Help with problems

“Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” ― Albert Einstein

Help with problems


Basic advice:

  1. Figure out how to fix it yourself … failing that
  2. Offer to pay for help … failing that
  3. Ask around and hope that someone knowledgeable will volunteer their time to help you out.

Slightly more constructive advice:

  1. Join an existing self-help group, if there are any.
  2. Form a self-help group, if none currently exist.
  3. Buy or create your own insurance, if you know how.
  4. Purchase membership of a commercial protection scheme, if and when one becomes available.

Customer service


VCoin has no customers, only people who have agreed to use a FOSS application under the terms stated on the license which accepts neither responsibility nor liability, specifically: “WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND” (see below).

Copyright (c) 2009-2015 The Bitcoin Core developers

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.


Essential differences from “meatspace”


As reported in The Guardian’s “Money” section, September 14th, 2015, note the final piece of advice: “You might be best dismissing the experience as a hard lesson learned.”

Customer: I made a typo, sent a payment of £760 (VCN 135.2bn) to the wrong address.

Last year I intended to transfer £760 from the Halifax to my Nationwide account. Unfortunately, I mistyped a digit of the account number and the money went to a stranger. I did not notice this until three weeks later, at which point I called Halifax. They explained that their policy was to email the bank into which the money went and ask them to retrieve it.

Months passed without result. I then contacted Nationwide. They confirmed the money was no longer in the recipient’s account so they could not retrieve it, and they were unable to provide me with their details due to data protection. They wrote to the account holder but received no response.

I was advised that I would need to take Nationwide to court to obtain the details of this person and begin legal action. It cost me £70 to do this, then I began a claim, paying a further £60, but there was no response from the recipient. The next step is to issue a warrant, but this will cost me another £70! Will this get me my money back or is it time to give up?

I completely understand it was my initial mistake. However, the fact remains that somebody has taken and spent £760 which is not theirs – and why, over a year later, am I still no closer to getting it back? GM, London

Guardian “Money” columnist: Bad news, you’re SOL.

“The obvious advice is to check and recheck you’ve typed the account number correctly when transferring money because, as you have discovered, banks only note the sort code and account number, and there is no guaranteed protection if you misdirect a payment. However, the number of transactions on the fiddly keypads of smartphones and tablets means mispayments are on the rise and last year a number of banks signed up to a voluntary code to make it easier to reclaim errant funds.

Under the code, the bank will act within two working days of being alerted and, if they can’t immediately retrieve the money, they will investigate further and inform the sender of the outcome within 20 days.

Your problem was compounded by the fact that three weeks had passed before you realised the mistake, by which time there was no money left to be returned. “If we have been notified sooner, and were satisfied the money was hers, we would have withdrawn it immediately and returned it, or ringfenced it if there was a dispute on ownership,” says a spokesperson for Nationwide.

It will not force the recipient to become overdrawn because it says it will not take on a debt that stems from someone else’s mistake.

Payments UK, which represents payment services, says it is working with banks and financial providers on the issue but that there is no “silver bullet” that can eradicate the problem.

Some banks and building societies, such as First Direct, have amended their terms and conditions to allow them to claw back mispayments or ringfence them if they are contested, but this is on a case-by-case basis to prevent, for instance, a buyer changing their mind after a purchase and reclaiming their payment.

Spending someone else’s money is a criminal act, but the reality is the police are unlikely to spend much time pursuing the “thief” on your behalf.

Your only option then, is to obtain a court order allowing a bailiff or high court enforcement officer to recover the debt, but if the defendant refuses to admit the bailiff or lacks the goods or funds to pay, you’ll be left out of pocket.

The small claims system relies heavily on defendants playing ball. If they don’t, enforcing a judgment can be pricey and ineffectual. You’ve already lost £760 and two court fees. You might be best dismissing the experience as a hard lesson learned.

Well, nearly none. There is one key difference, VCoin doesn’t impose arbitrary limits on how much money you can withdraw, unlike the retail banks. It may be your money but, however convenient it is to lodge it with a retail bank, it does mean handing over control of your money to a business who may then exploit compliance restrictions (imposed on them) to frustrate your reasonable intention.

From the Guardian’s “Money” section on September 12th 2015

Customer, I want to withdraw £1,570, in cash, from my £12,000 balance.

Barclays Bank, we don’t keep that much cash, will £1,170 be alright?


Barclays states “In the most part we are able to meet customers’ requests when withdrawing funds. We do not generally highlight what our local [cash withdrawal] limits are for security, and also to protect our customers and the bank … If a large sum of cash is required we will be able to meet a customer’s needs the following day.” It adds: “We would also advise the customer of alternative methods of withdrawing cash – banker’s draft, Chaps, electronic transfer – so they are not carrying around large sums of money.”


HSBC states “There are no limits on the amount of money a customer can withdraw from their account – as long as there are sufficient funds.” It adds: “For larger withdrawals we do not require advance notice, but we are more likely to be able to meet requests for specific denominations or larger amounts if we are given prior notice. In most incidences we can meet the request the same day. Significantly large requests at smaller branches could take longer.”


Lloyds says “there is no maximum amount” that a current account customer can withdraw in cash without notice, but that it would be dependent on ID and “collateral” presented – ie, a debit card – as well as the amount of cash held in the branch. If there is insufficient cash at the branch, the customer will need to give two days’ notice, assuming they pass the ID and verification checks. “We would add that in order to protect the customer we would promote alternative payment methods such as faster payments, Chaps or banker’s draft.”


RBS/NatWest says “A customer is able to go into a branch to withdraw any amount of money without the need to give prior notice. However, for large amounts we would advise the customer that the type of notes would be subject to availability. They may want to consider contacting the branch in advance to request specific denominations.”


Nationwide (a building society) says its customers can withdraw up to £2,000 per account a day. “However, if they want to withdraw more than £500, it is best to pre-book the amount with the branch to ensure that it has the cash available. If customers want to withdraw more than £2,000, they would need to pre-book the money. This can be done the day before.” It adds that there is no set maximum that customers can withdraw, but if it is a large amount then it “would look to work with the customer to see if there was another solution for withdrawing their money (ie, Chaps).”


Santander says the maximum amount a current account customer can withdraw in cash without notice is £5,000, “subject to availability of funds”, and assuming that he/she has the cash in their account. “For amounts in excess of £5,000 we would ask for 48 hours’ notice so we can make special arrangements to meet the customer’s request,” it adds. “Larger branches are able to fulfil customer requests more so than smaller local branches.”

Gradually, retail banks and government are tightening their control over your cash. Now you need to give them notice of your intention to make a significant (and zero-fee) cash withdrawal. They will, of course, recommend that you request them to return your money not in the form of zero-fee incurring cash but in one of their fee-incurring pieces of scrip.

The trend is clear, the future will see the imposition of more fine-grained central control over depositors’ cash withdrawals. This is an inarguable diminution of personal power. If, for some reason that they’re not obliged to give, the bank suspects that you’re up to no good, you won’t be allowed access to your money unless you can convince them of your good intentions.

The rationale given for these restrictions is the protection of the customer from … exploits of the bank’s security. Kafka would have been proud.

The Universe- Some Information To Help You Live in It

(from: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams)

1 AREA: Infinite.

Infinite: Bigger than the biggest thing ever and then some. Much bigger than that in fact, really amazingly immense, a totally stunning size, real “wow, that’s big,” time. Infinity is just so big that, by comparison, bigness itself looks really titchy. Gigantic multiplied by colossal multiplied by staggeringly huge is the sort of concept we’re trying to get across here.

2 IMPORTS: None.

It is impossible to import things into an infinite area, there being no outside to import things from.

3 EXPORTS: None.

See Imports.


It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.


In fact there are three freely convertible currencies in the Galaxy, but none of them count. The Altairian Dollar has recently collapsed, the Flainian Pobble Bead is only exchangeable for other Flainian Pobble Beads, and the Triganic Pu has its own very special problems. Its exchange rate of eight Ningis to one Pu is simple enough, but since a Ningi is a triangular rubber coin six thousand eight hundred miles along each side, no one has ever collected enough to own one Pu. Ningis are not negotiable currency, because the Galactibanks refuse to deal in fiddling small change. From this basic premise it is very simple to prove that the Galactibanks are also the product of a deranged imagination.

6 ART: None.

The function of art is to hold the mirror up to nature, and there simply isn’t a mirror big enough- see point one.

7 SEX: None.

Well, in fact there is an awful lot of this, largely because of the total lack of money, trade, banks, art or anything else that might keep all the nonexistent people of the Universe occupied.