Lost in taxing times

Saint Homobonus
11 November 2014

Saint HomobonusThe patron saint of purchasers takes a look at the month’s more unlikely business tales.

Lost in taxing times

TfL’s Lost Property Office, which has responsibility for items left on London public transport, said during 2013/14 there were 28,819 mobile phones found on the TfL network, including in black cabs. In what internet security firm ESET call a technology “black hole”, it discovered in a survey that around half of mobile phones found in cabs did not even have pin codes to protect data. Mark James, security specialist at ESET, said: “This is naive and wrong.” Other items found in black cabs included an inflatable banana, a dog, 400 packets of jelly and a Nato chief’s briefcase.  

A brand new issue


What’s in a name? Even the Downton Abbey dog is probably wishing it wasn’t named Isis. Named after the Egyptian goddess Isis ‘from about 3,000 years before Christ’ she now finds herself sharing the same name as the bloodthirsty Islamic group currently waging war in the Middle East. Businesses have been hit too. An Australian construction firm was told not to wear uniforms, a private equity firm is rebranding and Ann Summers had to apologise for its Isis-branded briefs.

Cuppa tea for you?


Consider your daily cuppa. Did you know that even a no-name brand teabag takes hours of expert sipping, grading and blending to create? While tea tasting is probably a career few of us have considered, it involves global-wide logistics, procurement and superb supply chain procedures. Staff in India and Africa need to taste individual lots, then UK staff need to taste bulk lots to decide which leaves will blend well together. It takes five years to train your palate and experts can pinpoint not only countries of origin but regions. A good head for numbers, interpersonal skills and a love of the comforting brew are just a few of the requirements for employment. New recruits start on £25,000 and get to spend their first few months sipping hundreds of spoonfuls of tea every day.

Got your number?

Forgetting an online password has been voted as more annoying than getting spam mail or misplacing your keys. In a survey of 1,000 UK consumers carried out by Centrify, seven per cent said they would rather have root canal treatment than manage their online account passwords. And many are not managing – with a third unable to access certain accounts because they cannot remember the password and 28 per cent locked out at least once a month after making multiple incorrect atttempts to enter their passwords.

I’ll be calling you

Thanks to increased security concerns banks are busy rolling out voiceprinting to combat fraud. So soon trying to remember your different PIN numbers won’t be the problem – it could be whether you have a cold or not. However John Buhl, an executive at The Vanguard Group Inc, a Pennsylvania-based mutual fund manager, said after extensive testing it had been found that even a hoarse voice didn’t affect access. In Turkey, mobile phone company Turkcell has taken the voice biometric data of some 10 million customers.

A hotspot to be in


Researchers set up a Wi-Fi hotspot for security firm F-Secure in June to explore potential online dangers. Londoners trying for free access were asked to sign terms and conditions including the so-called ‘Herod clause’ whereby they agreed to assign their first-born child to the group “for the duration of eternity”. Six of them signed up, surely underlining the potential dangers linked to hotspot Wi-Fi usage?

Bulking up – on the inside

There has been an 11 per cent increase in the number of prison issue trousers made with a waist measurement of at least 40in over the 
past four years, Ministry of Justice figures reveal. The ministry’s specialist prison uniform company, One3One, has made a number of XXXL outfits for inmates who do not fit into regulation sizes, and has had requests for shirts with 80in chests and trousers with 62in and 60in waists. In 2013, 23 pairs of prison trousers with a waist of 45in or greater were made. There were also 50 requests for T-shirts in an XXXL size or above including a garment with an 80in chest. One inmate put in a special request to have a shirt made for him with a 28in collar. Frances Crook, the chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said she had been contacted by overweight prisoners 
who said jails did not have enough XL sizes in stock. She said: “If men are on the larger size they have to wear trousers that don’t do up 
and T-shirts that don’t cover their tummies.”

Tweet of 
the month

Happiness is when a procurement director of a Fortune 500 company calls your cell asking you to sign a statement of work! #win @LesleyBrandt

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