Another Private Care Agency Lets Us Down (And By Us I Mean the Tax-paying Public)

I refer you to my previous post on this subject.

For the last few years I have been working with a man who has a degenerative neurological condition. He now requires, and has received, a large care package including 2 workers 3x daily for hoisting and personal care, and one worker once a day for meal preparation. This has been provided to him for several years by one private agency. We’ve tweaked the package over the years but it’s stayed relatively stable. The man’s wife died a few weeks ago, after a long illness, and I had arranged to meet the agency at the house next week to see if we needed to make any further changes.

Yesterday morning the agency phoned me to say they had some concerns about their ability to provide the service and that they were planning on withdrawing from it, but said they would maintain the service until we found a replacement agency. We agreed they would visit the client the same day to tell him. at 1630 yesterday, they rang me to say they had decided to give us 12 hours notice that they were terminating their involvement, and that the man’s last visit would be this morning. When I pointed out that contractually they can’t do that, they said they only have to give 12 hours notice if their workers are at risk in the house. I asked what the risks were and the care manager couldn’t answer me – her response was “I’m the care manager and it’s my decision.”

Even worse, when I phoned the client to say “we will do our best to find another agency by tomorrow but it might be impossible”, he told me that they had told him (and his sister, who was present) that they were giving 28 days notice and would hand over once we had a replacement care provider. When he realised I was telling him that wasn’t the case, he was in tears. So I rang his son and asked him to go round, and the son said they had phoned him that afternoon and told him 28 days too.

Lying liars who lie.

Bad enough that they’ve left the man in the shit (literally), but to lie about it to him, to his family, and to me?

So today I phoned 21 different care agencies to see if any of them could take the package on, only to completely and utterly fail. The poor man has gone into a care home tonight, three weeks after losing his wife, and with absolutely no idea when we will be able to get a new care package and get him home.

This is the reality of private agencies providing public services.


Really Crap Service From Nook

In about December 2013 I bought a Nook. I chose a Nook rather than a Kindle for various reasons which are not worth going into here. It has worked fine and I have been very happy with it until the past month.

In the second half of December, I tried to access my Nook library online a few times (on three different browsers on two different computers and a smartphone) but kept getting this error message

nookerrorI assumed it was a glitch at their end which would be resolved soon enough, and put it from my mind.

In the first week of January, I bought quite a few books from the Nook store, partly because of this post and this post. But when I turned my Nook wifi on, only one of the books waiting to be downloaded would download. If I had bought two or more books at once, only one of them would download onto the Nook. The rest just don’t appear. I contacted Nook and and they suggested erasing and reregistering the Nook. It’s a bit of a pain to do, but it worked. But I’ve probably bought a dozen books this month and having to erase and reregister the thing every time is more than a bit of a pain.

Then, the other day, I bought The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker. It wouldn’t download. I erased and reregistered the device. It still wouldn’t download. I tried to contact both the Nook Chat and the Chat With a Nook Expert (they connect you to different bits)


but both connected me, allowed me to type in my problem, and then immediately disconnected me. Repeatedly. And then at about 1910 on Thursday evening, both chat functions said they were unavailable, although the top one says it’s open till 2100 on weekday evenings and the bottom one says it’s open till 2200. Both have been continuously unavailable to me since Thursday evening.

I sent an email. Nobody replied. I tweeted @nook_uk and they said “We apol that u are still having issues w ur NOOK account. We are working on the issue and hope to have it resolved shortly.” I don’t think they had any idea what the problem was and that was just their standard line. I asked if it was a really complicated problem seeing as it has been going on three weeks now. They told me to erase and reregister the device. I said I’d already done that multiple times. They didn’t answer. So I tried it. And not only did the new book not download, but ten of the books that were already on it wouldn’t re-download. It just says “this book is unavailable for download at this time.” So I have no access to eleven of the books I have paid for. When I told @nook_uk what had happened, their response was “Sorry that it did not work. We hope to have the issue resolved soon. Which device are you using?” I told them which device I’m using, and that’s the last I’ve heard from Nook. No response to my emails, no explanation for why the live chat isn’t working, and no fixing of these problems.

Oh, and I still have no access to my online library so I can’t archive or unarchive books. And Nook don’t seem to give a toss.

I understand that faults develop, glitches happen, things break. But it’s not ok to do nothing about the problem, ignore a customer, ignore emails, ignore tweets, apparently block me from live chat, and then give advice that makes things worse. So, my advice to you is this: if you’re trying to decide between a Nook, a Kindle and a Kobo, don’t get a Nook.

Phones 4U – not surprised at all

In 2009, I sent this email to Phones 4U customer service




Dear Sir or Madam


Phone number xxx

IMEI xxx

Repair xxx

Repairs Team xxx

Some other ref xxx


I purchased an LG phone from Phones 4 U telesales earlier this year – round about March or April I think. In mid-November the phone broke. I contacted Phones 4 U They said they had no record of me. After 10 minutes of searching, during which I had to give my name, DOB, address, mobile number, mother’s maiden name, inside leg measurement, make and model of fridge and promise to send them my first-born if and when I have one, they found me. They told me to contact Orange and claim it on insurance. I contacted Orange. Orange said “but it’s under warranty, here’s your fault code, go back to P4U.”

I rang P4U. They said they had no record of me. After 15 minutes of searching, during which I had to give my name, DOB, address, mobile number, mother’s maiden name, brother’s height, list my last 4 hair colours, inside leg measurement, make and model of fridge and promise to send them my first-born if and when I have one, they found me. They agreed to send out a bag so I could send the phone in, and told me it would take about 10 days. I sent the phone in to the repair centre on the 20th of November. They logged it in on 24th Nov.

I used the online repair tracking service to check what was happening. Since 4th December it said “not a p4u unit asking for cat a or valid pop.” On 9th December I got fed up of that and rang them. They said P4U can’t confirm I bought the phone from them so I have to send them proof of purchase. I rang P4U to find out why you are saying I didn’t get the phone from you. They said they had no record of me. After 20 minutes of searching, during which I had to give my name, DOB, address, mobile number, neighbour’s best friend’s cat’s name, mother’s maiden name, brother’s height, list my last 4 hair colours, describe my ideal night out, inside leg measurement, make and model of fridge and promise to send them my first-born if and when I have one, they found me. Then they said it was my fault for phoning the wrong number. I said I’d phoned the number on the website. Then they asked me which shop I’d taken the phone into. I said I’d never been in a P4U shop in my life, I’d bought the phone via telesales and arranged the repair over the phone. That appeared to blow her mind and she had to speak to a manager. Then I had to go to work so we agreed that she would ring back and leave a message telling me what was going on. When I got in, I found a message saying she’d got her manager to ring them and confirm I got the phone from them and it would all be ok. When I checked the online repair tracking and it says “spoke to Carly from HO and confirmed it is a P4U phone, spoke to Agnes who advised me that Becky Barker is the only person who can confirm it is or it is not P4U handset and advised that to Carly” – so P4U were telling me it was ok, and the repair centre were saying it wasn’t.

During subsequent phone calls throughout the remainder of that week, I was told that Becky Barker had notified the repair centre that the handset is a P4U handset, then I was told that she was going to notify them, then that she had. Then I was told the proof of purchase had been posted to me on the 10th. It still hasn’t arrived. Yesterday I was told that the repair centre are still waiting for proof of purchase although last week I was told Becky Barker had confirmed it’s a P4 U handset. The person I spoke to at the repairs centre yesterday said he would email P4U to find out what’s going on and phoned back today to say that P4U had told the repair centre again that they have no record of me getting the phone from P4U and that I’d have to pay for the repair.

So today I phoned P4U again. I was told that everything else I’ve been told up till now is nonsense, Becky Barker can’t confirm I bought the phone from P4U, I have to wait for the proof of purchase which still hasn’t been sent out because nobody in your godforsaken incompetent organisation realised the phone was bought from telesales rather than a shop – apparently your system can’t cope with that. I have made it clear time and time again that the phone was bought from telesales, not a shop. P4U are refusing to send the proof of purchase direct to the repair centre claiming “data protection” which is absolute nonsense – I have given permission for P4U to do so, I have begged them to do so, but they won’t. I have asked them to fax me the proof of purchase, they won’t. I have asked them to email me the proof of purchase, but they won’t. I have asked them to send the proof of purchase recorded delivery to my work address but they won’t. I can’t even begin to understand why I need to send a proof of purchase to the repair centre for a phone which was sent to them in an official Phones 4U repair envelope. Do the repair centre think I counterfeited an envelope and repair form to scam a free repair?

The customer “service” I have had from Phones 4 U has been absolutely appalling. Nobody seems to be able to cope with the fact the phone was bought from telesales. Nobody communicates with anyone else. Nobody communicates with me. I’ve spent hours on the phone chasing this up, nobody from your end has initiated anything. People tell me Becky Barker has confirmed proof of purchase, then they say she hasn’t but she will, then they say she has, they they say she can’t. People use data protection laws as an excuse for lazy, sloppy service. Last week I was told proof of purchase was on its way, today I’m told it hasn’t been sent yet. There isn’t a hope in hell of me getting the phone back before Christmas. Nobody will acknowledge the service has been terrible and try and sort it out – you could fax me the proof of purchase, or email it, or send it direct to the repairs centre, or spend a tiny little bit of your profits and send it to me recorded delivery so it gets to me tomorrow, but you won’t.

It’s absolutely bloody awful. I can’t believe you think this is acceptable customer service.

Here is how I want this resolved.

I want you to send my proof of purchase to the repair centre immediately, and instruct them to repair the phone under warranty. I want the phone delivered securely to my work address (given) rather than my home address by no later than Monday 21st December. I want compensation for the month I will have been without use of the phone and I want to be reimbursed for the time and money I have spent on the phone to you. If you can’t do that, you can send me a new handset equivalent to or better than the broken one, and I want an apology for the shoddy, lazy, incompetent customer service I have been the victim of. I don’t want excuses. I don’t want to hear “data protection doesn’t let us” – I want my phone back, fixed, or I want a new phone.


And that is why a) I am sorry for everyone at Phones 4U who is about to lose their job but not at all surprised, and b) I have never used Phones 4U since.

The Smell of Bullshit, part 42: baby, it’s cold outside, but we’re heating up the whole world

In the very first of the series of Bullshit posts, I mentioned how Lush shops were keeping their doors open in the coldest of weathers, regardless of how cold that made the shops, and regardless of how much energy that wasted.

Close the Door are an environmental pressure group who are concerned that many high street retailers are pouring out heat through their open shop doors. According to a Sunday Times report on 8th December this year, Lush and the Body Shop are among the worst offenders, along with Next, Cath Kidston, and the Arcadia group shops. There’s no point linking to the Sunday Times article as I don’t have a Times account and can’t see the whole thing. However, this article in The Ecologist has quite a bit to say about it, and about Lush’s hypocrisy in particular.

Retailers are well aware of the marketing value of promoting sustainability and making grand corporate social responsibility claims. However, we should be alert to ‘green wash’.

In freezing January earlier this year the Lush chain, so loud about its ethics, had posters beside some of its wide open doors, belting heat out and proclaiming “What’s Good for the Climate is Good for the Economy”.

This flagrantly played on customers’ concerns, apparently on the assumption they wouldn’t notice the contradiction. It might as well have been a ‘Save Water’ poster in a drought with a hose left running beside it.

An often repeated response is “but we do xyz to save energy instead of closing the door”. When you can do something as simple as closing the door to make a major difference, this excuse does not cut the mustard.

NPower are talking about it. RTCC are talking about it. Close the Door have a facebook page and a twitter account, and they have helpful tips for consumers who want retailers to close their doors in winter.

If this is something that concerns you, contact the shop with open doors and tell them that you won’t be shopping there unless they shut that door.


Best postie in Scotland

You know all those people who say Royal Mail are awful and posties are all useless? I’ve been expecting a packet for the past week and was starting to wonder where it had got to. Today the postie had left a card which says “Just back from hols and there is a recorded for you but it says Return. Do you know about it?” and he left his personal mobile number for me to ring him. I don’t know why it hasn’t been delivered, except postie on holiday = temporary cover = increased rate of errors, but how great is that service from the regular postie? You don’t get that from TNT and the like. I rang him, he’s delivering it tomorrow, and I think I will make him some biscuits as a thank you for going above and beyond.

As for you, the Government, selling the Royal Mail off to whichever of your greasy rich-off-the-backs-of-other-people’s-effort pals gave you the biggest bung, you can suck my cock.