Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What would Alexander Graham Bell say?

My letter to Vodafone:

I have been a Vodafone UK PAYG customer for years and years.
Only recently I was told that the way vouchers worked was changing, at the end of a month the voucher would expire and I would need a new one.
As I use my phone only for emergencies I decided to shop around for something cheaper, finding GiffGaff who would do a rolling monthly deal for £5 a month.
So far so good.

19-9-13 8.10am
I go to Vodafone live chat and ask for a PAC code and help to unlock my phone for use with GiffGaff.
 The helpful customer service lady gives me the PAC code straight away, then rings me to take my Visa details to charge me £20 for the unlocking.
Again, so far so good.

Yesterday on the 23rd, 4 days later,  I receive an e-mail, Vodafone have no record of my account and cannot proceed with the unlock???
So, I ring Vodafone and speak to Cambel.
No, he cannot help me, he has no record of my account, I have done everything wrong, this is all my fault, the best he can do is give me £10 refund, no - I cannot speak to a manager, no - he does not know the ombudsman number, the best I can have is a ring back.
So, I explain, check your records, when I contacted Vodafone, no one explained I could not do what I am trying to do...after all, I just want the phone unlocked and I have been charged for it, if you cannot accomplish this service refund me the money and I will go elsewhere.
No, he will not do this, I should have known I cannot do this, it is my mistake. (I seriously think you shouold listen to the call which I am told was recorded!)

So, I get a call back from Gillian the Manager.
No, they cannot help me. She has looked at me account...but hang on, Cambel told me I had no account, that no details of my contact with Vodafone were there...but Gillian tells me she can read them on the screen as well as the conversation I had on the 19th!
So, unlock the phone or give me my money back. No, they cannot do either!!! WHAT!

I've paid for a service, Vodafone can't accomplish this, and won't refund the money!
So I ask them to contact my nearest store, just ring them, tell them to unlock it, I've paid, job sorted...No, we cannot do that.
This is all for £20. Really! You cannot refund £20. Is this a joke?

By now I am very angry. Is this nothing short of ridiculous and unacceptable?
The best Gillian can offer is I go out and buy another sim and then she will refund the money?
Why do I have to go through the hassle of all this for what is not my fault.
Cambel told me I should have known better, but as I explained, I am not familiar with how phone companies work, I thought you were and I would have been told.
Apparently this is all my fault, my mistake, and Vodafone, this huge company are completely unable to do a simple unlock on my phone or refund me money without me having yet another sim from Vodafone.

 I am used to giving praise where it is due, as well as telling people when I run up against sheer blind,  bureaucracy.
I have never come up against such a ridiculous system and unhelpful people calling themselves 'customer service'.
I will be very happy to tell everyone I know, blogs and facebook just how I have been treated.
Just to have a simple unlock performed that I could have gone into town and had done for a fraction of the cost you are charging, but I foolishly thought I should ask Vodafone.

It's only an old Sony Ericsson, I could have bought a 2nd hand unlocked phone on eBay for less than £20
Please thank your staff for such a horrible ordeal that has left me very, very angry and to date, still with an unlocked phone and £20 out of pocket.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What would the camera repairman say?

I've just had a terrible time. I tried cleaning dust of my D300 camera sensor and ended up scratching it to pieces!
I looked at the Nikon site to find an approved repair center and ended up sending it to a place listed on there site in Glasgow. When they saw it they were quite impressed how badly I had damaged the sensor...and the repair bill was £570+VAT. I can pick up a mint used one for £399 from Mifsuds, so that was out of the question.
However, there is a solution, so if you have done the same, read this:
This company specializes in IR camera conversions.
Now, the important thing to realize is that there is nothing actually wrong with the sensor! It's actually the filter in front of it, also called the 'hot mirror'.
The place in Glasgow charged so much because this mirror isn't supplied as a replacement on it's own, it's supplied as a whole sensor unit...hence the steep price.
An IR company takes that filter off the camera and replaces it with an IR one...which means:
1: They have spares
2: They can convert to IR to fix it.

http://www.protechrepairs.co.uk/ Charge about £100 to replace the mirror/filter, but you will want to make sure they have your make. They charge £250 for a full conversion.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What would Morse Coaches say?

Hey! On the way to Manchester on the weekend we passed a convoy of coaches with Morse on! A.C. Morse they said, which is my sisters initials (or were).
They actually come from York, here: http://www.morse-coaches.com/
Nice to see the name around, us Morses have to stick together.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

What would Tom Clancy say?

I've just bought a kindle. 
I wanted to get the Tom Clancy novels about John Clarke & Jack Ryan.
Why is it, that I have just discovered that nearly all the Tom Clancy books are unavailable on UK Amazon.
Except the newer novels, and a couple of the older books that are being sold in German language.
The German Amazon has all the books for Kindle.
In English.
I have had to learn the Kindle change address trick to start getting them, but does this make any sense to anyone?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What would Jerry Maguire say?

From my last post you may surmise I am moving house. It's supposed to be one of the most stressful things you can do in life. Things like this story make it so.... We travelled 600 miles to see some houses. Liked one, spoke to the owner and told her we would make an offer of £X amount, to which she agreed and said 'when I say I am accepting that offer I stick to my word'.
It did remind me of that scene in Jerry Maguire (remember the Dad, pictured above? 'My word is my bond')
So, we get the letter from her estate agents saying the offer has been accepted, and I get my solicitors on the case.
Next day, we get an e-mail from the estate agents, apparently the ladies son thinks we should pay another 2K !!!
So I ring the estate agents and ask if there is a daughter who is going to ask for a bit more too, or maybe a neighbour? I thought we had made an agreement that had been accepted...hadn't they just sent us the acceptance letter?
So yesterday I get home and there is a message on the phone, the seller is now adamant that we must pay the extra 2K.
Forget that, I'm not buying.
To me it's like being in the supermarket, having your shopping totted up at the till and someone behind you in the queue saying to the cashier she should charge me a bit more. What's it to do with him? But then, the cashier does start adding more on because the bloke behind me is a relative of hers.

Man, just like that scene from Jerry.
I hope I'm not bitter, but I hope the house doesn't sell now and they have to offer it for about 20K less...then I may, just may consider it again.

Monday, May 13, 2013

What would a bald person say? (No hair to pull out!)

I've been trying to get the telephone number of my local HSBC so I can go in and talk about my mortgage.
Simple huh?
I typed in the branch on Google and got the telephone number, but when I rang it, it asked to input my account details and sort code. I didn't have them on me so just left that, after all, all I want to do is arrange a visit.
I finally got through to an Indian call center where the operator literally spoke like an automated message.
I said what I wanted, but he wanted me to answer lots of questions first about accounts etc.
I said all I want to do is arrange a visit to my local branch.
I was then put on hold for ages.
Then a Scottish man came on the phone, so I went through it all again saying  all I want to do is arrange a visit to my local branch.
He said I should use the special phone service for mortgage related enquiries.
So I asked, don't you like people going into the local branch?
He said it takes 2 weeks to arrange an appointment.
So, the next day i use the mortgage hotline.
I get through to someone who wants all my account info, this time I am prepared. But then he asks for monthly payment amounts and original loan amounts. This is after answering all my name/address/account number/second account holder questions.
I don't have that on my. So I give him the figure for my current balance...but that isn't good enough and he informs me I've answered something incorrectly and now my account has been locked. I will need to visit my local branch to unlock it.
I explain all I wanted to do is arrange a visit to my local branch.
I am now booked in for Saturday, what a pain in the neck!!!!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What would Lord Lichfield say?

7 Cameras of History

I've been thinking back to the very first camera I ever had, and then I started trying to piece the journey together of the line of cameras that led me to where I am now. I know I say 7 cameras, but there are 9 listed here (I don't really count the pocket cameras).
Here we go.

Christmas 1978, so I would have been 10. Like a lot of kids in the 70's I got this camera, or a similar Kodak as a present. It took a small cartridge film that slotted in the back. We took pictures of our pets, our bedrooms, our toys and our families. Maybe we got to use it for 3 or 4 films before it was broken or lost, after all, we were kids and it was seen as a bit of a toy that after our parents stopped paying for the film to be developed lost it's interest rapidly.

Flash forward to 1987. I'm almost done with school, thank goodness, and looking to go to art college. My Mum decides to buy me a camera from the local second hand shop in Newport, South Wales. A photography boffin/friend accompanies us into the shop and we walk out with the Petri GX-1 for £50. The boffin tells me it's a beauty and I treasure it for a long time. It's an absolute joy to use and I wish slightly I still had it. I only had the one lens (50mm) but that was enough. I later purchased a Gnome projector from a college girl and turned my bedroom into a dark room.
Suddenly all my money was going on paper, chemical, film canisters. Everything was black and white, and it looked amazing.

I wish I'd kept the Petri but I somehow managed to get some money together and bought my first Nikon, the EM. I still only had the 50mm lens, but I entered a world of a popular camera that my friends had, so I borrowed their lenses, discovered Cokin filters and was hooked by Nikon.

My next camera story is a bit disappointing. I was given a present of a Nikon F501, and 2 lenses. I couldn't believe it. I still had my EM, but this was autofocus! I shouldn't have got too excited as I had no autofocus lenses! Still I thought the camera was superb and spent a lot of my time courting in 1989/1990 walking the hills with my girlfriend taking pictures. The disappointment came about a year later when I was asked for the camera back! I didn't think I could say no, so it went back to the generous person.

I should just mention here that I have also owned 2 pocket camera's as an adult. The first I found in a camera shop in basildon, Essex for about £20. The Olympus XA1. A beauty of a camera. It had a built in light meter that basically gave a small green or red indicator come up in the viewfinder if the exposure wasn't right. I have no idea how it worked as there were no batteries! It also had some connections on the side to add a flash, but I never found that. As a compact camera it was the best I had ever seen.

I now jump ahead to 2001. I still am using the Olympus and Nikon EM but digital is becoming more and more talked about, and cheap enough for the likes of me. A friend at work where I am now in merthyr Tydfil, South Wales is selling his Sony DSC F505V. It's a strange looking thing this digital camera, but works very well. It's 3.34MP (wow!) swivels around so you can take high or low shots easily. Has a cracking lens (Carl Zeiss) and I have this for quite a while. I also sell all my old film cameras at this point as I can't see it surviving the digital onslaught.

I eventually replace this camera in 2003 with another fixed lens camera, the Olympus C8080WZ. Proper DSLR cameras are still above most amateur budgets. The C8080WZ is 8MP, a big step up and a very capable camera. You can still buy these on Amazon for around $100. I have this camera for about 4 - 5 years.

In 2007 I was there as my Mum passed away. We are not a rich family, and my Mum left me a little inheritance. Nothing to retire on, but enough for me to do something I think she would have approved of. Because she bought me my first camera, it seems fitting I use the money to buy a good camera, one that will last a long time. I spend a long time getting advice on this. It seems the most important purchase I will make. With very good advice on camera's and lenses I buy the Nikon D300. The best camera I've ever owned or used. I'm now in my 6th year of using this camera. I have no plan to 'upgrade' as I don't see any real advantage over this camera. If anything, I think one day I may buy a second body as a spare.

My final entry, I decided I needed another pocket camera to carry around when I don't want to take the D300 or it's not practical. I bought the Nikon S3100, about the size of the old Olympus. A simple point and shoot. Not the best in low light, but great for most things that a camera of this size/style is expected to handle.