Week off; need holiday

Well that was a hectic week off.

We now have a tiny new boiler:

I’m sure the old one was twice the size. Despite all that space, you still need to dismantle the cupboard to get the cover on and off! Oh well, at least we have hot water on cloudy days now… not that we’ve had any clouds since getting rid of the old boiler. Typical.

We also have a freezer again:

Almost looks like the gap was designed for that fridge freezer. It wasn’t, that’s pure luck that is. As an aside, I foolishly claimed I’d be sticking to buying this kind of thing from John Lewis. Turns out that was a mistake, so we got the fridge freezer from a place round the corner instead. I won’t be avoiding John Lewis in the future, like a certain Swedish furniture store, but I also won’t be going out of my way to shop there after a decidedly below par performance when we had problems with a freesat recorder. John Lewis used to go well beyond the call of duty for customer service so it was a bit of a shock when they were talking about restocking fees for faulty goods. You can get that kind of service anywhere.

And we have less lethal electrics!

Obviously the cover is on now, otherwise it would probably be more lethal. Probably. Still a bit more to do on this one but it’s nice not to have cables for the outside lights coming through the walls taking up sockets on the inside.

It’s also possible to get in the garage now, there’s a table and chairs in the kitchen, there’s no kitchen in the living room, there’s slightly less junk in the house, and some progress was made decorating the front bedroom.

It wasn’t all work and no play: we did get to see the women’s Goalball final on Friday which was fantastic. We just missed out on tickets for athletics as well but it was impressive just hearing the roar from the stadium every now and then.

Definitely need a holiday after that week.


International Year of Cooperatives

Apparently 2012 is the International Year of Cooperatives. Unfortunately, after a small error of judgement with my Christmas shopping in December, there’s one cooperative which won’t be on my Christmas list next year.

The Co-operative Electrical Shop claim that they…

“…pride ourselves on our high standards of Customer Service and want you to be happy with your purchase.”

So, being keen on good customer service, I decided to pay marginally more to buy from them. This was a Christmas present, so I wanted to avoid any problems. Things didn’t get off to a great start when this arrived at the door…

Just to clarify, that’s not the state it was in after opening any packaging. It arrived like that, completely unpackaged with an address label on the bottom! The other tiny problem with the lack of packaging, aside from looking like it had been kicked all the way from the warehouse, is that the intended recipient was the one who answered the door. Lucky it wasn’t a surprise gift or anything then!

Oh well, not a great start, but I’m sure a company so keen on customer service will only be too happy to rectify the mistake. I was feeling a little more optimistic after phoning their customer service line; there was no argument over a full refund and they arranged a pick up for the next day, since I was already going to be working at home waiting for another delivery. What could possibly go wrong…

One thing that could go wrong, and did, is no one showing up to pick up the return! When I phoned to find out why, it appears that they managed to miss off my house number when booking the parcel company pick up. So, two mistakes. Unlucky. They pride themselves on customer service though, so at this point I’d expect some serious effort to put things right.

I was disappointed. I wasn’t able to work at home to wait for another attempted pick up the same week, and despite explaining that a shorter time slot than all-day-maybe or at least a Saturday might be a good idea having been messed about so much already… the computer said no.

At this point I’d like to point out that eSpares managed to deliver 1 minute in to a very specific one hour delivery slot at the same time of year, and they got the order right first time! I mention this because it’s nice to point out that I don’t always complain… and because they gave me a recommend a friend code!!

So, to cut a long story short, they did eventually pick up the ‘parcel’, and they did eventually refund my money, but I’d call that grudging just about managing the legal minimum of customer service, and certainly nothing to be proud of. I wrote to point this out but unsurprisingly no one bothered to reply. Not even a stock, we got your letter and are basically going to ignore you, response.

I won’t be making the mistake of using the Co-operative Electrical Shop again. I’ll be sticking to these instead:

  • By appointment to Jo and JT. Purveyors of home appliances and more, John Lewis. John Lewis have been getting worse recently. Not as bad as Ikea but I’m unlikely to be using their electrical department again.
  • By appointment to Jo and JT. Purveyors of spare parts, eSpares.

Updated: I haven’t got round to posting about John Lewis yet but they aren’t as good as they once were. (19 November 2012)

I’d rather have good customer service than meatballs

There’s a new shop in Southampton. One which I definitely won’t be buying anything from. I will probably be in the minority here but Ikea is top of my list of companies never to give money to again, even above British Gas and phones 4u!

Close by is John Lewis, which is a shop that’s top of my list of places I will spend money, and entertainingly Ikea are trying to lure away John Lewis customers with a big sign for meat balls (there’s a photo on Flickr).

I had the opportunity to test my theory that John Lewis had superb customer service earlier this week, and by some amazing coincidence it was for a very similar reason to the problem Ikea completely failed to resolve. In both cases I bought something that had slightly too much metal- the item from Ikea was missing a hole in a metal bracket, and the furniture from John Lewis had a bolt that wasn’t machined properly. Pretty easy to fix in both cases you’d think…


Long story, very short. Several phone calls, an insanely long queue at the customer service desk (being hidden behind the store, with a number ticket queueing system should be a clue to how well that was going to go) and several letters, resulting in me being out of pocket and not having the item I wanted. As far as I can see, Ikea have zero respect for customers from the moment you try and get in the store. Fail.

John Lewis

Phone up once. Phoned back with arrangements for exchanging product. Now I’ll admit, there was a worrying moment when it looked like they weren’t expecting me, but I soon found the right person, who was the same person I’d spoken to on the phone! How often does that happen these days?! Result.

So you can keep your meatballs Ikea… well, almost all of them. I will be over at some point to use the free meal vouchers you sent. It’s a shame they came with a stock letter that had absolutely nothing to do with my complaint.

For anyone who still wants to risk it, don’t forget to check the Ikea-cam before you go. I’ll be waving from John Lewis, eating a very nice ham and cheese omelette.