Daytime callers

“Hello, may I speak to Mr MacLean, please?”
“Certainly, may I ask who is calling?”
“Yes, its xxxx from Pure Insurance. Are you Mr MacLean?”
“I am.”
“May I interest you in free cover costing 99p a day?”
“You may not. But you could interest me in why you are calling me. Do you check your lists agains the TPS service?”
“erm… yes, we do…”
“In which case you will be aware that this number is registered and I am entitled to take action against your company.”
“Erm… I’m sorry, I am just doing my job…”
“Yes. Badly.”
“Would you like to speak to my supervisor?”
“You betcha!”

slight pause, muffled voices.

“Hello, Mr MacLean?”
“My name is xxxx . I’m very sorry to have troubled you, please accept my apologies on behalf of the company”
“I’m not sure that is good enough. Why are you people ringing me in the middle of my working day? You clearly do not check the TPS lists.”
“I assure you we do, but I will manually delete your number from our records to ensure that you do not hear from us again. I am very sorry that you have been troubled…”

And so went my first call of the lunchtime period for the first day working at home in goodness knows how long. I really ought to be kinder to these folk who are ‘only doing their job’. Trouble is, I find it too difficult to see it their way, and it’s too much fun to tie them in knots. And some days I’m just plain grumpy!

LH Cook, Plumber, fitting a shower, tradesmen stories

I recently had a new shower fitted in one of my bathrooms (odd house, we have three bathrooms altogether but just two bedrooms!). I was looking for a professional company and one which was recommended was LH Cook, based in Little Hadham, Herts.

Len Cook himself came to do the quote, but his workman for the job was Nick – a very nice bloke and a good plumber too.

During the course of the job we added in a small amount of extra work which made more sense as the job progressed than it did at the time of the quote. Len Cook was clear we would need to pay a bit more than the original quote, and I agreed this was reasonable. The additional work amounted to tiling the bathroom floor and removing an extra piece of timber…

Yes, you guessed it, the additional work was over charged!

Worse still, we contested the ridiculously high amount we were being asked to pay, which incidentally included two extra days work which just didn’t happen, but heard nothing from Len Cook at all. I rang his office twice and left the ball in his court, but no response was forthcoming.

That was in October ’04.

In February ’05 we received a letter stating that we would have our debt handed to recovery agents if we did not pay up. Imagine the arrogance of thinking that not responding to a genuine enquiry, and sending a final demand, was OK!!

I rang again, and once more failed to speak directly to Len Cook, but instead left a message with his secretary (wife??). He failed to return my call once more and so I approached the citizen’s advice bureau, a solicitor and the trading standards office.

It transpires that we have not much to stand on here… but we did make a payment which we thought was reasonable, based on the current prices for the additional materials and Len Cook’s own quote for labour per hour. We have since heard nothing (no surprise there) but expect to get another threatening letter soon. I seriously doubt we’ll get an apology, or a letter that says ‘silly me, how right you were all along’.

The thing is no-one likes to get ripped off. Unfortunately Len Cook seems to be a rip off merchant, despite having a fairly good reputation. The funny thing is that the joke between us and the plumber, Nick, was that Len Cook does his quotes by peering through the letterbox! Odd how true this seems to be, since he has not once looked at the finished work or made an assessment of the additional work carried out.

So, if you are looking to employ Len Cook, INSIST on a detailed item by item quote, as he will apparently hide all manner of additional costs in the lack of detail.

Alternatively, don’t use his services at all.

Halfords Customer Service, car radio removal tools

Here’s a small tale of woe which I should have written about earlier, concerning Halfords in Bishop’s Stortford.

When I was fitting my Dension ICE>Link into my car, I needed some radio removal tools. I checked around and found pictures of what I needed – flat bladed tools which inserted into slots underneath the radio to release it and allow me to fit the wiring harness.

I rang Halfords in Bishop’s Stortford and spoke to a salesman there, describing my car make and model, the radio and even describing in small detail the type of tool I’d need. I pointed out that I definitely didn’t want the round tools, a bit like the wire from a coat hanger, I needed the flat blade like tools suitable for my car. He checked his stock and told me that he had five sets in and that they were suitable.

So I drove all the way to Stortford.

When I got there the person I had spoken to had gone for lunch, and I was left with some other chap. I described the phone call and he pointed me to the shelf where the tools were, and happily handed me one of the five packs of round tools that he had there. I explained that I needed the flat blade type of tool, whereupon he became vague… “erm… I don’t think we, er, stock those…”

Imagine the conversation after that –
“but your chap said…”
“ah, yes, but he’s on lunch”
“but I’ve had to drive all the way here…”
“sorry mate, not my fault…”
“Do you have a complaints department?”
“Erm… well, we do have some of our own tools you could borrow…”
“OK – sounds helpful – I’m parked behind your store, what have you got?”
“These” (showing me a similar tool to what I described over the phone)
“OK – can I borrow those for a few minutes then?”
“You’ll need to leave a deposit…”
“a deposit – we can’t lend those out to just anyone”
“so let me get this straight – I’ve driven all the way here at my expense, on the assurance of your member of staff, to find that I have been mislead and that instead of you being helpful you want to now suggest that I am untrustworthy enough to want to steal a tool that I need to use for less than two minutes, in the car park behind your store?”
“it’s company policy”
“about that complaints department… I will be sure to ring them, and to let everyone I can know about the appalling way that you have treated this situation!”

So – consider yourselves told… and be very careful if you ever feel the need to go into a Halfords store!