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Friday, June 3rd, 2016, 4:49 pm

Wilko (UK) Uses Faulty ATMs that Crash, Will ‘Steal’ Money and Then Wilko Will Lie and Divert, Not Even Naming the ATM Supplier

Avoid Wilko

WILKO’s ATMs have a reputation for being a piece of rubbish. Quite often when I come to the shop members of staff kindly ask people not to use these, so what’s the point having them there in the first place? These machines are so amateur that one can, in principle, pretty easily pull the power cord or the Ethernet cable out, essentially pulling the plug on the machines. That’s how insecure these pieces of trash are. But worse — there are apparently lots of software bugs in there (these are often not operational, probably because something made them crash earlier in the day) and earlier this week I became a victim of one and lost money (they actually took money without giving any cash before crashing), whereupon I was transfered between no less than three members of staff (totally clueless!) before actually speaking to someone who seemed helpful. In retrospect, this manager was as useless as it can get as she made false promises (I insisted that she should pursue this and phone me if there are any issues) and now that it’s Friday the issue is still not corrected and I never received a call. I was unable to make any additional financial transactions that day due to Wilko’s error and I spent extraordinary amounts of time and effort thereafter. I also spoke to them online and it was equally useless. They’re running me around expecting me to jump through hoops before there’s any hope at all of getting my money back (the money they took and still owe me).

More than three days later I have completely run out of patience. Days of anger are just not worth it and Wilko still refuses to say which company is responsible for these buggy ATMs that are unfit for purpose. The dialogue below (with names removed) may help provide some additional context and shows how slow and useless this whole experience has been. The conversation below spans several days and at times there was radio silence from them, hence the multiple consecutive messages from me.


Dr. Roy Schestowitz:

Arndale Manchester shop, they say would correct the error and call today; not corrected, no calls

Wilko:

Hi, can you explain what has happened? I will email the Manager for a reply to your problem. would you like us to contact via email or phone once we have a response? Thanks Claire

Dr. Roy Schestowitz: I already spoke to the manager and left my number with her (“Roy”). She should phone me to explain.

Dr. Roy Schestowitz:

The error is STILL not corrected. Please tell them to phone me to explain why I need to go through all this trouble, why they fail to correct this issue, etc. otherwise I’ll do public shaming again and we’ll just stop shopping at Wilko for good.

Dr. Roy Schestowitz:

I am still require to know, aside from the huge hassle this caused and failure of staff to do their duties (the manager made false promises), which company provides these ATMs so that I can campaign to revoke its certification to operate

Wilko:

We’re sorry to read of the inconvenience this has caused you. We are currently investigating this with the store and will come back to you as soon as we have an update. Thank you

Dr. Roy Schestowitz:

48 hours later and three hours after promises (as before) I am still waiting for issue to be rectified or phonecall to be made

Wilko:

I’m sorry for your the delay, however as previously advised we are currently investigating this incident and will come back to you as soon as we have an update. Thank you

Dr. Roy Schestowitz:

Almost 72 hours later the error made by the Wilko ATM remains uncorrected and staff (managed) failed to call me as promised.

Wilko:

Good morning – please accept our apologies for the delay in responding to your message.

We are currently investigating this matter with the Arndale Store.

Are you able to confirm if you have contacted your bank about the problem you encountered?

[Redacted]

Dr. Roy Schestowitz:

I have not, they said they’re no need as they would correct the error

Dr. Roy Schestowitz:

I wish to know the name of the supplier of the ATMs at Wilko so that I can campaign to revoke their licence. Buggy, unfit for purpose.

Wilko:

We are currently unable to confirm those details however, I can arrange for a dispute form to be sent out to you.

If you could kindly confirm your address & I will arrange for this to be sent.

Thank you
[Redacted]

Dr. Roy Schestowitz:

what’s in it for me going through this lengthy process? Unless you are willing to compensate me for the trouble I had to go through that day and until now….

Wilko:

As previously advised, it would be your bank who needs to look into this further. If you would like me to send you out a dispute form then please let me know of your address and I will of course arrange this.

Thank you
[Redacted]

Dr. Roy Schestowitz:

The mistake was made not by your bank but a faulty machine of yours, I shall protest against your very poor handling of this situation


This is not over. They still owe me money, they probably need to get rid of their supplier and if they refuse to tell me the supplier’s name (apparently has lots of victims out there), I will try harder to find out myself and campaign to ensure their machines cease operation. These are not production-ready and they embarrass an otherwise fine store whose staff is obviously rather incompetent as after all this time and effort they’re still not solving the problem. Maybe the supplier of the ATMs is being unhelpful to them.

We won’t be shopping at Wilko anymore.

Friday, January 1st, 2016, 9:19 pm

How I Use an Old Palm PDA Even in 2016

Palm Tungsten T introduced and made in 2002, still used nearly 14 years later

Palm Tungsten T

CLOSE friends of mine rightly find it hard to believe, but I still carry around with me (and regularly use) a device that’s nearly a decade and a half old. Well, newer is not always (or not necessarily) better, especially when there are habits and workflow involved.

Whenever I get asked about this I end up explaining that I use it primarily as a voice recorder and the older Tungsten was replaced by a newer (identical) one purchased in eBay a few years ago for my wife (we still have both of them and have used them both on occasions, even in tandem). Remember beaming? Yes, it still works! The truth is that the old one was not in a good enough state anymore, though battery life was OK (acceptable enough for use between daily charges).

Why make this newer purchase nearly a decade after the device was actually made? Well, the older one looked worn out after a decade’s use (almost a decade), having been carried around a lot (some bits of it no longer worked or were missing). How the eBay seller managed to keep this device in pristine condition (unused) for so long will remain a mystery. I don’t know the seller. Maybe it was kept in some attic (loft) in a home or a warehouse of some business. Maybe an unwanted gift from 2003 (ish).

What is it currently being used for? Well, I use it as a password manager with a master password (theft or loss less risky an incident this way). It stores it all (passwords) on a device without an Internet connection or a baseband OS, which makes it more secure in some ways; definitely no back doors can exist without physical access. Encryption at the storage layer on devices with back doors (usually the baseband OS is being used to hijack the principal OS, e.g. Android or iOS) is very limited as they can remotely rooted. This is widely understood these days, thanks to document leaks (mostly GCHQ) from Edward Snowden. Even the BBC covered it a couple of times in 2015.

I still occasionally use the device as an address book, though no longer much as diary/calendar. There are various ‘apps’ that come in handy as well; it is sometimes used for memos, scribbling, timing, calculations, conversions and so on.

How long will I use this Palm PDA? Judging by how long this first one lasted, it can easily last well past 2020. Even then it will remain equally secure.

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015, 8:12 am

Getting Soaked in Beer at EasyJet flight When EasyJet Staff Foolishly Gives Plenty of Alcohol to Heroin Addict

Confrontational, loud, rude passengers are not all that unusual. What’s more unusual are serial offenders (with the police at their back), who barely make it through airport security, smuggle illegal amounts of tobacco through the plane (by their own admission), have a history of severe drug abuse (the worst drugs that exist) and who enjoy the service of sales-happy flight attendants who serve them unlimited alcohol on a plane, despite already seeing abusive and antisocial behaviour.

My wife and I happened to have been allocated seats next to the worst type of person. Worst possible! I never thought it was possible for such a person to even board an airplane (especially in such a state). We were constantly interrupted for hours and the staff hardly cared at all. To make matters worse, then gave him a lot of beer, which he repeatly spilled on my wife (seated next to him) and myself (2 seats away). She got soaked and so were her sandals, bags, clothes and so on. A 5-hour journey next to a non-stop talker (sometimes to himself) heroin addict (by his own admission) can be very unpleasant.

If that’s not bad enough, EasyJet staff refused to take responsibility for this. All they seemed to care about was making money by selling beer. As much as possible! They were unhelpful and they made an effort to even blame the victim of this, as if it’s not acceptable for the customer to make a complaint about 1) failure to identity potentially problematic passengers; 2) failing to reallocate seats once abuse was reported (probably too late at this stage as much damage has already been done; 3) serving a lot alcohol to an already-abusive passenger, who based on the smell of his breath was already drunk when he got on board.

EasyJet not only gave a terrible flying experience (worse we even encountered) but also attempted to distance itself from responsibility and and paint the sufferer as the problem, probably for fear that admission of guilt would make the company liable for other such complaint.

EasyJet is a horrible company. Not will you get what you pay for; you’ll get a lot less and then be blamed, too. Better not to fly at all then to fly with EasyJet.

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015, 8:32 pm

TechBytes Episode 89: Back on the Air

TechBytes 2015

Direct download as Ogg (2:14:03, 59.0 MB) | High-quality MP3 (30.7 MB)

Summary: An episode which focuses on the rise of Chromebooks, serious issues pertaining to privacy, media bias, and the demise of Windows

This is the first show to have been recorded this year and hopefully the resumption of TechBytes as a weekly of bi-weekly show. We are hoping to facilitate live broadcasting of the show as well (coming soon). The show officially turns 5 in just 4 weeks from now.

We hope you will join us for future shows and consider subscribing to the show via the RSS feed. You can also visit our archives for past shows.

As embedded (HTML5):

Download:

Ogg Theora
(There is also an MP3 version)

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015, 10:05 am

Militarisation and Privatisation of British Police

G4S and TAU in Manchester

The above photograph was taken by me less than a day ago. It was captured near Town Hall (Manchester). I could not help taking it because it was such a poetic illustration of what had gone wrong with UK policing, especially in recent years.

In British newspapers, not to mention blogs, one dominant theme this week is a massive round of layoffs, potentially affecting over 20,000 cops. It smacks of austerity. There are no police cutbacks, however, just privatisation. Tories want to do to the public sector, police included, what they have already done (to some degree) to the NHS. Enriching already-rich private companies like G4S and Serco seems to be the goal here.

For the uninitiated, TAU is like militarised police in Manchester (here they are beating up nonviolent teenagers), so seeing them parked right next to the G4S van was just priceless.

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015, 9:01 am

PayPal Steals Money and Runs (No Real Support Mechanism)

I never chose to use PayPal. I did, however, choose to use eBay nearly a decade and a half ago (eBay is not perfect either, even for technical limitations and lack of APIs). For almost half a decade I was among the very few eBayers who were sending cheques, basically refusing to set up a PayPal account, but eventually I gave up and accepted this villainous entity, which based on this latest news is going to remain a necessity for all eBayers, even after the companies separate/decouple (almost exactly one decade after the buyout). PayPal is generally a very greedy and nasty company. It even bans accounts and potentially confiscates money for political purposes. It’s a foe of FOSS, it’s a proponent of some truly horrible new laws, and nobody should forget what it did to the likes of Wikileaks.

I have just become a victim of PayPal’s bad systems and bad service as well. I lost money due to their error and they’re not even fixing it, they’re just wasting time, probably hoping that I will lose interest in pursuing this any further. I already provided all the necessary details to the vendor, which after a couple of days said that this issue was at PayPal’s end and that PayPal needs to be contacted. What I didn’t quite know is how much trouble this would be. First of all, PayPal tried to bounce me back to the vendor (playing ping-pong basically) and then replied very slowly (days apart) without taking any action, just wasting more time and taking another day… and another day… now almost a week. These people don’t seem to want to be held accountable to their own mistakes and their own server glitches.

If possible, avoid PayPal. By any means. Companies like PayPal deserve to fail.

Update (3/9/2015): Over the past 10 days or so I’ve nagged PayPal on almost a daily basis to rectify this matter. Earlier today they even tried playing ping-pong again (referring me back to the vendor), but after hours of nagging they finally rectified the matter. It wasn’t worth the time. To just issue a just correction worth several pounds I had to spent a very long time and do a lot of legwork. Here is the final message from PayPal:

Dear Roy Schestowitz,

Thank you for contacting PayPal via Twitter. If you did not initiate this contact, please let us know immediately by replying to this email.

I’m sorry to hear that you were unable to locate those account credits and would be happy to assist you further.

From reviewing your account, I can see that 2 credits in the amounts of £2.78 GBP each were issued to your PayPal account balance today (transactions [redacted] and [redacted]).

_____

Prior to these credits being issued, you had received £10.00 GBP from [redacted] (transaction [redacted]), which left your PayPal account balance at [redacted] GBP. After those credits were issued to your account, they brought your account balance to [redacted] GBP. You then received £10.00 GBP from Annette Trevelyan (transaction [redacted]), which has left you with a current balance of [redacted] GBP.

If there is anything else that I can assist you with, please let me know.

If you would like to reach me directly, my telephone number is [redacted] and I work Wed, Thur, Sat and Sun from 6:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Central Time. In addition,please feel free to contact PayPal’s Twitter Support Team at askpaypal@paypal.com if you have any questions or concerns or if we can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,

[redacted]
PayPal Twitter Support
PayPal, Inc.

Copyright © 1999-2015 PayPal. All rights reserved.
PayPal (Europe) S.à r.l. & Cie, S.C.A.
Société en Commandite par Actions
Registered Office: 5th Floor 22-24 Boulevard Royal L-2449, Luxembourg
RCS Luxembourg B 118 349

Friday, August 14th, 2015, 8:38 am

Synergy for Expanded Workspace Without Extra Cables

Quad head

IF ONE looks for a laptop with a graphics card that has more than one output, the outputs often cannot be used concurrently, so for instance, my work laptop can either use an external display via HDMI or via VGA, not both at the same time. How does one easily expand one’s workspace? Get a budget Chromebook (15-inch Acer in this case), install GNU/Linux on it, extend the display to an external monitor (28 inches in this case), then connect to the other (primary) laptop using Synergy. Voila! Quad-head laptop (see above). There are no excuses anymore for not choosing laptops over desktop.

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