January 2023



I shied away from mentioning that Milo was ill last month. I guess I was hoping that he’d bounce back soon, and I didn’t want to worry anybody. But January brought terrible news, as it seems he has lymphoma. He’s started chemotherapy, and I hope I get to mention what he’s been up to on plenty more pupdates.

Good Apple

I previously mentioned that Apple had been great in sorting out a replacement iPhone, when my daughter’s SE2020 failed. Well… she broke the screen on that one, and once again Apple came through with a repair that got it working again. Nothing for free this time, but the £159 to get the screen repaired was a lot less than buying a replacement handset.


Back when I was in the Navy I applied for a credit card that was issued by MBNA. They were arsey about my address (a Naval base) and wanted my service number, which seemed like something they’d never inflict on a civilian. So I decided to take my business elsewhere.

Many years later MBNA took over a loyalty card I’d got, and then the loyalty card was withdrawn, and MBNA gave me a cashback card offering 0.5% cashback, and market rate FX. It was a sweet deal, and I used it as my main card for many years (despite the FAR too frequent declines on Apple Pay).

It seems sadly they decided to get rid of me as a customer, and started pulling out the reversion marketing tricks.

It started with my trying to pay for my daughter’s university accommodation. A chunky online transaction, but one I’ve done before with that card. First attempt, declined – maybe I got the SMS code wrong? Second attempt, declined – I definitely got the SMS code right that time; MBNA lose the business, and I use another card.

The following day I tried to buy some clothes online. Declined. Then my wife calls to say her companion card has been declined in a cafe. I call customer services, they say call the fraud team. I called the fraud team, who (eventually) tell me that both cards will be good to go again in 10m.

An hour or so later I buy something on Amazon; and a bit after that there’s an email to say that the payment’s been declined.

I call the fraud team again. This time they tell me that Visa has put the card on ‘3 day hold’. After a bit and back and forth I’m told I can make a complaint, and we start that process. They hang up on me before the complaint is registered.

So now I have a new Amex Platinum Cashback card, and a John Lewis Partnership Mastercard.

The miserable thing is that those cards come out top in customer satisfaction, at less than 75% :0

It seems there’s no longer such a thing as a GOOD credit card, just (sometimes) less bad ones; but if anything goes wrong the experience will be awful. All the online reviews are a sea of 1*s recounting awful experiences (though no mention elsewhere of ‘3 day hold’). My read is that fraud has become so endemic that all customers are treated as psuedo-fraudsters, and it doesn’t matter how much business you bring in.

Skiing again

After almost 4 years I’m back on the slopes. This time in Courchevel (after my sister recommended The 3 Valleys). I’ll follow up with a full report, but so far the skiing has more than made up for a less than ideal journey to the resort.

Contact lenses again

I wore contact lenses all day every day for most of my adult life. Then middle age long sightedness teamed up with the short sightedness I’d had since my teens, and contacts became less practical. I still wore them for things like skiing though. But I haven’t been skiing for four years, so it’s kind of weird to be using lenses again. Extra weird is I’ve managed to lose my right lens on the final run down for the past two days. Maybe the visor on my new helmet doesn’t keep the wind out as well as my old goggles?

Solar Diary

January brought a cold snap, but that meant quite a few sunnier days, so generation was almost back to November levels with 110kWh.

Still no word from EDF on Smart Export Guarantee.

Beating Beat Saber

More lousy weather, and a sick dog, has meant less walking, so (particularly at weekends) I’ve been topping up my exercise once more with a bit of ‘swords’. I got the Lady Gaga pack, which is 100% bangers. There are a couple of harder ones in there, but I managed Full Combo first try on one song, and most of the others feel easily in reach.

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