Friday, 30 January 2009

Why things are screwed - Part 2

But it's not just the public sector.

At a different client on Wednesday last week I received a letter from a supplier saying that we owed them £74. Wednesday is the day I'm in and the day cheques get written. But of course I'm not going to write out a cheque just because someone's asking for money. I sent the supplier an e-mail explaining that we hadn't received an invoice and please send us one. There was no reply on that day.

This Wednesday I'm back in and there is a reply. Please can I supply our account number? Now, I've been around finance for a long time and if someone sends me an e-mail that identifies the customer and asks for a copy invoice it'll be out the door instantly. I once sent someone from London to Bradford to pick up a million pound cheque and then rush back down and take it to Lloyds Bank head office in the City. It's a long story but business is all about getting paid.

Back to this week. I send a reply giving our account number. A couple of hours later I get another e-mail telling me that they couldn't send me the invoice because I'm not recognised as an "admin user" of their system. I passed this information on to one of the directors who will no doubt get the invoice, perhaps for payment next week.

Incidentally, another invoice was received from these people this Wednesday. It came by post and was opened by the receptionist along with the rest of the mail and put into my in-tray. The receptionist isn't an "admin user" either but that invoice will get paid on time.

Why things are screwed - Part 1

One of my clients is largely funded from the public sector. A few weeks ago I sent an invoice to one of the funding organisations. This invoice was for less than 1% of the typical monthly charge to these people.

A couple of weeks ago I had a call asking if they could pay us through the "government's credit card system". The mind boggles... I told them that I'd never heard of such a thing, that we certainly didn't have one of these cards, and why not just send us a cheque. They couldn't do that and it was agreed that settlement would be made by BACS as with all of their other regular payments to us.

On Tuesday I had another call from a different gentleman wanting to finalise payment "through the government credit card scheme". Again I explained why that wasn't possible and that they'd agreed to pay by BACS. "Oh, he must have given me the wrong message! And I see that you're a regular supplier and are already set up on our BACS system. We'll pay you that way."

Roll on to Thursday. This time I get a call from a lady wanting to know our bank details. I gently explained that they already had these and that they'd sent us a payment around 100 times larger than the one being discussed only the previous day. That didn't matter: I had to send a fax giving the same bank details that they've been using for years. I suppose that we'll now get the money.

Anything they can do Brown can do better

Monday, 26 January 2009

Serious Fraud

I see that Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott is calling for:
the Serious Fraud Office to launch an inquiry into a £12bn rights issue at RBS last April, which critics claimed misled investors into believing the bank was a good investment.
I fully agree with this proposal. But there's surely something else to consider.

The various foolish bankers who've lent so imprudently couldn't have done so if the extra money - around 14% last year - hadn't been created in the first place. Any investigation should consider the entire process of monetary creation. And that's something directly under the control of politicians and their lackeys.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Happy Birthday

Scotland, my old, respected mither!

Tho' whiles ye moistify your leather,

Till whare ye sit on craps o' heather,

Ye tine your dram,

Freedom and whisky gang thegither,

Tak aff your dram!

Not the Oscars

It's time for the Plook Award again:
Three towns are in the running to be declared the most dismal in Scotland in this year's Carbuncle Awards.

Motherwell, Glenrothes and New Cumnock have all been shortlisted for the award, dubbed the Plook on the Plinth

Previous "winners" and nominees have been suitably grim, as are this year's finalists. I don't suppose that these places being dominated by public sector development has anything to do with it...

Friday, 9 January 2009

Don't have a wooden Tsar?

Oh yes we do:
People in the Highlands can look forward to more opportunities to enjoy a healthier 2009 following Forestry Commission Scotland’s appointment of its first dedicated health champion.

Angus McWilliam has been appointed as the Highland Conservancy’s Highland Health Advisor, and started work in the Commission’s Dingwall office on January 6. He will work closely with local communities and organisations including NHS Highland, The Highland Council and Scottish Natural Heritage to promote the physical and mental health benefits of access to woods and forests

You what?

I must admit that I've always wondered what all of our wonderful Scottish scenery was actually for. Obviously not for people to take photographs. Oh no, that would never do. It seems that we are meant to walk in the countryside! I'd never have thought of that, would you? Thank God our taxes are being used to reveal this news to us.

All together now:

left, right;
left, right...

Saturday, 3 January 2009

The English Empire

According to today's Scotsman, in tonight's John Adams programme on Channel 4 :
Congress votes to declare independence from England.

In 1776.

Oh dear...

Thursday, 1 January 2009