Animal antics

Hi All,

Please consider this a mini-post, with my proper weekly post to come tomorrow. There is a proper reason for this, I promise. Mainly that I can’t keep my eyes open for much longer (I’m about six minutes and 33 seconds away from comatose).

So, me and my Darling Sister decided to send Lovely Mum and Lovely Stepdad to York for their Christmas/Anniversary present, so they’ve left me to look after the house/plants/pets this weekend. Which started off quite nicely – I fed the cats, fed the dogs, The Boy came over and I fed him too, and no-one was ill. Then, however, myself and The Boy went to bed (we had an early start this morning, looking at more houses).

The dogs (Millie and Daisy, two ridiculously spoiled shih-tzus), decided that they didn’t want us to go to bed. They were quite vocal about this, with Millie barking every hour on the hour, and Daisy whining at the door as she tried to scratch her way through my bedroom door. I ignored them. I smacked them. I hit Daisy in the face with a pillow (although I didn’t really expect that to work). And I hissed that I hated them (although I didn’t really expect that to work either).

Nothing worked. As a result, I had about 20 minutes sleep, and The Boy and I acted like space cadets whilst we looked at houses, which I’m sure really impressed the estate agent.+-

I got my own back though – when I got home, I gave Millie and Daisy baths. Yep, cruel but fair. They’re both now sleeping quietly on the sofa; they need to get their strength up for what I’m sure will be a repeat performance tonight. Luckily, I don’t have work tomorrow or anything…


When did the customer stop being right?

                                                             *** WARNING – WHINGY POST***

I’m often told that I’m relentlessly chirpy, and that my cheerfulness irritates people first thing in the morning (in one job, there was a guy in IT who used to call my department a couple of times a week, who would hang up if I answered, because he found me that annoying. But he was a miserable sod, so I try not to dwell on it). I often blame my bubbliness on the fact that I worked in retail for a good while – my way of thinking was (and still is) that it doesn’t matter what’s happening in my personal life, it’s not the fault of customers or colleagues, so it should be left at the door. I would therefore like it noted that I DO know what it’s like to be having a terrible day, compounded by having to work.

However, when I am a customer, I expect to be treated with a certain amount of common courtesy, which has been (by and large) lacking in my recent experience. This blog post is an open letter to the people and companies whose customer service has riled me in the last month. (I would just like it noted that I love all of the retailers mentioned in this post, and most of the time, I am treated very nicely indeed, which is possibly why these instances annoyed me so much.)

To the two girls working behind the counter in my local branch of Dorothy Perkins – I honestly couldn’t care less that you went out over Christmas and got absolutely hammered. I also don’t give a flying fig that one of you fell over, with legs flailing so fast you looked like a cartoon character, and had to be helped up by your equally intoxicated friends. What I DO care about is that when I have the nerve to interrupt your conversation because I want to buy something and, you know, give management a reason to keep you gainfully employed whilst you work through your A levels (although you’re right, doing no coursework over the Christmas holidays won’t have done you any favours), please have the decency not to look at me as though I’m something that you’ve scraped off the bottom of your shoe. And, if I ask you a question about the item that I’m buying, please do not sigh and roll your eyes at each other – I don’t know the answer, or I wouldn’t have asked.

To ASOS, the online retailer that I returned a bag (a faulty Christmas present) to – if you’re too busy to reply to my lovingly crafted letter (enclosed with my return) then that’s fine. I understand that you must get lots of returns every day, so automatically refunding my account when I made it clear that I would like an exchange is ok too (the bag purchased was out of stock, and after Christmas, I imagine that you’re too busy to ring and offer an alternative – I genuinely mean this, I’m not being sarcastic). What is not acceptable, however, is that when I order a replacement bag (same style, different colour), you send out one that has been ordered by someone else, used and then returned to you. I do not wish to find someone else’s hair woven into the fur on the replacement bag, nor do I expect to find the (cream) shearling material dyed grey where it has rubbed up against someone else’s clothes. Please quality check the items you sent out.

To Boohoo, the online shopping store that is the love of my life. I’m sorry, but your customer service is, a lot of the time, dreadful (your customer services twitter account is great; it’s monitored most of the time, replies are fast, and very informative – I just wish that you put as much effort into your customer emails). The amount of times that I have waited a week (5 working days) for a reply is ridiculous. Sending out incomplete orders, not replying to emails querying the missing items, and finally sending out a generic ‘out of stock – you’ve been refunded’ message is unacceptable, and having seen your Facebook page, I know that I’m not the only one to have had these problems. Your approach seems to be to speed-read an email, pick out certain words, then to simply pick an email template to send out – this is NOT good customer service. People love a personalised response. The fact that you have no phone number for customers to call is something that I struggle to understand too – perhaps if people could call and get an immediate answer to their question, you wouldn’t have to wade through acres of increasingly irate emails to find the original query, and I would imagine that the rate of bitchy Facebook posts and tweets would be dramatically reduced. And asking me to review an item that was never received, then editing my review so it looks as though I was raving about your awesomeness? Not cool.

And, finally:

To the staff at my local (ish) New Look. Your customer service during the busy sales period was nothing short of awesome. That’s right, I can criticise with the best of them (see here for my previous New Look related issue), but I love to give credit where it’s due. The gift cards that were burning a hole in the lining of my bag crashed your systems twice, stopping all of the store’s tills from accepting gift cards, but instead of complaining or whinging, you kept smiling. You all apologised to me, before asking me to pop back once you’d rebooted the tills. Despite the queues snaking to the door by the time I crashed the tills for the second time, you didn’t make me feel rushed, and although your stress levels must have been through the roof, you didn’t let me see. When I offered to pay cash, you told me to pop in the next time I was in town with my receipt, when you would give me a refund, and put the money onto the gift cards. Thank you, thank you, thank you for restoring my faith high street customer service.

Does anyone else have customer service issues? Or do you think that I’m being a bit unfair, and letting my disappointment at being bagless colour my judgement?

In other news, the mortgage advisor that myself and The Boy saw didn’t ask me who Dorothy Perkins was, and why she gets so much of my money. Unfortunately, we’ve been told to shop around, and have an appointment with someone else next week, and I’m not sure that I’ll be lucky twice.

Also, if you’d like to follow me on Twitter, you can find me @FashionFarewell.

UPDATE: I returned my second bag to ASOS this week, and I realised once I’d sent it (I like to think it was just as the post van left the kerb outside the post office, but then I’ve always had a penchant for the dramatic) that I’d left the returns form on my desk. Not in the box, where you would expect to find it. I spoke to two very lovely, very helpful girls who work in the customer service department, and I would therefore like to retract part of my previous statement. They were fast at replying, didn’t laugh at my stupidity, and promised to do everything they could to get a replacement sent, even though the item was out of stock. So, ASOS, I’m sorry for besmirching your good name (although I’d still like you to quality check things before you send them). As you were.

A-hunting we will go…

So, it’s a bit of a late post this week. Usually I write my posts on a Saturday or Sunday morning at The Boy’s, but we were househunting yesterday, I was at my own house last night, and I’ve only just arrived at his. The reason for my not writing it before? Some would say that it’s because The Boy is my muse, and I cannot work without him. Other, less generous souls, would suggest that it’s because I was too ‘busy’ putting my belongings on eBay and topping up my hair dye (in case you’re interested, it went red. Again. It was supposed to be light brown. I wouldn’t mind if I was actually a redhead underneath the layers of chemicals, but I’m not) to switch my laptop on. As The Boy has created a fort for us to write in, and has provided nourishment in the form of water and cake-based snacks, I’m going to suggest the former.

Also, I would like to add a quick update to last week’s post – I can confirm that Lovely Sister looks nothing like a tangerine, or like she’s been creosoted. She likes the girls from TOWIE, but her tan looks much more natural, because she ‘knows how to apply fake tan now.’

So, to househunting. Is that two words? Or should it be one? I should know this…let’s say one. And if it’s meant to be two, I shall say that I’m being all post-modernistic and brave and such. I’ve lived with a boy before (he doesn’t get capitalised, I’m afraid), and it did not end well. I used to invite my friends over, they occasionally spilt red wine on the cream carpet/sofa/walls (I kid you not) and he…well, let’s just say he had his faults too. (Like making me go on a no-carb diet one January, so I drove my friends to distraction by talking about soup and bread at every available opportunity. Or letting me ‘have’ the spare room as my room, so that none of my stuff was in ‘our’ room – if anything made it there by mistake, it had to be removed immediately. I’m not bitter, it’s just that I only realised that the other day. Nothing like looking back with rose-tinted glasses…)

But that was only renting when we were students, so when the inevitable happened and we broke up (and I decided to move 130 miles away for a bit, after chucking a hairbrush at his head), we just handed our notice in and that was that (the academic year was nearly up anyway, so it just gave us a bit more time to get the professional cleaners in to remove the red wine stains from the cream carpet/sofa/walls). The Boy and I are planning on buying our first home together. We looked around one house in August, which we loved but decided not to get, because I really wanted a new job (nothing was wrong with my old job, it just wasn’t really what I wanted to do with my life for the next 4o years). It turned out quite nicely, because two weeks later, I got my current job (and everyone who knows me did the happy dance, as they wouldn’t have to listen to me complaining about my job not being what I wanted to do for the next 40 years), and we could start deciding whether to stay in the area that we currently live, or whether to look closer to work.  We’ve decided to stay around here, as it’s where all of our friends are, and, you know, we’d miss them if we moved.

The house we looked around yesterday was a lovely two-bedroomed house, with a pond in the back garden. Several well-meaning friends and acquaintances are fond of pointing out that we should get as big a house as we can afford, ‘just in case’. I believe that the ‘just in case’ they’re referring to is ‘just in case you forget all about those sex education lessons at school and end up pregnant without a clue how it happened’. These same friends and acquaintances are also fond of telling us to make sure we ‘can afford the house on one wage, just in case’ and to make sure that the garden has no open water – how on Earth they expect us to buy a seven-bedroom, child-proofed mansion on one wage is beyond me. Unless The Boy has a secret plan to take over the world that they know about and I don’t. And, to be honest, he’s a bit too nice to have world-domination in his sights.

I do feel bad about getting so annoyed, as they’re only trying to help, but I always thought it was elderly aunts (of which I have none) at weddings who were supposed to make the pointed comments about marriage and children…

So, back to the house that we looked around yesterday (one of my lovely friends, who lives on the same street as this house, has just text me, in the same way you would  text a friend if you saw her boyfriend you saw snogging someone else, to tell me that lots of people viewed it yesterday, God love her) was just the right size for us (for now), is in cycling distance of the train station (which is a shame) and is just a bit perfect. I don’t want to say any more about it, just in case someone manages to work out where it is and goes to have a look for themselves.

We’ve decided to see a mortgage advisor (yes, we should have done things the other way around, but what with my new job and everything, we weren’t actually looking for a house just yet, but this one is a bit of a bargain). He wants to see our bank statements. I’m absolutely terrified at the prospect, and have already had several conversations in my head that go along the lines of ‘but who exactly IS Dorothy Perkins, and why are you giving her so much money?’ – we picked a silly time to look at mortgages anyway, no-one’s bank statement looks good after Christmas (please tell me that’s true, and it’s not just me?), and I’m already having sleepless nights. Well, one sleepless night – last night. I’m reliably informed that this is par for the course, and if we do manage to get the house, I can look forward to many more of these.

Oh, and obviously, it’s great practice for all those kids that we’re going to have right away.

Second time around….

So, here we are again, and I owe you all a couple of observational apologies. The first one is that I suggested that I would continue to write, even after my self-imposed clothes ban ended, and I spent all of my time shopping at, and neglected you. The second is  that I failed. There was no enlightenment regarding clothes shopping, and smug outings where I only bought what I needed. Instead, I bought dresses. Lots of them. Although I do now have a ‘signature style’. Well, that’s what I like to think – it’s essentially a dress, black tights and boots (or, for fancy occasions, pretty shoes).

I would LOVE to blame my failure on the fact that I moved jobs, and I no longer have Jiminy (remember her? She used to act as my shopping conscience) to guide me/give me disapproving looks/remind me that I want a house, and everyone knows that you can’t live in a shoe unless you’re in a nursery rhyme.

I thought that my new job might encourage me to spend less – after all, I’ve moved to a place where there are no shops of any note. Except Tesco, and a BP garage. (Although there is a Harvester, which is nice.) Unfortunately, the nice IT people at my new company trust the staff to have access to the internet, unlike my old company (who used to greet every site you tried to get on as ‘denied access – what on Earth do you think you’re doing?!’, even those ones necessary to do my job. It was fun), and this freedom  means that my lunchtimes can be spent on various clothing websites – the girls who sit on the desk behind me actually monitor how many I go on, it’s that bad (although one of them also gave up shopping last year and did a much better job than me – I may suggest that we set up a support group).

So, I need to reinstate the ban.

This year, I’ve decided to change it slightly, to stop myself (and this quote is directly from a friend who will be known only as Bakerloo) ‘going absolutely mental with clothes shopping at the end of it, just because you can buy things again.’

Tough but fair, I thought.

I’m going to give up (ish – you’ll see where I’m going with this) shopping for a whole year, instead of last year’s 6 months.

As I’ve previously mentioned, I have a new job. It’s the epitome of awesomeness, and I love it a lot. But it does mean that I occasionally have to go to events, and clothes are required for this. I also have several weddings coming up this year, and although I have my outfit sorted for one (I’m a bridesmaid, not incredibly organised), I’m not entirely sure that the outfit I had planned for the others will work (a coral dress bought in the sales that I’m ‘going to slim into’. Which I have done approximately 0 times with other sales purchases). There may also be hen night t-shirt related purchases that have to be made – I haven’t forgotten the horror of cobbling together that Lady Gaga outfit last year, and have no intention of doing something similar this year. I have also previously mentioned my signature style, which involves tights. I even wear them in Summer, because my legs are horribly pale (so pale that when I tried on dresses with Lovely Sister, she actually recoiled and shrieked ‘Oh my GOD, you’re really pale aren’t you – ugh!’ – she models herself on the girls from The Only Way Is Essex, so I shouldn’t be offended. It’s just that she’s not the first person to say it….) and I’m rather clumsy, so it’s fairly certain that I’ll ladder my entire stock by the middle of March. If I’m careful.

So, to encompass these factors, I will be allowing myself an ’emergency fund’ for 1 item of clothing each month. If I don’t buy anything in one month, it cannot be carried over to the next. If I need a vest top to go under something that I’ve already bought, that counts as my one thing (although a pack of 5 pairs of tights also counts as one thing, otherwise I’m going to spend my life rinsing them out in the sink and sticking them on the radiator. Which would be Grim with a capital G, I think you’ll agree). Accessories such as shoes, belts, bags, headscarves (headscarves? Where did that come from? I’ve never worn a headscarf) are included. Even if something breaks, I’m not allowed to replace it, unless it counts as my one thing that I buy each month. And there’s a maximum spending limit of £50.00. Even if I really, really want it.

Are there any other rules or stipulations that I should add to this? What are your thoughts on exchanging things – if something is faulty, can I send it back for an exchange, or do I have to ask for a refund? This is going to be interesting…