No More Than(k you)

A while back I contacted my home insurer with a view to making a claim. They were very unhelpful, bordering on obstructive – seemed that they didn’t think my problem was covered by the policy (surprise!) and it would be up to me to have the necessary work done at my expense then use the tradesman’s report to prove that it was covered.

Since then I have had several requests from them to complete a customer satisfaction survey. I ignored the first one and completed the second. When they sent me another email I thought, serve them right, and filled it in again. Today they sent me yet another email. Well I’m sorry, More Than, you are a useless bunch and I am tired of telling you how dissatisfied I was with the way you handed my ‘claim or enquiry’. Guess what I will be doing come renewal.

It is most definitely not just about the numbers

When you place a geocache, the first thing to think about the location is “why here?”. The Groundspeak guidelines on cache placement begin with this quote:

“When you go to hide a geocache, think of the reason you are bringing people to that spot. If the only reason is for the geocache, then find a better spot.” – briansnat

Today I happened to be in London. I had already done all the local caches on previous visits but I checked the website for any recently published caches. I was pleasantly surprised to find one just up the road at Shepherds Bush Green so after a mid-morning coffee I wandered across the green to look for it.

The geocache was a nano hidden somewhere on some railings. The railings turned out to be for the protection and security of the emergency exits from the underground station and I’m being charitable when I describe them as unattractive. As I approached GZ I tried not to be put off by the down & outs sleeping around the adjacent war memorial and I tried to ignore the discarded gin bottles and beer cans which decorated the railings. The additional decoration provided by some small black plastic bags (which looked suspiciously like dog-poo bags) deserve a special mention. Nevertheless, I decided to have a bit of a search, that is until a scruffy bloke with a staffy arrived and proceeded to walk around the area inside the railings. Enough!

Now, I’m not a big fan of urban caches but I have found quite a few excellent caches in London and I consider my requirement to be both simple and fair:  there needs to be a good reason for bringing me to the location. That could be an awesome view, a site of historic, architectural, archeological, geological or scientific interest – those are good reasons to be at the location. Sticking a cache in a shitty place like this one? As they say in Dragons’ Den, I’m out.

How to lose customers

  1. Refrain from employing sufficient staff to cater for demand
  2. Run your in-store cafe with even less staff at busy periods, e.g. lunchtime
  3. Make your customers queue for a longgggg time to be served by a solitary cafe assistant
  4. Make the assistant leave their till to deliver hot food orders to the kitchen
  5. Make your customers wait for 30 minutes for “fast” hot food
  6. Have your kitchen staff serve 2 out of 4 plates of hot food to the correct customer and deliver the other 2 plates to another customer who, despite that not being the food they ordered, SAY NOTHING!
  7. Have your staff wait 10 minutes before realising they’ve f*cked up
  8. Wait for a long (at least as long as the queue) letter to hit the CEO’s Inbox

Oh, in case you are wondering, dear reader, I am talking about M&S’s in-store cafe at Westfield, White City.


As a CO (Cache Owner) it’s annoying when someone logs finding your cache with nothing more than TFTC. Or so I thought.

I have now discovered that something more annoying is when someone logs the find on the GC website with “I forgot my pen”. In this particular case, the cache in question is a nano and you’d know this up front from the cache page. You need to bring your own writing implement. So there’s no excuse really.

The general rule is “No signy, no findy” and some COs will delete a GC log where there is no corresponding physical log. I know many cachers who will make a mark on the log with whatever is to hand, mud. ash, dung, their own blood… and I’ve done this myself on a FTF (mud, not blood!). If that’s not possible then we’d take a photo of the cache to send to the CO if they ask for proof.

The cacher in this case seems new to the game so I’m letting it go this time but if I get a lot of these I may well start deleting their logs!

Who would actually make Parcel Force their courier of choice?

So, after some email ranting yesterday, today I got an email from Parcel Force to the effect that my parcel would now be delivered today between 07.00 and 17.30. No apology. So I emailed them to ask why they hadn’t apologised.  At least they replied to that and apologised. Still no explanation as to why they couldn’t deliver. I also received an email from the supplier who got it all wrong. So I’ve emailed them back as well to ask why they hire Parcel Force instead of someone reliable.

At the end of the day there was some good news. Parcel Force delivered my parcel. At 17.35. As he handed it over, the driver said, “Better late than never”.


Was “Never” an option?

Bloody well hope not!

Parcel Farce up to their usual tricks

Once again Parcel Force have failed to deliver a parcel to me on their “Express 24” service. Actually it was already late – it should have been delivered yesterday so more of a 48 hour service, eh? According to their tracker, the item was out on the van from 09.12 this morning. Despite someone being at home all day they never showed. (What’s new?)

So I just checked the tracking page again. I was really pissed off to see a new entry at 19.38 – “Delivery Attempted”. What a load of cr*p.

Of course, it’s a lie. I know this because:

a. We were in at that time and nobody called, plus no card was left.

b. The next tracking entry – “Parcel returned to/received in depot” was timed at 19.45. That’s 7 minutes later. Their depot is in Milton Keynes. From our house that’s about 40 miles by road. 7 minutes? Total b*llocks.

I’ve fired off some angry emails although I know they will fall on deaf ears. Just hope the goods turn up tomorrow.

F1’s target market

Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t see the need to attract youngsters to watch F1 because they don’t have the disposable income to buy the expensive products F1’s sponsors sell. He’s only interested in the “70 year-old guy with lots of cash“. Well judging by the price of a race day ticket his plan is well on the way to fruition. 😛

When I was much younger than I am now, F1 used to be a sport (is there a motor racing equivalent of jumpers for goalposts?). Now F1 is just another multi-billion dollar international business and I’m a bit older. Funnily enough, I have yet to buy my first Rolex.

Looks like I’m not Mr. Ecclestone’s target market just yet.


Caching Etiquette

Whilst working my way round the Chiltern Hundreds I DNFd a few caches. I bookmarked those caches to a “DNF” list which has a watch on it. That way I can keep tabs on future visits, I get notified when (or if) subsequent cachers find them. There are a few which have lots of DNF logs on them so imagine my surprise when someone logged a “found”. In a couple of cases this cacher found the cache the same day I failed to find it.

Or did they?

When I looked at the logs I found that although they were marked as “Found”, the cacher had left notes on their logs such as “No luck here” and “This one has gone“.

So, either

(a) they are inexperienced at logging DNFs, i.e. an honest mistake but look, it’s not really that difficult:

not difficult is it


(b) they are claiming the find anyway, perhaps reasoning that they looked hard enough in the correct place and they would have found it if it had been there.

Oh well, rant over. 😉 If they want to cheat they are, to coin a phrase, only cheating themselves.

Personally, I have always thought that the correct etiquette was “No signy, no findy”.

Microsoft Certification

I expect you’ve seen the news item about the five year old passing his Microsoft Certified Professional exam. Seems to me that’s similar to those “gifted” children who pass their A-Levels before they can walk.

Back in the day I worked in IT support and have been subjected to years of working with Microsoft products. I think this qualifies me to observe that:

  1. There is no substitute for experience
  2. I wouldn’t let anyone with only a Microsoft qualification anywhere near my server room.





Something for nothing

I received an email from Waitrose inviting me to take part in their survey. Now I don’t mind helping out from time to time, giving up a couple of minutes to help improve the service a company provides me with, or (more likely) telling them where they need to improve when I’ve been on the receiving end of poor customer service.

As I read their email further I found this:

The full study consists of this initial questionnaire which will last about 45 minutes in total and a diary we would like you to complete over a 7 day diary period.

Hang on! 45 minutes?

The diary will last about 9-10 minutes each time you complete it, and we would like you to fill in the diary a minimum of 3 times

Plus at least 30 – 70 minutes for the diary?

OK, consider this. Waitrose would like to use something like an hour and a half of my time for free. True, they will enter me into a prize draw to win some vouchers but we all know that’s a carrot which is very unlikely to translate into any tangible remuneration. Let’s suppose for a moment that I normally charge my time at £50 per hour, that’d be worth £62 minimum. Now if they had to pay 1,000 people to undertake their survey that would cost them something like £62,000. So they would be getting a lot of time for free, in accountant-speak that would be a saving of £62,000. Pretty neat, huh?

And then I read the bit about privacy again.

Waitrose may wish to match your individual answers against other information they hold about you on their database, and may use the information to improve their products and services and how they tell you about these. 

Provided they nailed down the privacy element then perhaps I might have been more interested if they had offered some real remuneration rather than the fiction of a competition entry. I don’t necessarily mean paying me £60 (!) but they could have offered everyone a £5 voucher or, better still, promised to donate a decent amount to a charity for each completed survey.

Ho hum.