Tag Archives: self employment

Ill-mannered letters and other people’s whiplash is grinding me down

Angry Bird - like wot I am

In fact, it’s not just the paperwork, it’s the tone of the paperwork.

Having recently become self employed, there is an astonishing amount of paperwork required of me on an almost continual basis, mostly because there are lots of things that I now have to pay for which I didn’t before.  I am also constantly asked to account for myself to various bodies and, whilst I understand that this needs to be done, I come close to getting upset by the hectoring tones of many of these letters.

One letter, asking me for details of the work I have been doing has the penultimate paragraph in large, bold type, some of which is underlined, threatening that if I don’t provide this information within 15 days the payment in question will stop.  This is the first letter of its kind from them and I would mind less if it hadn’t, in fact, been sent to the wrong address.

I have two other ill-mannered letters this week.  The first one regarding Council Tax which is threatening me with court action if I don’t pay £27 which is 7 days overdue.  They informed me that I was  constantly falling into arrears in this financial year and that it simply would not do.  I only received the letter confirming my Council Tax bill three weeks ago.

The second made me want to spit blood with rage at the hypocrisy of it all.  For the first time in a very long while, I was overdrawn at the bank.  Overdrawn by £8 for a grand total of 4 days.  This meant that a direct debit was not paid and for which I was charged £8.  Fair enough.

What was not fair enough was the letter that I subsequently received from my bank lecturing me on the evils of being in debt, that it was totally unacceptable to overdraw without authority and would I like to see an advisor and go on a debt management course.

Do you know what?  I would like the banks to go on a debt management course.  Added to that, I would like the writers of these letters to think twice before assuming that everyone is a work-shy, backsliding criminal.

I just get angry, but I wonder what an elderly or vulnerable person would feel like if they received letters like these.

And whilst I’m on the subject of getting angry, I would like to share with you my entire morning spent trying to get a quote on my car insurance.  My insurance has gone up by over £250 since last year and that was the cheapest quote I could get.  I was expecting it to go up a little bit because I took someone’s wing mirror off back in July and, apparently foolishly, owned up on the flimsy grounds that it was categorically my fault.

I asked each insurer (I rather quaintly get my quotes from humans on telephones) why premiums had gone up so much.  Each one told me that a large factor was the no win no fee companies urging people to claim for whiplash.  Apparently the new trick is to get your friend to bang into your car from behind, you both claim on your insurance, then get a whopping payout for whiplash – the going rate is currently £2k.

When some stupid tart ran into the side of me a year ago (still not gone to court, incidentally) I was bombarded with calls from claims companies for weeks afterwards asking whether I was getting headaches or back pain. Several of them suggested that I was foolish not to claim as whiplash was virtually impossible to gainsay.  Needless to say, I refused to play the game, again on the frail excuse that I was not actually injured.

Nonetheless, my premiums have gone up by £250.

I am very, very cross.  I probably blame Thatcher.

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Filed under Life in general, Transport

Excuses Excuses

Forgive my slight tardiness in writing articles so far this year but I do have good reasons. Honest Govs.

Excuse Number 1:
As you know, I have been involved in a battle with the insurance companies regarding the car accident I had on 27th October.  The girl who hit me who, at the time of the accident admitted liability, later claimed that we were both at fault, and is now claiming that it was not her fault at all, that she was stationary and I hit her.  This has involved many ‘phone calls and a lot of paperwork.

My courtesy car has been withdrawn because the insurance company are not certain that they’ll recoup their money (3rd Party you see) and I was left without a vehicle.  I have therefore been obliged to pay for the repairs myself while the insurance companies fight it out and decide whether or not to take it to court.  I am very fortunate that I have the best mechanics in the world (GA Autocare in Desborough) who have done a fantastic job at a very reasonable price.  However, it’s still money I didn’t have sitting around idle, so please all keep your fingers crossed for a speedy resolution.

Excuse Number 2:
Boy the Elder took the entrance exam for the second Grammar School, passed (hurrah) and was immediately  recalled for interview.  We were both very anxious about it and trying not to let it show.  The first part of the interview was the “Are you a decent sort of chap?” sort which wasn’t a problem.  The second part was completely unexpected as they started asking him difficult maths questions and asking in depth questions about ‘Macbeth’.  BTE realised there was a problem when they kept calling him ‘Tom’ and it transpired that they had been scrutinising him based on someone else’s paper.

Regarding Macbeth, he hadn’t covered any of the stuff they asked him and he was too embarrassed to explain to them that this was because his English classes are so frequently disrupted that no-one can keep track of what they’ve done.  He came out of the interview in tears because he felt he had done so badly, although he is a bit of an emotional sort and felt much better about it by the evening.

We are now waiting.  My friend told me that there are only three places available for Year 9 so I can’t imagine that they’d give one of those places to a non-fee payer but you never know.  Please keep another set of fingers crossed for this one too.

Excuse Number 3:
Due to changing circumstances, I have had to make a very big decision about whether to declare myself self employed.  This has involved a lot of soul-searching, lots of meetings with the appropriate organisations, many phone calls to the Inland Revenue and associated bodies etc and an enormous amount of help and support from my friend and mentor at Freelance Unbound.   

This is all extremely exciting and you will be the first to know when the change happens but it also feels as though I’m doing a parachute jump in the dark on the edge of a large city.  I might hit the ground running in a fragrant meadow with only a moderate amount of cow pats.  I might equally break both legs and sustain internal injuries on a trunk road at rush hour.  In Birmingham.  I would be grateful if you would start plaiting your toes.

This has all happened this week.  However, the good news is that today I bought myself a lovely wing-backed fireside chair to replace the oversized and urine-soaked sofa bed which Jeremiah ruined.  I spent the afternoon curled up in it, with chocolate and large mugs of tea, watching Stephen Poliakoff’s wonderful film ‘The Lost Prince’.

I also discovered a bottle of one of my favourite beers, The Langton Brewery’s Inclined Plane’ lurking in the back of the larder and I am enjoying it whilst writing this blog.  Feel much better now.

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Filed under Education, Life in general