La Belle France

Day 4
Today should be all about the beautiful city…I could tell you about the Grand Arch De Defense and L’Avenue De Gaulle;  I could tell you about the walk in brilliant sunshine down to L’Arc de Triomphe and the dangling flag; the bus journey to Place de la Concorde and the needle glistening in the sun; the walk down Les Jardines Tuilleries and the Place du Carousell;  the glass Pyramid. and the Crypt; the Batobus journey down the Seine; lunch on a boat at the foot of the Eiffel Tower; the Metro to Galleries Lafayette; the 101 through Joinville and the basking in the evening sun on our patio.
I could tell you about all of those things (and the 10.5km of shanks’s pony it took to get to them all) but today was about the toilets.
And the toilets in the underground crypt at the Louvre to be precise. Self proclaimed cleanest toilets in not just Paris, but France itself. Such was the prestige that there was a queue of people, not to use the toilets, but to take selfies in front of the wall of designer toilet paper that they sell for NINE EUROS A ROLL.
I checked the menu of stalls…and after much consideration of the Japanese Spa cubicle, the deluxe gold standard cubicle and the mind boggling 5 Euro suite cubicle, I settled on the cheapest much-desired 1 euro 50 “trend cubicle”.
After the attendant had personally cleaned my cubicle for me (despite the fact I hadn’t seen anyone in it), she then proceeded to collect me from the queue and hand deliver me to the toilet itself.
My language knowledge didn’t run to enquiring if there was an actual wiping service included, but I was afraid of that answer anyway. She demonstrated the locking mechanism to me, which was exactly the same as every toilet I’ve ever been in, and then (thank goodness) left me in there as she shut the door for me and held it while I locked it. She then checked the door was locked and shouted a cheery “ok” so I knew it was safe to begin.
Each cubicle has its own designer wallpaper (which you can buy, should you so desire, for 39€ a roll) and a glass cabinet of a selection of different toilet rolls also available for purchase.
When I finally exited (I had a browse of mumsnet while I was there, to take advantage of the peace of being given sans enfant for 5 minutes) the attendant ushered me to the sinks and showed me how to work them. I mean, I knew…but she was ever so nice. The taps were Dyson air blade taps. I don’t really know what that means – it just felt like water to me, but for all I know it could have already passed through mountain dwelling blonde virgins on its way to my sink.
My experience was completed by a quick spritz of unwanted hand cream and some perfume.
I just don’t think I was clean enough to use those toilets. She sanitised my cubicle after I left with something that looked like Jo Malone perfume.

Anyway – I genuinely did see some amazing Parisian sights today, but I will never forget those beautiful bogs….

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First World Problems…When Complaints Bear Fruit!

As you may have noticed, I can be a bit publicly moany. But sometimes, being a bit publicly moany can actually get results, whereas being a bit privately disgruntled gets you nowt.

I thought I’d share a success story. The names have been altered, to protect the innocent me because I don’t want to get sued

Here is a little email that I sent to a Generic Mobile Phone Company:

Hello there Generic Mobile Phone Company:

How are you? Well? Good.

I’m not so good.

Allow me to explain:

The reason I’m not feeling so hot at the moment, is because of something that you (not you personally; you, The Company you) have done. And I just feel that I should let you know about your customer “service”. You may have noticed that I used quotation marks around the word “service.” It’s to highlight the irony. Because, service is sadly lacking in some parts and is shoddy, at best. As a positive (I was always taught to follow negatives up with positives) you (you, the Company you – I can’t review you personally) are excellent at selling. You genuinely can’t do enough for me, Mrs Customer, at that crucial stage where I am about to sign up for a commitment to you (you, the Company you.) But, once the selling is done, it all goes a bit downhill, doesn’t it? Once I’ve signed over a bit of monthly salary for two years, and you’ve got me – what then? If I dare to have a problem…well, that seems to be a different kettle of fish entirely.

Allow me to explain:

One day what happened was this – my mobile became unusable. I was unable to download anything, I was unable to purchase anything, and I was unable to get online. And then, suddenly & for no reason, after 3 months of ownership, the screen went completely black. So I took it into my local shop who sent it off for repair on 21st March.

I was comfortingly told, that I would have my phone back within 14 days, unless there was a big problem, but I would be kept informed at all times.

14 days came and went, and I was left uncontacted. If you know me (which you don’t) you’ll know that this is the sort of thing that makes me make this noise: “Grrr”

So, I waited another 3 days (just in case you were operating on some sleepy European time-scale.) But, after 17 days, of being phone-less I had heard nothing. So, what I did was this – I called the shop and explained that I wanted to know what had happened to my phone. The woman on the phone “listened” (there are those quotation marks again) to everything that I had to say, and then “helpfully” (do you see the pattern?) told me that my phone had ben sent away for repair.

I knew this. So I tried to progress the conversation.

I asked for any update on how my little patient was doing, and she told me: “It’s nothing to do with us – we don’t have it”

I knew that she didn’t have it, because I understand the concept of “sent away.”

Eventually, and after much cajoling on my part, I wheedled a contact number out of the woman who took my call, and I even got my repair number, although she did sullenly tell me I could obtain that myself from my paperwork. I mentioned that I was on the phone and it would be easier if she could just tell me what it was, and she said “I’ll have to boot it up and it’ll take ages. Do you want me to have to do that?” I did. I allowed her to boot it up. I thought it would be the most convenient for me. The customer. The paying customer.

Obviously, having to respond to a customer’s request during her paid working hours ruined her day, but I fear that I simply do not care…

So, armed with my spanking new contact number and my individual repair number, I decided to call your “repair hotline” (that is what you, The Company, call it. It is not an accurate name)

I tried to phone your fabulous repair “hotline” on no less than 18 occasions. Each and every time I called, I was advised by your robot that I was in queue position “1” and each and every time I called, something very strange happened – my call was cut off on each occasion after 4 minutes and 40 seconds, and I was simply told to email you from my phone as an alternative. I can’t email you from my phone – you have got it. Which is why I’m trying to phone you.

I don’t know if you’ve ever read Joseph Helier’s rather excellent classic work of fiction “Catch 22” – this strikes me as a modern-day (albeit more simplistic) interpretation of the conundrums faced within that novel. If you haven’t read it, may I suggest you do. It’s very good.

Right – back to this communication, and my reason for initiating it:

Generic Mobile Phone Company:– I just want to know where my sodding phone is, and if there’s any chance I’ll get it back within a reasonable amount of time, so that I can (if I wish) email, phone and take photographs using the phone that I am still paying a monthly charge for (bravo on that, by the way. Bravo.)

In terms of your customer “service” – do you know, (or care) how frustrating it is for a customer to have their call constantly cut short? Why do that? Why put me in position 1, and then snatch the promise of speaking to an actual person clean away from me? 18 calls at 4 minutes 40, is over an hour and a half of my life, that I will never get back. And that I am paying for. I am also without a mobile phone, which is a huge inconvenience. I am resorting to putting my sim into an old handset, which doesn’t really work properly (touch screen doesn’t respond to touch – NATCH) for emergencies, but this is proving fruitless also.

Look, Generic Mobile Phone Company. I just want my phone back. Or at least an approximation of when it’s going to happen. Or the opportunity to speak to someone who knows where my phone is.

Who’s going to help me out? Come on – there must be someone.

I would also like to take this opportunity to explain why I have emailed this account instead of using your contacts facility. Your online contacts page doesn’t really give me enough of an opportunity to explain myself. If it was more accessible, then I might have just sent you a brief complaint and left it at that. But the fact that you make it virtually impossible for anyone to send you any negative queries just makes my blood boil. It gets my sarcasm going. And then this happens. Do you see?

With that in mind, may I suggest that a) 3000 characters is nowhere NEAR enough to enable me say what I really think and b) when you ask how I would like you to respond to my request, in this instance offering me the choices of “text” and “call to mobile” is, once again, a little shortsighted. If you respond to my complaint with a “text” or a “call to mobile”, then you (the Company, you) will get to read it before I do. That just seems silly.

So that’s why it’s this way, rather than try to utilise the rather difficult-to-access complaints procedure on your website

May I also take this opportunity to “congratulate” you on your fine “Question and Answer” section. When I asked “How Do I Make A Complaint” you suggested I meant one of the following:

How to make a complaint against a third party provider

How to make a complaint regarding nuisance texts

How to make a complaint regarding nuisance calls

Complaints about online billing

…but nothing about how I might make a complaint about you….. I do hope I’ve found a way…

Yours in eager anticipation

Bectora Morrisio

My Reply:

Thanks for your email Bectora advising me that you would like to know your repair status.

I’m sorry if you still needed to get back to us about this matter and I know how important it is for you to know the progress the repair. I’ll be more than glad to sort this out for you.

I can understand that you preferred to receive an email response however, I feel that your concern can be best resolved over the phone and you might have follow up questions about your account. Hence, I’ve decided to try to call you on this numbers 079******93 and apparently, I’m unable to get in touch with you.

Bectora,, I appreciate your comment about our customer service, rest assured that this will be taken care of immediately. I will send your feedback right away to my manager so he’ll be able to cascade this to our next level of support and will be addressed right away. It will be cascaded to everybody so our service will be improved in the future.

I’ve consulted our repair team for you and I was advised that your phone was received on 25 March at around 12:36. Once it has been received it may take up to 14 calendar days to be repaired and returned to you.

Furthermore, you may get in touch with our repair centre through this helpline number
************* so you’ll also be advised what exactly the progress is about your phone. However, you can still always monitor your repair status through our website by clicking HERE

Moreover, as gesture of goodwill, we’ll compensate the number of days you’re unable to use the service and I would also like to offer you one free month of phone usage as a gesture of goodwill for the inconvenience that you have been caused just please get back to us once you receive your phone back so we’ll be able to effectively add the credit on your account

If you wish to further discuss this matter, you may reply to this email with your alternative number and the convenient time to call so I can arrange a call back for you.

Thanks again for your email Bectora,I hope this puts your mind at rest and I’ve explained everything clearly for you.

If you have any further queries, please feel free to reply to this email

****************************

Result!

Will You Never Learn, ADT?

Oh ADT – what were you thinking? Didn’t we already have this discussion last year? Didn’t we resolve the situation to everyone’s (my) satisfaction? Didn’t we sign off on the dotted line with a big fat “case closed”?

I say we did. Which then begs the question: “What the deuce do you think you’re doing now?”

Remember, dear ADT, in the Summer of 2010, when we met? My first – Mr ADT Salesman, you pattered your way into my heart with promises of free intruder alarms and low-cost monitoring. I relented. I gave in. I couldn’t resist the tiny monthly fee, the gratis shiny alarm box and the prompt and free installation.

Remember how we laughed, Mr ADT Engineer, as you installed my alarm, and I told you about my former professional relationship with Mr Chubb Alarms. Remember that heady conversation where you pledged that you would “never be able to pull the wool” over my eyes, as I knew all about the pitfalls and detractors of alarm companies.

Remember the signing of the paperwork? That special moment where I read the small print, and noted that my monthly fee was a 2-year commitment, and that when…nay… if…I wanted to end our relationship at the end of those beautiful first days, then I could – with no remorse, no recrimination and no pleas to stay. I could walk away with, as a memento of our time together, my lovely bells-only alarm box.

Remember how I said how much I admired the deal? How impressed I was at your generosity. We even talked about how, if I moved, I would get a new box. A shinier one, and at no cost to me.

ADT, I felt wanted. Valued. Desired.

But then, it went wrong, didn’t it ADT? It just went wrong.

The honeymoon period was over, and the box began to show faults. I called you – more than once. Do you remember, Mr ADT Call Centre Man? Do you remember how I told you that we were in line fault? That our alarm was no longer being monitored? Do you remember how you denied it at first, and then admitted it? There was a fault.

And it was yours.

You had left my line unwatched. Unloved. For five lonely months. You claimed that you had written and tried to call – but then I discovered the truth. You were sending letters to another address. The correspondence meant for me had been going to another – on my own street.

At first you tried to laugh it off – tried to tell me it was an honest mistake. But we both knew, right then, that this was the beginning of the end for us. Do you remember, Mr ADT Call Centre Man, how you offered me a paltry one month’s free monitoring? As if that would compensate for the hurt I had suffered. You then stood down – you realised your fatal error, and you offered me a full refund of those wasted months. You offered me compensation for the following six months.

I accepted your offer.

You lied.

There was no compensation. No refund came my way. And, to add insult to my poor, injured alarm-pride, you sent me letters telling me I owed you money.

I OWED YOU!?

So I spoke to Mrs ADT Supervisor. I explained everything about the breakdown of our relationship. She held my hand through that terrible, dark period of not-knowing. And she made things alright.

The money came into my account. I terminated our arrangement. I told you I never wanted to see you again. The box remained on my wall – a bitter reminder of what might have been. No monitoring. Just lonely bells.

Months passed and I started to heal. When I set my alarm, there was no message of line fault. No plea to call an engineer – just an alarm, and gradually I forgot the pain of those months before.

And now – ADT – now this? Now you send a letter, telling me that you want my box back. That it doesn’t belong to me, and that you only let me have it whilst our relationship included monitoring. You tell me I must pay, or you will remove it.

And do you know what I say to you? I say this: “Screw you, ADT.”

You have taken enough from me.

I will not allow you to remove the last vestiges of my dignity by scurrilously unscrewing my box. For it is, mine, ADT. It is mine.

Do you remember, when we signed that form together? Me and you, Mr ADT Salesman? Do you remember what it said? It said that should our monitoring relationship falter after 24 months together, then the box would belong to me.

I know that’s what it said, because I found it and read it earlier on tonight.

So, my darling ADT, you can take your indignant letter and your passive-aggressive direct debit form, and you can shove them up your bells

The box is mine, I owe you nothing and I am free.