Peter Beadles – who are you?

I got spam at [personal email address deleted to prevent further use by spammers] from “Peter Beadles ([personal email address deleted to prevent further use by spammers])” and in my agitation went through the yahoo spam notification routine (I pick up my [domain deleted to prevent further use by spammers] mail at work using Yahoo’s popmail service), which I fear now means I and possibly Tom and dad’s will be blacklisted by Yahoo 🙁 and possible more widely :[

I’ve mailed them via a feedback form, but it looks like they only really care about impersonations which use a yahoo address. and I recall Cait being less than impressed by their customer service. bummer.

Glistening Gherkin

I know the title sounds like a porn movie, but I’m referring to the new Norman Foster designed “skyscraper” which is emerging amidst the City cityscape.

Walking to work this morning, on a gorgeous crisp, sunny, albeit slightly fog-hazy morning, I could see the fish scale cladding gleaming in the sunlight, a few layers higher up than this time last week. It makes a welcome focal point for my morning constitutional.

Until I googled for “gherkin london” and found this BBC Online article I hadn’t realised that it was being built on the site of the bomb-blasted Baltic Exchange. Sadly, Foster And Partners‘ own site isn’t very informative on current projects – the most recent date I could spot was 2000. Oh – I tell a lie – a little more random mooching and I’ve found the Gherkin Project aka Swiss Re Headquarters.

28 days later……

….is a very scary film.

Myles, gent that he is, sat through my hands-at-the-ready-for-hiding-behind performance during the 2 hour film by Alex Garland (storyline – The Beach) and Danny Boyle (director – Trainspotting). Excellently shot, with some nice cinematography (strobing the “Rage” attacks) and amazing scenes. In particular the early ones of a deserted London were amazing, not just in showing Westminster Bridge, the House of Parliament, Picadilly, Trafalgar Square and the City all devoid of any sign of life, but also because of the lengths the crew must have gone to shoot these scenes. There can’t be many hours of daylight when central London isn’t awash with humain activity!

It gave me nightmares on Saturday night too. Although possibly aided and abetted by the most MSGy chinese meal I’ve had in years. The nightmares have since been superceded in the 4am graveyard slot by futile fretting about work/career.

I’m just not cut out for horror movies.

B&Q ineptiude

A long long time ago, during the heady days of the World Cup, before England suffered their knock out defeat at the hands of ?Denmark? (don’t bother telling me if I’ve got it wrong, I’m no footie fan!), I arranged an appointment for a B&Q Double Glazing Windows survey. The appointment was specifcially made for a Saturday, so that I wouldn’t have to take any time off work. This meant 4 weeks elapsed between making the appointment and the appointment itself – but that wasn’t a problem, I understood that Saturday slots would be in short supply.

However, I’d not reckoned on Eng-er-Land getting though to the Xth round, and on the crucial match being at lunchtime on that Saturday. The surveyor phoned me at 11.30 to tell me that his other appointment for the day (what, only one….) had cancelled and could he reschedule me for an evening in the week. At My Convenience. Recognising (but not understanding) the importance of The Match, and the fact that rescheduling to Monday or Tuesday night would not be a problem for me, I agreed.

More fool me – that was the last I heard from him.

Aggrieved, I phoned B&Q to complain and to chivvy. But to no avail. They did not return my calls and ignored my letter, leaving me fuming at their lackadaisicla attitude to customer service (a common theme in my rants you’ll find) and the duplicity and unprofessionalism of the surveyor.

Instead I turned to Yellow Pages and the Sunday colour supplements looking for a Double Glazing Company that would be prepared to do just a single window. And on 15 Oct I was treated to a somewhat petulant visitation by Antoinette X (I forget the surname), the pushy saleswoman from BAC Windows. Disliking her quote (£850), her approach and the woman herself, and having drawn a blank elsewhere, I decided to give B&Q another go.

On my return visit to the B&Q website I was more impressed than I had been before, as the Double Glazing business seemed to be aiming at single installations, and provides online tools for estimating the cost of the work you want done, showing you the different types of windows (and doors) you can select, and lets you log a call to arrange a visit by the surveyor (haven’t we been here before?)

So I merrily mooched around, trying out different fittings for the junk room window, and was very impressed. So I put in a request for someone to call me to arrange a survey, and sat back and waited. Despite the fact that the site says “We will contact you within 72 hours to discuss a suitable time for your no obligation survey.” (that’s 3 days) it was more like 7, but the lady who phoned me was pleasant enough and we were able to set up an appointment for 10am on the following Wednesday (13/11) when I was working from home so as to be able to visit the Doctors to sort out my holiday jabs and prescriptions.

At 10:25 Geoff turned up. Scarred by my previous experience, I’d phoned the B&Q line at 10:15 asking if they could find out why he was late and if he’d be turning up at all. As it turns out (according to Geoff, who I’m inclined to believe), the appointment is for the hour, ie the surveyor will turn up at some point between 10 and 11, but the call centre team don’t always mention that…..

A very pleasant and professional chap from Swindon, Geoff measured up, advised on and priced my study window, cast an expert eye over my problematic kitchen windows and suggested I sweet talk the installers into rebalancing the tilt and swivel one, and that I’d only go �100 over the minimum order fee if I got the other kitchen window replaced along with the study one. Sounded like a Good Plan to me (always keeping an eye on the pennies, but not one to miss a bargain!). He left me with my copy of the Survey-cum-Order and advised that I could place my order, if I decided to go ahead with the work, in person at a B&Q store, or by calling the Windows number.

So, 29 hours after the survey, I called 0870 220 0718, only to be told that the survey wasn’t showing up in the sysem yet; “try this time tomorrow”. That was yesterday.

Today, Friday, I phoned 0870 220 0718 again. It’s a BT NationalCall number, and everytime I’ve ended up talking to someone in a call centre with a lancastrian accent. Today’s lovely lady assured me that she could now see my survey in the system, but that their call forwarding system was broken which prevented her from putting me through to the department which deals with order placing and payment. BUT, I could phone them directly and make my payment. But not, it transpired, arrange a date for the installation. This step required the appropriate B&Q call centre person to call me in 5 days to make these installation arrangements. Bearing in mind “3 days” on their website equates to 7 in reality, I asked her to confirm that I would be hearing from them 5 days after I’d paid….. echoes of SJ’s kitchen experience here…. Yes, 5 days it would be.

This second number was for another call centre, further north: 0191 41 88 265.
And after going through the boringly familiar recitation of postcode, name, title correction (“Miss, not Mrs”) – clearly no systems integration chez B&Q/H&W Installations/Call Centres galore – the charming lady (a mature “Bubble” would be my description) expressed her consternation over the fact that 2 orders were showing up against my name! We identified which related to Wednesday’s survey, and Bubble confirmed that she could see it in system….. but unfortunately it wasn’t not ready for processing yet; “Try again on Tuesday or Wednesday next week. It should have come through by then.”!

All of which leaves me thinking that so far, this has been an incredibly disjointed experience, and this suggests that everyone involved is following an equally disjointed process with multiple service centres and businesses handling constituent parts. It’s been very unimpressive, and indeed, I feel that I ought to be feeling more concerned….. except that because I only have a titchy two window order I haven’t found anyone else willing to do the replacement work. If I could have gone elsewhere for a reasonable price (cf Antoinette’s bunch) I would have done. Will I ever get to place my order? Will the double glazing installation be this painful??? Or Worse……

West Brompton to Clapham Junction with Silverlink

Weekdays on Silverlink:

dep West Brompton: 21:18 21:45 21:48 22:18 22:43 23:47 (last train)
arr Clapham Junction: 21:26 21:53 21:56 22:26 22:51 23:58

(wish I could get those times to display in a proper table format…. but that’s beyond me at the moment!)

A great little line! West Brompton is handy for Earls Court, west to West Kensington and Barons Court and east to the Fulham Road and Chelsea.

Info courtesy of the Railtrack Travel Timetable.