Wednesday, November 26, 2008

0291125000 been bothering you?

Over the last week or so, this Sydney phone number has been calling my mobile approximately ten times a day. When I answer, the caller (or machine as it probably is) hangs up. I googled the number (as perhaps you, dear visitor have done), and it came up with the details of this company:

The Privacy Officer
AEGON Direct Marketing Services Australia Pty Ltd
PO Box H63
Australia Square NSW 1215
Tel: +61 2 8207 9007
Fax: +61 2 8207 9099

or try the MD:

Managing Director
Tel: +61 2 8207 9000

I spoke to Craig, and voiced my disdain for his company harrassing me. He took my details and said he would deal with it. If you're having similar problems, I suggest you drop him a line.

Apparently they are working for our good friends at the Commonwealth Bank. Perhaps try and lob a complaint at them as well. Good luck.

Friday, November 21, 2008

(Don't) Go Harvey Norman

THE retail king Gerry Harvey may have a personal fortune of about $1.6 billion but the Harvey Norman founder thinks donating to charity is "just wasted".

Asked in a new book about the role he and Harvey Norman play in the community, Mr Harvey said giving money to people who "are not putting anything back into the community" is like "helping a whole heap of no-hopers to survive for no good reason".

He said he believed in helping "develop people to their potential" because "when they achieve [their potential] they will put a lot more back into the community".

"You could go out and give a million dollars to a charity tomorrow to help the homeless. You could argue that it is just wasted. They are not putting anything back into the community.

"It might be a callous way of putting it but what are they doing? You are helping a whole heap of no-hopers to survive for no good reason. They are just a drag on the whole community.

"So did that million you gave them help? It helped to keep them alive but did it help our society? No. Society might have been better off without them but we are supposed to look after the disadvantaged and so we do it. But it doesn't help the society."

Mr Harvey added: "That is not to say we don't give money away to charities because we have given plenty away over the years. At the end of the day, the more quality individuals you develop in the community, the better off the community should be."

Earlier this year, Harvey Norman donated beds to a charity, Bridge Back to Life, that helps homeless men find rental accommodation.

The comments are in a new book, Master CEOs, by the Sydney funds manager Matthew Kidman.

Clare Martin, the chief executive of the Australian Council of Social Service, said: "I have really been impressed at corporate Australia and their real involvement in the wider community … and I always thought that Harvey Norman shared that as well.

"It does surprise me that Gerry Harvey, who's a very significant business figure, should not share the values of many other corporates."

In the interview, Mr Harvey also said that despite his wealth, "I still have a fear about going broke. I always think about it."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

'Ghost bike' memorial is vandalised
12 November 2008
Dobbin, with what remains of the ""ghost bike
Dobbin, with what remains of the ""ghost bike
HEARTLESS vandals have wrecked a "ghost bike" memorial marking the spot where a much-loved cyclist was killed.

Australian James Foster, 36, died in July 2003 when he was hit by a car as he left work at Mosquito Bikes cycle shop, in Essex Road, Islington.

James Foster
James Foster
The driver, who was over the limit, was already banned for a previous drink driving conviction.

In July this year Mr Foster's colleagues made a white skeleton bike out of spare parts and chained it outside the shop to mark the fifth anniversary of their friend's death.

But last month the tribute was vandalised.

Dobbin, 39, manager of Mosquito Bikes, said: "At first I couldn't believe it, then I thought 'I can believe it round here'. Islington is one of the worst places for getting your bike nicked. They nicked the stem, the handlebars and the front wheel but they were all old so they were useless.

"We had it outside the shop because that's where James was killed."

So-called "ghost bike" memorials originated in America but it was Mr Foster's death that was the inspiration for the website being set up in the UK. Identical tributes to other cyclists have since sprung up in Stoke Newington, Dalston, Brighton and Wales.

"We wanted to do a tribute to James," said Dobbin. "He was a nice guy, a great big Tasmanian guy with these red dreadlocks. He always had this big grin on his face. He was fun to be around.

"People get together every year on his anniversary and we ride from the shop down into Clerkenwell in a sort of cortege. Drivers have to slow down and think how dangerous cars can be."

In September Islington community campaigner Lisa Pontecorvo, of Thornhill Square, Barnsbury, was killed by a lorry as she wheeled her bike across Holloway Road, Holloway.

Dobbin said: "Usually its couriers who get knocked off and it's not reported. It's not that common. People think it's dangerous and the odds show it's not. It's just when things go wrong they really go wrong."

Sarn Baggett, a mechanic at Mosquito who built and painted Mr Foster's ghost bike, has vowed to repair it and has even gained permission from Islington Council to chain it up permanently in Essex Road.