'Your infernal cable pipes come up from Hell, Virgin!'
Plus: 'I suspect some DDoS skid on his Mum's Windows box'
Quotw This was the week when Virgin Media was forced to grovel publicly after a deceased man's family posted the firm's demand for a £10 "late payment" when his direct debit was denied because of his death.
The new bill clearly states that the direct debit was denied because the payer was deceased, but that didn't stop Virgin from tacking on the late fee. The man's son-in-law, Jim Boyden, posted a picture of the bill on Facebook, which has since gone viral, and had a few choice words for the telco:
I'm really sorry for my father-in-law not paying his bill last month, but what with him being dead and all, it's probably slipped his mind. Some people, eh?
You, however, are to be publicly commended for swooping in with all the sensitivity of a charging rhino and instantly fining him an extra ten pounds for having the unheard of nerve to be dead and therefore being unable to pay you (some people really have no idea of priorities do they? It's your profit first, THEN anything else. The cheek!).
Boyden added that whatever his father-in-law is up to in the afterlife, watching TV on his Virgin subscription probably wasn't on the list:
I might pay it if you can prove to me he's been watching any of your channels in heaven, but given that British Sky Broadcasting is beamed in directly from the clouds I think he's much more likely to be enjoying that. Your infernal cable pipes seem only to come up from the ground (same location as Hell - spooky coincidence) where I imagine you train people in the art of customer service.
I am bitterly disappointed in your attitude, probably automatically generated by machine and unchecked by any caring human heart. The only saving grace is that my father-in-law had an excellent sense of humour and is probably laughing his arse off about this as we type, giving you the Vs, waving ten pound notes around, planning to haunt you and enjoying the content of Sky TV.
Virgin has since apologised and refunded the charge.
Meanwhile, Google and MP Margaret Hodge have been trading barbs again over the Choc Factory's weensy tax bill in the country. Eric Schmidt started it when he said:
Britain has been a very good market for us... We empower literally billions of pounds of start-ups through our advertising network and so forth. And we're a key part of the electronic commerce expansion of Britain, which is driving a lot of economic growth for the country.
This is the way taxes are done globally... The same is true for British firms operating in the US, for example.
I think the most important thing to say about our taxes is that we fully comply with the law and we'll obviously, should the law change, comply with that as well.
Labour minister Hodge wasn't about to take that lying down and told The Register:
I accept that Google create jobs and invest in our economy, but this is not an "either/or". The majority of businesses contribute to our economy and pay their fair share in tax.
And let’s not forget that one of the reasons Google is so successful in this country is that they benefit from public goods funded by the British taxpayer, like the talent produced by our education system and a functioning transparent system.
All we are saying is that multinational companies should pay an appropriate amount of tax relative to the profits they make from their economic activity in this country.
Instead companies like Google are creating artificial structures and abusing current tax legislation to move profits offshore in order to avoid tax. That is just not right, and people like Eric Schmidt need to understand the legitimate public outrage that behaviour generates.
China's Huawei has stuck its tongue out at the US for all the mean, nasty, uncalled-for things the country has said about it, for example that its networks couldn't be secure for American customers 'cos it's practically state-backed. The firm has a pretty simple comeback for that, if it can be believed, which Huawei exec veep Eric Xu delivered:
We are not interested in the U.S. market anymore. Generally speaking, it's not a market that we pay much attention to.
Speaking of the US, the markets had a case of the jitters this week after the Associated Press had its Twitter account hacked. The hackers sent out a tweet saying that President Barack Obama had been injured in one of two explosions at the White House.
A group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army claimed responsibility for the hack, which wiped 140 points off the Dow, or around $200bn, although it recovered quickly after the administration denied the story. White House spokesman Jay Carney reassured everyone:
The president is fine. I was just with him.
Although recovery was quick, the blip highlighted for some how twitchy markets are now that they're stuffed full of high-frequency traders, who place millions of orders at the same time to skim pennies from arbitrage on stock prices. Dennis Dick, proprietary trader at Bright Trading, said:
High-frequency traders cancel their orders on even one little tweet. They provide so much liquidity and don't have obligations like market makers did in the past. We need other participants to make sure this kind of volatility doesn't happen and we don't [have them] anymore.
And finally, over in Oz, the Australian Federal Police have claimed that they've clapped a "self-proclaimed leader" of hacker collective LulzSec in irons, although others aren't so sure. The man, believed to operate under the name "OzShock" or "Aush0k" online, was arrested after allegedly using a known exploit to access and deface a government website.
But apart from the rather slim likelihood that a hacker might truthfully proclaim themselves the leader of a hacktivist group, or the uncertainty about whether these groups even have leaders, or whether the suspect is the same person who used the handle, Anonymous Australia says they've never heard of him. It tweeted dismissively:
Nope not part of the usual suspects on any of our chans of communication I suspect some DDos skid on his mums win box.
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