Sunday 23 February 2014

We value your call

so much so that we will make you answer many questions by pressing buttons before we put you through to a totally irrelevant recorded message to ramp up the money we make on your call, including our standard connection charge as shown in very small print on the website.  Only when you are sufficiently angry and frustrated will we speak to you our valued customer.
Yes its time for a rant.  I may have managed not to buy yarn this year or unnecessary toiletries but I can't stop myself banging on about dreadful customer service.  Just a couple of brief examples.
I bought a Bosch iron on line from John Lewis in December, it was a large good looking item but every time I used it water spilt out onto my laundry. I phoned Bosch to speak to their technical people in case I was doing something stupid, but they didn't have anyone with knowledge and after suggesting I make a 50 mile round trip to John Lewis carrying a heavy iron, they agreed to send me a prepaid label so I could return it to them for a refund.  On 08 January I received a letter saying they had the iron my refund would arrive within 28 days though no explanation about the fault.  45 days, many emails and several phone calls later I am still waiting to receive my £54.99, I have passed the matter to Trading Standards.
In the January sales I ordered a few little items online from Emma Bridgewater, 10 days later they hadn't arrived despite the delivery promise of 3-5 working days. I contacted them to be told that most of the items I had ordered were not available and had been cancelled, though they hadn't bothered to let me know this.  I made a bit of fuss, I expected them to have some form of stock control, they hadn't been bothered to keep me updated or offered any alternatives at similar prices and eventually they said I could have 10% off a future order, valid for the next 30 days.  Some of the things I ordered were reduced by 70%, I asked how getting 10% off compensated for not getting 70% off and they suggested I look at outlet mugs, not that I had ordered any mugs.  There were about half a dozen items in the outlet section none of which I wanted so they can keep their 10% discount but not their customer.  Then this week they had the cheek to send me an email asking me to review the purchases I didn't receive, sadly my review was rejected as it didn't meet their guidelines, what a surprise.
We feel sorry when we hear of companies closing down, they rarely come back again and putting staff out of work effects more than just that person but I do wonder what kind of management encourages this blatant customer alienation.  Whoever invented call centres was evil, operatives with little experience give wrong information knowing that you will never speak to them again because its a different person every time and even if you do manage to get a name that person won't be available next time you call.
I heard at the weekend that Royal Bank of Scotland is to cut approximately 20,000 jobs, comments on line were very much in favour of this to the point of jubilation.  Since my own branch refuses to open mail forwarding everything to Glasgow for processing, unless the envelope is addressed to a known member of staff, I have to wonder if this isn't symptomatic of their whole disregard for customers.   For goodness sake if I send a letter to my branch I want them to deal with it, do they now need specialist staff to open envelopes, when I've been in my branch they haven't exactly been rushed off their feet.
I can manage without any more Bridgewater, I bought myself a new iron at quarter of the cost of the Bosch and while I will be sorry if my local bank closes leaving another empty building in the high street, I can only express my disappointment and frustration by not supporting companies that let me down and next time I hear about another business closing I shall wonder if they operated a truly awful customer care call centre.

Friday 14 February 2014

Socks and Sochi

I am loving the winter Olympics.  Such a great excuse to put the tv on early morning, get out my knitting, plain pattern socks so as not to distract from the action,  and enjoy the madness of sports that seem so very modern and dangerous to me.  The alpine atmosphere has been increased recently with the snow outside the window as well as on the screen.
I've watched crazy people in lycra skin suits speeding round on skates and folk in flappy shell suits spinning themselves into the air on skate boards.   Nowadays it isn't enough to perform a graceful ski jump or slide down an icy slope veering between bendy poles, you have to hurl yourself sky high to twist and turn, grab your skate board or cross your skis whilst upside down above the snow landing backwards as you speed into the next jump facing the wrong way.  You can't simply ski cross country without stopping to lay down and fire at targets with your rifle every now and then. I have an idea that in the future it might be a requirement to send a text or take a selfie whilst mid flight. 
The language is all new too, I had no idea what the half pipe was or slopestyle until this week.  Even the commentators are so un-BBC screaming and whooping with exclamations like solid or stomped it down when things go well for team GB and weeping when we won our first medal.
The venue is impressive, I think the buildings are beautiful and I love the names,  the ice cube curling centre, the sliding centre, the iceberg skating palace.  The mountain locations are stunning too though the weather is warmer than expected, its decidedly colder here in Scotland than it is in Sochi. 
We had lots of talk of terrorism, corruption and intolerance before the games and people will always put down the expense.  Maybe these events won't make the world a better place but at the moment to me they feel very positive and I imagine the Scottish ski resorts, which have plenty of snow, are going to be busy this weekend with people who want to have a go.  The power of sport can be inspiring and unifying but even if I was 40 years younger you wouldn't get me on one of those boards.  

Post publish note
Yes I should have told you the yarn is Regia Mix-it color which I bought from Kemps Wool Shop in Sunderland and very gorgeous it is too.  I love Regia.

Sunday 9 February 2014

I don't know where I'm going

Mr FF and I have talked lots about downsizing and finding a lock up and leave base in the UK so that we can jet off to Italy for long periods without feeling too guilty about asking friends and neighbours to look after things for us. Last year wasn't too bad as I came home early to see to this house. Unusually I've enjoyed the winter here, caught up with the garden and so far I'm not desperate to get back to Lazio.  Probably this view is influenced by the fact that while we've been away some low lives have stolen a length of copper down pipe from our Italian property.  Our neighbour spotted the theft a week or so back and has kindly installed some plastic pipe as a temporary measure. Its not a good feeling to know that people are aware the house is empty, in fact at the moment the whole of our little road is empty so we are very vulnerable.   Its not as if the copper they took was worth that much, probably less than 20 euro but all the more reason perhaps to be there more often.
So we have looked at a modern flat in Edinburgh with secure parking and communal gardens but we would get so little space for the price of our lovely house here in the countryside and I'm not convinced I want to live in a big city though I do want to be able to walk to shops instead of the current 10 mile round trip.   We've thought about moving back to Yorkshire to be near family but we've been in Scotland for almost 25 years, we have lots of friends here. When we've moved in the past it has been an upward step, this seems like having to give up and get rid of so many things wherever we go but its a step we want to take while we are fit and able, not have the decision forced upon us at a later stage if say our health starts to fail.
So decluttering continues at a pace.  Finally Mr FF has finally given up his huge collection of construction slides.  He tried to palm them off on various people and organisations but no one was interested, eventually he got the message. 
He has been through lots of folders, he even relinquished a carefully filed 1991 price list from a local quarry that closed years ago though he was a bit reluctant and got quite sentimental about the price of gravel in the olden days.
I have been taking items to the charity shop every time I go out and was doing really well, until I spotted these lovely large Poole pottery breakfast cups when I handed in my bag of stuff this week. Though I detest the massive coffees that places like Costa and Starbucks sell, I don't even want the choice of size, I am partial to a small bucket of frothy coffee for breakfast at home.  
These are destined for Italy, now I am looking forward to sitting out on the terrace with one of these, so really they don't count as extra stuff at all do they, more export items.
Once we agree what we are doing, if and when this house is going on the market, I'll let you know, meantime we keep pondering the options and sorting our stuff.  I never realised that the older you get the harder it is to make a decision.

Monday 3 February 2014

Scarf style

Well I took your advice and knit and knit and knit my Clapotis for about 6 feet, that's 1.8 metres, and you were quite right it is beautiful with plenty to wrap around and drape.

Just look how much there is, it took me almost as long to release all the dropped stitches as it did to knit them.
I watched one of those house hunting programmes on the tv recently, the lady of the middle aged couple was French and very stylish.  For each property visit she was wearing a different beautifully arranged and well behaved scarf.  The couple were shown some beautiful homes, all understated elegance and clean lines, reflecting her dress sense so well.  For several months each year a scarf is essential in our Scottish climate, sometimes even in the house,  and my tying abilities are somewhat lacking, I really need to upgrade and its not as if I don't have plenty of practice with. 
I still have about 150 g of yarn to use, so I've started this easy lace scarf from my One-Skein wonders book.   Such an simple 2 row pattern, each right side is the same and each wrong side is plain, the reward for effort ratio is enormous. It looks a bit lumpy and bumpy at present but I think once its blocked out it will be very pretty and hopefully as easy to arrange into something stunning as it is to knit.