Friday, February 19, 2010

The following is a sidebar to this post I have written for Samizdata
Portugal has existed as a state since Afonso Henriques, Count of Portugal, achieved independence from the Kingdom of Leon (one of the four kingdoms generally considered the predecessors of modern Spain) and declared himself King Alfonso I of Portugal in 1139. At that point Portugal only consisted of the North of the modern country, but Alfonso pursued a series of conquests that expelled the Moors from much of the south of the modern country. Olivenca fell to Alfonso in 1170, but was retaken by the Muslims in 1189. In 1230, Olivenza was taken from the Moors by the Knights Templar in 1139, ultimately being absorbed into the Kindom of Castille, predecessor to modern Spain. It was reclaimed by Portugal in 1297, during the succession crisis following the death of King Sancho IV of Castille, Leon, and Galicia. Olivenca then remained Portuguese for more than 500 years, although Portugal was in Personal Union with Spain (ie the same king ruled two multiple kingdoms that were theoretically separate) from 1580 to 1640.

In 1373, Portugal signed a treaty of perpetual friendship with England, that remains in force to this day. In 1510, the Ajuda bridge was built across the Guardiana river to the nearby Portuguese town of Elvas. In the war of Spanish succession (that took place between 1701 and 1714), Portugal sided with the British and Prussians against the Spanish and French, in accordance with the treaty of 1373. Olivenca was held by Portugal, but there was fighting in the area and the Ajuda bridge was damaged and made impassable in 1709.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Some endings take time

In December, I blogged happily about the prospect of receiving new (if unneeded) hardware for free. Alas, though, it did not work out, and I had to send a letter to customer service

In mid-December, I received a (paper) letter stating that Three's network had been recently upgraded in my area and that if I wished, Three would provide me with a new modem at not charge, to take advantage of the faster network. I called the phone number given in the letter and arranged to be sent the new modem. Several weeks later, the new modem had not arrived. Therefore, on January 13, I called Three Mobile again to enquire where it was. The person I spoke to told me that the address that showed up on his computer for my account was my old address (postcode SW18 1DB) that I left in June last year. This was odd, as all correspondence from Three (including the letter that started this) has been sent to my new address (SE1 5HH) for at least six months. He stated that the modem might have been sent to my old address also, and that he would escalate the matter and investigate, and would call me back within two days. This was satisfactory to me. However, he did not call me back within two days, and did not in fact call me back until January 19th. This was not satisfactory to me, and if I had known he would take this long to get back to me, I would have told him not to bother. On January 19, I was in Australia, and when he called me it was 3am local time, and paying considerable roaming charges to receive calls. After a conversation of several minutes that cost me several pounds to have, he eventually told me that it would not be possible to deliver the modem when I was not present, and that I should therefore arrange again to have it delivered when I was back in the UK. I am now back in the UK. I am still using my old modem, which works perfectly but presumably at slower speeds than would a new modem. I am still perfectly happy with the service I am receiving. If Three had done nothing whatsoever, I would have no complaints. However, Three somehow managed to waste my and your time, and to cost me money to achieve nothing whatsoever. That said, if you are able to give me a new modem to increase my broadband speed, I would still find this useful. In fact, if you are able to provide me with one of your MiFi modem/routers instead of a standard modem, I would find that even more useful. I am actually very close to the end of my contract, and would agree to renew the contract for another 18 or 24 months if this is necessary to do so, although I do not wish to lose the particularly low monthly rate I am presently paying (£5 a month for 1Gb).

Thank you

I wonder if I can manage to get fancier hardware out of them than they originally offered? Or am I just leading myself further down the rabbithole?

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