Part 173

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.  BTL updates, and some more awful customer service.  Also, a successful surgery which comes as a huge relief.

Weekly Update

I had my surgery on Monday and it went much better than the first attempt.  This issue with my kidney stone has been ongoing for a few years, and the surgery was put back in 2021 and 2022 due to covid in the wider world, and because on two occasions I tested positive for covid too soon to the planned date of surgery.  I was called in at short notice  for surgery on January 3rd this year, but the procedure did not go well.  The surgeon could not get to the stone and had to fit a stent in the channel that connects the kidney and bladder.  I was also not put to sleep for the operation, which is the normal way of doing things, but was instead given a spinal injection that left me paralysed from the chest down for several hours.  It was not an experience I wanted to repeat.  Following that operation, I was in a rough way for a few weeks after.  The stent was causing aches in my back and side, and I was (sorry to be blunt) urinating blood for a long time after.  So, all things considered, I was not looking forward to the second attempt.  

When I arrived at the hospital on Monday it seemed as though the staff were more aware of my anxiety and I was given a private room, rather than being in a busy ward.  I was first on the list for surgery, and the anaesthetist (a different one from the first operation) was happy to give me a general anaesthetic.  I was also surprised that many of the patients had people with them, as I was under the impression that visitors were not allowed.  I messaged Oana and she came up to the hospital to keep me company.  I was taken to the operating theatre at 13:30, and was back in my room at 15:15.  At first I was worried that the operation had not been successful, but it was soon confirmed that the stone and stent had both been removed.  I had a cup of coffee, and Oana fed me some gluten-free biscuits.  By 17:00 we were ready to leave and ordered an Uber.  

It’s a short distance from the hospital to our apartment.  As my Grandad used to say, “it’s a ten-minute walk if you run.”  At this time of day, it takes longer to drive the distance due to traffic than it does to walk, but I was not strong enough to walk as the anaesthetic was still making me a bit woozy (it’s a word, spell check hasn’t picked it up).  However, for the whole journey, our taxi driver decided to preach to us that his god was real and could have prevented the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.  Oana and I just looked at each other.  What has happened there is horrific, and when people try to twist these tragedies to suit their religious agenda it makes me angry.

When I came home from the first operation I was not in a good way.  I was vomiting and could barely face any food.  I’m convinced much of this was due to the spinal injection.  This time I had a voracious appetite.  Oana made us a curry, with side dishes of rice, potatoes, and salad.  Following this, I had ice cream, chocolate, crisps, and more cookies, and then I slept.  

Although I’ve felt much better than I did following the first operation, I’ve not been what I’d describe as “well”.  I’m easily tired and find myself sleeping a lot.  This seems normal for me when I have a general anaesthetic, with this being the fifth time I’ve experienced it.  I’m just so relieved that the operation went well, and that the pain and discomfort I was in have ended.   

As the week came to an end we received another delivery of Lego, and it’s been keeping us busy.

Customer Service

I firmly believe that customer service is, on the whole, getting worse.  It seems that every time I have to deal with a business something goes wrong, even if that interaction involves no person-to-person interaction.

2023 is going to be an expensive year for us.  We have the following things happening: a two-week cruise, a weekend in Manchester for a gig, a weekend in London for a gig, our kitchen being replaced, and a possible week away later in the year.  I was thinking of the most cost effective way of handling this because the vast majority of my spending goes on an AMEX card that I earn airmiles on.  However, if the balance is not paid up in full each month the interest is pretty high.  Some of these things we have coming up will take a few months to pay down, so I thought I’d pay on the AMEX and then get a balance transfer onto a 0% card.  Sounds easy enough…

I decided to go with Virgin Money.  At the application stage they ask for the card number of the card you are transferring your balance from.  AMEX cards always start with the number “3”, Mastercard with “5”, and Visa with “4”.  So, Virgin knew this was an AMEX right from the start.  My application was accepted.  I received three further communications confirming it was accepted.  Then, a fourth communication stating it was, once again, accepted but with further details regarding my balance transfer.  In short, they could not do the balance transfer because it was an AMEX.  

The fact it couldn’t be done isn’t what annoyed me.  It’s the fact that they had all the information at the start, then confirmed several times it could be done before deciding it couldn’t.  I called Virgin Money and explained I no longer needed the card, and that I also felt it was only right that they remove the credit search as I felt it had been done unnecessarily as the product I was applying for was not as described.  The agent seemed to agree but stated, after speaking with a manager, there was nothing they could do.  So, I’ve gone down the formal complaint route.  I’ll probably drag this out to the ombudsman once I receive their final response letter because fuck them.  

The fun and games doesn’t end there though.  I have a relatively new Nespresso machine and the other day I went to make a coffee but four capsules from the same sleeve were not accepted by the machine.  I couldn’t reuse the capsules as they’d been pierced.  The next capsule was fine though, as were several coffees I made after.  So, it’s obviously an issue with the few capsules from that sleeve and not the machine.  Had it been just one capsule I’d have left it, because it happens from time to time.  I was a bit miffed at wasting half a sleeve though, so I called them up.

The first ten minutes of the call were spent with someone doing something and occasionally they’d ask me to wait for a moment whilst they check something.  Then, they said they had to transfer me to technical support.  I was then blindly transferred to another colleague in the same department, meaning I had to run through all the information again.  After another ten minutes they said they wanted to run some tests on my machine and have me run a cleaning cycle.  I had already explained several times the machine was working correctly both before and after the incident with the capsules, so it was not a machine issue.  Eventually I just gave up.  All I’d asked for was a partial credit for those four capsules, which equates to about £2.50.  I just explained to the agent it was not worth all this time for four capsules.  I wasn’t rude, aggressive, hostile or anything like that, I just explained I’d not been on the phone for 25 minutes for something that honestly wasn’t worth the time.  

Finally we come to the dipshit of the year so far; British Gas.  Later in this post you will find out that my BTL transfer has been cancelled, but for now you just need to know that it’s been cancelled.  Anyway, my investment partner who was going to move into the property was looking at getting the prepayment electric meter replaced with a smart meter.  The prepayment meter has been in there since we bought it and our tenants have not chosen to replace it.  My IP contacted British Gas to enquire about them fitting a smart meter when he moves in, taking great care to explain that the property was currently tenanted.  Someone at their side got a bit carried away and decided to take over the supply of gas and electricity whilst our tenants were still in the property.  To compound their mistake, they stated it couldn’t be corrected for several months.  So, as of right now it’s not clear which company is providing the gas and electricity.  Also, because the electricity is on a prepayment meter, if we top it up with the key we have from the old provider, will it still work?

The tenants have moved out and there was no issue raised about their supply.  As for who is providing electricity and gas right now, we have no clue.  British Gas keep asking for meter readings though.  I can’t see how this is legal because if I was to move into that property today, I’d need power to the property.  There must be some provision for this set of circumstances that is better than, “wait a few weeks or months” for British Gas to get their finger out.  

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2023 Goals

Click here to see my 2023 progress (opens a new tab). 

What Am I Doing?

TV: Three-Body (YouTube), Inside our Autistic Minds (BBC).

Audiobook: The Pale Horseman: Last Kingdom Book 2 by Bernard Cornwell.

Earlier in the week I was told about a show on the BBC, Inside our Autistic Minds.  It’s a two-part show, with the second part airing this coming week.  The first episode followed two autistic people; a young, non-speaking autistic man, and a young autistic woman.  Both of them came across well, and their bravery at opening up to the world was humbling.  It was a very emotional show and I’ll admit I teared up at times.  The young man who couldn’t speak communicates through a tablet.  He was articulate, intelligent, and frustrated at not being able to take part in conversations in real time.  As he opened up about his life, he was almost poetic.  I’m looking forward to the next episode.  

Financial Update


Premium Bonds: £38,000.00 (no change). 

Stocks and Shares ISA: £69,618.42 (-£1,023.03). 

Fuck It Fund: £50.00 (no change).

Pensions: £59,527.11 (+£956.67). 

Residential Property Value: £228,006.00 (no change). 

BTL Property Value: £147,133.00 (no change).

Total Assets: £542,334.53 (+£147,066.64).


Credit Card: £0.00 (no change).

Loans: £9,800.00 (no change).

Residential Mortgage: £179,161.80 (no change). 

BTL Mortgage: £105,015.74 (no change).

Total Debts: £293,977.54 (+£105,015.74). 

Total Wealth: £248,356.99 (+£42,050.90).

Investment Income in 2023: £310.46 (target £8,500).

BTL Stuff

So, a funny thing happened, the transfer of my BTL was called off right at the very last moment.  Basically, I was selling my share in the BTL to my investment partner and they were going to live there.  However, the more they thought about their living situation, the more uneasy they felt about moving into that house.  So, they asked if I’d be ok cancelling the transfer, and I was.

By this point, the tenants had moved out of the property and the agent had contacted us to explain they were very unhappy with the state the property had been left in.  We feared the worst, remembering how badly the previous tenant had trashed the property before moving out.  It cost us several thousand pounds to put the property right, and we were worried our investment was for nothing.  Having seen photos of the state of the property, it could have been much worse.  The main issue is that it’s filthy; the tenants did not clean up after themselves.  Also, there is a smell that seems to have permeated the house.  Another point that has pissed me off relates to some building work we had completed, to prevent moisture from coming into the property from outside.  The builders we hired, on the recommendation of the agent, do not seem to have completed the work to a satisfactory standard as moisture is still entering the property in the same location, as the picture below shows:

I’m hopeful that we can get the repair work done quickly so we can get this property back on the market.

It’s important to point out that my finances look better than they are, as I still have the money from my investment partner that was payment for my share of the BTL.  That money will be returned but, because I’d already invested it, it will be some time until I return it in full.  


The views and opinions in this blog are my own, and do not represent the views or opinions of my employer, nor should they be considered advice.

If you want personalised financial advice, seek an appropriate professional.  If you are in financial difficulty, seek advice via the resources below:



Biolink and other links

You can now find all my social media pages by checking out my Biolink:

Also, check out Darren Scothern’s blog which talks about autism, being autistic, and general mental health:

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