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Friday, 15 December 2006

Christmas Is Coming At An Alarming Rate.

I’ve been really busy over the last week or so. Here’s a quick rundown of events.

  • Two Christmas dinners attended.
  • One session of weekend cancelled
  • One car almost bought
  • One down stairs toilet still not completed
  • 95% of my Christmas shopping completed
  • One broken down motorcycle
  • One mobile phone upgraded

It can’t have escaped your notice that it is Christmas party season. For the last two Fridays I have been out for company meals. Last Friday it was my current employers do and last night I attended my previous employer Christmas meal.

Friday 8th

It was the office Christmas party at Tiger-Tiger in Croydon. It consisted of 80 people being crammed onto a series of long tables designed for about 50. There were elbows all over the place and 4 of our number fell off the end. They ended up sitting else where in the end. As is traditional at these events, copious amounts of alcohol were consumed by all those present, including myself. Despite my alcoholic stupor, on the way home I managed to take some quite good photographs, which I posted on my Flickr account.

Monday 11th

I took my Wife to the dentist and ended up signing myself up for some similar financial torture next Monday. I don’t have a fear of the dentists work, but what really terrifes me is the bills at the end of the pain. However, I badly smashed a tooth a year ago and I all honesty I really need to have it dealt with.

Despite me agreeing that we should change our car, but not until sometime in the New Year, my wife keeps buying copies of car sale magazines. She will search for suitable vehicles and then go on about them. Well she found one such car in last week’s copy of the AutoTrader. It was such a bargain that I had to phone up to see if it was still available. It was, but someone was going to view it that afternoon. They promised to phone back. They didn’t, so I phone them. The viewing had now moved to the evening, but they would phone me on Tuesday.

Tuesday 12th

By 10am the garage still hadn’t phoned about the car, so I phoned them again. Apparently they were waiting for a decision from the viewer as to whether they wanted to car or not. You’ve guessed it, they would phone us back within half an hour. An hour later they had failed to phone, so I rang them. “Come and have a look at it” they said. Half an hour later I was driving it around the back roads of a posh part of Surrey. It had a slight misfire, but I was impressed with it’s overall condition and agreed to buy it once it had been fixed. They would service it, clean it and arrange the tax so we could pick it up next Saturday (today).

Arriving home I organised the car insurance to be changed over at the appropriate point, happy in the knowledge to we had got ourselves a real bargain. The only down side is that it’s completely the wrong time of year to sell our Peugeot 306 Boat, but I have a cunning plan.

Wednesday 13th

I was back at work again for the usual everyday excitement. To be honest I’ve been quite busy lately and this week has been particularly tiring. I’m not complaining as I love the job and the team of people I work with.

I received a letter explaining that I’m doing well and am now a permanent member of staff. I was surprised as my six months isn’t quite up yet. It has given me a sense of security that I’ve been craving for a long time and for me marks the end of a very stressful two year period. In my previous job I had very little work and the constant feared being made redundant too its toll. All the stress made me quite ill and I have since realised how close I came to having a nervous breakdown. 2007 is looking as if it will be very good. Time will tell of course.

Friday 15th

The day started well. Bright, sunny(ish) and quite fresh out. The journey to work was quite easy and un-eventful and I arrived raring to go.

At about 10:30am I decided to phone the garage to confirm the car would be fixed and ready for collection the following day. I was informed that they were currently servicing the car, but there was a problem with the registration document. They told me that the previous owner hadn’t given them the log book and have requested a new one, but it hadn’t yet arrived. This surprised me as I’m almost positive that I saw the log book with the previous owners detail on it on Monday. My brother-in-laws girlfriend also recalls seeing it. Why would I consider buying a car without confirming the log book was correct? I can only assume they’ve misplaced it at the garage. They were hoping to find a way round the road tax and would get back to me asap.

They actually phoned me back this time, but the news wasn’t good. They’d found a major ignition system problem and the parts wouldn’t be fitted until next Tuesday. To be honest I’m very glad they found it and not me in two months time. It almost certain that a repair wouldn’t be covered by the warrantee. Lunch time saw my Christmas shopping all but completed.

And that brings me right up to date, for now at least.


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Sunday, 3 December 2006

Wonderful Customer Service … NOT!

All this talk of my various visits to Curry’s (see previous article) has remained me of an experience of stunning customer service I received last weekend from another store within the Dixon’s Group of companies.

Last Saturday I went to PC World to buy a PC joystick for my Sons Flight Simulator. I found a stack of suitable joysticks at the end of an isle. None of them were priced up and the neither was the racking. I hunted round to see if there were more on another rack, but could only find different models. In my quest for fiscal enlightenment I collared a passing spotty ‘yoof’ dressed in company uniform and asked,

“Could you tell me how much these are please?”.

After a few seconds of doing an impression of a rabbit caught in a cars headlight beam, he was rescued by another passing colleague. I heard him whisper “£20 or £30” to our captive ‘yoof’, and he continued on with his journey.

“£20 or £30” replied the ‘yoof’ happily.

I continued “So which is it to be, £20 or £30 ?”.

“Don’t know” said the ‘yoof’ “You’ll have to go to the till”, and promptly disappeared like a flash of lightning, before I could clip him round the ear.

I was extremely unimpressed with this stunning bit of customer service.

Unfortunately, the Dixon’s group have us by the ‘short & curlys’ as they have seen off most of the competition and now dominate the whole of the electrical appliance market here in the UK. The only alternative is Comet, but their prices are exactly the same as Dixon’s.

If you don’t know which retailers the Dixon’s Group owns, here is a handy list.

  • PC World

  • Currys

  • Dixons (now Currys Digital)

  • The Link

If you know of any I’ve missed, please let me know and I’ll add them on.


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Our House Guests Are Vandals

Two days after our visitors arrived I discovered that our outside drain was blocked with a oily substance with grit in it. The only conclusion I can draw from this is that someone has been pouring cooking oil down the kitchen sink. This mixed with the sand and cement washed off my Brother-in-Law (or Chunky as I call him) work clothes has caused the blockage. His girlfriends’ hair has blocked the bath on two occasions as well.

Last week Chunky managed to break the gas lighter we use to start our cooker. Why do we use a gas lighter you ask? The simple answer is that the electronic ignition system on the cooker failed within 30 seconds of the warranty expiring. That was 12 years ago and I’ve long since given up trying to diagnose the fault. Thus the need for a gas lighter. We’ve had to resort to matches for the last few days, which has caused much entertainment all round. Don’t you hate the smell of singed hairs?

Sometime on Thursday evening his girlfriend broke the microwave oven. We discovered this on Friday evening when it failed to spring into life when switched on at the wall. After ascertaining that the fuse was OK and that power was getting to the microwave we decided that it probably failed due to old age. After all it was over 15 years old. I’m thinking of banning them from the kitchen in case they wreck all our other appliances.

Saturday’s task was to replace said broken items. We had to go to a neighbouring town for my Sons Saturday club. Killing two birds with one stone, we popped into Curry’s between dropping him off and to picking him up. They had a vast array of microwave ovens, ranging from basic models at about £30 right up to an “all-singing-all-dancing” model at £299. Who in their right mind would pay that much for a microwave oven? That’s enough to buy a good quality lens for my new camera, which you must agree would be a far better use of the money (hint, hint). In the end we selected an 800W model with built in 1KW grill at £80. A bit steep, but at least we both managed to agree for once.

After struggling back to the car with it, we continued shopping for a replacement gas lighter, which we eventually found in Robert Dyers.

Back at home while unpacking our new toy, I was dismayed to discover that the grilling rack was broken before I’d even got it out of the box. I decided that I wasn’t repacking the whole unit to return it. I’d go to our local branch of Curry’s and get them to exchange the rack from a display model.

To save any messing about I thought I’d ring to make sure they had them on stock. This was a lot harder than I expected. “Press 1 for TVs, Press 2 for fridges and freezers, Press 3 if you've lost the will to live, etc”. After a few button presses I was told to that if my TV screen was less than 23 inches I should return it to my local branch. I have no idea how I got there and hang-up so I could try again. This also failed to get me where I wanted to be and at no time was I given the option to talk to a real Human Being!

This morning, armed with the broken rack and receipt I went to my local branch of Curry’s to get it replaced. Unfortunately that branch doesn’t stock the model and my only choice is to make the 20 miles round trip back to where we bought it in the first place. If I can be bothered I’ll do it next weekend.

At present the rent we are charging them is not covering the breakages. Perhaps an increase is in order.

I wonder which appliance they are planning to break next.


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Saturday, 2 December 2006

The Boat Has Broken Down…AGAIN!

Our Peugeot 306 (or “The Boat” as we call it) has thrown a wobbly tonight. It’s not all the Boats fault, my wife conspired against it too.

My Wife (Mrs.P.) took her Brother-in-Law home this evening and they sat chatting in the boat outside his house. Because it was dark, she decided to keep the lights on and the fan running to clear the windscreen. When it was time to leave the battery didn’t have enough life left in it to start the engine. I was aware that the battery could do with being replaced, but it wasn’t bad enough to warrant immediate attention.

After unsuccessfully trying to jump-start it, the Cavalry was called and arrived about an hour later. We now have it from an official source. Mrs.P. killed the battery.

They managed to get it going so she could return home and today I’ve fitted a shiny new one.

We have made the decision to replace the boat in the spring as we can no long stand the hassle of bailing her out everytime anyone wishes to sit in the front passenger seat. All that remains is to decide which car to replace her with. That’s a debate that will take months to resolve.


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