Alright, let’s get right into this train wreck.
So in an attempt to help Lav find work, the jobcentre asked her about what she might be interested in doing…now, since Lav did a one-day thing where she worked in a warehouse, and tried to get a job in another warehouse, she made that her first choice. She felt warehouse work was something she could do.
She had Office Assistant / Admin / IT as her second choice but that’s not important right now.
The advisor then revealed there was a warehouse course being set up…though warned Lav that warehouse tends to be a very male dominated industry, as it tends to involve lots of heavy lifting.
Lav said she’d be okay with that, so got put into a slot for the open day at Manchester Town Hall, where they’re supposed to interview her.
She goes to Manchester Town Hall, she meets the guy running it, and pretty much all he does is ask “are you able to come to the course?” Lav tells him yes, and he just signs her up then and there, no further questions asked!
Once the jobcentre learned of this, it was now mandatory for Lav to attend… “Failure to attend could result in a loss of benefit” was their wording. Standard stuff.
Lav goes to the first day of the course, she gets to the room, and sees nothing but men there…around 20 of them. And they all seemed to be giving her weird looks.
She felt very uncomfortable about this, and decided she wanted to cancel the course and leave.
We went straight to the jobcentre and told them of this…and were informed that it will be put down as a failure to attend, and will have to go to an independent decision maker…and if they decide this affects our claim, we will get sanctioned, and our claim will, at the very least, be suspended…for a month.
Now, here’s the thing…before the course started we both VERY CLEARLY remember being told on a number of occasions that we could cancel the course at any point, for any good reason…just tell the jobcentre right away if we do.
At no point did anybody specify that cancelling the course after she had been signed up for it would mean our claim would be affected by that decision.
We both assumed failure to attend meant simply, you’re on the course, but you didn’t physically attend it, and you didn’t inform anyone you weren’t attending, and then the people running the course ring the jobcentre and say “so-and-so wasn’t here” and you get in trouble for that.
The advisor that saw us gave us a chance to put forward our case to the independent decision makers, we did our best to try and explain Lav’s decision as best we could, although, at the time, we didn’t really have a chance to think of how to put it as articulately as I described above.
The messages that were sent simply explained that Lav felt uncomfortable, we feel we were told by jobcentre staff that we could cancel without any issues, oh and this is the first time Lav has had something brought to the attention of a decision maker.
We’re hoping that feeling uncomfortable is a good enough reason to not want to attend…after all, at an actual job, when you feel uncomfortable, there’s measures in place that you can take so your employers have to help you feel more comfortable. At least, that’s what I’ve heard.
I’ll get back to that whole situation in a minute, as there’s another aspect of our current situation I need to address.
So you remember in my last post how I was talking about how we were trying to move internet providers from Sky to Virgin Media so we could get good internet for a decent price?
Virgin Media kept delaying our installation date due to a “construction issue”…week after week for almost a MONTH we waited for them to come get us set up, and they kept rescheduling.
In the meantime, we were puttering along on a mobile Wi-Fi device we got from Vodafone just so we could have some semblance of internet.
We finally decided Virgin Media sucked…their customer service is completely rubbish…oh, and we found Vodafone has an even better broadband internet speed for an even cheaper price…so we cancelled Virgin Media and went ahead with Vodafone.
Vodafone’s customer service is so much better. Like, after we ordered the Vodafone router, the agent we spoke to asked us how much internet we had left on our mobile Wi-Fi…at this point we’d used all but around 2 gigabytes.
So…he sent us a 50 gig sim card for our Wi-fi device for free…he said they don’t normally do that, but since we’re getting broadband he decided to be generous and give us something to keep us going till our router arrives.
The 50 gig sim card arrives in the mail a couple of days later…guess what? There’s nothing on it.
No credit, no data, nothing!
Well, crap. I had to pay for some extra data on the mobile Wi-Fi sim card we already had just to keep us going while we waited for the router to arrive.
Soon as the router arrived, we put in the request for the two mobile Wi-Fi sim cards to have their service discontinued.
However, the other day we looked at our Vodafone bill…and it came to ONE HUNDRED AND FOURTY FIVE POUNDS!!
With the threat of no JSA looming, I called my mom to loan me the money to cover the bill.
She agreed, so long as I can pay it back afterwards.
Then we called Vodafone to see if anything can be done…from the way the guy was talking, it sounds like nothing CAN be done until both mobile Wi-Fi contracts officially end on April 10th.
Then he was saying stuff that sounded to me like, since we didn’t use the mobile Wi-Fi in all the time since we called for it to be cancelled, we will automatically be reimbursed the money we paid for something we didn’t use.
He then started talking about us needing to send back the mobile Wi-Fi device or we’ll be charged a fee for keeping it. He was talking about trying to get us through to the returns department when the call got dropped for some reason…signal got lost I think.
So yeah I gotta call them again at some point and ask for the returns department and ask them if it’s okay if I use a returns envelope I happen to already have…it came with the router, and is obviously too big length and width wise for the Wi-Fi device, even with the device in its box, but…
…hmmm, actually, now that I think about it, I can probably just cut off the address label and the prepaid stamp and stick them on the box.
It’s best I ask them first, though. Maybe they have a specific procedure, or need to send me the correct size returns envelope, or it needs to be sent to a different returns centre than the router, or something.
I should also mention another thing I like about Vodafone’s customer service…when they put you on hold, their hold music is not the usual classical music you get with most companies, it’s like pretty groovy pop songs. I dunno what the songs are called, but it’s a nice change from hearing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or something for the umpteenth time.
Anyway, it seems like I still have to pay that £145 bill…fortunately it’s just this one time.
Also fortunately, it turns out the Jobcentre’s decision maker hadn’t made a decision by the time Lav had to come in for her sign-on, which means we’re at least getting one more payment of JSA, more than enough to cover the Vodafone bill, and still leave us with a bit of money for other things.
Also rather fortunately, we found that we don’t have to pay council tax until the end of April…
Apparently the first payment we made covered from when we started the tenancy agreement through March…according to the letters about it, anyway.
I was just about to e-mail my mom and say I didn’t need her loan after all but she had already paid it in. So I gotta send it back to her. I’ll go do that right after posting this.
With any luck, the jobcentre’s decision maker will be lenient and let Lav off with a warning to not let it happen again…which we won’t, now that we’ve learned from our mistake here to be careful what we sign up for.
But there’s still the genuine prospect for work thing to worry about…my advisor warned me that Lav is not very likely to pass that unless she pretty much had a job already lined up by the time it comes about. The course was supposed to help her do that…now she’s turned it down, which doesn’t look good.
She’s gonna keep poking a couple of agencies she’s signed up with, see if anything crops up, and of course generally search for herself.
But even if Lav is considered no longer eligible for JSA, we’re pretty sure I can still claim for myself…we’d only get around half of what we’re getting now, but as long as there’s no more unexpected gigantic bills, we should be able to manage what little money we’ll have until at least one of us gets a job and a nice tasty salary starts coming in.
Speaking of jobs…I managed to get another interview since my last blog post…nothing came of it, but the fact that I’ve had 3 interviews in around 2 months means I’m taking steps in the right direction.
With a little bit more help, and more perseverance, and a bit of luck, MAYBE I’ll snag something.
Hey, I almost did with that RSJ Global job, but like I said before, I need something with a guaranteed income now that I’m responsible for rent and bills.
Work Solutions called me up and said they’re transferring me to their Salford branch. Brill, I’d been meaning to pay that branch a visit anyway. There’s also another Jobs fair at the Salford Civic centre.
I wanted to go to that anyway, but my advisor needed to officially book me in.
She couldn’t get a hold of the organisers while I was at my last sign on but she said she’ll keep trying and will call me and send me a letter when she’s booked me in. She said to have some printed CVs ready and come in my interview clothes.
I saw a computer room at the local community centre. They should have a printer I can use there.
I’ll need to wash my smart clothes, though. I’ve already worn all of them at least once at this point.
So what else have I been up to?
Well, there’s this I suppose;
Just a little something I’d been working on these past few months amidst all the chaos of having to move out of my parent’s place and into a place of our own.
Lav and I have also gotten back into playing Second Life…we need SOMETHING to pass the time while we’re at home with not much else to do…then again, we’re not finding much to do on SL either.
There’s also Minecraft if we don’t feel like SL, or we just each do our own thing if we don’t feel like SL or Minecraft.
Although we are very much letting ourselves get too distracted by our computers to do important things in real life like cleaning the filth off the kitchen counters, cleaning the outside of the washing machine, cleaning the fridge, cleaning the floors, doing the laundry and generally keeping this place neat and tidy.
Yeah…we’re gonna be sitting around in our own filth if we don’t start getting our act together.
Wish us luck!
Ciao for now,
Cordially, The Blue Fox.