Serious stuff

Done with bank charges? Now reclaim your PPI ripoffs

The Poorhouse has previously mentioned the wonders of reclaiming unfair bank charges amongst these pages. Here, the Office of Fair Trading opined that the charges for doing things like going over your overdraft limit should be more to cover the bank's cost for your actions rather than pillage you for hundreds more pounds you don't have, and many, many people managed to get significant money back from their banks as a result.

But once you're done on that, there's more reclaiming of unfair abuse by financial institutions to be done if you're a victim of Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) mis-selling. Given it is a £5 billion industry with 20 million such policies in force in Britain at the minute, and some of the mis-selling tactics seem to end up in people not even knowing they have a policy let alone what it costs them, it might well be worth your while to check.

No surprises there then - office workers hate each other

Office labourers! Prepare to be shocked. See that sweet, innocent, charming old lady sitting next to you who spends all day chatting about rainbows and bunnies to you, in between handing you replacement staples? Well, the sad truth is there's every chance she hates you.

In what can, in the Poorhouse's experience anyway, only be termed confirmation of what you already knew, a survey of 2500 office workers by jobs2view has determined that, really, there ain't a lot o' love floating around in your average bureaucratic paper-shuffling 9-5 building.

Insurance that actually pays out when it should

Just to prove the Poorhouse isn't just a negative nelly, here's a recommendation of sorts for that most boring of purchases, insurance. Whoo. With topics like this, it would almost make this site more interesting just to not update it ever.

The advantage of this company - namely travelinsurance-web.com - and basis of the random Poorhouse recommendation, is that it actually paid out on its insurance when it should have, without so much as an long-winded argument let alone the normal legal threats necessary to extract even 20p of the thousands you are owed from your average insurance company.

Hey, let's stop advertising alcohol to kids

What, more stories about intoxicating substances? Yep, but this time we're moving onto something some group of "important" blokes decided was OK, even good, for society and the individual. Alcohol. Sure, it's not a drug, it's a drink but it still mashes people's minds up in a more detrimental way than the average illegal substance; as generally agreed by even the top boffins at the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and the Medical Research Council.

The Government has recently updated its alcohol strategy. To summarise: use the laws that exist to deal with alcohol-fuelled crime, focus on harmful drinkers and shape the environment to promote sensible drinking. Luckily the Portman Group, a group of drinks manufacturers trying to put a veneer of responsibility on their corporate shenanigans, pre-empted their announcements with the inspirationally progressive announcement that they would no longer market their deadly wares directly to little children.

Cannabis: where's the apology for the apology?

"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?", said an Independent on Sunday leader 4 months ago, quoting John Maynard Keynes. Nice quote, but its accompanying article wherein the IoS dropped their support for cannabis decriminalisation, was pretty much nonsense. The "facts" hadn't really changed so much; sure, in recentish times there has been more research into the links between cannabis and mental illness of the sort mentioned here a couple of days ago but no landmark study exists proving that cannabis is mega dangerous to the majority of the population, nor that, if it turns out that it is, the best public health policy is to continue the ever-more failing locking people up tactics.

Whilst they haven't repeated the Keynes quote, the Poorhouse is happy to see an apparent about-face in reporting tone from them today. Today, they are happy to debunk "politicians' excuse that cannabis has become stronger", which is great. It's just a shame that they didn't look into it a bit hard 4 months ago when their leader used these very same lies to excuse their Daily Mail-esque change of policy.

The cannabis cabinet, and yet another pointless law review

Well, the Poorhouse had hoped that Britain's new, if rather unelected, Prime Minister Gordon Brown would be a least a sizeable improvement over the previous one. It seems on matters of drug policy this isn't going to be true.

The Poorhouse almost couldn't be bothered to read about the latest shenanigans regarding cannabis classification but in the end capitulated to find that Brown is ordering a(nother) "consultation" as to whether cannabis should be reclassified from its current class C to the more punitive class B. How pointless.

The 5 second rule: fact or fiction?

When it comes to oral satisfaction, pretty much everyone knows the infamous "5 second rule".

For any readers who either are inhumanely non-clumsy or don't eat food it can be summarised by saying that if you drop your lovely delicious cream bun onto the floor it is medically, socially and morally acceptable to pick it up and continue eating it as long as it has only been on the floor for 5 seconds or less. Any more than that- if you're not prepared to throw away your hard-earned food - and you risk dirt, disease, death and derision from the floor filth getting onto your sustenance and into you.

After finishing their theses at Connecticut College, biology students Molly Goettsche and Nicole Moin wanted to do something "light-hearted and fun". Unfortunately it seems they couldn't get their hands on recreational drugs right away, so instead they decided to test the premise of the 5 second rule using cold hard science.

Is there poo in a Big Mac and other burning issues

The 26500+ McDonalds fast food burger-muck "restaurants" and their ilk do have something of a dubious reputation, including issues regarding food quality, unhealthiness, environmental concerns, employee exploitation and so on, despite many a corporatey ad-campaign to try and persuade us that all that happens on a typical day in a restaurant is that pretty girls go in for a salad - and probably not the McD's chicken salad that was actually more fattening than their cheeseburger.

Of course McDonalds likes to claim that this is mostly undeserved. To show their deep, deep love for you, the consumer, they have taken the - in many ways admirable - step of setting up an interactive website so you can "so that you can find out anything you'd like to know about McDonald's food, business, people and practices." Send in your questions, and McDonalds will answer them. All the answers are pointless corporate schmooze of course, but the Poorhouse had literal LOLs occurring simply be reading some of the ones that made it to be published.

Is milk really too harmful to be advertised?

Whilst in no way a fan of an over-riding nanny state (and in apparent contrast to much of the political blogosphere) the Poorhouse is far from averse to seeing a bit of regulation thrust upon greedy, harmful and otherwise unaccountable businesses from those that are supposed to represent our societal interests.

The recent ban on TV junk food adverts aimed at young children therefore seems to be plausibly sensible in principle. In fact a total advertising ban would be nice in many ways but the Poorhouse realises that's not going to happen. However with obesity et al. reaching record heights, why not stop marketers of foods that add to the health problem from trying to brainwash 5-year-olds? Nevertheless, it was with rather some surprise that the Poorhouse heard that these foods-of-evil would include milk.

Cheerleaders are baaaad

Regular readers of this web-monstrosity will be aware that the Poorhouse is a little sceptical as to the reasoning and benefit behind the increasingly ridiculous drug laws in the UK. To summarise for anyone not from around here, in common with much of the rest of the world, a fairly arbitrary set of substances that people like to use recreationally are banned. If you possess them you get to face jailtime. If you possess other, often more harmful, recreational mind-benders such as alcohol you're just fine.

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