent £17 as a way of apology for their bad service (actual cash in envelop, though I noticed it was all in notes which is impossiable for that amount in real life!)-if I do get a reply from Nationwide any time soon, what's the likelyness it will be like in the dream!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

EDF-Bad Service, Leaving Electricity In A Dangerous State

EDF-Not Always How They Tell You On The Adverts

Just to let you know about an upcoming post, incase you have any opinions on the posts subject that you'd like to appear on this site. And the subject in question? EDF. I'd like to share with youa story about the gas and electricity giant-about how their bad service left a houses electricity in a dangerous way. I know for a fact that it happend and how it happened as it happend to my house. I'll tell you all about it, including how EDF, years later never admitted to their mistakes, never issued an apology, offering nothing in the way of compensation. Their customer service has absouloutly sucked. Story coming up, and I'd really like to know what you think of EDF, perhaps you have had simmerler or even the same issues with EDF.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Another Job Centre Plus/Department of Work and Pensions Complaints Update

Hi their, I come to you with the next Job Centre Plus related 'customer service' update. Just a little thing on the Romford Job Centre Plus' INABILITY TO RING BACK WHEN THEY SAY THEY WILL.
So I have given them plenty of time to ring back, so today, this Friday in June, I'll try ringing them once again,on the Dreaded Job Centre Plus Phoneline (Dun-dun-dun) This time it's gonna have to be different.  If I keep waiting for them to arrange a date, it might not happen before I'm the same age as Sir David Attenbourough. So I came up with the next nearest day that I could make a meeting to them (I tried giving them plenty of time, that didn't work) which is Monday coming, seeing as they will not be open on Saturday or Sunday. I think they have had enough chances now (they had reached that point months ago, to be fair). I gave them any time after 2:30pm for the meeting, so even after the way they have constantly messed me around, they still have plenty of time slots for the meeting to take place. Then if this Tony guy is not avaliable, OK I'll see someone else-because I can see how this meeting could get delayed more and more by them, and this is really supposed to be a complaints issue- I could of really said back at day one, here I am, here's my complaints, and they could of really sent someone their and then for the meeting. I'm not supposed to be accomadating them, my complaints are with them, it should be the other way. It really does seem like their stratedgy has been to delay this as much as possiable.
So I thought I'd also ask JCP why they did not ring back (yet again, so frustrating, the complaints won't go away if that's what they think by ignoring me, with anything it's just adding to them). So I got ringing the Job Centre Plus and, wait for it...... I Got Through Straight Away! What? What's going on?
OK, calm down Ben. I know it's a miracle, but we have the rest of the post to get through. I tried to find out why no one rang, but the lady I was speaking to didn't give me an answer, in fact each time I mentioned it I was met with silence the other end. I tried mentioning it a couple of times-nothing at all back. So this staff member suggested that she could go and try find out from her collouges about my situation and then she could call me back with answers. Sorry but NO. NO WAY. I repeated again how the Job Centre Plus have not been ringing me back, how I had not been recieving their calls.  I said I'd rather stay on the line and wait for her, not take the risk of not getting phoned back once again. So she agreed to this and off she went, while I waited on the line. She was a few minutes away and then returned with her plan. She said on Monday, Tony would ring me, anytime after 9:30am. He would discuss my issues and then if it seemed appropiot I could still come into the JCP branch to discuss them further. Well I wasn't pleased with the meeting being delayed again. But, if his going to talk on the phone, I could at least get to speak with him, see what he has to say on the matters, without a meeting in a branch been canceled. To cut what is such a long, boring and reppititive story with these staff at JCP and DWP, here's what happend next; no one rang back on Monday, so I rang up JCP romford asked if someone could ring back, and why the person who was supposed to ring back didn't-no explanation (or apoligy) for this, I tried to get someone to ring me back at the next avaliable chance, they agreed to this, I waited untill 4pm, they still hadn't called so I rang them. It was Job Centre Romford Manager Nicole who answered. Who informed me, she was going to ring me back (as if I was going to take thr chance waiting any longer again, with their track record), Nicole told me that Tony was on leave. So staff had arrange me a meeting with a man who was on leave, who I had been waiting to get back to me. Brilliant. Nicole told me where she stands on the matter with the whole complaints procedure, was not budging, I could see we were getting no where. She said I could attend the Romford branch, but she had made clear that this was what her final oppinion on the case was, so we both agreed their was pretty much not any point me coming in. So, I was just going to have to try elsewhere.
The saga continues. By the way you might like to know a new TV comedy about the Job Centre Plus is said to be starting soon Thursdays at 8:00pm, alongside the real one which runs at 9:30am to 5:00pm Monday's to Friday's in many areas.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

More Feedback Instore

If you have been in Argos recently, after you have been served you may of had a member of staff ask to fill in one of those electronic survey thingies. If you haven't, basicaly it's a survey on a touchpad with question about the service you recieved, and you press the applicable buttons. One store they have this at is the Dagneham store, which I visited a few times recently, and as their service was generally good, they got good marks from me on said survey pad. But as I was filling it out, I was thinking this is the kind of thing more retail services should offer too. It's a good way of getting customer feedback, and if customers don't have the time to fill in a long survey by hand on customer service, which shops sometimes ask of us, this is a quicker way to give the feedback. Not only that, if you're fed up with having to give companies your details, which, some companies will use in all manner of annoying ways, you can remain annoymous in these electronic services. If they wanted to be ultra flash, stores could have those touch screen machines on the way out of the store, so customers could have their feedback added then. I really think supermarkets could do with taking Argos' lead for example.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A Nationwide Pain

Nationwide. Like this bank? Have you used the Romford branch. I have and well what a show of service. I was working on an article about some of the bad service that banks give out and I must thank Nationwide for providing me with some more material to add. The article will mention how hard it was made for me to open up a basic bank account.
 Yes, so it's the Romford branch I have to thank. Romford's not doing so well for the companies featured in this blog currently, what with the Romford branch of Job Centre Plus, Tesco and Nationwide appearing in the space of a few weeks for bad service. Don't worry, their are some very good organisations and companies that operate in Romford, I can vouch for that, and hopefully we can get on to them soon. But unfortuntly we have another bad service from a Romford store.
So this is how it went. I run a company called Stuff! (the company that works on the blog you are currently reading) and because of the way this company operates and earns it's money, I found I was best suited to payments been made on to a cash card online account with Mastercard, and the use of Paypal, it best suited the buisness at the time. Also, I did not have a passport (needed a new one) or a drivers license (hadn't yet applied for one) and I knew that would make it hard to have even the most basic current account-and believe me it does, I know as I have been trying to get an account for almost 3 Years.  However as the buisness evolved and some new oppurtunities came I needed a bank account, not only that our friends at PayPal suddenly decided that I needed a bank account and put a block on my account untill I got one. This meant I had fees that I was unable to pay (and were due in a matter of days after PayPal did this). It also meant, with a buisness that's payment system uses heavily PayPal, it stopted a lot of earnings through. So thanks PayPal for that. So off I go to try and apply for a bank account. Nationwide was the only one of the high street banks I hadn't tried, so off I went to see about opening a basic current account. By the way, before I had entered the branch, I had rang a number of staff members of the Nationwide phoneline, as well as the particuler Romford branch that I planned on trying for the account. I did this to check if the ID I had was appropiot to get myself account. Now some staff members said it would be, some said it wasn't and some said it could be, depending on what staff say. Well that's consistant, Nationwide. OK so back to visiting the branch. I waited at the help desk, for a staff member to stop being busy and see me. It wasn't to long before she was able to see me (in a not very busy bank for late afternoon) and I explained about the acount I wanted. The account was the most basic and least fees (but still remember that does not mean they will not try and charge you fees, I'm sorry heigh street banks but you want the trust, you'll have to earn it)-this account is called the Flexi current account. I explained that this was the ID I had. After she took all the ID she went at the back somewhere, I'm guessing to confirm with a member of staff if my ID was acceptable. Well she came back and informed me, that with a statement from my cashplus card and the letter from the DWP I had already given, I would be allowed to open my account. She mentioned a statement through the post, but I explained that Mastercard do not send them through post, fair enough some companies do not, all my statements are through my online account. After thinking it through she told me a print of statement would be fine, and if I came back with it the next day with my DWP letter she would open up the account. So I did. I thought that I should hopefully finaley get a basic current account. Well I turned up, and waited to be seen by a member of staff. The lady one the helpdesk who informed me to come back the next day with the ID to get the account open was not working that day, so another member of staff saw me instead. I explained that I had come back in to get my account opened and about the ID I had and that I did need the account as fast as possiable, by the next day as it goes. The lady took my details, but then started to suggest my ID was not enough. Your are joking right? No she wasn't joking, she said the statement could not be accepted in the way I had given it to her (a printed copy as the lady I had seen the previous day had asked me to bring in). She insisted that she new for a fact my ID would not be accepted, one of the reasons been that it did not have my address on it (the address which is on the DWP letter.......), I tried to reason with her and explain that this ws the ID I was asked to bring in, no one told me it had to have an address on, and as it was an online statement they would not usually. So the staff member went to discuss this with another co worker. The lady who had seen me returned with another staff member who I explained the issue too. She said that she knew for a fact that my ID was not acceptable, and went through the list on the computer saying these are the ID's that can be accepted, checked if I had anything else from the list I could offer (I hadn't) and then said she could not accept this ID. I explained about the member of staff from the previous day to which she replied that she knows for a fact that her co worker knows what ID is required and would not have asked told me that the ID was acceptable. Except she did, and I have witness' who could prove that, thank you very much. After a while she said OK, she would talk to the member off staff about it. But why could we not have just gone with the member of staff who said I could use the ID I had brung in, she was the one who was right, I should be able to open up a basic account with this. This gave proof of name and address perferctly. What else do they want? They might as well ask me to wee in a cup and be done with it. Honestly Nationwide. The least complained about bank? Sorry but I'll be adding to the complaints against that.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Thanks For The Bad Service

Nothing good can ever come out of bad service, can it? Theirs nothing good to thank it for. Well actually that's maybe not quite true. Two words for you: Fawlty Towers. One of the greatest comedies was made thanks to the bad service in a hotel in Torquay experianced by the pythons John Clesse, Eric Idel, Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin. The hotel was the Gleneagles Hotel, with the hotel's owner been described by John Clesse as "the most marvellously rude man I've ever met."
Now I'm not saying we should encourage all companies to offer bad service, on the off chance that we may get a great TV show out of them, but you know I guess it was good that something great could come out of something that was bad servicewise.
Welcome To Fawlty Towers.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Tesco's-Try And Make Every Little Bit Of Customer Service Help

tesco logo Pictures, Images and Photos:Your Always Saying Your The Cheapest (Which Your Not Always), But What About Some Much Needed Customer Service Improvements

Now the supermarket Tesco is a place where some good deals can be found in store, a bit less then a few years ago, I would say, but still some good deals to be found. They have their Clubcard, a good idea, though again, a little less generous then it was a few years back. They do some very good food and non-food products. A lot of their prices have risen, like all the supermarkets have in some way (the ads would of course like you to think otherwise), but that's not all that's risen in Tesco. No, I'm not just talking about the bread. I'm talking about the bad customer service. Is it me, or has the service of Tesco's from staff to customer, got worse then it used to be? I'm sure it didn't use to be quite so frequent. In the many different branches of Tesco's I have visited-their are a lot of branches around, as Tesco's now owns half of the UK's land*-I have found some of the staff to be helpfull and friendly, though nothing standout when compared to other supermarkets. I have also found a lot of customer service to be not so good. As I say, their has been some staff that have been helpfull and try and do their job in a friendly manner, but also, too often some bad customer service in Tesco's around the country has appeared. In fact Tesco's must be one of the most complained about supermarkets in the UK. So a lot of people are not pleased with their service, then. It seems many of you have found problems with the way staff have been conducting themselves, including staff acting rude, not been helpfull to shoppers and beenunfair. Tesco's please improve this. Out So many new branches if your stores keep popping up-in the town of Romford yet another Tesco's store (another Metro, they aready have one not far from it, not to mention all the other Tesco stores nearby). Some branches seem to have consistantly bad service more then others. For me,the worse has been a Tesco Extra store in Romeo.Corner, near Romford. Often in visits, staff were unhelpful to customers when they asked for instore help. Another thing that I found was they had a thing about been a bit, well you could say stingey, refusing to reduce items that should really of been heavly reduced. For example, refusing to reduce a backpack that had a broken zip when customers were rightly pointing out how can they not reduce it. Or theirs sone diaries, very nice patterned ones Tesco's sell, that were on a sale, yet one left was in much worse condition. Staff refused to allow it to be further reduced. A bit tight, isn't it? Especially when you consider how much money Tesco has made. Though they are still in the profits, they have been falling compared to previous years, perhaps some of you have began to tire of parts of Tesco's customer service. What it seems to me ia,before opening up more and more stores, how about you work to improve customer service in the branches you already have open.
I think many people would prefer this then the current trend of the 'big four' supermarkets, yes thar includes you Tesco, of using tricks to make you products seem cheaper and a better deal then they actually are. It is other supermarkets as well as Tesco, where I think goos customer service needs to be much more if a focus point, but so far Tesco's has been sticking out as one of them that needs it the most.
*Some esageration may of been used. Yes A little.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Single Support From the Job Centre Plus

Now we have had quite a few stories heighlighting the Job Centre Plus' bad service, so it's refreshing to hear something more positive from the JCP people. Well, it's an idea that if put into play in the correct way by JCP, could be positive anyway. Under a new change in benefit rules, single parents will get a helping hand to find jobs that they can manage around their roles as parents. Now if they keep to that idea, this is the kind of reasonable behaviour that will freshen up JCP.
From May the 21st 2012, all single parents will be moved from Income Support to Jobseekers Allowance when their child turns 5 (instead of the current 7). Those who have kids aged 12 or under will be able to refuse to take jobs outside of school hours, without it affecting their benefits. It is said that advisors at JCP (these ones known as Lone Parents Advisors) will offer one-to-one advice on training, childcare and CV's, plus help to find local family-friendly jobs. Now, as I think you may of gathered, I'm not the biggest fan of the way DWP and JCP have ran the JSA to customers,in terms of the very bad way they have often dealt it. But if they do manage it right this time, maybe this could help some people out. When The Sun published this news, intreastingly it came with a story about a lady who mentioned that finding a salon job that could fit around her family was tough, so her advisor suggested she start her own buisness-and the advisor gave her a grant to buy equipment. An example of a helpful advisor like that at JCP is good-well done to that person, and JCP use this as an example of having helpful advisors offering advice and to give a grant, also suggesting the idea and encouraging someone to start their own buisness-it's a great move to encourage as an option, but I always found previously JCP ignored it far too much.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Job Centre Plus Complaints-The First Sequal

Job Centre Plus Complaints Updates

I'd like to update you on my 'progress' with the Job Centre Plus. Incase you are one of the many having problems with the Job Centre Plus, I hope to try and offer tips that might be of help as I try and sort out my problems with this place. Now I say 'progress' as while I have tried some new avenues for my complaints, and some helpful contacts have being made (more on that coming up) the Job Centre Plus are still denying they have done anything wrong with my JSA. What a cheek. A very big freaking cheek. In fact, they have given so many big cheeks. But before I go on further about their big cheeks, here's the contact update. As I said in the earlier post, I was contacting M.r Andrew Rosindell to outline my complaints to him about the Romford JCP, the JCP in general and the DWP. Well M.r Rosindell had replied to me (actually very quick, only because of post being so slow I have only just recieved it) regarding these complaints.
I was pleased with M.r Rosindell's response, he outlined his understanding of my complaints about the Job Centre Plus and the Department of Work and Pensions, and he stated that he would make contact with Ian Duncan Smith, who is head of the Department of Work and Pensions, to make clear his concerns about what I had contacted him about. M.r Rosindell said that he would contact me once, M.r Smith has replied to his message, to let me know what he has to say on the matter. Now, whatever comes from this contact with Ian Duncan Smith, and hopefully he can offer something helpful, M.r Rosindell has already made more helpful steps on the issue in one letter, then the DWP or the Job Centre Plus have in the years I have being in contact with them. He has also shown far more understanding, quickly. So thank you M.r Rosindell.

Now the next development began when I tried, once again to call JCP Romford, on Tuesday 15th May 2012. All through the day I tried to get through to Romford JCP, without any luck. Then at last, at 4pm I got through to the reception at the Romford branch. Their was, according to the man on the over end, no JCP staff available to take my call, so he would get them to ring me back. Oh-oh, I don't usually get rang back by JCP. And guess what? Yeah, I'm sure you got it, I got no call back that day. So I planned to try again the next day. But before I got the chance, the post arrived which contained not one but two, letters from the DWP. Could it be they had looked into my complaints after the letters I had sent to JCP, and they were answering them? Could of been, but no it wasn't.
Here's what my packages contained.
Envelope one had two documents from H&M Revenue and Customs, stating details about my JSA claim so far. Then over in the second envelope we had a formal set letter (as in not a groveling apology admitting their bad service, and JCP's) which stated that their had been a recent change in my JSA claim. A recent change?? I have been off JSA for months! Then I found attached, was a cheque for just over £15.00. This was confusing. While I was grateful for this sudden outburst of money, and this something was better then nothing, what the DWP owed me was more closer to £500. Time to ring them up (again). It took nearly 5 minutes to be connected to the DWP (actually a new quick record I think) and off I went expressing my confusedment (not a real word) to the man on the phone. Turns out, that what had been sent to me was the money owed from back in February, according to them just before my benefit was stopted. I tried to understand this, and pondered over it for sometime but I just couldn't work out how,they arrived at this time. Then the man on the phone, explained that the Job Centre Plus had, all these months later after I was thrown off my JCP, only just emailed them to say my claim had been stopped earlier on, just before they sent out the letter. Thanks for that JCP, as that would of helped my JCP claim loads (sarcasm) seeing as that meant DWP had not had details of my account been closed yet. This service from JCP is just getting worse by the day. So back to the JCP hotline as I needed to once again see if my complaints letter had been answered and ask them what the (word removed) their doing. I rang them up explaining I wanted to see the status of my complaints (all million of them). The guy on the phone informed me that their was not an avaliable staff member to talk with me about my claim (here we go again), so when one was available could they ring me back. They could yes, if they actually did. I expressed that if perhaps someone could actually ring me back this time, that would be ace. I gave them an hour (tip when ringing JCP-even if they say their going to ring you back, don't take their word for it). I was surprised (as 

in thoughts of miracles floated through my mind) when JCP called back.  

Victor Meldrew Pictures, Images and Photos
I Don't Believe It!

Hold the front page though, will they have a helpful conclusion to my complaints? Er......no. The lady who rang me back, I recognised her voice, I think we had spoken on the phone before, and I think she sounded like the lady mentioned who's head of a department at JCP (and has answered previous complaints letters from me), and was one who at least talked to customers a little better then many JCP staff. The lady said that the person was on some leave who was dealing with my complaint but she said she had rang them at home for me about the issues I had raised, and she would be booking me in to see some one about my complaints (they are taking me seriously now? Better a couple years late then not at all, eh?). I thanked her for this, and tried to keep calm when she was going over with me why I had been taken of JSA and happened to mention that I was taken of not by an error from JCP, they were in the right. Excuse me I'll just be a second.

Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

I tried to explain that no, in fact it was their mistake. Well she wasn't agreeing on this one, and after a couple of minutes discussion she said, as she had also looked at my case, it was her advice that in order to try and get the money they own me I should just do a rapid reclaim. That thing I had expressed was not the correct solution for a valid reason, which had been mentioned in my complaints notes. The member of staff did agree with me after, about how that may not be the applicable action to take and that I can explain this to the person I was booked to see.
So that is where some progress has been made of sorts. Whether or not, JCP were going to answer my latest letter, if I had not rang them up, I would of heard anything more on the matters, I don't know. I'll give them the benefit (unlike they often do for people) of the doubt and say they had been looking into my account and were going to contact me once they had finished.
I'll keep you posted, including how the meeting at the Job Centre goes on when I attend the appointment they have set for me, and also any updates from this man 

(in real life Andrew Rosindell is a lot less fuzzy, sorry to M.r Rosindell and anyone else who may be offended about the photo that isn't doing M.r Rosindell justice, just at short notice it was the best I could get.)

Friday, 27 April 2012

Lost Child Care Files Social Services

Lost Child Care Files Social Services

Here is a piece from Ann, who would like to share here experiences with Social Services, including her dealings with the Newham Social Services.
"I was born in the East End of London, taken into care as a baby. From the age of 16 I have been fighting for the right to have access to my files, It's taken me years to reach a point of no return, for Newham refuses to accept responsibility or to even give me a proper answer to what has happened to them. They can quote the law at me, I do have rights if they have wrongly been destroyed then I need to know Why, When an By Whom?
Do you think that I can get these answers? They tell me, after I have written them countless letters that, because they cannot find them, they must have been destroyed-that is not good enough.  They might only be pieces of papers to them, they are my life. There is vital, important information on them. Plus, I believe the real reason they do not want me to have access to them is they know that what went on in care as far as they are concerned should stay behind closed doors.
If it turns out that my files have been destroyed, someone needs to explain themselves. I cannot believe that no one has used their common sense, thought, that one day I would need to see my files, especially as I had already made arrangements to collect the, on my 18 th birthday, they like my Medical files have miraculously dissappeared.
I do not know where my mum is as I have barely had contact with her, not that she would probably   tell me what I need to know anyway. There's a lot more to my story, if anyone has had dealings with Newham Social Services or has been in care too, I would appreciate it if you got in touch.
I cannot get back my childhood, there is a lot that can never be put right for me, this was one thing that Newham could have done, kept safe, what was mine. I know that the law was recently changed, a law is only man made after all, it does not make it right, a lot of damage was done to me in care and I do not want to see another child/adult suffering in that way again.
I was told by another Social Worker that Newham are the worse in the Brough, well sadly that does not surprise me, it's no excuse either."

My GP and Hospital Service by Ann

Here is a new post about GP's and hospital services "If anyone has had a bad experiance with either their GP or hospital, or both that you would not mind telling us  here on this blog, please feel free too.
Here is what my Mum has to say on her experiences
 "Well, it gets a bit much when your GP keeps on losing your prescriptions, especially as I have to write a note everytime requesting more medication, even though I am under our local hostipal, not him, I know he gets paid lots, he should at least do his job with grace.
I went without medication for a whole year once because of this, I was not able to get to hospital to ask for some, as when you have arthiritis it is vital that you keep on taking the medication. The only way anything is ever going to get done is if we do it ourselves. Please let me know of your experiances. The hospital I visit is not brilliant by any means, in fact they fall way below standards of what is expected from the medical profession, the GP is no better. If more people turn to a chemist, supermarkets for advice then their should come a time soon when the doctor their is able to write out repeat prescriptions, after all they are usually more knowledgeable and better qualified to do so...... Let us make a differance......"

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Social Services Dealings

A Look At The Running Of Social Services

If you have had any experiences that you are willing to share on this blog, regarding Social Services then that would be greatly appreciated. This is for a series of upcoming articles that I'm working on regarding the running of social services, exploring where the service works and where it doesn't. It will include a story from my Mum, as she has had a lot of dealings with Social Services, in particular the Newham Social Services. She is putting together her story to raise awareness over where she believes Social Services needs changing, heighlighting the problems she has come across with them. One of the issues my Mum has had is regarding obtaining her Childcare Files (she has been fighting for years and years to try and obtain records that are rightfully hers to obtain, that could contain important information), if you have had problems obtaining your files that you would like to make known here, then they really would be gratefully received. Thank you for your time.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Introduction To Blog And First Article Review (Rant) For Blogged On Service

Your custom smiley from PimpMySmiley.com

The Intro: 

First of all a quick introduction to the blog. The idea of this blog is to give a place where people can read and submit, their dealings with organisations. Now this can be companies like Tesco or WH Smiths or it could be eBay or Amazon, it could be Sony or Microsoft. It could also be a town council or one of the many banks their are (mostly Santander seems to be about, they seem to be trying to inherit as much land as possible.) Any organisation that offers some kind of service, it can appear on the blog. You can add your experiences as a comment, or email them to me and I can post them in the next update. These do not have to just be bad experiences, they can be your great ones, or maybe just some that were OK. If you perhaps work for one of the organisations that have been at the centre of complaints and would like to give your side of the story, then please do. If your a person who perhaps has received some bad service where, say you ordered an item from a company that arrived in bad condition and would like to illustrate this fact, say with photos of the item, then you can send me the photos and whatever you would like to be written about it, then I'll add it as a post. For now you can email me them at stuwieben@gmail.com but soon I'll have a dedicated email for it where you can send me the articles, as well as send me any feedback you would like to about the blog. We do want to highlight bad service so people can be aware what some organisations get up to. Also you should not have to put up with having such bad service. I aim to be fair always, take into account all the factors that surround the service under review, but also I won't be biased to any organisation on the blog. Please note, that why I understand that many people may want to swear after very bad service has being given to them, as this blog is made for any readers when commenting and posting about your views please do not include the swearing. Please do not include anything abusive such as being racist or bullying in any form at all, these will not be printed. I'll have to edit any swearing out, other then that please be as honest as possiable! Say what you feel. Think of this blog as a Watchdog type blog, though unlike the BBC show we are not presented by Anne Robinson nor do we have Matt and Dan on their motorbikes in pursuit of rouge traders, though I'd like to see those two roar their bikes into action to expose this often badly ran organisation, which receives the prize of being the first complaints article for this blog. It's the Job Centre Plus.

The Job Centre Plus-Good Service? For Many No, It Seems...... 

Ahh, yes the Job Centre Plus. Three words that for some, will make your blood boil. Of course it shouldn't be like that, in fact one of the things that really annoys me about their poor service is the irony. The irony being that in an organisation where it is important good service is issued by staff, to aid you whilst your out of work, often does not help get you back to work at all-in fact it can, and has for some, done the opposit. Remember the Job Centre Plus is a place where we are supposed to be given helpful advice, as well as pointed in the right direction to get work and yet, I'm not exaggerating, but I think it's fair to say that the Job Centre Plus only helped to hinder me getting a job, ultimately. I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one, in fact I know I'm not the only one. I'll be telling you of some of my experiences with the Job Centre Plus, as well as looking into some other people's in this and upcoming posts. You see the Job Centre Plus have provided a lot of material for complaints. And I mean a lot.

Job Centre +Customer Service= (Fill in the blanks, but I and many others will have some suggestions) 

 Before I had even started further research into the services the Job Centre Plus were dishing out (and the quality of it), I had already heard a large amount of complaints and seen for myself when I used them, the problems people were having with this place. You only have to Google Job Centre Plus to see just how many complaints their are. After extensive research, I have so far found just a couple of reviews that are complementary to Job Centre Plus, verses a load that are full complaints. Hopefully, their are some more people who have had good experiences with them. People have told me their experiences of the Job Centre, but very few are positive. Actually none of them were. Looking over on the internet, I found one reviewer willing to give four stars (they must have been lucky with who they come across at JCP, staffwise), all the others were much lower in their rating. Here's some reviews of JCP:
(Please note some of these sites reviews contain strong language, or other writing types you may not want to read)  

Here's another website with the Job Centre Plus' Service Under Review:
  If you take into account what is said in these complaints, and all the many other complaints, it's clear (like crystle) Job Centre Plus need improving in a lot of areas, and fast. If we look at just these websites, not including the many more that have simmerler verdicts from customers of the Job Centre Plus, it shows us how low overall customer satisfaction is. But what's been done about it? The Job Centre Plus has been investigated on many occasions, but still a reguler showing of low quality service continues.    Customers should not have to put up with their common occurring dreadful service any more. Which is why this post is the start of a campaign I'm working on to highlight and encouage, the idea of how much the Job Centre Plus, and indeed it's links with the Department of Work and Pensions, needs improving. A better, fairer system, that stops punishing people when they have not done anything wrong, is in order I say. I assure you I haven't just randomly selected an organisation and because of their logo design or something, I decided I don't like everything about them. No, I have grounds for these complaints (and their logo design is the thing I have least to complain about against them), and it is definitely not just me who has bad service with them.
So, I'll be kicking of the blog with a big post, but their will be many different sized posts too on this blog, if you would rather read this post in smaller chunks please feel free to do so, if you would rather skip ahead to certain parts of the post that intrest you, go ahead. Now this low quality service of the Job Centre Plus, is not a good thing at all-this is suposedly a public service that is open for regular use, where many people hope to use their services to help them get back into work, or find a job for the first time. Not only that though, many people will need to be attending as a requirement for the benefit they are claiming. When taking into account people's views on the Job Centre Plus, I randomly selected people who had used their services and wanted to have their opinion online. I actually did not seek out to only find people who had found the Job Centre Plus service bad, but it just so happend they had all had bad experiances to tell me about. This gives you an idea that I'm certaintly not the only one who's not best pleased with this service. Let's look at some of these Job Centre Plus problems then.

The Job Centre Plus : Makes Me Confused.com

Here's one to start you off with. Have you noticed, how the Job Centre Plus have confusing policies they abide by. Sometimes it feels like their trying to tie us to their services and keep us on the benefit being claimed, by insisting we follow these policies of theirs, instead of us earning elsewhere when we are able to. Other times it looks like their after any excuse to chuck us of their services and the benefit. 
On very (as in very, very) regular occasions, I was having a Job Centre Plus staff member have a go at me and threaten my Job Seeker's Allowance, for attending job interviews I had being invited to, instead of a course they insisted I joined. I found their tone was rude most of the time when they were saying this. This course they were trying to force me on, was one I had already completed the skills that it was set up to teach. I thought the Job Seekers Allowance terms stated that we were supposed to take on job interviews when they become avaliable (they do), so what then Job Centre Plus, were you playing at? This is not something they dud just once to me. Many people have had these kind of issues with their local Job Centre Plus, it's been a reguler complaint. By the way, whenever I mention the problems I have had with JCP in a branch, it's with the one I used in Romford, Essex, in a road called Main Road. Sometimes I'll mention the JCP in general and not just a certain branch, this is because I think the system itself that it runs on (it is ran by the Department Of Work And Pensions) needs a rethink too. I really would be interested to hear if the Job Centre Plus in your area is as bad as the Romford branch, so far I have yet to hear of a brilliantly ran branch. Or even an overall well ran one. My complaints will end up in other posts and could to be honest, go on for many posts after that. Let's just say Job Centre Plus have given me a lot of material. So yes, I have a fair few complaints on today's subject. One of the things I'd really like to hear from you about is, with those who have had dealings with The Job Centre Plus, how has their service been for you-when you have read the complaints I've been making, have you experianced the same things too? What do you think of the structure the Job Centre Plus and Department Of Work and Pensions have in general, do you think they follow a good structure, what do you think of the quality of the service they give and is it fair? You can comment below or email me on those subjects.

Although it has seemed, as I mentioned earlier, that the Job Centre Plus seemed to want to tie us to their services, in another way, confusingly, they do seem to try to throw us off services, and the benefit being claimed, for no good reason. Reports show that a lot of people have had their benefit taken away, when they did nothing wrong, rather their Job Centre were being unreasonable. But what have the Job Centre Plus got to gain by doing this? Could it be their trying to make their numbers look good for the government, so they can say 'oh look we got this many people off benefits? Do they get paid for getting people of JSA? Hmm. It's just they sometimes seem very keen to take away benefits, why is this? If your thinking their just following rules set by those above them, why are those rules set by those above them, and that doesn't excuse that they shouldn't be enforcing these unfair rules in the first place. Then theirs the fact they don't use good discretion to customers issues, to not penalise them wrongly. They can have customers removed from the Job Centre Plus service their using, when that customer has done nothing wrong to deserve this. And this is something they have been doing. Once would be bad enough, but it's a lot more then once they've pulled out this little trick, I can tell you.
You see readers, I like many others who have used the Job Centre Plus, tried to do everything by the book (as in the Job Centre Plus Giant Book Of Being Unreasonable) when visiting JCP, but they acted unfairly still, so even when following their rules, still they act like this. Yet they would conplain if we did otherwise-how do we win with these people? I also wonder how can we seriously take advice about jobs from the Job Centre Plus staff, like for example how good customer service works, when they deliver on that kind of thing so badly themselves, so often. It's the JCP irony back again, isn't it? I only stayed with using the Job Centre Plus and on the Job Seekers Allowance, to get the benefit money to pay for various costs whilst I was out of work, ect. I was definitely not their for the advice and help to get me back to work-now I don't mean this because I didn't need it, not at all; I'm always grateful for helpful hints and tips-no I wasn't their for that because despite it being part of the service they are supposed to offer, I knew that, for the most of it, it just wasn't helpful, usually the opposite. My impression is that they seemed more keen on meeting targets, making sure this person is sent here, that person has completed this, even if it is not actually helpful to them in getting them work. Rather then telling you some helpful work related tips and using customer service that is actually suitable for a public place.It seems that, like with some other organisations, JCP are too much about meeting targets and ticking boxes, instead of doing what will best be serving customers. And I'm afraid for those not fans of irony, this is exactly where the irony returns; because customer service is the whole point of a job centre-what the staff can offer to the customer, to help you get a job, advice you on getting a job. JCP are part of DWP, this is the lot they work under, which in turn are under the government-these are government controlled groups-so if it's those higher up that are setting these targets, they need to rethink doing this, and government here's something you have the chance to prove-this service. JCP need to rethink how they go about trying to follow the mentioned targets. Funny, I remember very little advice given out to me at JCP, yet staff are trained to do that as part of thier roles, this is one of the things they should of being concentrating on instead of target meeting, unnecessary procedures and a dodgy attitude to customers.

Course Ultimatum's at the Job Centre Plus

JCP (they sound like some kind of alternative boy band with that acronym) have a thing about work courses and training programmes. Oh yes. Now work courses and training programmes can be great when done in the right way, a lot of people have found them very fulfilling. Unfortunately, the way JCP ran their course system, I found it far from fulfilling (apart from fulfilling with rising anger). It turns out other users of JCP have said the same, that you were being forced to take this course, or you were told by JCP that you would have your benefit stopped, even if you were already taking part in something you were using to help get you into work, and this would take the time of the course, so you would not be able to attend the work programme/course. The JCP in Romford wrapped me up in some kind of unfair problem with my JSA almost every visit. These problems were often relating to courses they had prepared for me, which they made it clear to me that, without a valid reason for not attending, I would have my benefit taken away. Well what are the lists of valid reasons exactly JCP, as I have heard people give very valid reasons for not being able to attend one of your courses and yet, you have told them their reasons are not good enough. Your not, this is merely a suggestion of course, but your not paid some kind of commission for putting people on these courses, or DWP paid commission, then going on the thoughts of this little bonus over what's best for the customer in front of you. It's just I'm unclear what you staff members would get out of a system, where by people are told get on the course or that's the end of your benefit. This even if the JCP customers have a completely fair reason why they would not like to be taking part on this particular course. Members of JCP Romford, had a real habit of trying to force me on an English writing test course, (I had already completed the course's teachings previously) saying they would stop my Job Seekers Allowance payment if I did not attend the course- instead of them helping me find some other applicable course or work opportunity that I could of taken. Not to mention they used this as a way of preventing me from following up the job applications I was going for at the time. I tried to explain this lot to them, various staff members, many times, but they did not take my reasoning as valid, something which I was going to find was often to be the case. They did this 'Course Ultimatium' as I have dubbed it, as a regular feature for my visits. Staff would say 'here is a course, go on it, or have your JSA stopped, doesn't matter if the course forces you to learn something that you have already learnt or taken a course in, or if it forces you to drop all the training/education your receiving through places like college, or university'. With this, their not even considering you may be needing your JSA to pay for the above mentioned education facilities and for things like travel, no they just went and delivered their Course Ultimatum. Ahhhhh the irony returns-their supposed to be helping us get work, not be prevented from it, what's going on? Users of JCP have pointed out the courses JCP attach you to have often been of a poor standard, with staff showing very rude and unhelpfull artributes. Well the course I did use, I'll get on to that in more detail shortly, was not of the above mentioned bad course quality, but I'll be looking into all the courses ran by companies that JCP work with, including those that have being mentioned for bad service too. JCP put me on the Seetec retail course one year, which I was willing to do as it was geared towards helping users find work in retail and giving work in some retail environments such as British Heart Foundation and hopefully, I had thought to myself, would be one of the better courses they offer, ie it was not ran like JCP. Staff on the course were generally better mannered and more helpful with their advice and setting up work experience, so it was good the JCP were working with a better company, but however, why can't their service be better and more like this.

I mean I start to wonder if people who have a talent for being able to talk in a rude manner to customers, show a complete lack of understanding and respect to people's situations, a knack for threatening to cut benefits for no valid reason, and a general unfair attitude to customers, are purposely selected to work at Job Centre Plus. So many staff I came across were brilliant at talking to customers in a rude way-they had this skill fine tuned. The way I heard some staff talk to people was a disgrace. If you have a look at some of the reviews people have left on websites, the rudeness is one of the most common complaints. I have heard from a lot of others who have found staff to be rude, so is it some kind of requirement of staff, then, this rudness. Their are many examples that I could mention of staff rudness I experianced, I could make a long post on just that. When staff members talked to customers in a nice way, I always felt surprised-that's not a good sign, is it? This one branch I have used, altogether amounting to around two years worth of using them on and off, while I went on various courses and applied for as many jobs as I could at that time (while JCP acted as if I didn't), I was lucky enough to receive plenty of dodgy service from the Job Centre. Most of the staff were not helpful with what I'd been applying for, only a few asked how it was going and whished luck, offered encouragement, that kind of thing. Many I found the opposit of encouragment was given. Now before I go on, I will say that their may be some good members of staff at the various Job Centre Plus buildings across the country. In the Job Centre that I used, their were about three members of staff that I would say were of a better standard compared to the rest, then just one that I could say was closer to 'very good', taking into account all the staff I had contact with, as part of me claiming JSA. These nicer examples of JCP staff, I was unable to see on a regular basis. This meant I often got the staff who's customer service left a lot to be desired. Some people have told me that while they were with the Job Centre Plus, staff members effectively told them they were useless, whilst they had been searching hard for work and putting effort into trying to set up their careers. These kind of comments from the Job Centre Plus (which is rumoured to be a professional service) bring to mind a phrase that involves a pot and a kettle, when applied to the service standards  JCP staff were giving out. The nicer staff at the Romford JCP, who's names I'm currently unaware of, but should I find out deserve credit, they were too few in numbers when you consider how many staff work at the JCP. But with out them JCP would be even worse, so well done and thank you to the select that met this standard. I thought the better staff sort of seemed out of place working at JCP, because they were so much better then the rest of the workers their.

Some Job Centre Plus Staff Deserve An Award-For Worse Manner To Customers (Who without, the staff wouldn't have a job might I point out)  

One time at the Job Centre Plus in Romford, I was at my sign-in interview. I politely, (I stress politely so staff members could not say I 'asked' in anyway for their manner I was replied with), asked a man named Michael, a staff member at JCP, if I could have a different appointment then the time he had given me for my next meeting. My reason for asking this was that my Mum needed help getting to a doctor's appointment, she suffers strongly with arthritis, also at the time was finding it hard to move around-she needed help with the day to day activities she was unable to do. As it was pain that was much worse even then the normal pain she often experiances across her body, it actually left her unable to move legs, arms and hands in particular at the time, so I thought my request was valid. By the way, I don't know if you have ever asked staff at JCP for an appointment time change, you know if you are unable to make the time that they give you. Well in my experience when I have, they act as if I have just asked them if I could eat the shoes their wearing, and film it for YouTube. So  So I asked staff member Michael if I could change my appointment time because of the reasons I mentioned, to help my Mum around the house and with her doctor's appointment, explaining what I have just explained to you, about why I would like the time change. To my request he replied 'no I couldn't change my time as my reasons for wanting it changed, were not good enough', (not exactly in a polite way, he appeared all polite when you greet him, but once you get going with him I found his manner changed quicker then Bruce Banner during transformation, when he thought I was in the wrong, and stayed that way for the rest of my appointment, which was nice). Michael also decided to inform me that because I had not attended the original time that was set for me at the JSA meeting I was attending that day (I had followed the correct procedures for changing the meeting time, under the Job Centre Plus rules), that if I did not have a valid reason for having the time changed (it was the same reason as I had requested it to be changed regarding my Mum)-then I would have him inform the Decision Maker about my reasons not being good enough. My JSA claim would then be affected, it would be stoppted. Now the Decision Maker is what they at JCP call someone from the Department of Work and Pensions. Michael informed me that he indeed did not find my reasons good enough, and recommend I should lose some benefit payments. He got on writing his note to the Decision Maker about this (they do waste a lot of paper at JCP) and got me to fill in pointless official forms, sorry I mean the required official forms, accept from they were pointless as I hadn't done anything wrong. Staff members seemed to be having a go at me for no reason at all, something they did often. I found Michael that day to be a charming member of staff. Sarcasem in case it did not come over clear. Stubborn too, as he would not take my reasoning against his claims as valid, insisting I just like to argue, when I tried to say how I disagreed with the Job Centre's way of running things, how unfair they had being, pointing out JCP had allocated me a time, so their was always going to be a chance it might not of been one I could make. Even if I had picked the time, you never know what might come up and prevent you from being able to make it. It's not unreasonable to ask JCP for a time change, so why do they have to act as if it is. If you were just in the middle of difusing a bomb and it was time for your appointment, you'll need to get to JCP otherwise they will start with their recommending benefits are stoppted letters to DWP. So back to that day with Michael, trying to let him see how I disagreed with what he was telling me, I thought he was being unfair and he just continued to suggest that I just liked to be argumentative. No it's called I don't agree with your nonsense mate, or the rest of the Job Centre's. Michael just wouldn't accept he was in the wrong.
When visiting JCP, far too many visits I and loads of other people, found they were being spoken to and dealt with, in a way any more reputable company would of sacked the staff by now for, seeing as how often they acted like this. It was hardly out of character for them.
At that meeting with M.r Michael he also did the regular tactic JCP uses of saying 'here is a job application, apply for the job or you'll lose your JSA'. Staff often tried to make you apply for jobs that you were not able to qualify for anyway, and why they were making you do this, you would be missing out on work opurtunities that would of being suitable for you to take. Again, I ask, like with the JCP courses and work programmes, why are JCP so intent on trying to force you to apply for jobs they give you (or your benefit be affected) rather then letting you apply for any other job. Here's an example of how this unfair job applying procedure has gone on. The job Michael had 'invited' me to apply for wasKFC ,serving food. Now I love KFC food and would happily work their. But what about someone who is perhaps against eating animals, someone who perhaps would not want to work in a company where meat is cooked as they are against animals being killed and used for food. They are entitled to this opinion and yet Michael here did not ask me once if I was OK to work with meat. He said apply or have your benefit affected. I could of been a vegetarian.
My KFC application, If you have been to JCP you
may be very fammiler with staff trying to force you to
sign up to them.

  Staff (Bad) Mannerisims

I can't stand the way JCP staff acted, when you have a problem with them,where their in the wrong, and you try and tell them, but they act as if we are the ones who have been out of order to them by not following one of their unfair rules (rules that I swear sometimes they were making up, on the spot).Their has been inconsistencies with polices, sometimes something is allowed and sometimes it's not. In Now I know that sometimes in an organisation providing a service, it could be the customers in the wrong, but in my experiances and with what others have told me, as well as what I have read on various complaints formats, it's too often the fault of the staff and their impossibly bad attitude. Far too often it's the staffs unaceptable behaviour. Often I would hear raised voices or see a customer walk out of the interview early, from what I heard it was the customer who was in the right, after the staff had been at it again, acting in some unfair way or another. Going back to jobs that contain working with meat, some people may not want to work with meat, for example, for religious reasons, but Michael or any other member of staff I have come across when telling people they must apply for a job that involves working with meat, has never addressed this important factor, taken it into account. I have heard about a man with bad back problems been given a heavy lifting job from the Job Centre Plus. Someone found the JCP were trying to force them to take a job that involved driving, despite them being told by the customer they had no license and were unable to drive, in fact they had never driven in their life. There were many simmerler occurances reported. Here's an article from the Daily Mail, who reported JCP handing application forms for customers to apply for a role which asks you to be sexuly explict on a web cam. Check out the story here:

 Remember this is a work application from JCP, applications that JCP have tried to force people to apply for, if they don't their have their benefit cut-even though it would be completely understandable if someone did not want to take on this role. I did have one adviser (the staff member they assign you to be a kind of 'personal advisor'; they are mean't to know your situation and provide you with applicable ways to get into work, they are the ones set to see you on a reguler basis when you have an appointment) who came across as a nice, reasonable sort of guy. He was actually helpful, offering good hints and tips, setting handy goals to use regarding work, was a credit to JCP. He left though, so I only saw him a couple of times. Another adviser called Steve had a better attitude to customers to, he did offer me some helpful tips and had a much better attitude to customer service, then most I'd dealt with, for the most part while he was my advisor. Now I say for the most part, as it was while I was with him as my adviser I was once again chucked of JSA for no valiad reason. Now it could be because he took me off as he thought he was required to do this as part of his job (instead of using appropriate discretion) or it could be another member of staff who's responsible. I'm not sure who initiated ending my claim this time around, but this particuler time when I was chucked of JCP, is one I'm still invistigating, and after months of trying with JCP, I'm going to try the staff again and see if they can properley resolve my issue this time around. So this latest time my JSA was stopped (I'm still waiting for more answers from JCP and DWP who have given nothing on the matter, saying JCP need to sort it out-tell me about it DWP) all kicked of after a period of months, where I had been signing in every fortnight, was fed up of the staff members signing my work booklet,  and that was it. I found I had to think of ideas to suggest to them to help get me into work, instead of the other way around. Occasionally, one of the better ones at sign-on like Steve asked how my job search and interviews had been. I also found him to be more on the accommodating side (though when compared to othet staff I met at JCP, that's not saying a lot) with appointments for example, in terms of arranging them around my job interviews (which is what they are supposed to be like)! But as I say, often I would get nothing from staff back at these meetings after I had explained about all the various things I had been doing to get into work and it was just like the only reason to come in was so DWP would send my benefit payment. So much for the help in the getting back to work part, remember all this time some of the staff had been telling me that I had not been doing enough to look for work, despite that not been true. So, to try and stop this lack of activity at JCP visits I asked about the Work Programme course I had seen advertised. I thought that after 6 months on JSA someone at JCP may of put me on this course as it was supposed to help users of the course to get back to work, by training them and guaranteeing them an interview with a company in retail at the end of the course (one of the areas I had been searching for work in was retail so it would of been handy). I thought if I took this up with the JCP it would be making my visits a bit more productive in terms of getting work chances. Now sometimes in life, like buses, when you wait for one opportunity two come along. And so it happened that an interview for a sales assistant role within a retail shop became available to me for an interview with the company, after I had the course set up. Now, the course was supposed to be something you could rearrange if something came up that could lead to work, after all the course would still be their if I did not get the job after the interview, the job would not. So I rearranged the interview and ended up doing this a couple of times as a few more work interviews came up for job roles I had applied for some while back. So far, JCP allowed me to change the time of the course appointment interview, without causing any issues. Were JCP in Romford turning over a new leaf? No. As if to prove that they are still able to be so unfair in a spectacular way, my JSA was soon to be stopped. However I wasn't to discover that at first.
Let's rewind. I was at the JCP on a Thursday. The sign in was going on as usual with Steve. After the sign in, he asked me if I could come in the next day as he wanted me to have the appointment about the course ASAP. I said OK and I could do this, this was fine and that was the end of my appointment. Off I went (after checking out the latest fake job applications on their computers, there also appeared to be some real ones too, result).
Now came the Friday that I had the interview about the course. But I got a call near to the time of the course, about a job interview, to see if I qualified for the job.  I needed to ring back if interested about the role ASAP, they needed someone to fill the role available quick you see. I thought I'd better call the JCP hotline to let them know I had an interview with the company. Accept from I couldn't get through to them on the phone. I was just waiting and waiting to get through but couldn't (could be because of the amount of people ringing to complain). Other times I had tried turning up at JCP if their had been an issue that needed sorting, but then I was told I had to make an appointment or I couldn't see a member of staff. Besides, I do not live right next to the closest JCP to me, so I would never make it before it closed in this case, it was closeing in a matter of minutes. So in the end I was able to have my job interview as I got through to them straight away, they were their longer then JCP which had closed at 5:00pm. But, as I remember, JCP had informed me many-a-time, you have five days to notify JCP if you are unable to attend one of their appointments. I relised they would not be open the next two days, Saturday and Sunday, but I could ring them first thing on the Monday, which would still be well within the 5 day notification time. So come Monday and when I finaley got through to someone on the phone, I told JCP Romford my situation with the course interview time and what happened on Friday. The man on the other end seemed a little confused and I was soon to be joining him with that particular feeling. He stated that he was unable to find any record of me at the Job Centre Plus. I confirmed my details a couple of times but still he came back with the same reply. He checked with me what benefit I had been claiming, he told me I was not on the list of claiming JSA. In other words they had no record of me being on JSA, none of my details at all (I later was able to prove they did still have my details on record, when I got them from another member of staff)-I had only been at JCP on Thursday a couple of days ago, where they had my details just fine. Confused, I explained their most be some kind of mistake as I definitely was on JSA. Eventually he stated that I was taken off JSA if I had missed an appointment and not notified them within required time. I told him this just wasn't the case for me. We came to a sort of stalemate where he could offer no more on the matter and I left the phone, untill later on when I tried another member of staff to see if I could work out what was going on, then I tried the manager of the department I was under but they insisted it was right I was off JSA because I had not notified them within the correct time that I was going to miss an appointment. Remember, this was ironically the course I had to encourage them to allow me to do, to try and get more help out of JSA's service. Now, I understand that as they had either stoppted my benefit on either the Friday or Monday, a letter may of not yet arrived to me from the post, explaning that I had my benefit taken away, that I had been completly taken of JSA. Guess what though, that letter never arrived, months later. So it either got lost in the post (I'll check if Royal Mail recived such a letter) or is it that a letter was never sent to me? I expect at least one from the DWP informing me that, after recommendation from JCP they had taken away my benefit. I also think that JCP should explain Not a letter, not a phone call, nothing.Another fine mess from JCP Romford. When you look at the way Michael who I mentioned earlier, acted at JCP, it's not all just on the stopping of the benefit recommendation he gave, that I had a problem with, it was how flatly and rudely he said my reason regarding my Mum, was not a good enough reasoning for requesting a time change. How dare the fool as M.r T would of rightly said. Now I didn't say that, partly ad I'm not M.r T, but I did think he was acting in a unfair way.Knowing my Mum's situation was more important then the rubbish he presented me with I did arrange another time for the appointment Michael had set for me and explained about my dealings with him at the next meeting with another member of staff, telling them while I had the times changed. When it came to the Decision Maker at the DWP, I was pleased that, to their credit, they did not agree with Michael and stop the JSA. I have had issues with the DWP in the past, but this time they made the right decision.
I sent a letter of complaint about Michael to JCP, but whether or not he was ever made aware of my complaint, had a talking to by the staff in charge of him, I'll don't know, as the letter was replied back by the manager of his department, saying he did what he was meant too, yada, yada yada......(she didn't actually say that but might as well of, in other words it was the set thing she always replies back to me with, when I've complained, where my problem then doesn't get solved satisfactory. Yes, she apoligies for me not being pleased with their services which I appreciate, but she does not solve my issues with them and aim to try and put them right. The same as when I've talked to her and others on the phone at JCP they haven't once admited their mistakes, they say they have done everything the right way. Each time in these letters she sticks up for her co workers saying they acted in the right way, when each time they blatently didn't.
The amount of booklets I have in a collection  at home from the Job Centre, the ones that inform that my claim may be stopped, it will be decided if it will by the Decision Maker. JCP should stop wasting paper (and trees) by keep sending these booklets out for no good reason. I have many which I have kept to prove a point to the Job Centre, as well as the other forms and paper they send saying I've done something wrong when I haven't. A lot of times I was told my JSA may be taken away for silly reasons, so was handed these documents and told to fill this in and that in for no apparent good reason. These were often because staff would insist that I was late when I was actually either a) on time/earlier with anything, b) was a couple of minutes late because of heavy traffic c) was late to my interview because of waiting in the line to be seen at the reception (it could get busy at times understandably, JCP should try and take this into account) at the reception to be put through too staff. (JCP seem to be in the thinking we should be able to control the traffic or something: people could leave for their appointment within plenty of time of when it's scheduled, but if a problem arises with something such as heavy traffic buildup, someone could understandably be late for the appointment. So is this unfair if the old Decision Maker thing is put to you for this reasons). Staff members were often late (I was often in the waiting area for twenty minutes, but sometimes it was closer to an hour). This was often because of a staff member saying they had mistakenly not called me for my appointment, that kind of thing. I accepted their apoligies for this yet when we customers try and explain our reasons for being late it's a different story isn't it?
I have just heard Fatboy on EastEnders, who is job seeking, say 'I think I might go and try the Job Centre'-well let's hope the Walford Job Centre is better then the Romford one, Fatboy, otherwise it might not help you at all, mate.
TJ Who?
Now it's time to look at some of the other 'resources' that the Job Centre 'offers'. Yes it's a scentance that get's to lots of the inverted commas treatment, theirs a reason for that. Are you familiar with the computers that you can use to search for work, you know the touchscreen ones that JCP encourage you to use. They list applications which you can print of to apply for an avaliable role. Well have you ever noticed that these computers actually contain fake entries? Or is it just the Romford branch? You can let me know if you've spotted any fake ones at your JCP. Theirs some genuine work opportunities that are worth a look, worth applying for on the computers, but after following some applications up, some have indeed proved fake. One was with TJ Hughes, at the time when they were in business, to be a retail assistant working on the shop floor and in the warehouse. The role was for candidates to be an apprentice. The job application was laid out like other legitimate entries, with information on the companies phoneline to apply for the job. It also contained information about how it would be required for candidates to act in their role and the wage and working time information. I printed of this application to apply for the job, it sounded like a great opportunity in retail. I prepared for an interview with TJ Hughes over the phone and dialled the number on the form. Accept the confused member of TJ Hughes informed me they did not think their were any roles going in the company that was available to apply for. I later rang them up again to confirm this and indeed the person who deals with work applications informed me this was indeed the case, their was no job, their was no apprenticeship scheme currantly avaliable with them./span>

TJ Where?

 When I next had a meeting I mentioned it to the lady I saw who said she would look at into it, in a vague kind of way. After a few more mentions of it to staff, their was no reply at all when I mentioned it. After that staff never mentioned it again. Hmmmm. I have also heard about jobs that use to harsh sales tactics, putting on pressure to customers to make a sale, been advertised on the JCP computers.
The receptionists in the building could sometimes be more on the helpful side, it really depends who you see, though, some are just bad. One lady said as I was late for my appointment (I wasn't) I would have to come back another day for the interview, affecting the time I would receive the benefit payment This time the man on the phone who I spoke to on the 'miracle-if-you-can-actually-get-through-to-speak-to-someone' Job Center Plus Romford phoneline, agreed that the receptionist should not have said what she did and a new appointment was arranged without any question of the benefit been affected. This time JCP were better over the phone, but that is not something I can say very often and believe me I had a lot of chances to talk on the phone with them, trying to sort out their latest issue they decided to create. The security guards in the building are more friendly in their general manner in some ways , in terms of one for example came over to me whilst I was waiting to be seen and asked how I was, you never got that from the other staff. One thing that winds me up about them though, is how they would usher those waiting for their interviews out, if they were drinking or eating, is that really necessary? Why don't they usher staff members out for bad behaviour, that would be better. While we were on the subject of food, how come their are notices up telling customers not to eat or drink and yet staff like to eat and drink in front of you whilst your seeing them, I don't mind them eating or drinking at all, but why is it the case customers are not allowed to eat in the building, yet staff are-double standards anyone? If someone was really hungry or thirsty and needed to eat or drink (some people could be on really low energy whilst waiting to be seen by staff-which could often take ages), they should be able to. What is it with these places that say no eating when waiting to be seen, when their is, that I can think of, not a single reason why we should not be able to eat in this place. What harm would we really be doing by boosting our energy levels? Job Centre 

Plus Waiting Line----->Eating cookie

Oh yeah and in the Romford branch customers are not allowed to use the toilets, even though sometimes you may have to wait a while for your turn to see an adviser. Is that the same toilet policy on all JCP'?. So to put it as polite for this site as my words can allow, their allowed to take the p but we are not allowed to give any back. Have you noticed at the Job Centre Plus their are notices telling you to not use your mobile phones-why? I've heard staff telling customers not to use their phones, they don't seem to mind them texting or anything else, just the ringing they tell you not too. If you want to ring about the jobs, they say you have to ring from one of their phones. They don't have equipment that mobile phone signals interfere with, do they? So what's this all about?  

The Summary: (What The Job Centre Plus Need To Do To Improve)

The Job Centre Plus Phonelines

An 0800 number? That's helpful for people out of work not earning, isn't it Job Centre Plus?

The Job Centre Plus (plus what exactly? Aggro?) are supposed to be helping people find jobs and encouraging good work ethnics, you could say it is one of those companies that really needs to be ran well, as effectively as possible so users of the service are not finding their benefits and work situations unfairly affected. 
Theirs likely to be some issues in organisations every so often. But it's not like I just have a few complaints, one would be bad enough, but I have many- I know plenty of others do too.  I tried to do it by the book and follow the Job Centre's rules and procedures (despite some being very unfair) when I had an issue with them, but that did not improve their service or get my issues resolved to their rightful conclusion in the end. As well as complaining around various platforms online and offline, I've contacted the party leader MP for the area of Romford, Andrew Rosindell, to see what he thinks of the matter, where they stand and what they can offer as help.  If your looking for places to send your JSA complaints too, you could try to complain to MP's about your problems with the Job Centre to see what they say, will they be helpful I cannot guarantee, but it's worth trying and it's one of the kind of thing they are supposed to be dealing with. You could try the Citizen Advice Bureau, hopefully you'll have good luck with them, unfortunately I haven't always found them to be of a brilliant help. I have sent a couple of complaint letters to JCP which have been answered by the Department Manager, with an apology saying she is sorry that I have not been pleased with their service, but any issues I dispute, she informs me the staff were following correct procedures. The letter's have been about individual complaints, I think I might send one summing up all of them, if I can find enough paper, which might be hard with the amount JCP waste. During  research I have yet to find a particular body for complaints at JCP, the managers may try and solve your complaints and reply regarding them, but when their not solved to satisfaction for the customer, then this is not good enough. I think what JCP need, like a lot of other organisations, is some kind of regulator to monitor them, then that could allow for a party independent to JCP and DWP to unbiasedly receive JCP and DWP's complaints and deal with them effectively. Then the staff could have a proper disciplinary procedure from this regulator.
We should not have to put up with the kind of rubbish the Job Centre Plus gives us. We are entitled to the service their supposed to provide, right? This is why I invite you to post any of your Job Centre stories in the comments below, your entitled to complain when given bad service and organisations like the Job Centre Plus and other companies should not be allowed to get away with it. It will help raise awareness by writing and voicing your complaints, that's something that can be good to do, but also someone maybe able to give helpful advice and share their experiences if you want to mention your Job Centre 'adventures'. I'll be looking into their services further, I'd like to let you know that in recent years steps were made by various bodies to improve the Job Centre Plus. I see so this is it's improved state. Oh dear.
To conclude, along with all the complaints I have mentioned in this post, their are more problems I've had with the JCP, as well as with the many others people have had. Their will be more on it's way about JCP and DWP, oh yes. Also before I go, I'd like to complain to JCP about the fact that their not very good about sorting out people's complaints. Apart from that I think the Job Centre Plus has been excellent.