Work surface cleaners

Why people continue to buy ever more expensive work top cleaning products, is beyond me.

Take a one litre ordinary spray bottle - available from pound shops - write on the label in big black letters "BLEACH" - then add about an inch of bleach and fill with good old tap water.
Spray on your work surfaces, leave for a minute then wipe off with warm soapy water.

It gets rid of stains and kills germs for a fraction of the price, pennies, when compared to all those chemicals and fancy sprays that you pay £2 to £3 a time for.
Job done.

Companies advertising something they do not do

Simple problem:

AA repairman has broken the immobiliser on my van, whilst attempting to fix a brake problem. Van is towed to my local garage for brakes repair, garage are unable to start the van to drive it into the garage to fix it.

The garage have brought in a mobile auto electrician, who failed to fix the fault.
The garage mechanics cannot fix the fault.
The auto electrician has contacted another auto electrician, who is mobile and can recode keys - on hearing the problem, he has offered to "come and have a look at it" but for a price of £70!
He has said that for this £70, he cannot guarantee to fix the fault - so I could have to pay £70 and the fault will still be there - yes, I have lots of money to shell out another £70 to not fix a fault (you couldn't make this stuff up!)

I contacted the AA claims department, told them of the problem and that I was unable to fix it.
After an hour of pure waffle, they finally conceded that they would have my van towed, free of charge, to a dealership to repair the immobiliser so the vahicle can be driven again.
For the repair, I would have to write in to the AA for them to investigate, which can take upto four weeks, plus I would have to pay for the repair up front - how unhelpful is that!

As a last resort, I contacted yet one more auto electrician, this one from Bolton, who advertises a mobile service for recoding LDV's - as soon as I mentioned it was an LDV and that the immobiliser wouldn't work so we couldn't start it, he got sheepish, "oh err I haven't had any dealings with LDV, sorry can't help you!"

I didn't get a chance to ask why he was advertising "25 years in the business, local and reliable auto electrician and mobile key coder for LDV" - the call was terminated.

Not to worry I thought, if I find a dealership for LDV, then I can have the AA tow the van over to them and then take it from there.

My first contact was number one on google, Thomas Hardie - LDV Preston - their website is
I asked them to check with their service department if they could fix my immobiliser fault - the answer was "No" as they do not deal in LDV vans!
Once again I never got to ask why they are number one in google for LDV dealerships and even have LDV in their web address.

As things stand, I have a van that will not start, a garage that cannot fix it, two auto electricians that do not know what they are doing and another auto electrician that wants £70 payment for just coming out to have a look at it!
I have contacted numerous companies who claim in advertising to be able to fix faults with LDV immobilisers, but as yet, they have all mysteriously "never dealt with an LDV before"
I have now contacted an LDV dealership, who tell me they do not deal with LDVs.

I sometimes wonder if I live on a different planet?

LDV immobiliser repair - things go from bad to worse! (Specialise in LDV sales and servicing) have recommended a company called F&G used truck and van centre - 25 miles away but I have a free towing service from the AA to take it there - have instructed me, I kid you not, this is what their service department say,

"you won't be able to repair or bypass the immobiliser as they don't make them anymore. In effect, you may as well scrap the van!"

So the LDV dealers word is that for the price of a new ECU and someone to fit it, I may as well scrap my used LDV convoy van, worth around £4000 - that is the opinion of their professional service department!
I asked why they continue to sell LDV vans and promote servicing for them, he didn't have an answer.
It is so demoralising having so much bull spouted by people in the trade, who just want easy jobs for big money. Surely someone, somewhere must have a clue what they are doing?

It would appear not!

Customer pay outs when companies fail to turn up!

A typical scenario, I believe, is happening everyday in the UK:

  • Customer has a fault with equipment and/or a service
  • Customer rings company to report it and have it repaired
  • Company promise an engineer will be sent out to correct the fault
  • Customer sits in the house all day, which involves loss of earnings or inconvenienced as regards time
  • Company engineer does not turn up
  • Customer rings up company the next day and gets, "I can only apologise" then company rebooks the appointment
  • Customer has another day of lost earnings, time, etc.
  • MAYBE, the company turn up to fix the fault, but not always

It is a disgrace that when a customer reports a fault, should the engineer not be able to find a fault or blames (incorrectly or not) other factors, the customer must then pay a "call out fee"

At present, British Telecom charge their customers £99, should an engineer not be able to determine a fault, per visit to a customer's property!
Sky TV fitters charge a call out fee as well.


Eon (Yes them again) had a fault with our electricity meter reported.
Despite claims by the company that they do not recover debt from pre payment customers, who have no debt, our meter clearly displays that £1.05 per week is being taken from our pre paid credit, to pay for a debt that doesn't exist.

Yesterday, their "advisor" (I use that term loosely) informed me that this should be cleared off the meter when an engineer visits to correct the emergency credit fault.
"Don't worry sir, once the engineer has fixed the problem, the debt recovery on the meter will be reduced to nil and then we will be in touch as regards a refund for you."

All day we sat in and waited, as time ticked away and passed the 8pm cut off time for repairs. No engineer came.

Today when I rang them, the advisor states, "There was no appointment booked for an engineer to visit your home!"
After checking the account notes, there is nothing on the notes for yesterday's call regarding the £1.05 per week being taken off the meter, or even looked at with a view to a refund being issued.
"An appointment was booked, but this was cancelled by our office and this was relayed back to the advisor who you spoke with and they should have notified you that an engineer would not be calling."

"I can only apologise for this," said the advisor,
"No, I do not want your apology, I want reimbursing for a days earnings that we have lost due to your incompetance!" I replied.

"Sorry sir, we do not offer that!" I hung up in disgust.

How many more people are going to lose money because of companies who fail to turn up when booked to do so?
How many more times must the customer take any losses on the chin, money lost from the family pot?
How many more times are rules/laws only going to benefit companies?
How much longer before customers are at last, be entitled to some financial reimbursement for a company's failings?

Good customer service and equal rights for both parties go hand in hand.
If a customer has to be paid when a company do not turn up at a customer's home to fix a fault, just watch the customer service improve and the number of times a company fail to turn up will drop dramatically, overnight!

I cannot be the only customer that has been left out of pocket because of this?

O2 MMS problems

Have you ever tried to send a picture message (or MMS) to the USA?

I sent one the other day, to a friend in New York, all they received was a text message, telling them to visit the o2 website to collect the picture.

So, as I was sorting out my contract with o2, I asked them why a picture could not be received.

  • My o2 phone settings are working correctly
  • Their cell phone/mobile phone settings are fine, as they can receive pictures and MMS from vodafone and orange networks
  • There are no other reported problems.

Here is o2's explaination:

"The problem must be with the servers in America, not being set up to receive o2 picture messages!
The problem is nothing to do with o2 as our servers are sending the pictures out, as they are receiving a text message."

When I questioned this account of the problem, the o2 advisor denied that o2 were to blame.
O2, like every other mobile phone operator, have agreements with mobile phone companies in other countries. In effect, they hire foreign mobile phone operator's network.
It is obvious because other UK mobile networks operators can send pictures on my friend's network in America, the fact that o2 cannot, suggests they are not willing to pay this same network in America, to enable UK customers to send MMS or picture messaging.

MMS or picture messaging sends more data than a standard text message, so will cost more. The cell phone receiving the picture message from the UK, receives a simple text message, pointing to where o2 has stored the image, on their own systems.
The regular text message shows that USA networks are set up to receive messages no problem, but for the picture to be blocked from being sent and stored on o2's own internet servers, shows that no agreement is in place.

The only reason no agreement is in place, is because o2 will not pay the fees the American network are demanding.

So no, I do not believe the o2 advisor, who blamed American networks for the problem.

I also think that o2 should be forced to state exactly how many other networks around the world, that they refuse to pay for their users to send pictures or MMS to.
This way, people are made aware of the limits of o2's service, BEFORE they sign up to a contract that can last upto 2 years!

Thrifty victories at the supermarket

Supermarket's make huge profits on the exploitation of their customers!
They know for example, that if winter's coming, that people will buy more heinz soup. Guess what happens in the run up to winter?
That's right, the price shoots up for no apparent reason.
Our Asda increased the prices of Heinz soups from just under 60p to 84p in the run up to winter.
So what does the customer do?

Well Supermarkets know that when presented with the new higher price, the customer may not like it, but they will still buy it as they imagine where else they can buy it from and then consider the inconvenience of going there to get it.

This is where the thrifty shopper escapes price hikes.
You can almost guarantee, that after a month or so of sales falling flat, an end of aisle offer appears, to boost sales and/or clear their stock.
The multi buy offer can, if used correctly, save you some money. Many of these multi saves can also cost you more!

RULE OF THUMB: MULTI PACK BUYS - Always calculate how much each individual item is costing you!

Four tins of Heinz beans for £2 sounds good - it is in a big dump bin - with big red POS (Point of sale) all over it - it has prime location in the aisle - but stop and think!
Prior to this "offer" the regular price for an individual tin was 37p.
Then the price of an individual tin went up to 54p.
Now it is back, in a prime location at 4 tins for £2

Compared to the current shelf price - you would save just 16p - not good value as you are taking 4 tins of the product (Buying in bulk is supposed to be alot cheaper!)
Compared to the former shelf price - you are actually paying 52p more for your 4 tins!
The individual price of a tin of Heinz beans in this "special offer" is of course, 50p per tin, not good value when compared with the former shelf price is it!

On the other hand - I have about 20 tins of various flavours of Heinz soup in the cupboard.
Once increased in price to 82p per tin (from 58p per tin if memory serves me correctly), they remained this price right through the Christmas run up and after in the cold weather, I stopped buying them. I also didn't fall for the "own brand" soups at 2p cheaper than the over inflated price of the Heinz tins!
Having lots of stock, the offer was not long in coming just as I thought.
5 tins for £2 was the offer - at 40p per tin, 18p per tin LESS than the old regular shelf price, I'll have some of that!
So I stocked up on the various flavours.

The offer lasted about 10 days, as quick as it came on, it was taken off.
The price of an individual tin now is being advertised as a "rollback" at 74p - but this is 16p per tin MORE than the regular shelf price was before winter - not good value at all!
I now walk past the area where they are, with a little smugness - I bought those same tins from their shop at 40p each, everyone else who cannot resist the urge to pick up a tin or two, are now paying a staggering 34p per tin MORE than I did - and it is the same stock on the shelf as they had weeks earlier!


  1. DO NOT assume that a "Multi pack" buy is good value - work out the individual price per item - surely if you are buying 4 of an item it should save you more than 16p?
  2. RESIST THE URGE to pick up a product that you know is over priced - if you have to go without it for the next couple of weeks, then do so. Don't be forced into paying over the odds for a product just because it is something you normally buy.
  3. WATCH THE PRICES and wait - if the price increases then sales will fall and in a month or two weeks later expect a "sale" to start - especially if it is a popular seller.
  4. DON'T FALL FOR THE "OWN BRAND" TRICK - supermarket's own brands used to be very cheap alternatives and therefore good value. This has not been the case for many years now, the branded product is artificially high in price and the "own brand" is then reduced to just a few pence below the artificially high branded product price. This is because the "own brand" profit made for the supermarket, is considerably higher on it's "own brand" products.
  5. KEEP WATCHING PRICES of things you buy regularly every week or so. Even if you don't need them one week, make a note of the price.
  6. IF YOU FIND A GOOD DEAL on the price you pay for the items you would normally buy, then stock up, keep in mind any sell by dates though.

When you walk into a supermarket, you are at the risk of a multi million pound business, who have spent millions on exploiting the shopping habits of their customers to make profit!
You can expect products at premium locations in aisles, varying prices to try and catch you out, etc, all to persuade you to buy things you would normally never buy.
Even warming up bread and wafting the smell around the store and locating it is done to influence your decisions on what you buy.

Put your cynical head on and be aggressive in resisting all their marketing attacks!