Thursday, June 19, 2014

Junkk Social - Too rare, not very well done:( Sorry!

The recent 'Your Green Future' Event we were part of, was a wake up call.

In two days a lot of folk swung by, checked out the ideas, liked what they saw, took a card... and came back home to sign up to the site.

It was only because of a few bounces that came into the mailing address PC that I was reminded to check the nether regions of our steam-driven admin back-end, and especially the registration database.

Logging Jam

There were a lot in there. The total now is over 4,000 (many, as we'll come to, doubtless lost to the disposable email sky... or hotmail, or gmail fairy). That's the ones signed in and already up.

There were also a large number stalled in our awful 'double opt in' system (sign up, get sent an email, re-confirm to activate. All genius for security, but less spiffy in a world of spam, filters and firewalls). This originally seemed like a good plan, imposed on us by those who know better. Long gone now, but as the guy who agreed, the buck stops with yours truly. Time has moved on.

And I just spent a lot of it going through scores that were in limbo, approving manually. Amazingly, very few 'spammers', who are easy to detect. 

Many new friends still as a result of the Poundland packaging (if sadly likely to end soon), the Joy of Junk book, mentions on such as the FoE or Guardian, or shows like the one just held in U of Worcester.

I wish I could change the system for the better. I am sure it can be. All things can of course change, be improved, evolve...

But they almost always also take time, and if it's Junkk IT, that means 3rd parties and money, as I don't know my HTML from my SQL. And as such skilled consultant fees I don't have currently.

However, things must change, so ways must be found.

Spring Into Summer Cleaning

So the summer hols reading on the beach will include a bit of drastic editing of pages that have been left fallow too long to serve now, and hiving off bits that it's possible free scripts and social media plug-ins from such as FaceBook and Blogger and Wordpress can do easier, better and much more integrated.

I've noticed Facebook or twitter pages or articles I follow or find all can be shared in the blink of an eye, as I do now especially on the 'Here Are Some We RE:made Earlier!' FaceBook page linked from the home page.

Maybe I can also reproduce the categories within these, to get these shares archived in a way to easily search under various topics again.

It will of course be a bunch of work, but with luck doable. 

Looking For Help In All the Right Places

I am also looking at converting to social enterprise or even charity status to see if this can help find more help, especially in terms of the warm bodies (as funded staff or volunteers) to get us back to when we were running 150,000+ unique visitors and climbing monthly.

Friday, June 13, 2014

IDEA - Kelly Kettle, plus some musings on efficiencies & enviROIs

One of the joys (of many) of this lark is what you can stumble across. 

And, of course, who. Which can always lead on to all sorts more fun stuff.

The other day on twitter I shared a link to an electric 'eco-kettle' (I'll save detail on this for another day, as this thread is set to head off on enough tangents already).

Suffice to say it was... is... claimed as a very green way to boil water.

I was convinced enough to be tempted, and shared this intention on said twitter, FaceBook, etc. I believe I added a caveat on its claimed values until bought and tried.

What followed was a most interesting serious of exchanges on what it takes to boil water, as you do, with an impressively credentialed gentleman who goes under the name of Roger Tallbloke. On many matters, but especially science and even more so that of climate, well worth a follow:

With that too often over-used and abused (esp. by our glorious 4th estate) term, I think he'll allow me to also confer upon him the accolade of on occasion erring on the 'controversial', but then who worth their salt is not?

But he and I do share a love of science, engineering and, crucially, second-use design (which we will get to soon, promise).

However reductions of waste and promotions of efficiencies do also score high with us.

So let me simply share what he did with me to my apparently incorrect notion that an electric kettle was the most eco (we shall suspend such as health & safety, speed, style & convenience factors for now) way to get water hot:

RT: Electric is a lot less energy efficient than gas for domestic water boiling.
JM: Really? Presumed an element within water was much more efficient than what first needs to heat pan & gets lost around edges.

RT: A lot of energy wasted heating air in bubbles forming on element which then rise to surface and lost to atmosphere. Well designed gas kettle loses little heat because turbulence makes heat cling to sides and be absorbed through to the water

RT: Other forgotten factor in elec vs gas is transmission losses for elec. Mad use of high grade energy for instant gratification.

He then topped the lesson with a lovely design example, including data:

RT: My 2oz kelly ketttle design boils a pint in 4 mins with 16g denatured alcohol. around 56% efficiency.

(Tangent - Interestingly enough, I just took delivery of a 'Junkk' Stirling Engine kit (sadly half the parts missing) that looks just like this. It will be subject of another post once finished, so watch this space. Clearly aluminium beer cans also have their re-uses.)

He has offered to expand when he has a moment, which may happen here, or on the 'Idea Page' on the site I have created in complement.

Roger has kindly amplified in significant detail:

For those who don't know what a kelly kettle is, look at this cross section:

Usually made from 16 gauge aluminium (old ones in copper), they are too heavy for solo backpackers but great for windy campsites.

So I made this lightweight version using UK and USA beer cans (they do the big in america). Rather than using wood for fuel I keep it clean using ethylated spirit (denatured alcohol). The stove at the bottom has two sets of flame-jet holes which heat both the inside and outside of the kettle. A simple aluminium windshield made from an extra large beer can opened out is used as necessary.

The kettle sits on the stove and uses a large american Fosters can with an internal chimney made from a UK beer can of smaller diameter. They are jointed with aluminium solder (and a lot of patience and swearing).

The chimney has flutes folded into it so it tapers from a wide circular base to a narrow 5 pointed star at the top. This raises the velocity of the combusted gases, creating the 'draw' to make the boil happen quickly. The 'hat' in the photo is a section of UK beer can with exhaust holes in and it conducts exhaust gas heat back into the water.

Updates posted - 16/05/14:

If you take care with drying times, you can use superglue for jointing and it'll last 20-30 boils.

I also make smaller versions with pint UK beer can + 2x red bull cans for chimney. Tricky jointing. Just enough for a cuppa. 1oz

The UK version uses a 4g stove made from a lip balm tin - 'internal' jets only. In use here on Red Pike


Finally comes the tricky bit as I need to refer to the blog there and the site page here, but to cut and copy across I need to publish both, go back and then re-edit. Or something.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

EVENT RE:View - Your Green Future

University showcase events have got a bit grander since my undergraduate days.

Last week was invited to bring along our RE:use ideas stand to this event, spanning two days.

In that time about twenty schools attended, sending pupils ranging from about 10 to 16 years of age, in class batches of about 30.

Amongst a variety of other things (I lost my stand-assistant son the second day as he ended up as a judge on a Dragon's Den feature elsewhere) the classes roamed the exhibition hall tasked with gaining an appreciation of what various 'eco' companies were, what they did, how their products or services contributed to sustainability, etc, plus what was involved career-wise should these be seen as appealing avenues to pursue.

The hall presented an eclectic bunch.

In addition to several University of Worcester (host campus - ironically where 'Chief of Stuff' Emma graduated from and who carried out our RE:tie market research) departments (including Computing and Robotics, with a 3D printer set-up I found most interesting given our RE:tie prototyping adventures and future design ambitions for new product ideas) & council sustainability offerings, there were such as Green Buying, marketing green products, World Aluminium, the Canal & River Trust  and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (who had a Stirling Engine model that has inspired my next Junkk project - watch this space... Already located and ordered from amazon to reverse engineer!).

Plus of course, (son included):

What was nice was the level of interactivity we could all offer the students, which made it very much a 'hands-on' experience'. This stand from actonenergy had a thermal imaging camera and, as you can see, yours truly was hot stuff:

There were sadly few opportunities for distractions, especially when I lost my lovely assistant, but I actually did come up with a new idea whilst there that I'll be adding to the site soon which many of the kids really liked... a totally easy cable labelling system... and also noticed another possible opportunity whilst rummaging under the table. If ever there looked to be a mass volume item that currently needs buying whose function surely could be met free with 'Junkk' materials, this is it:

So how was it all? Was it worth it?

Overall, yes. Kids, like adults, come in all shapes and sizes, so we got the 'get it over with' box-tickers, the 'why bother?' brigade but... also some real sweethearts vowing to go back home to search the site for inspiration. That is always nice.

All the teachers who visited were also very positive. Even got a few guys from various eco NGO/charity outfits swinging by. All very keen for us to come and exhibit at their fayre/expo/whatever.

The trouble is, exhibiting takes a lot of time and often money to get there. I was kindly offered expenses to be at this one but really it doesn't help much on the mortgage. Looking around the hall almost all others there I am pretty sure were getting paid in some form for their time too.

I need to get my head around this better. As clearly there are opportunities to see such contributions getting official support/sponsorship. And though not eco, which at least does carry a raft of benefits educationally, this example of what can get funded (a lot)* made me smile:

Whatever else, no one can accuse of being a waste:)

I was thinking of attending this, but it is a fair old hike. But maybe turning into a social enterprise or charity is, ironically, a way to actually cover costs if not make some money.

We do serve a pretty useful, as well as re-useful purpose, after all!

*Addendum - 17 June 14

For wry smiles, this also served well:

Especially seeing this: "The FoI requests revealed Cole had been awarded the second £150,000 of her award despite failing to fulfil the criteria. Nesta told us had been released the money for "achieving scale" – despite not actually having launched. That's quite an achievement. When asked if it could define "scale", Nesta failed to respond."

That's quite an amount.

Maybe it's more 'who you know' than 'what you are actually trying to achieve?'

Interestingly. NESTA is getting a lot of profile across normal and social media with its latest largesse.

One hopes the most money goes where it will do the most good, less expenses of course. The results, and numbers (beyond that eye-watering £10M to play with), will be interesting.

We used to submit to such prizes, but given the effort required vs. what seemed to win, we have tended to avoid them now.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014


Check out this TVC:

I am... excited.

This is a huge brand not just paying CSR lip service to second use, but building a major marketing campaign around it.

This post will with luck be added to as I request more info.

Friday, May 23, 2014

EVENT - Your Green Future - Worcester WR2

We've been invited to an event designed to inspire the next generations... will be on hand to show as many reuse ideas from the site as we can squeeze in the car, and look forward to with luck getting the kids' imaginations fired up.

Small caveat... not too sure, but it looks like it may be invitation based, so call to check before turning up. There's a form to apply on the website.

WHATYour Green Future - New Opportunities in a Changing World

WHERE University of Worcester, Riverside Building, 113 Hylton Road, Worcester, WR2 5JN

WHEN Thursday 5 June and Friday 6 June 2014

COST - As we always like it... FREE!

Parking: Parking is available. 
TIMING: All day

Events/Agenda - From the event PR:

This event is for schools in Worcestershire and Herefordshire. 
The event provides a unique opportunity for 11 to 19 year olds to explore, with business, the growing opportunities in a low carbon, resilient future. 
School students will work with over 30 businesses and education and training providers in professionally developed interactive workshops. They will explore cutting edge innovation, develop business ideas for food and fasion products, negotiate a new climate change agreement, and reduce a settlements energy needs

It will be a welcome return for to the University, as their Research Department were the ones who conducted a highly valuable, positive market survey on the potential of RE:tie commercially a few years' ago.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

An expo a day helps you work, res... no, work is pretty much it

Yesterday's Greenlinks event came and went without incident.

Or much of an audience, sadly. I can't help but feel that few, if anyone, knew it was happening outside a rather select collection of folk. I certainly didn't see any mention in any local media we get.

But as always quality was on hand to compensate for lack of quantity.

Certainly the chats I had with fellow exhibitors and those public who did visit were good fun.

I did notice one thing, and that was the age range, which started at retiree and headed North. Can't see much evidence that 'da yoof' find the environment a pressing concern. However I may be able to play a small part in turning that around, as I was as a consequence of the stand and message(s) invited to present next month at a University of Worcester event.

Really not much else to report as the exhibition mix was the usual grant bodies, solar guys and that was about it.

The talk by Simon Crowfoot of ecotricity about the e-Highway was interesting, if as much for what he cheerfully admitted was unknown as some intriguing facts on electric cars and charging them around the UK.

I had thought's revenue model was doomed by reality, but theirs seems little short of suicidal. Unless all of a sudden everyone does get a Nissan Leaf, in which case I don't give out much hope for the UK's carbon credit status, chances of getting a cuppa during a Bank Holiday travel rush, or out of a motorway service station e-point any time soon if everyone wants their 20min free juice up every 120 miles.

I am thinking maybe life is more defined by Shank's Pony, and the wisdom of ensuring that whatever you exhibit, make sure one item is a stool.

Friday, May 02, 2014

EVENT - Health, Wealth and Green Living - The Courtyard Hereford - 6 May

I should mention that will have a stand, which will look pretty much like the last time we were there:

Certainly caught the eye of event guest Vince Cable, MP.

There will be new 'reuse' ideas on display of course.

It is also a business networking event, so this time our main thrust will be to seek partnerships to turn creative second use concepts into viable, sustainable profit centres.

We're especially interested to chat with social enterprises with workforces keen and/or skilled in arts & crafts, to look at synergies for mutual reward. Plus funding agencies or those with complementary talents, such as marketing, sales, business, etc.

WHATHealth, Wealth and Green Living - Greenlinks Green Biz Event with H&W Chamber of Commerce 

WHERE - The Courtyard, Hereford, HR4 9JR
WHEN - on  Tuesday May 6th after work

COST - As we always like it... FREE!

Parking: Parking is available. 
TIMING: 6.00pm doors open for the evening until 9pm

Events/Agenda - From the event PR:

6.00pm Exhibition Opens

7.00pm Guests to auditorium

7.15pm Welcome from Chamber of Commerce
Introduction from Henry Jerwood, representing Eco Business West Midlands
Simon Crowfoot, Ecotricity, including Q&A

8.30-9.00pm Exhibition re-opens

9.00pm Event Close

This year our guest speaker is Simon Crowfoot, MD of Ecotricity's 'Electric Highway' project which has installed recharging points for Electric Vehicles in every motorway service station in the UK.

Now that the last obstacle to electrifying our transport system has been removed, we are on the brink of a transport revolution - and the implications for both individuals and businesses are enormous.
Come and find out what the issues are, and take a look at some of the exciting new designs of electric cars which are about to take over transport in the future!

Tickets for Simon's illustrated talk £5 from The Courtyard Box Office 01432 340 555

Monday, April 14, 2014

All Good Things Probably Come To An End - Poundland's Neil Ballard Departing

Several years ago I had taken a stand a packaging expo.

Part, part RE:tie, I was 'selling' the notion of designed-in reuse.

Sadly, considering the investment, both financial and in time, no takers.

However, there was one small silver lining, and that was in the form a gentleman (in all senses of the word) and his team who stopped by to chat about what I was up to and pushing.

I thought nothing of it really at the time, beyond enjoying the conversation I had with them.

Until, later, I got a funny little email from him. Paraphrasing, it read:

"Hope you don't mind," he wrote, "but we were so impressed with your concepts, we have decided to put your website URL on the company homepage, and all our packaging."

It marked the start of a great period (check the 'Labels' links to see the back and ongoing story), I hope, for all parties involved in the relationship.

Certainly benefited and still benefits from a significant signing uptake from those who have bought stuff from Poundland and seen the URL on the packaging.

However, sadly, in the course of one of our infrequent catch-up chats recently, I have learned that packaging manager Neil Ballard, the man who made all this possible, is moving on.

And, selfishly, I was also disappointed that he suspected that with him going, so would the mutually-rewarding relationship.

But it was great, fun and great fun while it lasted.

I hope all Poundland shoppers who discovered and were inspired by the profile provided by Neil via the packs have enjoyed what they have found... and will stay on to continue doing so.

But as an era clearly passes, thanks Neil!

Friday, April 11, 2014

UNICOM... or is it UNICon?

Do NOT shop where you see* this sign!

*For one (of many, petty) legal reasons, the company in question's logo, no matter how 'fair use' for journalistic purposes it may be valid to share, has been removed by demand of some very expensive lawyers... for some reason all over this 'case'.

STOP PRESS - Moving a post up from 1/9/10 to 11/04/14 takes some doing, but I think in this case worth it, even if also OT to Junkk's main remit. I just think it shows the power of patience, persistence and people joining together, which the internet has revolutionised on blogs, FaceBook, Twitter, etc.

The reason is summarised in a comment kindly shared today:

"It took time but we got there in the end.

Ofcom have just announced that they are investigating Unicom's Sales and Marketing tactics and their requirement to offer 12 month contracts.

The BBC have already filmed an item about them for Rip-off Britain which will be shown in the new series and Radio 4 are doing an item about them"

Ofcom investigates phone firm Unicom after complaints

17.04 - Just listened through. Very disappointed. Superficial investigation at best, with the lamest, tamest 'expert' possible to locate, dealing in generalities and neither host nor he getting their teeth into the meat of real abuses. All topped off by a breezy 'these three cases have been swallowed by Unicom... aren't we clever?'. Er, no. There are many more, worse, and longer that were either lazily ignored or venally suppressed. And no pulling in otelo, OFCOM or Government to explain their sorry selves. I hope someone does take them up on their invitation to write in with more. I might even do so myself. But given I am fighting the BBC Complaints system, which makes Unicom's seem ethical, not sure it would be worth it.

Chanelling my inner Churchill, it with luck heralds the end of the beginning, and the beginning of the end for what is clearly a seriously messed up situation that has caused misery, legally, with clear indifferent oversight by authority, for too long.
O/T, but as it goes to the state of this country and governance in general, I'll allow it.

I have not had much fun with bullies lately, but when a smug bean counter from a service company I pay invokes some legals when they screw up and says 'there's nothing you can do about it', that makes me see red.

So, for a start, Unicom, there is the power of the internet. They used to say good personal stories reach 3 others, but bad ones reach over a dozen. Let's see if I can do a tad better than that.

Google can be your friend. Starting here.

So if you're up for a fight between a David (though it seems I may not be alone) vs. a Goliath, read on.

A long time ago, our house alarm kept going off. So we called out the engineers.

Who said it was not our system, but the line.

So we called our telecom supplier, Unicom.

They said there was nothing wrong with the line. So we called back the engineers.

They insisted all in our house was fine.

So we called Unicom back and said the line was definitely at fault. They said it was not, and if we called them out and it was our problem, we'd be charged like a wounded bull. Fair enough... IF it was us getting it wrong.

So a BT engineer (go figure) lobs up, tears our house apart, and eventually finds the fault... on a pole halfway up the street. Insult to injury, in putting it all back together in the house he has disconnected a line so I have to call back the alarm engineers a 3rd time.

These folk kindly only bill me for one call out: the first.

Hence I get back to Unicom and after working through a myriad of departments end up with a customer service bod who concedes my point that if I get charged for a false call out, they should cover the inaccurate no-fault claims. We agree the engineer invoice should do it. Sadly, and to my backside-covering, contact-report obsessed shame, I did not confirm it in writing.

Because nothing happens. And when I chase I find it has been 'escalated' first of all, and when I show little by way of being impressed with that, it ends up with 'compliance'. Who seem happy to write endless letters reneging on our deal.

So I involve OFCOM. Who bounce me to yet another (why??????!) quango, sorry 'ombudsman', otelo.

But they bounce me back because they can't get involved because I have only been told to go fish by an administrator when they need a note of deadlock from a manager. Which Unicom, playing the (very rigged, with the authorities who in theory are acting on our behalves, totally complicit) system, seems unable, unsuprisingly, to provide.

So, enough is enough. I decide that whatever else, I'm off. So I move to another supplier.

But, quicker than you can say customer service #fail, I get a note from UNICOM 'retentions', pointing out that I am on a 3-year contract, and I will be slammed with a bill for nearly a grand if I move.

I look at my contract, and lo, it was signed in June 2006. Sorted. By 5 months.

Oh. no. In the minute-pt type of this contract (so small that when they sent it by email it was unreadable on screen), it says that a) you are required to give them 3 months' notice, and at the end of the last contract, with no one mentioning a thing from their side at first sale, or prior to the point of renewal, it gets automatically renewed.

Now, it maybe be 'legal', but where I come from it ain't right. And I am going to raise as much of a stink with UNICOM, OFCOM and Otelo as I can until one or other feels the warm glow of public loathing is getting uncomfortable, or if they still feel like digging in, then the media and our elected representatives.

Maybe in their corporate overlord minds 'I can do nothing', but in other ways there's still fair few options I have open.

UNICon... you are so on.


Had another conversation with Otelo, who accidentally sent me a 'you are on your own' notice the last time. After an initially terse few words, the officer in question has proved quite reasonable. I now have a case file and number.

Addendum 2

It would appear big business is flexing its muscles with an ever more 'sympathetic' establishment which, coincidentally, also seems less and less keen on the principles of free speech.

I have been approached by the owners of the complaint thread that was linked above:

Many thanks for your contribution to Review Centre!

As a consumer review website we encourage people to express their opinions (both positive and negative!) of the experience that they have had, but we must also take into consideration any concerns of businesses affected by these reviews.

I have received contact from a representative of Unicom Phone Company regarding reviews published on Review Centre. I have included a copy of the review you have written for your reference - (included below).

They have expressed their concerns regarding the review content and so we have temporarily removed your review from while we ask you to confirm your position on the matter.

Please let us know which one of the following options you would like to take by 26/02/2010

You would like the review to stay on Review Centre in its original form.
You would like to write the review differently on reflection as some of the information is now not relevant.
You are happy for the review to be deleted as the matter has been resolved.
If you wish to stand by your original review (or an edited version), we ask that you provide your contact details for our records (full name, address. telephone number, plus any evidence to authenticate your review).
Information collected is to validate the authenticity of your review and will not be passed to anyone without your expressed permission.

Please be aware that representatives of Unicom Phone Company may at some point in the future choose to take the matter further.

We look forward to hearing from you soon

Thanks again!

Your Review

Looks like I am joining a 'select' club

Noting the legal, if unethical stance taken, I have also written to them as follows:

Meanwhile, for the record, might I just ask a few questions of you or whomsoever you feel might be qualified to respond meaningfully:

1) At the time of signing the contract, is it not the obligation of the salesperson to make clear all relevant and pertinent t&cs to the customer?

2) Even if in writing, and a carbon copy left, is there not an obligation to make these in a form that is both reasonable and readable?

3) In the case of a renewal after a signed dated contract, especially one where the original is taken away on the spot, is there no obligation to issue to advise the customer, in good time, when this becomes due again?

To which I have replied:

Disputes are tricky things. Just as it takes two to tango, so there will (almost) inevitably be variations on the circumstances between protagonists that will be as different as night and day.

You guys are not journalists, I accept. But I was very relieved to locate the thread on this bunch that you had hosted, and find so many, with such similar stories, all in the same boat.

It seems unlikely we were/are all chancers trying to bilk some poor, honest company.

In fact most seem to have been screwed over in some way and simply wished to have the option of withdrawing our custom.

I do note that the entire thread, at least as I linked to in my blog, has now vanished. I hope there has been a record kept.

There is now a rather worrying trend in the UK where freedom of speech and various out-dated libel laws are (ab)used to serve the nefarious interests of those with money and no ethics. Supported, too often, by the very government and its agencies that we pay to protect us from abuses.

I would be interested in knowing what the Unicom 'rep' had to say. That these reviews were false? Misguided? Or just that they were hostile and they didn't like them. Was any factual rebuttal offered?

As to your questions, as far as I am concerned it can stay on as 1). However I do need to update my blog entry as linked, as things have indeed moved on a tad. I have now an otelo complaint log and do need to respond to that. Though that [Unicom] think that customers are here to dance to their systems is half the problem. I don't have floors of pencil pushers dedicated to wearing the other side down into giving up.

I don't think you need to worry about the content of my blog, though it seems I might. In the circumstances I am surprised they have not approached me directly, though my first response would be to ask which part they found inaccurate.

Actually I wrote nothing on your thread that anyone could take issue with, surely. In fact, all I do is share a few perfectly legitimate questions to seek clarification of the legal and or ethical business validity of their actions. Ironically none answered to date. Hence no evidence is required, though I have plenty, which I will be sharing with otelo now, having had a few other, better things to do than jump though endless box-ticking hoops designed to encourage giving up.

Might I ask if other, fellow, posters, have been so approached? And if they are as impressed with the service thuggery of this sweetheart outfit as I am?

And as it sounds like it came from them, what, precisely is meant by 'Unicom may want to take this matter further'? On past evidence I am presuming that conceding they have screwed up in just about every way, and feel it best to part company now as amicably as possible and go our separate ways, is not what this cabal of litigious bean-counters has in mind, despite the already vast PR hole they have already dug, and seem evidently keen to excavate further.

I am now turning to the otelo documentation. I really have better ways to spend my day, but principle matters now.

Addendum 3

One for the 'when in hole, keeping digging' files.

I decided, as I tend to, to check back to see about 'progress'.

I checked back to see what has happened. And was moved to write to

You have got to be kidding me!

After all the horror stories and zero ratings... this is all that is now up!????

1 Review For Unicom Phone Company

· ElizabethAdams 1st Jul 2008Reviewer rating:

Good Points: Excellent customer service, with very friendly and helpful staff.

Bad Points: None.

General comments: I have always found Unicom Phone Company to have excellent customer service, with very friendly and helpful staff.

I did try to add another of mine, asking where the scores of negatives and zero rating went. It is now advised as 'approved', though there does seem to have been a bit of editing first.

Your comment on Unicom Phone Company has now been approved and can be seen at :

Maybe they are still nervous of lawyers. I think the derisory tone still comes across.

Addendum 4

Just as otelo have and now are proving ever more interested, involved and helpful, so things are moving in other quarters. have not stood still, and it seems some if not all critical reviews are going back up. Mine included. They have kindly offered advice on where a few comments of mine above might have been 'colourfully worded' in ways that may have distracted from the total rectitude of the facts and value of opinions as to how I felt as the victim of the corporate treatment meted out.

I sense Unicom have lazily tried default suppression and a heavy hand, and have merely uncorked a genie.

In case they get suppressed again, a few goodies:

For over a year now we have told them we are not paying their cancellation fee,that their contract is not legally enforcable and if they think otherwise then simply take us to court! However, despite receiving in excess of 50 telephone calls and letters all threatening court action , baliffs and debt collection agencys and even a copy of the court claim form that they " will be sending" they have not as yet done so. Remember, you do not need to do anything until such time as you receive an official Court Summons!!!!! Meanwhile, hang up on them if they call!!

Had the typical hard sales phone call and made a meeting for her to come down for 4.00 to discuss services.

4.20 some random guy walks in with the usual really hard sales pitch. I told him I wanted to think about it and would not sign there and then. I asked for some of their paperwork to read through and also a copy of the contract - didnt get anything based on the company or agreement just a leaflet saying how much they can save me.

In my opinion a very rude sales guy, who also asked me for some of our corporate wine for his girlfriend. Wouldnt touch with a barge pole.

I entered into this contract without the knowledge i would be tied in for three years, apparently I had to read the small print to be aware of this. I have been with the company three years now and rang them to terminate my contract, I was told this had to be in writing. I then did this and as the letter was received 10 days after the start of the three month notice period I have been tied in for another three years.
You have to ask yourself why they have to have such restrictive tie in periods.

Had a line fitted at my new offices to be phone,fax and broadband, after 8 weeks they could not supply broadband on the line so cancelled contract.
Now being taken to court for not paying the £115 installation charge and another £100 for cancelling the contract.
Beware of the 1 year rolling contract, you have to cancel by giving 3 months notice before the end of the contract or will roll on for another year,or they will charge £100 cancellation.

many customers including ourselves feel that Unicom are a company operating with staff who have no knowledge of contract law. We cancelled our contract on the basis that they were unable to maintain uninterupted telecoms supply to our business. They then argued that we had entered into a three year contract and had seen terms and conditions that allowed them to take in excess of £3,000 in cancellation fees. Having previously taught contract law..and knowing that we had not seen any such terms I was amused..but I was not amused when then took £2,7000 from our account via a Direct Debit. We decided to take them through the courts but now they are wanting to settle..check* ( a web site set up to cover their antics) to follow our progress and that of others.
Please please please do not sign a contract with this company.
My husband is a builder who signed with Unicom at the side of a road where he was building an extension, he was given little time to read any of the small print. We realised that there is a 3 yr rolling contract when we tried to change (then you can only end the contract with 3mt notice pre the actual end of the contract), we feel the salespeople have no customer skills, no communication skills.

Today I have just paid 450 inc interest and 2.5 charge for using a card to get away from this company, PS I DIDNT WANT TO RATE THEM ANY STARS AT ALL BUT YOU HAVE TO TO BE ABVLE TO POST YOUR VIEWS

I had phoned Unicom in January 2009 to cancel one of our three phone lines I was told that I had three months to run before the contract could end. I then rang in May and was told that all three of our lines had been rolled over for another three year contract and I should have put the cancellation in writing and I had been told this when I phoned in January. So now we are stuck with a line that is not being used and being charged which is now a lot more than BT. Check out Unicom on Moneysavingexpert. [I did, but the search threw up no results... another example of corporate shenanigans underway?]
This company fails to point out that it is a 3 year rolling contract and is buried in the small print so unless you have a good memory or a 3 year diary you will be with them for life.
Unicom is fine until you find a better deal only to be told that your contract was recently automatically renewed for a further 3 years. It is Unicom policy not to remind customers or send renewal notices when contracts are coming to an end. Unless you have an extraordinay good memory or an exceptionally long diary and give the 3 months written notice prior to the end of the 3 years you could be with them for a lifetime! Either that or pay up the massive termination fees.
Why do Unicom choose to not send renewal notices?
I have been in business for 30 years and all the other companies I have dealt with do!I would NEVER recommend.
In the interests of balance, it should be said that there are a few who love 'em to death, with 5* ratings and long, detailed, heartfelt and in no way corporate reasons why Unicom Phone Company (no 'TM' too?) are the bee's knees:

I have always found Unicom Phone Company to have excellent customer service, with very friendly and helpful staff.

There are many others now aware, and involved, including my current MP. Also our PPC knows the main players in the Free Speech movement and has kindly introduced me to them.


Defamation Act
FreeSpeech Blog
Libel Reform - *the site is now closed. It apparently achieved what it needed to do. Shame others yet to enjoy this aim are not to benefit from the experience of others, but one can empathise in light of what can 'go down'.
Business Zone - Top 10 ways to deal with customer complaints - Or....

Addendum 16/10/10 (yes, it still lumbers on - had a 'final judgement' from Otelo that needed to be bounced back as the adjudicator had clearly not read any details on the case) -

Patience can be a virtue.

Addendum 05/07/11 - More as a memo to self, in dealings with the authorities, it is worth bearing in mind today of all days that oversight bodies claiming powerlessness yet finding in favour of client partners is not now easily explained away by 'but they lied to us'. Especially when imposing penalties, under the guise of impartiality, on those individuals being abused that they in theory are there to protect.

Addendum 14/09/11 -  a great deal of water has passed under many bridges but suffice to say that, recently, our issues were totally resolved, in our favour and to our satisfaction. This is not to say that others are or will be as lucky.

One day I'll get time to share what went down, in case it helps.

Perhaps more relevantly, I feel it is important to share major developments that will, with luck, help for those caught up and facing further distress:

Addendum 11/12/14 - Fellow 'rebel' Mary has kindly shared what seems a clear new victory at high level, and inspiration to others still fighting. Quite why anyone still needs to fight given the wealth of evidence and testimony countrywide who knows, but here you go:

"also exposed the failures of the communications industry ombudsman – set up to be the consumer’s champion – which sided with the company"

Not over yet, clearly. I suggest those in office get their fingers out and COORDINATE!

New discussion URL -


Another worthy URL as folk still in dire straits and seeking help: