Yes!! I can present!

Yes!! I can present!

Public speaking has never been my strong suit, and it has always tormented me a little as I’ve always wanted to be good at it. A week ago my manager asked if I could present in front of 30 people that had recently joined the company and had gone on the graduate scheme. Essentially I was tasked along with two other lovely colleagues to create a presentation that would help those new to the business understand what search engine optimisation is all about and exactly what we do.

Along with the two lovely aforementioned colleagues we created a beautiful presentation that talked all about search engine optimisation in a simplistic way that those we were speaking to could understand within the hour and a half that we had with them.

It went well. At first I initiated it all by asking everyone their name, position and whether they would like to share any interests. That went really well. Oh, aside from the fact that I didn’t state my name when I told them about myself. My colleagues corrected me on this, and I kind of made fun of the person that corrected me when she stated “we usually call him J J”, which is actually false! No one calls me J J and everyone usually calls me Jonny, except for my boss who seems to like calling me by my full name, Jonathan Jones. We then got into the deck and managed to go through the first 30 minutes of the deck where I talked about search engines, why we use Google, Google’s search algorithm, the AOL Click Curve, tools such as Screaming Frog, BrightEdge, Webmaster Tools etc.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I had it in me. I thought I would essentially suffer throughout the entire presentation — stuttering, forgetting everything, or doing something that might embarrass myself. But no, I did the complete opposite. I did well and according to early feedback the people there enjoyed the presentation and found it quite useful. We also did a bit of a Q&A and if they asked questions I was actually able to answer them with accurate information. I’m so pleased with myself, as I’m definitely not a confident person and I guess if whatever came of this presentation was negative then would have been devastated and I would probably be beating myself up about it all.

I actually do want to take part in presentations in the future. I guess that now I know that I can do them, what’s the problem? Haha.

I’m just so happy right now. But I am also so tired as well! It’s off to the shower and to bed!

Lloyds Bank just closed my Cash ISA and took all the money

Lloyds Bank just closed my Cash ISA and took all the money

Lloyds Bank Closed my ISA
I’m a little shocked actually. I logged onto internet banking to find that my Cash ISA with Lloyds Bank had become as if it were non-existent. It simply wasn’t there. The £2k that I had in that account was also missing. You can imagine my surprise when I opened up internet banking to find £2k missing.

To give some background to this: I recently opened up the Cash ISA as I’m becoming quite serious about saving money and managing my money accordingly.

The closing of my Cash ISA has set me back a bit and has got me in panic mode. I still do want a Cash ISA and I’ll see if I can re-open the same Cash ISA that has now been closed.

So, why did they close my Cash ISA?

They will not tell me. All they’ve said is that I signed a contract that stipulates that they can cancel/close an account for whatever reason. Hello? Customer service? It’s not like I’m going to sue you for telling me why you’ve closed my Cash ISA.

Now my money is in limbo in one of their accounts supposedly. The funny thing is that I opened the Cash ISA in a branch on Oxford Street which recently shut down. That’s actually the place I went to today, to see what was going on. However as that branch was closed, I had to break sweat and head to the branch on Tottenham Court Road, which actually turns out to be much closer to where I work. (doh!)

The nice man in the Lloyds Bank branch on Tottenham Court Road took my debit card and gave the head office a ring to find out why my account had been closed. Not to repeat, but his answer was the same as the above. They had closed my account – but could not actually give me a reason.

So where is my money?

It is in an official Lloyds Bank holding account. To get my money transferred back I needed some sort of ID which I didn’t have on me at the time. I was told to come back to the next day with ID if I wanted to get my money back. Why not just transfer the funds from the Cash ISA that Lloyds Bank (YOU) cancelled into one of my other accounts? What the hell? Any who, I agreed to this and I’ll be going back tomorrow. I’m hoping there won’t be any complications tomorrow when I try and retrieve my money. If I hear the words, “Sir, your money has been lost” then I think I’ll go apeshit in that branch. But let’s hope that it doesn’t come to that.

And… the update (06/03/2014)

I’m not sure if I should feel happy or troubled by the way that I’ve been treated. Today it was pretty much back and forth to the Lloyds Bank branch on Tottenham Court Road. I’m actually quite annoyed by all this faffing about.

I went into the Lloyds Bank branch today with I.D. on hand and they managed to transfer the amount that was originally in my Cash ISA into one of my savings accounts. I was happy at this point. However, I still tried to inquire as to why they closed the Cash ISA. No real reason given again. The same answer: “we have every right to close your account.”

I was kind of okay with that, I could forget about the whole Cash ISA thing, and go back to my office and continue with my life. Wrong.

I logged onto internet banking to see if I could transfer the funds that had been restored to me from them closing my Cash ISA. I couldn’t. The following error message came up when I tried to do the transfer.

Lloyds Bank   Error Page Logged In

I called that number up, and explained the situation to the operator. She then told me that a block had been placed on my savings account. She directed me to go back to the branch that I had just come from and thought that had resolved my banking issues. A little more annoyed at this stage, I went back to the branch that I had just spent little over 40 minutes (mostly waiting for an adviser) to get my money back from the Cash ISA that they had all of a sudden cancelled. I went back and waited again for an adviser (waiting seems to be the norm) and explained the situation and that I had been told via telephone that my savings account had been blocked. The manager there sat me down and next to her sort of desk (an island with a computer on it in the middle of branch), and she took my debit card to see what the problem could be. She logged all my details into the system and said that there was nothing else wrong with the account. I looked at her with glaring amazement – as the adviser I spoke to over the telephone had just told me my savings account had been blocked. At this stage, I was even more confused.

She then asked me to login to online banking via her computer to see just what message would come up when you’d try to transfer money out of that account into another account. (I have two savings accounts) The same error message came up. She was baffled by this and so was another adviser that came over to help.

She then called the people that cancelled the Cash ISA to see what had happened. They had stated that the system simply needed to be refreshed and that I would have to wait overnight to for this ‘refresh’ to happen. I’m hoping that it is all fixed by tomorrow. Otherwise, I’ll have to pay another visit to the branch. At this point, I complained. I stated that I wanted to file a complaint and somehow have it logged against what they had done. They gave me a pamphlet with addresses and numbers that I could contact. I decided I was to call first and write a letter later if the telephone call was not to my satisfaction.

So… I trotted back to my office. I called up the number on the pamphlet and got put through to a lovely lady called Sheryl. She’s obviously Scottish and her accent was actually quite soothing. I explained the situation to her and she REALLY sympathised with me and tried to get to the bottom of it all. Granted she put me on hold for over 30 minutes and I only really spoke to her for 10 minutes. She spoke to her seniors and the people in charge of closing accounts (“Credit Decisioning”) and they stated exactly the same thing as the branch advisers had told me. They cancelled my account because they could and did – not much of a reason at all. I accepted this and moved onto the second issue:

Why was my savings account blocked in the first place?

She inquired and gave me the same answer as the people in the branch. Their system needs to refresh.

I said okay, and accepted this. I think she felt sorry for me, as I told her exactly everything that I have explained here in this blog post; the fact that I was back and forth to the branch and that I had called several times. She offered me £25 compensation, of which I refused at first until she said that it was for my time and the trouble that I had been put through. I then agreed.

I came around to the third issue.

What’s happening my with credit card now? I can’t see it in online banking anymore, where I could before. Sheryl then tried to find out what was wrong and had told me that the credit card should be viewable in online banking. She then put me through to this horrible Italian sounding guy who didn’t seem to want to hear what had gone on – apparently he’s the internet banking manager. I tried explaining my situation to him, but he kept interrupting me and literally ignored or didn’t seem to comprehend what I was getting at. He went back to the Cash ISA issue, and stated that my credit card would not have been affected due to my Cash ISA being closed. (Thanks for stating the obvious there, but if you had let me finish my sentence you would not have had to explain that to me) He then incoherently blamed the fact I was using Google Chrome, a browser that doesn’t allow you to see your credit cards – apparently. I then logged into Firefox to disprove his theory and came across the same issue. At this point he said that I need to actually use the credit card in order to see it on internet banking. I wasn’t sure if he was bullshitting or not, so I replied with “Okay” and we both parted.

I then finished work, and went home exhausted and didn’t go out with my colleagues who all went out for a drink. I arrived home and looked to see if I had received any letters and lo and behold I had indeed received a letter. It was from Lloyds Bank from a Charlotte Nield, Operations Manager – who had cancelled my credit card. Yet throughout this entire process, no one, not even at the branch had noticed that credit card had been cancelled as well. I actually did ask them about my credit card, and they said that it was active and that the closing of the Cash ISA was nothing to do with my credit, as my credit card card would have been closed as well. It even showed as being active/open on their monitor as well.


What annoys me the most is the way that internet banking manager just shrugged me off like that. He clearly lied to me as he also, like the others I had been in contact with, had no idea what was going on. I still do not know why they have decided to cancel my Cash ISA and now my credit card. I’ve never in my life been in debt and I’m at my prime in terms of the amount of my money in my current accounts due to the job that I have now.

Am I disappointed? Yes, I am. It’s as if they want me to switch bank accounts and I’m actually eyeing up Barclays bank as an alternative. But is there seriously that much of a lack of communication between your staff members internally? That they don’t know what is going on or can’t access the information that they need to access to keep this whole process clean? It’s certainly a negative thing on their part and I hope to get some sort of explanation tomorrow.

Dentists are insanely expensive in the UK

Dentists are insanely expensive in the UK

£53… My dentist appointment today cost me £53!

That’s crazy. It was for 3 x-rays that cost me £24 (£8 per x-ray) and a general upfront cost of £30. It’s no wonder why us Brits have a bad reputation when it comes to our teeth. I also tried seeing if whether my company provided dental insurance and unfortunately they do not, which sucks as that would have helped.

Fortunately, that also covers an additional consultation which I have on Monday night @ 7pm. I’m also hoping the money I paid today covers at least one good dental clean. I shuddered at the thought of asking in case there was an additional fee that I would have to eventually pay.

This is quite a shock to the system as this would have been free had I stated that I was on Job Seekers’ Allowance, but I’m not in the business of lying, so I shoveled the £53 despairingly out of my bank account and felt great pains when I tapped in my pin number. Or, if I were still in Taiwan this would have cost me just £5, due to the fact that the government in Taiwan have a similar setup to the UK’s NHS, but the difference is that the Taiwanese government covers a lot more of the costs when it comes to your teeth and general dentistry.

I miss Taiwan in that regard. The cheapness, low cost of living, and generally your health being a priority. I’ve tried to prioritise my health, but with the salary I am on, I can in no way cover the costs for what I need doing to my teeth. Instead, I’m going for the bare minimum approach that will cost me £400 (for a decent crown) or £600 (for an even better crown) if I really have the guts to shovel that much money from my newly created Cash ISA into my current account.

It’s sad times.

I found an article on this very subject via the BBC that states the following:

41% of people don’t go because of the cost, 28% because of the pain and 25% say they can’t find an NHS dentist.

I suppose I would place myself in that 41% group.

It’s unfortunate as I would like to get my teeth fixed or at least have my oral hygiene in a much more stable state. I guess I’ll have to keep saving! I’m hoping I get a promotion, as that would make this affordable for me, but I am not too sure if that is likely (fingers crossed). Also, just for my own sake or any others reading this, here’s a link to NHS dental charges — that seems to settle any charges that you may have to pay if you go to an NHS dentist. 🙁

NSH dental charges

In light of this, I may have to look at other options and shop around. It seems the “Band 3 course” would cover a crown and would be around 100% less that what I was quoted at the dentist I went to today.

What travelling into London was like today

What travelling into London was like today

Star Lane DLR Station

The tube strike affected me dearly, and it will in the coming days as well. I’m actually dreading my journey back home – as I write this.

It usually takes me half an hour to get into work from Stratford to Tottenham Court Road (Oxford Street), but today it took me two hours.

I live near West Ham underground station, which was closed at 7:30 am when I arrived there. I was told that I could take the DLR to Stratford International station. I did so and had to walk a mile to Star Lane DLR station near Canning Town. When I arrived, the person on the tannoy had announced that they had reopened West Ham Underground station. Essentially I walked a mile to hear that where I had walked from had reopened. I felt like a real mug.

I arrived at Stratford to see that the Central Line had limited service up to Liverpool Street. I jumped on the Central Line and then jumped off at Liverpool Street and made my way out of the station.

I was greeted by hundreds of others standing by bus stations waiting for ‘their’ bus to arrive. I then thought it would be a better idea to walk mile down the road to catch an earlier bus. Luckily for me this worked out, as I jumped on the number 242 bus to Tottenham Court Road. What I hadn’t contemplated was the fact that the traffic was abysmal. We were going at 2 miles per hour at best. The most noticeable thing throughout that 1 hour and 30 minute journey was the fact that we went to those bus stops outside of Liverpool Street (the ones that I mentioned that had hundreds of people gathered around) and they were acting like crazed maniacs fighting for their survival to get on the bus. It was almost like a scene on 28 days later, where you had delicious humans crammed on a bus with zombies doing everything in their power to get on the bus to eat the humans on board.

Liverpool Street - Bus Journey

A few stops later, you had people getting on the bus through the back door when people were trying to get off. It was a complete nightmare. Of course, you had the bus driver at the front frantically shouting saying that the bus inspector, who never came, would appear at the next stop.

Finally, I made it. I was listening to my music, and then all of a sudden the bus came to a halt. I didn’t recognise the area I was in, as I actually had not needed to take the bus before to Tottenham Court Road and always used the London Underground.

My journey home however was little different.

I simply jumped on the Northern Line to Waterloo, then transferred over onto the Jubilee Line towards Stratford. I got off at Canning Town to do some food shopping and viola. That took me around an hour still, but was obviously much quicker than taking a bus in rush hour. I’ll be taking the same route tomorrow morning.

I came to conclusion that I take the underground for granted. It’s an exceptional service, which provides a quick commute that might be full of, what seem to be, angry people or people always in a rush, but I guess that is what makes the underground what it is.

Opened up a Cash ISA and Credit Card Account

Opened up a Cash ISA and Credit Card Account

Yep, it’s true. I’ve gone ahead and done it. I have opened myself to debt and a life of monetary despair. I’ll now be poor forever paying back whatever credit I’ve borrowed from the bank using my delicious credit card.

On the other hand, I’ve also opened up a Cash ISA and have chucked half of my savings into it. There’s also a special feature on the Lloyds Bank internet banking website that allows you to rename your Cash ISA account. I’ve appropriately renamed it to:

Cash ISA - Internet Banking Lloyds Bank

But ouch. A 0.75% gross interest rate — that’s pretty weak-sauce. I suppose it is 0.05% better than the 0.75% gross interest rate on my eSavings account, and plus you’re aren’t being charged tax on that interest. It works out in the end I suppose. However, if you compare the gross interest rate with say, NatWest then it seems that they have a much higher interest rate at 1% gross (on a similar instant Cash ISA package). I don’t really care anyway, as I’m not going to get much out of this and there isn’t really a real benefit at the moment. I’m hoping there will be an increase sometime this year. I’m thinking of shopping around or perhaps even upgrading to a  Two Year Fixed Rate Cash ISA, which is going at 1.55% gross interest. I’m sure there are however other providers providing better deals.

Either way, it’s something that I opened because I was at the bank opening a credit card account. Why? Well, I do care about the future and I’m sort of future-proofing myself by building up a credit history. Not sure what my first purchase will be when I start using the account, but I’m thinking I’ll be using my credit card to pay for my monthly £136.60 London Oyster fee from zone 1 to 3. I’ll of course be paying it back immediately — don’t won’t to get into that debt business. 😉

Annual Leave Time – What I needed

Annual Leave Time – What I needed

From the 17th of December to the 2nd of January, 2014 – I’ll be on annual leave.

I haven’t planned too much, but I have spent quite a bit of money on a new laptop that arrived on my doorsteps today. Here are the specifications of my new laptop:

  • Windows 8 64-bit (pre-installed)
  • 3rd generation Intel® Core™ i7-3630QM Processor with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
  • Toshiba TruBrite® HD TFT High Brightness display with 16 : 9 aspect ratio and LED backlighting
  • 750 GB
  • Ice Blue Brushed Aluminium Finish, black keyboard
  • 8,192 (4,096 + 4,096) MB
  • DDR3 RAM (1,600 MHz)
  • AMD Radeon™ HD 7670M Graphics (2GB dedicated memory)
  • maximum life : up to 3h00min (Mobile Mark™ 2012)
  • weight : starting at 2.3 kg
  • W x D x H : 380.0 x 242.0 x 32.55 mm

I’ve started using the laptop. I just need to get Photoshop, ScreamingFrog, and a few other programs that I’ll need for work. I justified the cost of paying for this because of my job. Otherwise, I would have stuck with my old sluggish laptop that I’ve had for over 2 years. I have yet to test it for gaming and it has a dedicated graphics card with 2GB of memory. I should be able to play most modern games – if I wanted to.

The only bit of technology that I’d like would be a new camera and perhaps a new phone. Although, my Nexus 4 is pretty decent and I can’t quite complain with the performance of that phone. In fact, I’m thinking of saving up for a new camera, as I’d like to get my photography site back up and running with new content.

Fitness update

I’ve not really been doing anything too healthy this year and I guess the blog section on here under “Health” reflects that. I have however decided to join a leisure centre that is not too far from where I live. I went on a tour of the place yesterday and it looks fantastic. It has a decently sized swimming pool, a nice cosy gym, and if you want to do yoga, martial arts etc then there are classes for those.

I’ll likely be sticking to running, lifting weights, and swimming.

The best thing about this leisure centre is actually the price. It’s only £20 per month, but you do have to pay 3 months in advance and thereafter it works like a sort of rolling contract. You also don’t have to pay the world for the lockers, too. I found this to be the case for Easy Gym on Tottenham Court Road, where you have to purchase a lock. At ‘my’ leisure centre you only have to insert a £1 and you get it back after. It’s a pretty sweet deal, which I’ll be taking advantage of.

It’s time to become healthy again!