Thursday, 21 December 2006

Festive Farewells

OK. Enough. I’m going to sign off for the festive season. Just a few things to mention first though:

Thanks to all of you who’ve been signing up to read my Nairobi blog. There’s been a flurry of people in the last few days, and I haven’t added them all up yet, but it looks like we’ve made a good start. Still plenty more people-pestering and shameless self-promotion to be done in the New Year, of course.

This is one of my favourite things on YouTube at the moment: - the video cheers me up so much that I don’t mind the mutilation of Pink Floyd. As one of the people forwarding it around commented: all we have to do to make environmentalism look attractive is to loosely connect it to a bunch of kids running around and breaking into houses. It’s so obvious when you think about it.

You know when you owe a company or the local Council a load of money, and then after a while they stop sending you reminders and letters start arriving from some other mysterious organisation called “Westcott” or “JJ Associates” or “Derek and Steve’s Personal Debt Collection Service”? I didn’t realise – until informed the other day at my Random Dinner – that your original creditor may have actually sold the debt on to a collection company, often at a price way below the value of the debt. So say (as a random example) that you owed the Council £500, but then you moved house four times and they gave up searching for you, they might decide to cut their losses and sell your debt on to someone else for £10. The new “owner” of your debt then tries to track you down, and presumably only need a fairly low success rate to recoup the value of all the debts they purchase.
The most interesting thing about this is – according to my informant, who says that she’s checked this with a personal debt expert – is that these debt sales often take place online, and that there is no legal reason why you can’t buy back your own debt. In other words, if you were sneaky enough, and able to find out where your creditor was selling your debt, you could buy your £500 debt for £10.

Obviously that would be a dreadfully dishonest thing to do, but the sheer cheek of the idea kind of amused me.
I went looking to see if any of my own debts were for sale on ebay, but couldn’t seem to spot them. However, someone was selling a magic spell to ward off debts for only £9.99 (plus £1.99 postage and packaging), which sounds just as good really.

Have a fine, fine Christmas and New Year everyone,

I’ll be back in January for the World Social Forum warm-up,

D xXx

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