Sunday, November 16, 2008 8:02:24 AM
For the summer holidays, I took my children to visit our family in South Africa. It was the first time since 2003 that I have been able to go. Not that I could afford it, but I really missed the folks and I so dearly wanted them to meet my kids and for my kids to meet all their aunts, uncles and cousins. My mom has visited us a couple of times since 2003, but we haven't seen my dad and I always feel terrible that the kids and their grandad can't enjoy one another! It's going to take me more than a year to pay for the holiday, but we had a wonderful time.
Grandad off course had to spoil his grandson and gave him a couple of toy weapons. I'm always in two minds when it comes to weapons but I guess boys will be boys and no matter how much I try to discourage it, swords and guns seem to be fascinating to them. So my alternative is to at least then, teach him to use it responsibly and understand the dangers.
The problem however was to get these toys back to England. I knew I couldn't take it in the hand luggage and the problem with the hold luggage would be that if security detects it, they won't be able to tell whether these are toys or not until they have opened the luggage. So, I called the airport. Off course this was a traumatic experience in itself. The airport said to speak to KLM, KLM said to speak to security, security said to speak to some other division about weapons, they said that because the items are toys that I should speak to security, who said I should speak to the weapons people.
So, I emailed KLM, hoping to get some European intelligence in the whole sequence, since Africa is Africa and while run by Africa, it will be third world at the best of times. KLM said it should not be a problem and that I should be able to put these items in the hold luggage.
I wasn't convinced and took the items separately to the airport to speak to them when I arrived there. They specially called the person in charge of security who said that if the items went into the hold luggage, security would not be able to tell that it's toys and would then have to open the luggage and confiscate the items. So I was back to square one and gave my mom the items to take back home.
Back at home I emailed KLM again and complained. How am I suppose to get the items here if they can't work out their own systems and procedures? It will cost me literally hundreds of pounds to get the stuff here by other means and I had more than enough weight and space in my luggage allowance.
KLM wrote back apologising profusely for not being able to manage their own systems, but they refuse to do anything to help get the items here. So they acknowledge their incompetence but they aren't going to do anything to compensate me or improve themselves.
So now I'm wondering, since customer service is obviously a useless part of the organisation, they still have to spend millions to pay for people answering phones and emailing people just to say "Sorry we are useless and are not going to sort out the problem." Why don't they just do away with this expense, publish on their website that there is no customer service, reduce the airfare by half (like Easyjet) and then I would have had the money to send the stuff back home by other means.
I guess incompetence is cross-culture, cross-continent, cross-anything, cross-civilisation, especially when it is about making money. Maybe it's not incompetence but just a lack of ethics ...
Sunday, November 16, 2008 7:19:38 AM
I'ts unbelievable, but a whole year has passed since I last posted on this blog. I spoke to my dad last night and he said that the older you get the quicker the time passes. The last year, he said, only lasted about three months!
I always wonder how people can do nothing. I don't think I can manage to nothing for more than a couple of minutes before my mind starts racing and I have to start doing something. At the moment I'm really tired, but when I'm not sleeping I have to do something. So I'm involved in a writing project and I'm busy with a dissertation for my Masters and when I'm too tired to think about any of these, but I can't sleep, I do some cross-stitching. That off course is when my kids aren't here and I don't have to get through dinner, brushing teeth, reading stories, check that the homework is done, try to get them to bed on time, etc. etc. etc.
How DOES one do nothing?
Wednesday, November 7, 2007 9:50:17 AM
My intentions were so good for the new year. I was going to regularly update my Opera Blog. But unfortunately that's where it ended ...
Every time I think "now is the time to update", I really can't think of a single thing to write.
Finances are to poor to travel and until a few months ago work didn't leave me with much to share either. Work wise things seem to have improved somewhat. I'm quite enjoying what I'm doing at the moment. However, there are so many of us geeks around talking computery stuff that I didn't particularly feel like boring a few more innocent non-techies to death.
Aaah, then there are my kids. Wonderful as always. Does anyone perhaps have advice that I can use to help them in an effort to hear me the first time I ask for something to be done? My philosophy has been to ask nicely the first time - normal tone of voice, pleases all over the place etc. The second time, the voice is slightly raised, I'm enunciating, very stern tone. Then ... I explode, the roof lifts, the doors rattle, the floors shake, the kids panic, the double glazing cracks, the blood pressure hits about 190 over 130, the vocabulary deteriorates significantly, the kids panic some more ...
Why couldn't they listen the first time? They don't like it when I explode so by now I would have thought that they would have learnt that if you don't want the thing happen that you don't like, you listen the first time and life would be great!!!
But they're great though. We just bought a Brownie uniform for my daughter and the three days she had to wait before she could wear it were almost unbearable.
My little boy is into Egyptian Faros at the moment. Everything Egyptian though - Egyptian gods, mummies, hieroglyphics ... pictures all over my house.
Then off course the normal things are also still important, which are dinosaurs, sharks and other large scary animals.
Which is why I engaged on the next adventure. One of the newspapers had a National Geographic DVD series on offer that ran for about two weeks. But I've had it with these offers. I don't usually buy the newspaper mainly because I never get time to read it and because I don't quite fall in the target audience of these papers. The stupidity of the offer though, is that you HAVE to collect the DVD from, and only from, WH Smith. So every day for two weeks, I had to walk to this stupid shop to buy this stupid paper. Then to top it all, you have to do this over the weekend too. To make sure whoever owns the newspaper gets his misguided little thrill from wasting other people's time (because he gets his money anyway), they don't actually have the DVD for Sunday. You only discover this after you traipsed into town and have the dim-wit at WH Smith stare at you with a blank expression when you ask for the DVD. Then you open the newspaper in desperation and discover that you have to collect the DVD on Monday. Now you wonder whether the next dim-wit at WH Smith is going to try and get his/her thrill on Monday by acting stupid and giving you grief just because they can.
You could off course collect the two weeks worth of coupons from the newspaper and then order the DVDs. But I was kind of rebelling against this too. I felt that charging six pound for postage and packaging was an obvious rip-off.
So I have pretty much decided, no matter how tempting the next series seems to be I will not try and collect news paper offers again. If I really want them I'll copy them from someone else or order them from someone off Ebay. It costs about the same but there is lot less grief associated with the process. And if someone needs to flip his lid over copying, the issue is obviously not having to pay for the DVDs, so I'll gladly pay for the products as long as my time is not wasted, and my patience not stretched, because nobody has offered to compensate me for those.
The DVDs are great though and I think it would be great if National Geographic could make them available for on-line purchase as a download or something.
Well that's it for now. I'll try my best not to wait another 10 months before thinking of something to write ... even if is geeky ...
Monday, January 1, 2007 12:24:19 PM
A Happy New Year to everybody, may all your wishes come true and may your path be smooth but not slippery!
Monday, December 4, 2006 8:52:47 AM
In the UK, you have to insure your car by law. Does this mean the government condones citizens to be ripped off?
Apparently, if you report an accident in which you were involved, but was caused by the other party, you still loose your no-claims bonus if the insurance company is unable to recover their money. For instance if you get hit by a car while parked somewhere and you don't know who it is, you either loose you no-claims bonus or at least one of your no-claims points if your no-claims bonus is insured.
Does this mean that the whole purpose of insurance is to make sure that insurance companies get money for nothing and that this state of affairs is enforced by law?
Anybody with some conspiracy theories on this one?
... and anybody with some thoughts on what purpose principles such as honesty and integrity are suppose to serve?
Tuesday, August 22, 2006 8:11:27 PM
Can anyone understand this or at least explain it? I have had my car insured with the AA for quite a few years now. About a month ago I called the AA to inform them of my divorce and that I have changed my surname back to my maiden name.
Shortly afterwards I received a letter telling me to pay an extra £103. I called to find out why and here is what they told me. Because I am no longer married, it will cost extra to have my x-husband on the policy. Obviously I told them to remove him from the policy. After this, they told me, it would still cost £45 more.
Now this makes no sense to me at all. According to the AA, Norwich Union, who underwrites the policy, charges a single individual more than they would charge two married people on the same policy. How can I as an individual pose more of a risk than two people or is it just a question of ripping one of because they can?
Actually I would have appreciated it if they could have put it in the letter that, they rip me off just because they can. I don't really appreciate having a young rookie customer service guy trying to explain to me that one person poses more of a risk than two! It kind of implies that I am stupid enough to believe it. Maybe the AA should also make some effort to inform clients of the impact of changes at the time they make the changes and not a month later.
Saturday, August 19, 2006 10:50:41 AM
Originally from South Africa, I now live in the north of England. It it such a beautiful place with so many historical places to see. But unfortunately, most people in England (and in the rest of the world), don't seem to know that anything exists between Watford in the South and Scotland in the north!
I had folks visiting for a couple of days this week, so I really enjoyed being able to show them a few of the historical places around here. Two days is not a lot of time, so we spent one day in Durham and one in York.
In Durham off course, the main attractions were The Castle and The Cathedral.
In York you can't miss a walk along the wall, the York Castle Museum and the Jorvik Viking Centre
. Even if you can't go inside, do get to the York Minster and the gardens surrounding the Yorkshire Museum.
A good website describing the places we visited and many more can be found at: Britain Express
One can buy a one day visitors card which allows you access to 27 attractions. These include everything I have mentioned above except for the Jorvik Viking Centre. This is unfortunate because if you wish to include Jorvik you won't have enough time left to get value for your money using the card.
There are a few more photos in my album.
Sunday, August 6, 2006 12:10:35 AM
I've been wanting to start a blog for a long time now, but I don't really know what I should be writing about. So I figured, if at least I get started I might think of something later on.
So, here I am with my first entry in my blog. Not saying much, but making a start!