Two recent transactions:
1) I tried to get a phone line in a new house. BT Open
worldreach, the regulated infrastructure company full of all the useless cunts who BT can’t sack because of the union (FACT, in a “I was told this by a BT strategy person when he was pissed” kind of way) charges gbp120 to activate a phone line if it’s gone dead – apparently this involves connecting some wires. As a result, the cheapie phone operators will only let you sign up without jumping through a trillion hoops if you have an existing, live, BT line. BT Retail charge over the odds, but usually either cover the fee or check with Openworld and discover your line isn’t quite dead enough for it to apply (this is done in an entirely non-transparent way). Ofcom believe that for Openworld to charge other providers gbp120 to switch on a phone line that’s *already fucking there* is entirely fair and reasonable.
2) having had everything enabled in my house, I tried to watch the movie channels on Sky+. It being 7:20pm, and the movie being the (excellent) Charlie Wilson’s War, which is slightly more hardcore than Bambi, the bastard thing asked me for a PIN to prove I wasn’t a recalcitrant child. Fair enough, I hadn’t set the box up to disable this, it’s only fair that the children of idiot parents be protected from the horrors of watching films [*].
After 10 minutes of failing to persuade Sky+ to turn off the PIN system, I had a look on the Internets; it turned out that Ofcom have obliged anyone who provides premium movies pre-watershed to fit a compulsory PIN which the actual fucking owner of the house can’t disable. Just in case I invite a child round, and it decides, while I’m not paying attention, to watch EVIL BADNESS on Sky+ rather than, say, my DVD collection.
…so I set my PIN to 0000 and left a sticky note on the Sky+ box saying “PIN 0000″, just in case any adult idiots happen to be at my house while I’m out/drunk, guess the wrong PIN, and lock the box out. Fairly obviously, any child that might be in my house – were I a Bad Parent, for example – will be able to follow the same procedure. And this wouldn’t apply for the children of a Good Parent, as they’d have the PIN still set on its default setting of ‘on’.
To recap: Ofcom failed to protect me from the impact of an inept monopoly charging insane amounts of money for something piss-easy, but did force my TV provider to make my life more annoying in exchange for providing absolutely no benefit to anyone.
If I were slightly more sociopathic and embittered, I’d probably join the Libertarian Party at this point.
[*] this is also lies, but lies that I’ll concede for the general purpose of the post. In reality, all censorship targeted at any age group is bullshit; I first watched an 18 movie when I was 10ish and 20 years on I still haven’t raped, murdered or tortured anyone…