31 Mar 2012

Cold Soup Band in EntreƩ Triumph

Some life-as-consumer stuff...

Some of you may be aware of the ongoing trauma that was (notice the use of the past tense - yippee!) the installation of our new bathroom here at Burwood Towers. To cut a long and quite dull but highly stressful story short, the original bath was discovered to have a minor flaw and so had to be changed, meaning a week without a bathroom for B and I. Thanks to Mike for the use of his facilities in the interim, the portaloo in the driveway was only called upon for emergencies.

The online company we bought the bath from go under the moniker of bathrooms365 and although I have to praise my point of contact Jill for doing all she could to help us, it has to be said that trying to contact them over a weekend be it by phone or email is a waste of time as there's nobody there. Methinks a name change to bathrooms261 may be appropriate. They eventually coughed up £40 by way of compensation which added to the extra delivery cost they had to pay probably wiped out their profit on the deal.

The upshot of having to change the bath meant that we are left with the original as the delivery driver was under instructions not to take it away, a fact I learned after the event. An EBay sale may not worth the hassle as a similar if slightly smaller bath from the same manufacturer with an almost identical if very slightly bigger flaw sold for a meh-inducing 98p!

If any of you fine people want a 1700mm x 800mm x 15mm (extra thickness to cope with my ever increasing weight at shower time) bath, RRP £310 plus, for a bargain price of £50 do get in touch. Please note that you'll have to arrange collection. If nobody is interested I'll chance my arm on EBay at £100 and failing that it's Freecycle.

Insurance companies, doncha just love 'em? If like me you are a customer of Anglian Water then over the years you will have seen a fair few bits of flotsam and jetsam attempting to prise your wallet open to pay for a Homeserve (HS) insurance policy which covers things like wiring and underground pipework that are not necessarily covered by your normal house insurance.

A few years ago I took out one these pesky blighters only to realise it makes more sense to have it covered by British Gas (BG) as the boiler service is thrown in too. This means a duplication of cover, so I contacted HS in order to reduce the cover to the one remaining element not covered by BG. Weeks went by, no response, so I thought sod it, I'll cancel the bloody thing. Direct debit duly kicked into touch, and a letter sent to their customer service department explaining what I'd done and why I then get a letter from HS saying as my direct debit was no longer going through I owed them £x if I wanted my policy to continue. I ignore this of course, and a few weeks later get a letter from HS complaints department apologising for any delay, but that my complaint is being looked into.

Hmmm...odd, as I had not actually complained about anything. Interestingly this letter also contained a complaints procedure leaflet from the Insurance Ombudsman, so it appears the current fear and loathing instilled into banks etc by the PPI farce has spread to insurance companies. I thought nothing of this as surely they would work out that all I had done was cancel the policy once they read my letter and that would be the end of it. Not so, as yesterday I get a phone call from a very apologetic woman at HS who asked me if I would accept £50 in settlement of my complaint...err, yes please!

The title of this wibble refers to Gazpacho, seen live in London by moi last week, a band that I highly recommend as it should appeal beyond the usual left-field racket that I tend to favour. Check out some tracks here.

Apparently Gary Numan has made a decent record, something about as likely as an orange narcissistic and annoying Scot getting elected to Parliament on the back of the Muslim vote in an ultra-safe Labour seat...oh, hang on a sec.. In fact if you type "George" into Google, the first one is Clooney, the second Michael and third is Bradford's newest MP! Life is indeed full of surprises.

Last night saw the mighty Team Squonk spend some more of their accumulated pub quiz winnings in the the best curry house in Northants, Pooja in Wellingborough. By the way, I'm a carnivore and Pooja is 100% veggie, so it must be good for me to say that! We are nothing if not creatures of habit, and my main course nowadays at this fine if slightly surreal culinary establishment tends to alternate between two or three staples, but this time I tried something new. As veterans of this restaurant the cryptic menu descriptions of the food on offer now hold no fear, even a curry base described as "Mixed Gravy"! However, always curious as to what a Manchurian Dhosa might be, as it is described euphemistically as "A Dhosa (a flat pancake and a Southern Indian speciality - as if you need telling if you're still reading) filled with Manchurian" I took the chance on this comestible candidate, and taking a chance at Pooja has sometimes left me underwhelmed. This time I was not disappointed, as I was greeted with a filling of chilies, peppers, corn balls, and the still secret ingredients that make their curry sauces mouth-wateringly seductive. Damn, I just drooled on the keyboard..

If you're ever in Wellingborough (probably a bit of an unlikely proposition, I know) give Pooja a visit, you won't be disappointed. The menu only begins to hint at the cornucopia of salivating deelites on offer!

6 Mar 2012

Triumph of the dense, and a gusset too far

You'll have no doubt seen various TV reporters, or heard Martin Lewis or read one of the other money gurus reporting on the PPI mis-selling shitstorm over the last week. Some of the people who were led down the garden path by sundry unscrupulous banks have already got their PPI refund claims in, or have already settled, and now banks and other institutions are being told to write to everyone they think may have been mis-sold one these policies, telling them they can claim it all back.

All fair enough I'm sure, but consider this:

A credit card customer - we'll call him/her Sam - is offered PPI when they take out a new card, but as Sam is actually in possession of some grey matter they actually bother to read the small print and work out all by themselves and without anyone around to wipe the drool off their chin that not only is the policy extortionately expensive, but also that it will not pay out for up to six months after a claim, if at all, as Sam is considering becoming a self-employed cross dresser. Sensibly Sam declines the offer.

Micky, a self employed ferret wrangler, and another new customer, does not read any of the small print, signs the agreement and is thereafter charged 10% of the total transactions on their new credit card every month as an insurance premium for the following six years, paying out thousands, until Sophie's odd choice of hubby informs them in his inimitable long winded fashion that they have been taken for a ride, and can claim back not only the premiums but also interest and compensation from Bastardcard plc.

So, Micky is rewarded with interest and compo for being a fuckwitted dunce while Sam pays for it through higher bank charges. We are all doomed and we are all going to die.

I really struggle with proof reading this gubbins before I post it for you fine people (you know who you both are) to read, transposition errors a speciality. The epitome of my inability to read my own writing was pointed out by Phill t'other day, when he spotted that my link to my music scribblings on this blog read "MY ALL THINGS MUSIC REALTED BLOG". It's only been there for nigh on two years and I never noticed. How dumb is that? Mind you, my other reader didn't spot it so they must be as dumb as me...or kind...:) Needless to say, it has now been corretced.

PS - spellchecking this reveals that the word "blog" is not in Blogger's dictionary!!

Sartorial Bravery Above And Beyond Award

Mr(s) Quiz!
This photograph has been published without permission. Arf!

Sartorial Fail Award of the week goes to....a bloke I espied taking his young lad to school a couple of days ago. The temperature was about 2°C and this geezer was wearing a sweatshirt and gaudy thin cotton beach shorts, no socks and scruffy trainers. I wish I had taken a pic of him, I could barely stop myself from laughing.

Next Saturday sees the commencement of the fitting of the new bathroom at Burwood Towers, and for three days or so there will be a portaloo parked in the driveway. Where this becomes awkward is in the event of a need for a nocturnal pee, not a problem for me as I rarely if ever get up in the night, and in any case a handy bucket will be the preferred option of bladder emptying for me and the missus. What worries me is if some pisshead on his way home from the pub at the top of the road spots the mobile facilities!

And finally...."In Michigan, a woman’s hair belongs to her husband".

No, really, for this is, or rather hopefully was an actual law in the US state of Michigan, along with "It is against state law to tie a crocodile to a fire hydrant". Michigan  is obviously a fun place to live where crocs run free and men wear their wives' hair clippings as trophies. Taking the biscuit though has to be that in various New England states it was, and I truly hope I'm right in using the past tense here, written in law that "...a person could be fined up to $200 for denying the existence of God". What, just the once or continually? Did they keep on fining you until you either a) suddenly saw the Light, by Jaysus, or b) were bankrupt so that they could throw you into debtors prison?

3 Mar 2012

Kick Out The Jams

I had to check my calendar....no it's not April 1st, this is a real living nightmare.


Those libertarian self-serving greedy fuckers that call themselves the UK Government have come up with their most stupid, and indeed stupendously frightening idea yet. Whoever dreamt up privatising parts of the police service deserves a thorough kicking, metaphorically, literally, karmically, and in every other imaginable way.

Forget the ill thought out seismic upheavals they have planned for the NHS, this latest example of scary libertarian thinking, if I you will excuse the oxymoron, could, nay should be the thing that makes all those idiots who voted this latest lot of under-achieving undeserving chinless Eton-Oxbridge failures that are the Tory Party into office actually rise up from their self-centered view of the world and make Cameron stop this idiotic idea in its tracks.

Surely anyone with a quantum amount of common sense can see that this hare-brained scheme is a recipe for corruption. Just imagine Cops'R'Us shareholders' rights superceding those of victims, and it does not take much imagination to envisage the consequences. Perhaps News International will apply to look after the police horses? Fuck me this makes me angry!

As for those of us who were daft enough to be conned by Clegg's TV friendly fizzog into voting Lib-Dem, well I reckon it's time for another stroll along The Embankment, this time in millions.