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Monday 18 October 2010


I still hate them.
This was going to be a reply in the comments but I thought that the general theme would be better aired in the open.
In reply to the Weekend Yachtsman who commented on my last bank post with this.
Not so sympathetic on charges, to be honest. Everything is there in the small print; if you don't read it, and/or don't honour the agreements you've signed up to, you don't have any gripe when the advertised penalties come into effect. If you don't understand that, you shouldn't be opening a bank account, frankly.
Lives ruined? Get real.
The last point you make is ludicrous
If you don't understand that, you shouldn't be opening a bank account, frankly.
Answer me this Mr Yachty. How can you not have a bank account these days? How many companies pay their employees in cash? Very, very, few I would surmise.
(I’m not slagging you off. I’m just stating a fact)
A lot of the cases I dealt with, involved working with people on a low wage who could just about make ends meet. Most had an overdraft limit and were at times forced by circumstance to hover near that limit due some unforeseen circumstance. One case in point was that a close relative died and funeral expenses needed to be paid. You get the picture.
Now the family in question, being money conscientious, had set up ten direct debits to pay the various utility bills that we are all required to pay. Can you imagine their shock when they received a rude letter from one of the utility companies stating that the direct debit had failed to be honoured? On contacting the bank they found that the bank had stopped all their direct debits to the utility companies as the family was over it’s overdraft limit by a few pounds.
Bad enough. However the family were penalised by the bank with a charge of £38.
So what you say.
They were charged £38 for exceeding their overdraft limit and ten times £38 for the direct debits. A whopping £418.
From then on they could never recover.
All the banks loaded their penalties in this way, even though it is widely known that with their computerised systems, the costs of stopping a direct debit, cheque, etc, would at most cost them £2.
But then again the banks made £6,000,000,000 from their charges alone, per year.
Just as an aside. Until the OFT challenged them and lost due to incompetence, not one case, where people challenged the banks in court, ever went to court. The banks would prevaricate right down to the wire. Even settling on the court steps before the hearing. They knew that what they were doing couldn’t stand scrutiny. For the moment they have won the battle. But have they won the war?
You have the right of reply Mr Weekend Yachtsman.
Of course I might have a diatribe about Weekend sailors. I was a Professional seafarer for 43 years and came to deplore the sheer lack of knowledge of the “Rule of the Road” by weekend sailors.
Phew that’s better. Off for a ciggy and a large whisky.

Retread - the Desperate Cigarette

ciggy butt

This entry eloquently demonstrates why you really shouldn't take up smoking.

Take one cigarette paper, one filter (if you have one) and one ashtray. Remove a butt from the ashtray, hold it above the paper and roll it between your thumb and forefinger so that any remaining tobacco falls on to the paper. Remove another butt from the ashtray and repeat until the paper is covered with tobacco. Place the filter at the end of the paper, roll the paper, light the cigarette, inhale and instantly regret it.


At some point many tobacco smokers will have experienced the 'retread', a second-hand cigarette that is usually rolled in the days immediately preceding pay-day or giro-day, and that carries with it the shame, desperation and lack of forward-planning that characterises the psychology of those of us addicted to tobacco. These characteristics manifest themselves as follows:

Lack of Forward Planning

A retread is rolled when a smoker has run out of tobacco and has also run out of money, preventing the purchase of any more. The smoker generally doesn't notice the imminent tragedy until it's too late. At no point during the previous week or so does the smoker think 'Oh, tobacco's a bit short, best stock up while I've still got some cash'; it's not until the hand reaches to the bottom of the packet to find only crumbs that the severity of the situation becomes apparent. The lack of forward planning is inherent in any smoker - we all know that in the long term smoking isn't going to do us any favours but we carry on regardless.


A retread is constructed by scouring ashtrays and attempting to amass enough tobacco from the butts contained therein to cobble together a new cigarette. A retread is never pleasant and a rational person would rarely smoke one out of choice, but desperation can do terrible things to rationality. Being a combination of ash and dry tobacco, a retread burns badly, hurts the throat and, during construction, makes a terrible mess under the fingernails. The smoker can only hope that they can find a nail brush and that there are some filters left.

And some papers.


The natural successor to such an act of desperation is shame. Rummaging around ashtrays in search of a final drag lacks dignity. Rummaging around the ashtrays of other people is even worse (though that is generally localised to the early hours of parties). As the tobacco comes from the end of smoked cigarettes it has already been coated with tar and nicotine, making the retread a nasty affair and leading to a horrendous cough the following morning, reminding the smoker of the depths to which they have sunk. A retread smoker is rarely a proud smoker.

Oh No Not Again

A seriously bad planner might find themselves retreading two-three days before getting paid. This can lead to retreads of retreads and even retreads of retreaded retreads, which are as ghastly as they sound. It's a humbling moment when you find yourself eyeing up the ashtrays, knowing that the same thing happened last month and will no doubt happen next month, re-treading the retread path.