Well the nicest thing happened to me just before the New Year and it was similar to other people I follow in the blogosphere. I was contacted by a Very Nice Person from Appliances Online who had seen I a comment I had left on Nickie’s blog, I am Typecast, the day she received a jar of Nostalgia – retro sweets from them. Part jealousy on my part at her stash of Refreshers, Black Jacks, Cola Cubes and the like which took me back to the 10p tuck shop days. Do you remember them? Clutching your 10p in a sweaty little hand and staring for ages at the bounty of sweets  laid out in front of you. mmmm

Well Nickie did mention, leave a comment below and maybe you too will recieve a surprise some day. So I did. I didn’t think anything of it, I mean the blogosphere can be a fickle place, lots of promises and no follow through but what the heck, give it a go. So you can imagine my surprise when I found an email in my inbox offering me three books on how to improve writing skills, even going as far as to say if I wasn’t happy with the choice made on my behalf I could accept Amazon vouchers and choose my own!

‘Go on! Your having me on.’

I re-read the mail and decided that Ben could only have known I was interested in writing and was giving it a go IF he had visited my blog and traipsed through quite a few posts. Think of the time? Think of the patience of the poor man! Think of the headache that must have followed!

Here is a picture of the books chosen for me and very gratefully accepted I hasten to add. Stephen King, International Bestseller of zillions of books so should know what he’s talking about. In fact he was run over by a car in June 1999 and it took 6 operations to save his life and mend his body. Once able to sit up he started to write On Writing so I am sure it will hold many gems of knowledge. Bird by Bird, written by Anne Lamott and Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg which I look forward to discovering when I have the time :)

You know this game of pass the parcel started a while back when Ian Newbold got a washing machine from Appliances Online. I also noticed Jen at The Madhouse got a brand new fridge sent through and Josie at Sleep is for the Weak got an oven! Well I suppose it’s never too late to mention that I need a brand new kitchen, is it? No of course, that would be rude and ungrateful …

So guys? Fancy trying your luck at this pass the parcel, Jen got a fabulous coffee set over at The King and Eye, leave a comment below and if you do get contacted please link back to me as I’d love to see what you got. What are you waiting for? Comment and retweet, retwit, retwoo

PS and just in case you’re wondering where the bird comes from on the shelf well that’s my own picked up in beautiful Puglia, Italy in a town called Alberobello, you really must check it out…

Dear Mr Darren Hall – Head of Credit Management

I am writing in reply to your letter dated 01 November 2010 where you state I have recently left Virgin Media and have absentmindedly forgotten to pay an outstanding amount of £42.66 to you. This will be in the aftermath of the numerous attempts I have made to try and speak to somebody within your organisation regarding my disconnection back in JUNE!!!

During my most recent phone call, I spent 37 minutes on the phone and spoke to 5 different people, all of whom had to pass me on to somebody else to rectify your embarrassing situation. This call ended with your disconnection team and for the umpteenth time I explained that after moving I had failed to cancel my direct debit with you and I was still paying monthly rates which needed to be refunded TO ME.

Apparently there are lots of notes on my ‘screen’ but they all fail to solve this simple issue.

Let me make this easy for you..

  1. I left Virgin Media on 28th June 2010, when we moved house I was told there would be one final payment in July.
  2. I discovered in September that I was still being billed by Virgin Media and started to get in touch with you in order to have the August and September payments refunded. I cancelled my direct debit in order to prevent any more payments being taken.
  3. I email you via the Contact Us button on your website – to this day I haven’t received a reply.
  4. I speak repeatedly, on more than four separate occasions, to various members of staff from Customer Services, Redirection, accounts and many others. I email you via your website again and never receive a reply.
  5. One kind lady in October discovers I haven’t even been disconnected yet and promptly justifies that, she then tries to sell me your latest offers before I put the phone down (?) I am no longer one of your customers!!!
  6. During my last phone call, after a further massive round of chatting with various departments, I spoke to a gentleman who apologised profusely for this enormous cock up and promises me a letter will be in the post with a cheque for the outstanding amount. I believed him and sat back in my chair waiting.
  7. I receive a bill for £84.00 – missed payments. (How did you reach that sum?)
  8. I telephone you again and get passed from pillar to post. After a 30 minute phone call I am promised this situation is now corrected and I will receive a letter in the post to that effect.
  9. I receive your letter asking me for £42.66 (How did you reach that sum?)

Mr Hall, I am at a loss as what to do here. No matter how many people I speak to nobody wants to give me my money back. It seems that people simply cannot leave Virgin Media as the computer doesn’t know how to close down an account. You have thousands of people on your payroll who can’t do anything but the most meaningless tasks, as anything out of the ordinary requires a ‘Must speak to my manager, can I put you on hold?’ Why isn’t the manager being flagged up the minute I call in? Why isn’t the manager stepping in and sorting out this incredibly simple situation immediately instead of letting it drag on and exasperate me even more?

 Mr Hall, I cannot email you via your website as there is no one at the other end picking up the emails and replying.

I cannot telephone you as your staff can’t cope with this simple request and pass me on to somebody else, who also can’t.

I refuse to pay for services that I haven’t used but fear that the only way I shall get to speak to somebody from the Virgin Media organisation is if we go to court! At least then I can look you in the eyes and explain in Very Easy Words

You Owe Me Two Months Payment Please Refund Now.

And we’re quits, job done!

I would like to advise you that I shall be copying the content of this letter to my blog www.marisworld.wordpress.com it will be the second unhappy post I blog regarding Virgin Media. The post will also be tweeted via Twitter (and I ‘follow’ Virgin Media in the hope that they pick up on this situation). I hope people comment on the blog and retweet to infinity because in this day and age of high technology and the expansion of enormous organisations like Virgin Media who declare millions of pounds profit at the end of their financial year I find it atrocious that paying customers cannot speak to somebody within the organisation and rectify the simplest of tasks.

Is it a case of having grown so much there is no longer any contact with the people who actually make your billions of profits per year?

Your company has a massive flaw that needs to be corrected at earliest. It’s pointless investing millions of pounds a year on a very successful advertising and marketing campaign IF you can’t follow through with a decent and capable customer services.

Please, please Mr Hall, can you look into this for me and see that this situation is terminated as soon as possible?

 Thanking you in advance for your kind attention to this matter

Yours sincerely

I’t s D-Day over at Jenny Matlock’s Alphabe Thursday today and I have decided to use this letter to catch you up on my DIY shenanigans, the living room you have seen and although not yet quite finished as I’m still waiting for the mirror to arrive from mirrorworld (paid in full in August!) and a few other bits and pieces, we are nearly there. In fact I had only just put the paint pots away in the garage and cleaned out my brushes when I noticed the girls had added their special touch too, can you see their scribblings on the far wall? Little treasures

Our second project we’ve taken on is the upstairs family bathroom which on viewing looked like this – outdated, tired and in need of an injection of the 21st century.

In need of lurrve

Away with the dirty shower curtain, towel rail, wallpaper, tiles and bathroom suite minus the toilet which we’re keeping it now looks like this

Hard work done – now for the pretty bit

I have the tiles, grout, mosaic border I’m just missing my tiler Heath who phoned in last Friday to say he’d gone down with a bug, sickness and diarrhoea so I am praying he’ll be fit to work this Saturday and we can start to see a more finished bathroom. The bath you can see is  our brand new ‘P’ shaped bath and if you study the mirror (which I am not prying off the wall as I don’t want 7 years bad luck – Heath can do that!) you’ll see the pipe and electrical cable in place for the shower unit.

I haven’t decided on the floor yet, those tiles you see are already cracked as the floorboards move so it wouldn’t be worth putting down fresh tiles again only to see them crack too. I have been looking at Amticotiles but I’m going to wait until the bathroom is finished and then decide. I am hoping the cupboard above the toilet can be tiled to create a place where I can put up a couple of glass shelves and use as display, I will buy a floor cabinet to house all of the many products needed in the bathroom to keep them tidy and as the whole scheme is very neutral I have invested in purple towels to add a bit of life in there :)

Oh la la!

Just before you go, my other ‘d’ could have been Doughnuts

But that would just be unkind of me to put that thought in your mind – right?

We moved house back in June and you must remember me calling to deactivate my service with you? We spent quite some time on the telephone whilst you tried in vain to make me change my mind. But after 4 years with you and long talks with my other half we realised we never used any of the TV channels, both of us have mobile phone contracts allowing us to phone anywhere in the UK at any time making our landline pretty redundant and my mobile phone company had just offered me an’ impossible to refuse’ Dongle offer.

Sadly we parted ways and very cleverly you asked for my new address in order to send through final documents and so on. I was also advised that I would have to pay a month’s charges in July for reasons only you know. Maybe I had informed you of my change too late in the day? Whatever, one more month and we part ways.

Only that’s not the case. I noticed on my September statement that you are still collecting £34.99 by direct debit. Of course silly me for not deleting it but first I had to wait for the July payment to go out and then I forgot as summer and the new house took over. But surely this shouldn’t be a problem?I have moved and I had informed you. I have paid my dues, all of them and I continue to receive post on a regular basis from you, at my new address – no final documents though as you had stipulated in order to get my address?

I accessed your website and logged on to my old account and I emailed customer services with this problem, that was on Sept 14th and to date I still have had no reply.

Is there a Customer Services department or is it just for show?

I tried calling your 0845 number with that very tiresome girl spending my money as she blathers on about websites and options to choose from. To date I have tried all of the options and after waiting for exhausting amounts of time I have put the phone down on you, annoyed that it is increasingly difficult to talk to anyone.

I have also been contacted twice by you over the weekend, nice young ladies who want to ‘update’ my details. Twice I have gone through the above explanation, on Friday evening I was told there were lots of notes on my account explaining my situation and final changes hadn’t been made. I would have to speak to Removals. I was given the 0845 454 1111 number to call.

I tried but couldn’t get through to anyone. Can they see my number on a screen and therefore avoid me?

Funnily enough another member of staff called me on Saturday to ‘update’ my details again. Does nobody talk to each other in your office? Again I explained my situation, agai, she could see from the notes on her screen that there was a problem. This young lady asked me to hold why she tried to put me through to someone who could help and I was left on hold. I stayed on hold for 20 minutes. Every now and then I would be deafened with a Rolling Stones track but then all I could hear was nothing so I put the phone down and waited for the young lady to get back to me and tell me what had happened.

I’m still waiting.

I am hoping that your incredibly successfully company can see that there are flaws in your system that needs correcting.

  • Customer Services email option on the web site.
  • Your moving house/leaving us option needs a good kick up where the sun don’t shine
  • Your dreadful telephone service which keeps busy clients hanging around forever or just refers to your website I DON’T WANT THE WEB, I WANT TO SPEAK TO A HUMAN.
  • Your’ updating info’ team – they need updating!

I hope this has been useful to you and I look forward to receiving my two payments of £34.99 taken erroneously from my account.

Thank you,

One annoyes and unsatisfied ex customer

10 days off, all one after the other and no fixed plans. That’s what we have in store and day 1 is today.

DIY lounge

Of course the British weather has decided to play up and therefore, not beaten, Day 1 will be dedicated to decorating.

As I write on one side of the room Paul is stripping on the other – wallpaper that is! :)

The walls underneath aren’t too bad, they will need sanding a bit which I hate as dust seems to reach every nook and cranny in the house and I have painted some squares of colour on my newly plastered wall. I have chosen from the Dulux colour charts, 3 options from the Light and Space range and 3 options from the Once range. Maybe they’d like to send me one of their Paint Pods to trial and review? :)

shades of white paint

As per usual I have gone for plain light colours which I think make the room look open, airy and give an impression of more space. I do love seeing all the colours used in magazines but fear I would get fed up with them after a while and seeing as I won’t be convincing Paul to change the room every time a colour goes out of fashion this seems to be the best option. My choices are from the left, Frosted Dawn, Jasmine shimmer, Coastal glow, Barley white, Almond white (which we used at our last home for the front room) and Ivory Lace. So far my two favourites are Coastal glow and Ivory lace, luckily Paul agrees although he’d rather piant the room like the Spanish restaurant La Tasca ie terracotta and yellow!

I am hoping ladies and gentlemen that by the end of next week I will have photos of our finished Living room to show off.

Yesterday I went through the Next Made2order curtains and requested to be sent four samples to try out. The window is a large one, 3 metres across so will need a lot of material to cover it. we’re looking at at leat £200 – and that’s sale prices!

As for the fireplace I was toying with the idea of spraying it white as I’m not overkeen on the dark wood look but right now I’m going to wait until it’s all decorated and see then if it needs doing or not.

I have been looking at light fittings  as we have two wall lights and two ceiling lights. At the moment they are 2 x 80’s faded green shades a la Amityville Horror, remember the fringed lampshades?

bare wall

And a mirror for over the fireplace. Have a look at the photo here to see what we found scratched into the wall under the paper….Paul! How freaky is that? It must be a sign that we’re on the right track surely?  Shame we didn’t find a hidden letter going back to the 60’s when the house was built, maybe with directions to a buried treasure…yes,with X marks the spot!

It’s weird, but having just looked at a few bits to furnish the room, without choosing anything ridiculously expensive, I’ve managed to tot up about £750, that includes a new coffee table admittedly but it does show that it’s easy to spend a grand before you’ve even thought of changing your suite! Which of course I’d love to but we need to completely revamp the upstairs bathroom first (future blog material!)

And with all of this going on we also have friends round for a take away tonight…with their children so that’ll be a mad rush to get the place looking relatively tidy in time.