May 31st, 2008


Tax Credits farce

So a couple of weeks ago my Tax Credits renewal form came, and it said "You have not notified us of any change in circumstances" which is false because I rang them up on 25 July 2007 to tell them that childcare arrangements were coming to an end. In consequence they have been overpaying me by about a fiver a week, until this April when the figures for the new tax year reduced me to just the basic family element anyway.

I rang them up (a) to tell them that I am no longer paying for childcare and yes I did in fact tell them this at the time, and (b) to complete the renewal.

Some time later, a final statement for last year arrived. It included the exact figure for income that I'd given them, so my phone call clearly had some effect, but the details for the year end still said I was paying childcare costs. "If we do not hear from you we will assume the information we hold is correct and complete. If we later find out that you knew this information was incorrect or incomplete and did not tell us, you may be liable to a financial penalty and/or you may be prosecuted." Isn't telling them twice enough, FFS?

Today, the icing on the cake: the 2008–09 statement has arrived. Guess what, it still has the childcare element on it. But that's not all. While I was on the phone, the guy had asked me my estimated income for this year. According to this statement, he missed a zero off when typing it in, and the system now wants to pay me £750 a month. *Headdesk*

You'd think the system would realise that my salary can't possibly be that low if I'm claiming to work more than 30 hours per week. (Well no, given the famed incompetence of the Tax Credits office you perhaps wouldn't think. But still.)

Digital cameras

I've had a Canon Powershot G3 since about November 2004. It was probably a "prosumer" model when it originally came out and was quite featureful compared to my previous camera (a Kodak DC210). It's been good to me, although I still haven't got around to reading the manual properly (I did read it through once) so as to make use of all its features so it spends all its time on one of the two fully automatic settings.

It has a rather nifty pull-out-and-twist LCD screen. Unfortunately, because the screen gets twisted the wrong way, some of the wires inside have now broken and the screen now doesn't work at all, which means that what I've got is basically an expensive point-and-shoot camera because I can no longer see to change even the settings I know about, and I can't review the pictures without using a computer.

I've had a good look at it and I think I don't really know how to get at the broken wires to fix them, and if I did I wouldn't know which order is the right one to join them back together in (as they are all black).

I'm guessing a professional repair wouldn't be worth the money (although some people seem to disagree). I should think it would take an expert a couple of hours to get the thing apart and put it back together, provided they happened to have a ready-made replacement cable handy. The G3 seems to be worth about £100 on eBay, though being four years old it is somewhat dated compared to today's offerings (I think that series is up to G9 now). However, I'm not sure I ought to be spending any money on cameras just now (this fact won't necessarily stop me I'm sure).

So… repair, replace, upgrade? What do you think?