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Two days of epic thunderstorms

Last Wednesday, a massive thunderstorm. The following day? Rinse and repeat...

Some pictures. There's video on my YouTube, it's more impressive.

The driveway
The driveway.

The access lane
The access lane.

The access lane filled by boots, it was up to my knees. As I said far too often in the videos that I uploaded, I have never seen anything like this. Sure, there was a flood a little like the first picture during a sudden massive thunderstorm a few years back because the fields drain down to the not-pond and, well, it's a constriction. I've also seen some flooding alongside the little river (runs alongside the trees) on wet winters. It is low lying for exactly that purpose. But the road is higher up and to flood that... what's my knee? Half a metre maybe? That's ridiculous.

Some water flooded into the house. It came into the "cave", which is a damp dark room at the back. Unfortunately it has a beaten earth floor that is lower than the surrounding land. It was pretty much a no-brainer that water would flood in during the flood (clue in the name, duh)...

The back of the house
The back of the house.
The floors in the habitable part of the house are higher. There's probably loads of dampness (nothing new there!) but the parts where I live were not flooded. Plenty of people around here weren't so lucky.

Unfortunately, as the water level went down, the water at the back pretty much did not. That's because the first storm washed a load of crap down into the drain pipe and it got choked up. Actually, it was probably semi-choked with leaves and rubbish but that storm and the violence of it made certain that it was bunged up tight so it won't drain.

Which leads on to the next topic...

 

I got scammed

Between being worried about the risk of flooding the back of the house and having a lot of problems getting connectivity due to the fibre fault (sometimes my phone would time out before it fetched anything - it seems to spend a lot of its time bouncing between HSPA+ and 4G to try to pick the best network, and ultimately doing nothing. In order to do this, I have my phone perched on a jar on top of a stool on top of the table by the window.

Due to this, I maybe wasn't quite as diligent as I should have been. Which is what scammers are counting on.

I call a company that was advertising on the internet ('cos, you know, phone books are a thing of the past). https://lebondebouchage.fr/ which was one of these "central switchboard that can send out a local operative" organisations. I mean, that's how things like the AA work so...

Somebody was scheduled to come out to visit at 6pm to look at the problem. He phoned me and said he had a big job on, could he come out Saturday. I wasn't entirely certain, but maybe. A little later he said he had finished up and could come out a little later at 7pm. I said okay. He neglected to mention a critical detail.

So he came out at quarter past seven, pulled out a domestic pressure washer and, using my water and electricity (lovely), he managed to shove his unblocking nozzle into the pipe and poked it around for a while and a little bit of water was visible on the far side. This was a start...
He pulled the nozzle out and said "you can rest tranquil now, it's unblocked" and that I have a two year guarantee.

He then went to make up his bill. And, you know, after 7pm the prices double.

So...

  • €360 for his "work" (counted as an hour, even though he did maybe 20 minutes, he spent longer with the bill than unblocking the pipe)
  • €180 for turning up
  • €760 for unblocking the pipe
  • Total: €1430 (with €130 tax, 10%?)

He told me that they do not accept cheques (because you can oppose a cheque payment). They will accept cash, credit card, or bank transfer. He told me that I absolutely had to pay it right now and he was rather pushy about me paying by bank card "as it is the simplest and fastest".

By this point it was quite clear that he was a scam artist, so there was no way in hell that I was going to let the bank card anywhere near his little card reader, as I feel that we can all agree that it was probably a skimmer.

So I did a direct transfer, to an IBAN that he dictated to me.

 

On Sunday, I checked the pipe after a bath and all the bath water was there. It wasn't draining, like at all. I can't help but suspect that the pipe wasn't even unblocked, he just managed to poke his pressure jet in far enough that some of it was making its way out the other side.

I phoned the man (on Sunday) and told him that the pipe was still blocked. He said to me that he could come and try with the pressure washer again, but he feels that it really needs the higher pressure that the big drain-clearing truck can provide. And he gave a bunch of excuses about me living far away and how often people request the truck in order to try to justify telling me that I'd have to pay about two grand for the truck to come out. I pointed out that there was the rule of "perfect achievement" which meant that having paid a large amount of money to have a drain unblocked, I fully expect it to be unblocked. He wasn't having it, telling me that I'd have to pay to have the truck come out. I left it that he should send me a quotation for the truck and I'll seek legal advice.

I was quite shaken by the event. Mostly pissed off at myself for getting screwed, and depressed that I won't be getting a replacement ride-on mower this summer (that was something I was planning for my holiday in August). I barely ate until Tuesday evening. I told my boss what happened as I was a bit fragile on Monday.
So, guys, us neurodivergents have feelings and emotions too. We just process them differently. If I was normal, I'd probably scream, cry, fall apart...

But being abnormal I didn't do any of that. I rationalised pretty quickly that the €1,430 is gone. Mea culpa, I was stupid and got screwed. Consider it a lesson learned hard.

And then I sat down and made a declaration on the government website for the suppression of frauds. I noted that the company concerned, MIG BATIMENT, doesn't seem to exist. The RCS (company number) was a "company" called IBRAHIM MANGASSOUBA (scare quotes around company as that looks like somebody's name - it's the Arabic form of Abraham, one of the most important prophets in the Quran; but maybe don't mention that it's from the Hebrew "Avhamon" which means "father of many") at a completely different address.

A couple of days later I engaged UFC-Que Choisir, a militant consumer rights organisation. They told me to first call the company (already done), and then to follow up with a letter sent by recorded delivery with a return card. I did this today - telling them that according to the rule of perfect achievement, I am fully entitled to request that they do what has been paid for. I pointed out that if it isn't done to my satisfaction within ten days of receiving the letter, I would be within my rights to engage another company to do the work at their expense.

Yes, I know, it is ridiculous to point out the law to scammers, but we can't call a sleazy scammer a sleazy scammer. There is a legal process that has to be followed. It will go better in my favour if I can hand over documentation showing that I considered them a legitimate company and gave them a legitimate opportunity to put things right.

Earlier today, I received a message from UFC-Que Choisir informing me that they have taken on my dossier, and to sit tight while they also contact the company. The cave will flood (again) if/when it rains. The floor is lower than the surrounding tarmac, as you can see from the picture. When that happens (as it'll surely rain more than the lightest drizzle in the next couple of weeks), I'll take dated photos and submit them to my Que Choisir dossier as why I had somebody do this as an 'urgent' job, rather than getting a bunch of quotes like I would if I wanted, say, new windows or something. They might be able to press for damages or something?

Yesterday, the son of one of the people that I work with came out to look at the problem. He said that he thinks the best option would be to replace the pipe with a larger one (a novel way of dealing with the blockage for sure!). He has given me a verbal estimate of "about a thousand", which with taxes will probably come to around the same as the scammers. And for that, it won't be 20-25 minutes buggering around with a pressure washer. No, it's going to be 2-3 days to smash through the tarmac to go down to where the pipe is, hoike it out, lay down a new pipe, and fill the hole with concrete. He said the he isn't going to retarmac over the repair as it is extremely expensive for what you get. Just concrete it to the same level as the surface, cheaper for me. But that's not all, he'll also fully dig out the ditch out to where the stream passes through. He also noted that there appears to be a 12cm height difference across the road. He said he would lower that to be a 6cm difference so that outflow falls down to the ditch level, which should act to prevent it clogging up as it reaches the ditch. From the back of the house to the top of the stream, flowing as it does right now, is a 27cm difference.
I'll be getting a proper written quote in the post.

It is expensive, but I can't help but think that it is probably the best option, to get the old thing ripped out and replaced. And being a little wider, I can do a twice-yearly maintenance of poking a chimney-sweeping rod up the pipe (from the outflow end), screwing on the sweep brush when I see the end, and pulling that back through in order to sweep away any leaves and whatnot stuck in there.

The guy that lived here was a farmer. He laid a lot of land drains and such, but I guess it is something you can do when you have resources. Do you think I'd be paying a guy to do this if I had access to a mini-digger?

 

YouTube comments

Because I didn't have access to RISC OS (the ROD WiFi doesn't work with my phone's hotspot, it connects and then immediately drops the connection) and because I was far too jittery to sit and write something, I uploaded a sort of running commentary on my YouTube channel.

Some of the replies were... interesting. Things crawling out of the woodwork.

The one where I uploaded a voice-munged recording of the phone conversation where he is trying to get me to fork out another two grand, I had this comment from "AAA-gj3rx":

  • i guess Elon musk should get a free rocket, because it blew up... the real world doesn't work that way.. try 50/50 but to try and screw the guy saying its a contract is not on...

I'm guessing this person is an American. Over this side of the ocean, there is this thing called consumer rights. It is also one of the main reasons that I am pursuing this.
You see, if the scammer just whacked me for his ridiculous time and callout and told me that he couldn't do anything, I'd need to get the big truck, I'd have probably reported it to the fraud site and then let it go. But he was greedy. He hit me for seven hundred and something (too lazy to scroll up) for having the pipe unblocked, which was manifestly not done.

Just to give you an idea of how seriously this sort of thing is taken in France, the mechanics that have worked on my car and my mother's car have always put all of the things they have replaced aside so I can examine what has been done. The only exception is the guy that looks after Caoimhe, as he lets me come into the workshop and he talks to me as he is doing the work, so I can see the work actually being done.

That's not to say that there isn't as much fraud in France as anywhere else, scammers are everywhere, but if something is written on a bill that hasn't been done, expect it to become a problem if it is noticed.

It would be cool if Que Choisir can get my money back, but I think it's a case of trying to extract blood from a lump of rock. I'm doing this out of principle. Because screw you too. And most of all because I doubt I'm the only one that has been scammed.
A town I have been to a few times for shopping, Craon, got hit hard in the storms, like a lot of water in the low-lying town centre. And, yeah, so many scammers that it made the TV news. A tyre iron to the skull would be too kind...

Another video had a comment from PINACI:

  • You missed out the word 'MUG' from your video title ! And you can learn how to do pretty much anything from watching youtube videos including how not to get scammed !!

Here's my reply, it says it all:

  • I think I've done well to make it to fifty before getting scammed, and it was only a small part of my savings, not something horrible like my pension pot or whatever.
    The thing is, when there's "an emergency" (like water being where water shouldn't be), somebody is not going to be quite as vigilant as they would normally be. This wasn't a case of "get a few quotes, go from there". This was a case of "it needs done NOW".
     
    I'm already resigned to having list the money. I'm pushing now on the principle of it, but mostly angry at myself for being a twat.
     
    Nobody thinks it'll happen to them until one day events conspire to make it happen. I really hope you don't ever get scammed (it's not a nice feeling), but should it happen to you, do me a solid and remember this discussion.

 

Fibre

I called Connectel to set up an appointment to have the engineer visit, given that my Saturday appointment came and went with no engineer and no message. In fact, it was me that had to chase this up. Deplorable service... though in defence of Orange (not something people say often!), they have outsourced everything and I think Orange was clueless because there was no information from Connectel (who are doing the fibre installation here).

Still, if I missed the appointment, everybody would talk to each other enough to bill me €69. If they miss the appointment, empty platitudes.

So I phoned up while on break at work. As it was "on hold", I put my phone on speakerphone. There were a few other people in there who did a good job of hiding their annoyance at the crappy tinny music emitting from my phone.

But it was worth it. This was Tuesday and I was only just starting to get over the scam-shock and was in no mood for being dicked around given the complete lack of communication which was extremely unprofessional. The woman on the phone was like "wow" then a lot of "um um um". She asked when I was available. I said any day from half five. She told me her latest time slot is 5pm. I told her that given we're doing this because their technician failed to turn up, I'm not taking a day off work unless they're going to be paying me for it. Eventually she suggested 8am on Saturday. She was probably trying to get in a dig by denying me a lie-in on the weekend. My reply? Good, first appointment, somebody might actually turn up. They will turn up won't they? You can guarantee me that this time somebody will be here?

As I hung up, everybody was staring at me. But I have two flaws. The first is that incompetence really annoys me. Like I'm almost as annoyed at the technician as I am over being scammed (yes, I know, irrational) because IT WOULDN'T HAVE EFFING HURT to send me an apology text, you know?
The second flaw is a mix of having a broken filter and tending towards being extremely snarky. As you might have noticed from this crap that you're wasting valuable seconds of your life reading.
Probably the only thing in my defence that's stopping me being labelled a massively uncompliant customer is my accent, I'd imagine a good half of what I was saying came across as rapid-fire gibberish. Of course, the girls at work that have put up with my gibberish for a decade and a half probably understood it a lot better.

Let's get one thing clear, I was mostly angry with the behaviour of the technician and by extension the company, not at the person on the phone. It's not her fault somebody else didn't do their job. So I was extremely snarky, but not offensive.

So let's hope at 8am on Saturday I'll have enough tea in me to say nothing as somebody fixes my connection, because right now after nearly two weeks of no broadband and going nuts over trying to do all of this on 4G, my Ariane is more like an explodey SpaceX.

 

Take a bet on it

Just heard Sunak on the radio news saying something like the following:
  • If anybody has broken the rules then they should face the full consequences of the law and of course they will be booted out of the party.
That's possibly paraphrased as it was spoken a lot faster than I can type it.

Suffice to say, it is worth remembering what happened when Johnson et al ignored the curfews they themselves put in place. Johnson wanted to "punish people who aren't doing the right thing" and have "massive fines". Johnson, his wife, and his chancellor (Sunak) were all handed £100 fixed penalty notices, and they resisted calls to resign over it - especially Johnson as he made history by becoming the first leader to be sanctioned for breaking the law while in office.

So, yeah, as much as Sunak might want to try to convince us not to surrender (his new favourite word) to those massive Labour tax rises (that he has been told not to say but said it anyway), we just can't get away from the fact that Tories are scum.

The only reason why I'm not rejoicing over seeing the Conservatives crash and burn as they so richly deserve.... is because what's going to take their place is worse.

 

 

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A tree-dwelling mammal, 28th June 2024, 12:01
Welcome back Rick. Was wondering where you'd got to (10 days without an update!) but then saw your posts on the ROO forums. So, now it's working, how's full-fibre? 
 
Openreach are still promising it here, but their broadband checker says "3 to 12 months". Like it's been saying for the last year and a half. Stuck with FTTC for the time being (although 60Mbit down, 20Mbit up isn't too bad for now).
Rick, 28th June 2024, 15:38
It's not working. Saturday is tomorrow...
A tree-dwelling mammal, 28th June 2024, 15:52
Fingers crossed for tomorrow then. Guess you uploaded this one on 4G (or 5G)?
Mick, 28th June 2024, 16:43
Labour can't be worse than Tories surely?. Labour are the least worse option. If we had PR, I'd vote for the greenies.  
 
Hope things start getting better from tomorrow for you.  
 
Well behind on your blog. Have some catching up to do.
A tree-dwelling mammal, 28th June 2024, 21:33
Ahh... politics. 
 
As I've said before in the comments, I'm traditionally a Tory voter. I won't be voting for them this time. Probably says all that needs to be said. 
 
That said, our generation (I'm including Rick in this) has never really experienced a 'proper' Labour government. The last one of those was 1979. Tony Blair and his cronies were just red Tories.
Rick, 28th June 2024, 21:38
I can't answer whether or not Labour would be worse. I think they're going to inherit a massive clusterf**k of what's left of Britain once the Tories have been kicked out, and I think this is the reason why Starmer isn't saying anything definite regarding taxes - it may be that there's no damn money in the coffers. 
 
All I can say is to ask if you think the country could survive another round of Tory tenacity? Swindlers, thieves, liars, and scumbags... 
 
As for how you vote, polling indicates that it is extremely likely to be a Labour government (because, as you say, FPTP favours the big two), so I'd suggest voting for whoever is most likely to unseat your local Tory. That's what I am doing (and it's Jeremy Hunt, yay!). 
Rick, 28th June 2024, 21:42
Yes, 4G. Mostly. When my phone isn't bouncing between H+ and 4G (and thus doing nothing other than nope, nope, nope, nope). 
 
At the moment it seems to work with my phone on a jam jar on top of a stool on top of the living room table. I can even watch Verisatium as long as the quality is ~480p. 
 
Yes, I really hope the internet is plugged in again tomorrow. There are so many "oh, I'll just Google that" moments that I'm not able to do, or streaming radio, or... 
A tree-dwelling mammal, 29th June 2024, 14:21
I'm pretty much resigned to the fact we're going to have a Labour government by the end of next week (and probably a Lib Dem MP for the first time in, ooh, forever). 
 
Now, casting my mind back to 2010. Blair and Brown had basically destroyed the country. Cameron (he of the 'go stick your [small] head in a pig' fame) and Clegg, it has to be said, inherited an absolute mess from Blair and Brown. Whether it was worse than what we're facing now... the jury is still out. 
 
However, whilst the Tories (or rather the Tory / Lib Dems) could blame the chaos on the mess left by 'Nu'-Labour for a couple of years... it's been 14 years and things have got worse. And they're still trying to blame things on 'the mess that Labour left us'. Or Brexit. Or COVID. Or anything except their own incompetence. 
 
Rishi 'please Sir can I have Sky TV' Nutsack has achieved the impossible - by comparison, he's made John Major look like an effective and competent PM. 
 
Away from politics, having got so frustrated with my phone that it's nearly been, errr, 'kinetically retired' on a couple of occasions (waiting over a minute to flip between apps!) I've given in and ordered a new one. My Motorola g22 will soon be put out to pasture and replaced with a g54. I did like the stock Android install on the g22 with no bloatware, but I didn't like the sluggish performance. The g54 has more RAM, more storage, a faster CPU, and is 5G. 
 
(My connection went down for a few hours the other evening. It was incredibly frustating. The router was connected but there was an upstream routing problem with my ISP. So I just went to bed, it had sorted itself out by the morning. I feel your pain!)
Mick, 30th June 2024, 13:00
Politics 
 
I just hope people vote. Tory press predict a labour landslide. Many might think that means they don't need to vote as result is a foregone conclusion.  
 
Conservatives have tripled the national debt. I think it's around £3tn now?. 101% of GDP! Over the same period they've defunded every public service. Police, courts, councils etc. Could Labour really be any more wasteful? The Tories also want us to leave the ECHR!!! Was the true purpose of their little Rwanda scheme?  
 
 
 
Fibre 
 
Rick, I'm guessing your fibre is still broken?

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