Archive for January, 2017 review

January 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Last month, we came back to the UK after some time abroad.

Since we were moving back before Christmas, and there was going to be chaos for a while, I rented a car from Heathrow for a couple of weeks. Through the various discount voucher companies, I found a no-brainer of a deal: GBP160 for 9 days for a Golf Estate (we had a family of 4 with luggage), brokered by AutoEurope, with the rental from GreenMotion. The excess was not quite as stupid as it can be – GBP1500 – but it was the usual case of knowing that if you put a foot wrong at any point, the bargain would turn out to be a horrendous money pit! That’s likely how they make their profit.

Now – I ‘wised up’ to these deals a long time ago, so I had an annual policy, and then always turned down every offer of insurance. The policy seems pretty straightforward and not too onerous, and I was nervous of the catch that had to be there, but I kept it and used it.

So – when I reversed the high-spec Volvo C70 (we upgraded for GPB25) into a bollard, my heart sank! Definitely my fault, and no way to hide it. I was returning the car to GreenMotion that day, so I took refuge in my excess insurance policy, and paid out the GBP939 for the damage to the bumper and panel on my card.

A few days later, when the statement was on my credit card, I phoned carhireexcess, got put through to their insurance company OSG, and got sent a form. Completed form, drivers’ licence, documents from Green Motion, card statement, all got scanned and emailed off, and I hoped.

And… to my surprise, a few days later, without a single further question or attempt to wriggle out of it, I received a short email: “We’ll reimburse you in full”. Another few days later, I received a cheque (cheque!!?). I paid that in, and this morning, it cleared. Paid in full!

So – to my surprise and happiness, this is a positive review for what was a no-nonsense policy and process. I’ll have to wait and see whether my premiums go up elsewhere, or whether they insure me again, but for the moment, I’m pleasantly surprised, and will use them again.


Categories: Random

Certify Expenses iOS app review

January 6, 2017 Leave a comment

I used Expensify at my old company before changing job and being given Certify at my new.
Certify’s app is horrible. If you value your employees, or at least value their opinion, don’t use it.

Expensify is a native app that works offline, syncs intelligently, and offers automatic receipt transcription.

Certify just fills me with hate. It looks and feels like a web app packaged as an application. For example – it appears to offer caching receipt photos locally with a sync to the server, so that must mean it works offline, right? No. You are required to log in EVERY TIME you open the app, although it does auto-enter your password, and if you aren’t online – you can’t log on.

It does dynamically change fields based on the type of expense; good for all sorts of back end statistics, I’m sure, but bad for actually entering them.

I’m serious: the ability to simply snap a photo as you get out of the cab / step away from the counter, makes expenses truly frictionless, and removes an annoying admin burden from people who want to do their job. But that’s Expensify, or other similar products – it’s definitely not Certify.

Categories: Uncategorized

Amazon Echo can’t discover Hive Home devices

January 1, 2017 Leave a comment

I’m having a really annoying problem with Amazon Echo.

I’ve just bought some Hive Home smart devices, including Thermostat, Hub, and light bulbs, but for some reason I can’t get the Echo to discover them.

A fair amount of googling has shown that no-one else seems to have this problem. The problem appears to stem from some issue with the Hive skill itself. When I search for it in the Amazon store, it doesn’t come up, although it should definitely be there.

Stranger still, if I search for “Hive” as a skill, Amazon reports three hits, but only shows one – a bee quiz game. While the Hivehome skills must be there, they are for some reason hidden.


I phoned Amazon and they gave me a URL that takes me directly to the skill. However, when I enable it, although it shows as enabled, it is not listed under my list of available skills in the Alexa app

So – it seems the skill is there, but it’s hidden from me. It feels like a country restriction, but I have my account, and Echo, set to English (UK), and Hive is primarily a UK product.

Hive is also a ‘strange’ skill – it’s a Smarthome skill, but not in the Smarthome skill list. It’s treated as a standard skill, but it isn’t one. I’m not sure if this contributes too. I’ve tried using Discover Devices under Smarthome, which is the recommended way of discovering Hive devices, but nothing shows up. This is also if putting the Hive Hub in discover mode (turning off and on again!).

I’ve spoken to Amazon, and have also created a new account from scratch, but the problem remains. Other skills seem to work fine!

I’ve emailed Amazon, and will see if they come up with any other suggestions.

Categories: Uncategorized

January 1, 2017 Leave a comment

Categories: Uncategorized