Friday, September 26, 2008

Good Turn.

It was Tinkerbell Mushroom's enrolment at Brownies.

Do you know your "promise", I asked. She looked at me vaguely. "I didn't know I had to learn it." It was five minutes to going time. I called in some extra resources. Gymnast who was enrolled much more recently than me to Brownies was able to provide us with the right words for the "promise", and so then all three of us practised it whilst walking to Brownies together. So do you know the Brownie Guide Law too, I checked with Gymnast? "No" she said. I never learnt it. Someone else said it for me when I was enrolled." We got there and I went to speak to the Brownie Leader. (They aren't called Brown Owl now. Perhaps it's because such title shortened to BO. I know not.)

"I'm really sorry I said, but I've been really busy, and I forgot to help her with her vows. She knows her promise, but please may I have a look at the Brownie Guide law, so that I can show her?"

BL obliged and TM and I learnt it together very quickly, the whole thing being a total of sixteen words. Perfect for remiss mother. The ceremony started, minus hubby, who being on a course on the other side of the country, was still skating across Gloucestershire to get to the Brownie hut on time. Fortunately he made by the skin of his teeth, just before she made her promise.

And not to be smug or anything. Well... ok... a bit. But, having learnt it in 30 seconds flat, she said the BG law on behalf of all others present. Apparently she was the only one who had learnt that bit! She has a deep clear voice, and she made us very proud, and made me forget that I'd been a bad mother in forgetting to teach her said words. Brinkmanship had worked, clearly...

I then got home to find a phone bill, for an extraordinarily large amount. I had been coerced into returning to BT again recently, after numerous hassles with every other provider out there. Regular readers will remember only too well.

Well... apart from the fact that they had charged me for all daytime calls, despite having an "Anytime" line. And apart from the fact that there were £17 worth of 0845 calls, I was also seriously unhappy with the number of mobile numbers called to various teenagers' friends phones. I wouldn't mind, but they all have mobile phones, linked to the same network as ours, which WE pay for. "We'll have to have a word with them" said hubby.

"And I shall have a word with BT" said I. "I'm not working tomorrow. It can be my good turn for the day."

I dialled the number given on the bill.

After pressing every option available and then pressing star zero several, (many several) times, and still not getting through to a PERSON, I gave up and had another look at the bill. I found another number to dial. I still couldn't talk to a person, but did eventually get the promise of a call back via a machine operated voice.

"Mrs. Lommax?" "Yes" I said. And then, after making me jump through five hoops, stand on my head and say my alphabet backwards to verify that she was indeed speaking to the person that she had called, she eventually asked me how she could help.

So where did I need to start?


Clearly the mobile phone number calls were not their problem, but the daytime calls, and the 0845 numbers not being included in the "Anytime" plan were a different matter.

Not wanting to fall out with the poor girl on the end of the line I asked very nicely to be put though to the manager.

There wasn't one.

I finally managed to persuade her that perhaps she didn't own BT and she eventually agreed to put me through to someone else. I then had a serious rant about the inefficacy of 0870 and 0845 numbers and the outrageous charges for such.

He listened, and informed me that they were nothing to do with BT, and asked me why I thought that these should be included in the plan. I was very confused by this, because as I pointed out, in the days when BT were the only telephone provider in the UK, there was no-one else to invent the concept of the "local call for everyone line." But local call rates they are now definitely not, and what's more they are not included in your general calls, and so, whichever plan you opt for, such calls are charged for on top.

SEVENTEEN POUNDS worth of them!

He was having none of it, but he did nevertheless reduce our bill by a sensible amount, on the basis that obviously the person who had resold me back into BT had misinformed me. (Which of course really reads, "Because as one of our customers, you are clearly a little bit stupid, and so we will give you a stupidity discount...." Something like that anyway.)

In the meantime, no teenagers in the Sally household will be allowed to call mobiles from landlines ever again, and the "say no to 0870" website will be seriously encouraged for all at all times.

Oh yes, and he also took off the daytimes calls.... as that was a genuine error......

And to think that in days gone by I would pay bills without checking the items therein. Just think of the pounds we could have saved when we weren't so poor. I should have listened to my Dad all along.

p.s. Gymnast quite rightly reminded me that she too should get a mention... as that very evening she too was promoted - to a sixer at Brownies..... and we are very proud of her. Well done Gymnast!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Late Night Shopping.

Hubby had man flu.

"On your way home, could you pick up a few bits from the supermarket?" he asked.

It was late. I had been working all day and hadn't had time to get home in between, before going to my "every so often acting thingammy bob" in Cheltenham. We're all a bit luvvy with it really... but the company's great and I get the odd bit of acting work through it.

"I won't see you all day" complained Tinkerbell Mushroom earlier. "No" I reasoned, "but you will see me every other day this week, and you have got Daddy at home all day, and I am normally home by the time you get home, and I am not working at all on Wednesdays and Fridays, or at the weekends, at the moment, and I'm home for you every school holiday......." Unpacified she gave me the look which 8 olds perfect beautifully in order to make mothers feel just that tiny bit more guilty than they already feel.

I arrived at Tesco at 10.30 p.m. Naturally, as you do, you go in for a loaf of bread and end up with a full trolley. I arrived at the checkout at 11.15 p.m. It was a self scanning till. Not being my favourite pastime, I glanced around for an alternative version of paying device. There appeared to be no manned tills at all. An assistant walked past.

"Is this the only type of till available I said?"

"'Fraid so," She said. "They have taken us all off tills after 11 O' Clock. Trouble is, one of us still has to be around because there are always problems with these."

I smiled sympathetically, and grimaced as I did the self scanning. I think that I just can't be very good at finding bar codes because I clearly take longer at self scanning than other people. When I was a student I worked in various shops, but they hadn't invented bar codes then. It must have been a long time ago.

Eventually I got to the card payment bit. I put my card in. Then I remembered that I had some money off vouchers, and a club card to scan too. I looked at the machine and realised that if I were to pay first I wouldn't get my money off, or my Tesco points. So, I did the sensible thing, cancelled the payment and removed my card. Not wanting to have to rescan every item at another till I tried to put my various cards and vouchers in again, but the machine just beeped at me and flashed a warning signal. "Card removed too early, call for supervisor help." Thankfully it didn't instantly lock me into the till for non payment of goods, which was a bit of a relief.

I smiled at the attendant. "It won't let me finish my transaction I said, explaining what had happened and looking weakly." She put in her card and pressed the "override for stupid customers button." I'll be out of here soon I thought. Wrong....

Unfortunately, it was by now 11.20 p.m. and it appears the time when Tesco decides to add up its daily millions of pounds turnover. Well I suppose it might be many millions less one in the current climate, but it is undoubtedly still into the millions I am sure.

The till was having none of it. I was certainly not going to be allowed out of the store just yet. Supervisor called for fellow supervisor. More magic codes were put in. Still no joy.

"It's doing its banking" she explained. "It" being the till.

"I just want to go home." I said. "I'm tired. I've been up since 6 a.m." It was a slight exaggeration, as our alarm doesn't actually go off until 6.30... but it had been a long day nevertheless.

"Look" I said. "Can I leave you my card details, and you can take the payment tomorrow once the machines are all working again?" "No sorry." Clearly it said somewhere on the invisible card details that our cards can be on the um... shall we say...unreliable side...

It was 11.40 p.m........

11.45 p.m. She managed finally to free my shopping from the till and go to the customer service desk. But no.... that till was having none of it either.

I just wanted to pay.

Finally at 11.45 p.m. I had a brainwave. "I'll get some cash from the cashpoint outside, and I'll give you cash!"

Real money.

Ran outside. Got some cash out of the cashpoint and ran back in. I hadn't got the exact change, so, I got out the amount to the nearest £5, rounding up the payment by £1.50. "Please keep the £1.50" I said. "Here's my money. You sort it out. I'm going home." And with that I flounced (as much as a forty six year old with big trolley can flounce) out of the store.

As I was loading up my car, the assistant came running out after me with my £1.50. "Did you sort it out" I asked, surprised. "No, she said, but we at least managed to get the till open, so here's your £1.50." I gratefully accepted the changed and went home arriving home at 12.15 a.m.

Hubby grovelled. "I'm really sorry Sal. I could have nipped out to the shops. I'm not that ill....."

We share guilt lovingly in our family.

Meanwhile, if the tills are still not working at Tesco Gloucester...... then I suggest that Tesco put on some more staff for their late night shifts. We didn't ask you to open your stores 24 hours a day. We simply took advantage of the facilities provided once there...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Happy Birthday!

A very happy birthday ESOS!!

16 today....