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David

In the headlines tonight...

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I thought it would be an idea to have a thread for news items that probably aren't worth starting a whole thread for but which have proven interesting.

 

I was finally prompted to do so by a story that left me horrified:

 

When is a coma not a coma?

 

I can't even begin to imagine the mental torture that such a situation would bring about. To be aware of everything and yet not be able to interact must be a literal living death and it's hard to imagine his sanity hasn't suffered.

 

Even more horrifying, though, is the belief that there will be many more cases like this! It just doesn't bear thinking about.

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It's the stuff of Stephen King books really.

 

Indeed. The Dead Zone for starters, in which John Smith is in a coma for five years. Although that is a 'real' coma, as it's only at the end of five years that he is aware of what's going on.

 

But even more pertinant is King's short story Autopsy Room Four - in which the central character is bitten by a snake and enters paralysis so deep that he's presumed dead, despite being aware of everything going on, but unable to make anyone realise. Which in turn is based on (acknowledged by King) a short story called Breakdown by Louis Pollock...

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Borders has stopped taking orders for new books on its website while the retailer "is in discussion with potential buyers".

 

The firm said that existing customer orders are also being delayed but will be fulfilled.

 

The Borders Entertainment part of the site - which sells DVDs, CDs and electrical items - continues to operate as normal.

 

Some publishers are also reported to have severed links with the retailer.

 

When customers try to order a book on the website they receive a message saying: "Sorry, title cannot be purchased."

 

Reports have suggested that Borders, which has 45 stores in the UK, does not have enough cash to last until Christmas. It is thought it could go into administration if no buyer is found.

 

Talks with WH Smith reportedly collapsed last week. There is also speculation that HMV, the owner of Waterstones, is in talks to buy some of the stores. HMV refused to comment.

 

Borders, which also owns Books Etc, has suffered from increased competition from online retailers, such as Amazon, as well as supermarkets.

 

The Borders chain was originally owned by the US book giant of the same name but was sold in June 2007 to Risk Capital Partners.

 

Risk Capital then sold it on to the private equity firm Valco earlier this year.

From BBC News

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Personally I am horrified about the Borders situation. IMHO it is the only good bookshop for miles around. Okay, we have a Waterstone's in Preston, but it is in the centre of the city (where parking is a nightmare) whereas Borders is in an edge-of-town complex and so much easier for me to access. There is disabled parking outside (for my bookworm friend's convenience), it is a large and spacious store with a lift (none in Waterstones) and the staff are so lovely and helpful. I am also a member of one of their reading groups so the whole place feels more like a home-from-home. I can't bear the thought that we might be losing all of that and very soon too by the sounds of things.

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I love that story.

 

Oh, me too! Haven't read it for ages though, will have to acquire another copy! Gosh the memory is going now but it seems like the best of King's work to me. To quote whoever it was who wrote the foreword to Nightshift (told you the memory was going), "Nary a breath of other worlds in it."

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I only write cheques when I have no other option (other than cash of course). A cheque-book of forty cheques lasts me about a year.

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My mother used to write cheques. I remember thinking how strange the whole crossing them and writing 'not negotiable' thing between the lines was. I mean, if everyone wrote that, why not assume negotiation was out? (I'm not asking for an answer, I was interested in this when I was 9 ;) )

 

When I moved to the UK the bank I signed up with eventually sent me a cheque book. I didn't even ask for it. Made me a feel like a proper grown up. (I still wasn't quite sure why anyone would use it. There are so many other easier ways of doing things.)

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I'll miss cheques - they look so much more interesting than a switch card. They are also very useful for sending through the post - are we to enclose banknotes in birthday cards in the future? And when I was young and poor, it was useful to use the 3 days it took for a cheque to clear - meant you could buy stuff three days before payday.

 

Uncrossed cheques were a hangover from the days when people didn't have bank accounts. If you received an uncrossed cheque, you could sign the back of it and pass it on to someone else, a bit like a banknote. English banks started to print ready crossed cheques many decades ago, but Scottish and Irish banks have only recently started to do this - and even now I'm not sure whether they all do.

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Couldn't tell you the last time I used a cheque and I probably won't ever again, so I won't miss them.

 

There are gift certificates for sending through the post these days, or actual presents. Since you have online access MrHG you can send from say, Amazon, to another address.

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I'm of the opinion most companies want to be rid of them because they are more expensive to administer than their alternatives like direct debits. When I heard about it on last night's news, one reason cited for withdrawing them was their falling use. The fact that fewer and fewer retailers will accept them over the counter might have something to do with that. Consumers are being forced to stop using cheques, not choosing to.

 

I'm old fashioned enough to still make quite regular use of cheques, mainly to pay bills. My beloved employers pay me 13 times a year rather than 12 i.e. every 4 weeks, meaning that unlike a lot of people I don't get paid on the same day every month. This makes direct debits a bit of a pain, because for something that goes out of my account on the same day every month, at certain times of year I might have just been paid but at other times I might not be receiving my salary until just after. Consequently, I want to have that element of control over when money leaves my account that direct debits and standing orders don't provide.

 

The payment system is frankly a nuisance and is, as far as I can tell, done because computers like things to happen at regular intervals and it allows the bean counters to divide the year into equal parts and know that payroll costs will be more or less constant. I've never found any particular advantage in it.

 

I also have a postal account and the easiest way to make deposits in that account is by cheque. Similarly, I draw cheques on the account. Presumably, such accounts are about to become obsolete too.

 

There are alternatives which I suppose I'll make use of, such as paying my bills by 'phone and online but, as I say, I feel forced down that route rather than choosing it.

 

I'm not as bad as my Dad, who when BT introduced their £4.50 handling charge for non-direct debit payments of 'phone bills steadfastly refused to pay it. Then again, I think he'd still be quite happy to be living in 1961.

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I don't want to give people gift certificates - I want to give people money so they can choose how to spend it.

 

I don't have internet banking as I've never bothered to set it up. I can do most things using a combination of cheques, cards and direct debits. I understand that internet banking transfers risk for mistakes to the account holder. Hence, if I'm online and I accidentally give money to the wrong person, or give them the wrong amount, I have no right to have the mistake undone. On the other hand, with manual banking the risk falls to the bank and mistakes can be undone. Besides which, I have never written a cheque to the wrong person!

 

By the by, I have just received a gift of money via an "on-line transfer". The trouble is, I have nothing other than an e-mail from the donor to tell me about it. I don't know how much it is - and can't know this until I get my next bank statement. This wouldn't be a problem with a cheque, would it?

 

As for paying credit cards - a cheque is the only way I can be in control of how much I pay. I could do direct debit to pay either the full balance or the minimum payment, but I am not allowed to fix a direct debit for an intermediate amount; nor am I allowed to pay this way over the phone. This is not an accident, of course, since many people won't be in a postion to pay the balance in full and the credit card company makes more money from people who make minimum payments tha those who pay more.

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I only write cheques when I have no other option (other than cash of course). A cheque-book of forty cheques lasts me about a year.
That's quite a lot! We've had a joint account together for 6 years, and we've only used about 10 cheques from the 2 books they sent us combined! Two of them were for scary amounts of money though, as they were the necessary deposit (£11,000), and then the downpayment on our house (more than the above!).

 

I also have a personal cheque book that I use a little more often - my mechanic only ever wants cash or cheque, and I also pay for my professional association membership and my pilates classes by cheque. For Pilates, we post date cheques for the year to reserve places on the course.

 

My grandmother is upset by the prospect of not being able to write cheques. She had a bad experience with her card where an electrician took her card details as a deposit, then took her cash and didn't stop the card payment. Understandably she has been reluctant to use her card for anything else since.

 

As for paying credit cards - a cheque is the only way I can be in control of how much I pay. I could do direct debit to pay either the full balance or the minimum payment, but I am not allowed to fix a direct debit for an intermediate amount; nor am I allowed to pay this way over the phone. This is not an accident, of course, since many people won't be in a postion to pay the balance in full and the credit card company makes more money from people who make minimum payments tha those who pay more.
This is where online banking has really helped me. I choose to pay whatever amount takes my fancy, and have recently taken to paying it off early to clear what I've spent between statements. It doesn't like me overpaying - but it does let me.

 

My beloved employers pay me 13 times a year rather than 12 i.e. every 4 weeks, meaning that unlike a lot of people I don't get paid on the same day every month.
How very very bizarre - especially given the size of the company you work for. You wouldn't expect them to need to penny-pinch would you?

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...Kevin, which was my book of the year last year and vies with This Thing Of Darkness

...Oh, and the list is a year early.

...I'll miss cheques.

 

That's three occasions within a fortnight that I find myself in agreement with MisterHobgoblin.

Have I moved into a parallel universe? :confused:

;)

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How very very bizarre - especially given the size of the company you work for. You wouldn't expect them to need to penny-pinch would you?

Well I guess that's how they got so big.

 

The only time I use cheques is to pay for school stuff - trips, music lessons etc. I have asked if I could pay online and a number of times they've said they'll "look into it" - never happens though.

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I've never fancied online banking - especially since my computer was wrecked in a thunderstorm - but mainly because it seems too impersonal. I like the illusion of being in charge, and it sems that online banks can just do what they like with your account. For example, mr meg received the following email from cahioot yesterday:

Your online account has been suspended (reason: terms of service violation).

Although your account has been suspended, your data may still be available for

up to 24 hours, after which it will be deleted.

 

If you feel this suspension is an error, please click here as

soon as possible.

 

We will consider terminating access to your saved funds if you failed to verify the rightful holder of this account.

 

If you are suppose to be identified as a Abbey National customer please click here

If you are suppose to be identified as an Alliance & Leicester customer please click here

(This may cause the merged of all Santander divisional)

 

cahoot is a division of Abbey National plc.

 

 

We'd be worried, but Mr meg says he's never had an online bank account (although he does have a branch account with one of the Santander group)

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I like cheques, I have numerous relatives and friends who live a distance away and who I send cheques to as a present in their birthday/christmas cards, I don't like gift cards as you can't guarantee that that person will like the shop that you are getting them for or logisically have one near them, also there are a number of places I visit who don't have card facilities and its cheque or cash, (Yes I know its hard to believe in this day and age but there are!) The boarding kennels where I take my dog when we go in holiday is the one which springs to mind. Also for school things it is advised parents write cheques so you have a receipt and proof of payment as schools don't generally give receipts.

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We'd be worried, but Mr meg says he's never had an online bank account (although he does have a branch account with one of the Santander group)

 

Sounds like it could be a phishing scam. There appear to be grammatical errors in the quote you've posted, which is often a giveaway.

 

Edited to add:

Post no. 88 on this forum confirms this is a scam email

 

http://www.baylinerownersclub.org/forum/showthread.php?p=392951

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How very very bizarre - especially given the size of the company you work for. You wouldn't expect them to need to penny-pinch would you?
Well I guess that's how they got so big.

What she said. It's the approach that got the company where it is today.

 

If you saw the building I work in (a squat, stone clad block on an industrial estate in Hertfordshire) in you wouldn't think it was the HQ of the country's largest private sector employer and the world's third largest retailer.

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Sounds like it could be a phishing scam. There appear to be grammatical errors in the quote you've posted, which is often a giveaway.

That was what I suspected, but did wonder if the mistakes were a poor translation from Spanish (although I also thought that Banco Santander would make a better job of it).

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