Friday, July 13, 2018

Complaints? Always Write That E-Mail

For years, one of my kids' entreaties to me has been "Oh mom, please don't write an e-mail." I'm not one of those complainers who sit around looking for things to ruffle her feathers, but I also believe in saying something rather than just huffing and puffing. While I'm as hands off as I can be when it comes to my kids sorting out their own messes problems, there have been times when a more assertive voice was needed, and I didn't hesitate. 

Ditto for anything I see as below par customer service. Having worked briefly in retail management, I know that negative opinions travel further and faster than anything good. We were always encouraged to address complaints rather than let them fester and find an audience, and I work on that premise with my own complaints. 

In the past, my written complaints have resulted in someone being fired (which wasn't my intent but she deserved it anyway), coupons as a way of apology, refunds, and changes in policies and procedures. A few years ago, against the odds, I managed to obtain a full refund for a family member who was scammed out of thousands through sloppy account-watching by the bank. To this day, although such scams are still happening, I haven't heard of anyone else getting their money back. 

This week saw another victory. I had booked my youngest into a residential summer camp in July, then received a flyer which promised £600 to split between myself and anyone who enrolled and mentioned us. Sent an e-mail to a few friends, one of whom is now attending the same camp. Woo hoo, three hundred quid each, thank you very much!

Except not. Son's friend gets the £300, but we get it credited to our account for the next time we book. I know. I did more work than anyone in this equation, having recruited for the company, and came out with nothing. If I'd known that, I wouldn't have bothered - and the company knows that, so they word the promise vaguely and, in my opinion, deliberately mislead the reader.

Out with the laptop, and "disappointed" e-mail wings its way to the CEO of said company. I pointed out exactly what I thought they'd done (hood-winked me), and said the whole thing had left a "bad taste in my mouth". Perhaps they Googled me and realised how gobby I can be, but hours later they responded, saying that "on this occasion" they would give me the £300 now instead of keeping it in my account for next time.

Result! Keep writing those e-mails! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

It's Coming Home? Or is it?

I mean, talk about jinxing something. Everywhere you go in England, you see or hear "It's Coming Home" - a very foolhardy reference to World Cup victory, in my opinion. We haven't won it since 1966. It might be coming home but it's been all the way round the world and back since it was last in England. 

I know we Brits are a bit glass-half-empty in general; we're usually the first to recognise and openly admit when we haven't got a snowflake's chance of winning something (2018 Wimbledon anyone), but there has to be some balance between national gloom and doom and this cart-before-the-horse malarkey. At the time of writing, England has still to win the semi-final against Croatia; we're not even in the Final yet. All this unnatural buoyancy and confidence is making me very nervous; it's just not very English.

Actually, the lyrics of the (bloody) song that everyone's singing are slightly more measured, and the composer is rather sweet when he talks about the song. 

"We know rationally that we tend to disappoint but somehow we keep on hoping that things might be different this time. And that element of the song, of defiance, of hope in the face of history, picks up energy if history suddenly looks like it might turn round. Even though the song comes from a place of vulnerability, its central refrain can be chanted at the right moment – now, for example – when fans want to throw caution to the wind." Bless. 

And throwing caution to the wind they are, as well as IKEA furniture in the case of some appalling so-called fans who invaded a London store and basically caused mayhem. Elsewhere they were displaying even more idiotic behaviour. In Dorset a small band of drunken fans scaled traffic lights, jumped on cars and - wait for it - shouted at a police dog for being German. (Bearing in mind England last beat Sweden and now faces Croatia. No Germany in sight.) Sigh. 

So anyway, I'll be watching the semi-final with what seems like the rest of the nation, and hoping that the team can go all the way. But please everyone, enough with the jinx talk! 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

British Men - Whipping Their Tops Off Everywhere

So yes, it's bloody boiling where we are. I'm not saying that in the usual British "Ooh it's hot" way either. It's genuinely hot and has been for a while now. The temp round our way was 29 Celsius yesterday, so that's 84 Fahrenheit. Hot. (There are some kids wandering round wearing sweatshirts, but they tend to be the ones who've lived in Singapore for years, so - not hot for them.)

As long as I stay out of the sun, I love it. It's not humid and sticky like it gets in Chicago, and if you venture in to the shade, it cools down a bit. I stay out of the sun for obvious reasons, but additionally because, if I even tried to get my legs brown it wouldn't happen. I would still need the supplement from a bottle, so why bother in the first place? When I expose my legs to the summer elements, I get bitten so badly that any tan I might get is totally eclipsed by the red swollen welts. Not an attractive look. It's also a good job I'm not bald either. I had my hair cut this morning and my hairdresser commented that my head was covered in small scabs. "Ah yes," I replied, "they're bites". Not sure he believed me. 

What I'm slightly aghast at however, is not the ex-Singapore dwellers sporting sweat shirts, but the amount of British blokes wandering around topless. And in some cases, it's not a pretty sight. They're either burnt to a crisp or let's just say, not the sort of top we want going topless. And they're everywhere.

Window cleaners (who could very easily ask for a bucket of cold water and cool themselves down that way), van drivers (sporting one arm more tanned than the other presumably?) and just yer average male walking along the street. Carrying their tops. It looks like they've just stopped in the street, decided they can't take the heat any more, and stripped off. Well, they have obviously done just that, but I seriously doubt they had any sun screen to hand. 

Even Ex-PM Cameron's at it. 

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