Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Trying to cancel with Phones4U

I always like to write up a review of a store or company that I’ve had issues with, just to make sure my situation is not only available so other people will have some kind of warning if they search for said company.  But it’s also a nice documented take on how shoddy customer service can get in some businesses.
As I’ve said previously I have been looking through cell phones to replace the iPhone 3GS that I still have from AT&T until next month, as well as the Blackberry Bold 9700 that I’m using through O2 on a Pay-As-You-Go plan.  (Why AT&T hasn’t figured out to let people have Blackberries on pay-as-you-go there is beyond me.  That’s a ton of teenage customers they’re missing out on who would gladly spend their allowance money for a smartphone.) 
Anyway, I finally decided on the HTC Sensation but the charge of the handset was just too pricey.  O2 wanted about £104 for a £21.50 per month plan and Phones4U wanted £19.99 for the £21.50 plan.  Now, I’ve used Wirefly in the U.S. a few times and I’ve never had an issue with their phones or service, so I naively assumed that Phones4U was the same sort of company.  They have branches all over as well as their online store so I figured it would be okay to order the cheaper phone from them. (Interestingly, I just discovered that Wirefly no longer supports AT&T products.)
I ordered my phone late Friday night and received the first email saying,
your order with Phones 4u…has now been received and is currently being processed…Once all required checks have been completed you will receive an email to confirm that they have been successfully processed.  Once your goods have been despatched you will receive a further email to confirm that they have been despatched.
Less than an hour and a half later I received this email,
Your order has now been successfully processed. Your order will be despatched shortly. As soon as it leaves Phones4u we will send you an email to confirm that it has been despatched.
Granted I knew that it was Friday and the Bank Holiday Weekend was coming up so they wouldn’t be able to send anything within 48 hours. Over the weekend I looked up “Phones4U reviews” and low and behold, they have terrible ratings.  I decided to cancel the phone and order from O2.  However, after calling Phones4U who said “oh, yes, the cancelation department is open today (on Bank Holiday Monday), I was in a hold queue for 40+ minutes only to be told “oh no, this department isn’t open, I’m just answering phones to advise people to call tomorrow.”  Because a voice message would be too complex, I’m sure.
Today when I called, I was put in another long hold queue except someone actually answered this time.  They said “oh, well, your phone was already send on the Saturday so you’ll have to send it back once you get this return envelope that we’ll send out and it will take 3 days to get that.”  I tried to do the online chat to reason with someone and said, “look, I’m sure it’s not dispatched already, can’t you just cancel this without the whole sending and returning business?”  I got this response,
Simona N says:
I believe that you have discussed the cancellation process with an accounts manager who has explained how it works and what to expect. I have also explained to you how it works and what to expect on this chat twice - the handset will be sent to you and then we will send a returns bag that has been requested today. There may be a delay with sending emails to customers regarding despatch information due to Bank Holiday Monday that we just had. I am sorry that you have not received one.
Yup, that’s the rudeness that I’ve heard about online from Phones4U reviews.  So, you can tell that the phone was shipped but you couldn’t have sent an email out? I’m sure that’s not true at all, but I’ll play along.  If it shows up, I’ll return it in their little envelope and keep hold of the shipping info.  Nothing’s been charged to my account, yet, so as long as they don’t try to charge me for anything now that I’ve given the magic “cancel” word, I won’t be too fussed.

My guess is they’ll ship it now that I’ve tried to cancel because when I called them they tried to talk me out of cancelling and even asking if anyone in my household could just take on the contract instead.  Sheesh.  I feel bad for those people who have to work like that and try to swindle people each day.

Anyway, my shiny new HTC Sensation that was ordered from O2 on Sunday is on its way.  The customer service over the phone, in store and through online chat was way more responsive and helpful than Phones4U has been.  So sorry I didn’t just shell out the cash to O2 in the first place.  They’ve texted me about the phone being dispatched, even had me chose which day and time the phone was delivered. 

Not every company can be perfect but, as the review say, “avoid Phones4U like the plague.”  The phone would probably have broke in a few days if I’d used it anyway.  Just glad I figured this out before I started using the thing and was sunk.

UPDATE:  9:30PM.  O2 didn't get my phone delivered through Home Delivery Service by 9PM as they said they would.  Now I get to sit at home for a second day waiting on a stupid package.  Fabulous.  Remind me to go to a store and order a new phone next time, would you?

UPDATE: 10:30AM.  Glory be!  The Crooks4U phone arrived but the O2 phone is still floating around somewhere.  Just FYI:  If O2 gives you a Yodel parcel number that starts with JD, you can call 08442480561 to get a hold of someone who can phone the driver and see where your package is.  They're open until 9PM. 

Yup, still waiting...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Gadget Master

Today I’ll be waiting for my new HTC Sensation to be delivered from O2.  I opted for the cheapest delivery window;  9AM-7PM.  Steve has discovered that the HTC HD7 which uses Zune that doesn’t play podcasts in the U.K.  Therefore, he may be opting for a Droid to replace the Windows 7 phone this week.  Totally uncool but at least we have options.

Yesterday, we were going to go out somewhere but instead we stayed home and enjoyed the bank holiday.  It was windy and chilly and it was so, so nice to not have to run around somewhere for a change.  We went to Liverpool and walked all over the Wirral last weekend so I think we deserved a decent weekend at home. 

On Saturday we had to take a trip to the O2 to get an adapter for Steve’s iPhone micro SIM card that ended up being a regular SIM card that we could easily swap out instead.  Still, we got a nice walk out and I bought Norton so this laptop will finally have its internet security.  We also hit McD’s where I tried out the new C.B.O. which was way tasty. (Incidentally, yes, I do need to update that Foodie Blog soon.)

I also read that running is bad for your hips so I don’t feel as bad about only jogging once a week and using the other days for the bike.  I should add an elliptical day in here and there too.  Now that Christmas is coming soon, and I’ll have my Garmin sports band I was wondering about asking for an MP3 player that isn’t an iPod.  But with the trouble the Win7 phone has given Steve, I’m wondering how easy that will be (granted, I don’t generally listen to podcasts though.)

Finally, we’ve still be using Asda to deliver our groceries even though they messed up one order.  If we don’t have it delivered for the last open delivery slot, we generally don’t have trouble.  Being compensated for having to wait 23 hours for our groceries with free delivery for sixty days is pretty nice all in all.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Technology I want

I'm more & more using my iPhone while I sit on the couch instead of bothering to turn on the laptop. This is why I decided that I need a tablet PC for Christmas. I don't want anything that's £500 like an iPad or anything. I'd consider an Android knockoff if I didn't think it would die in 3 months. Right now with the price and company reputation, I'm settled on a Dell Streak.

As far as the iPhone, I'm going to keep it now that my contract is over and use it on the WiFi in the house. However, I did decide to try & get another cell phone in the UK. I know the Samsung Galaxy SII is top rated, I didn't like the interface as much as the HTC. If I get that, I won't have to keep using the Blackberry Bold that freezes up so I can't type at all. Steve got a new Windows 7 phone which outshines the iPhone in looks and design. The font, screen size & graphics are way more pleasing.

I thought about waiting on an iPhone 5 but after seeing how these new HTC phones look, I'm not going to worry about spending £300 plus a monthly fee to have an iPhone. If Android Market has apps, I'm good.

I’m also interested in the FitBit and the Garmin 205 sports band to use with my jogging.  There is just way too much fun going on to not want to grab all this new technology.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Heart Liverpool

I have plenty of things I can update on this week but first I'll talk about our trip to Liverpool. We arrived on Friday afternoon after the crowded train excitement (finding a seat without an advanced ticket is tiring on it's own). When I first saw Liverpool I was really impressed. The buildings are huge and Albert Dock was neat with the restaurants, bars and hotels built into the renovated buildings. The issue with staying at a hotel at the dock was the fire alarm. Since everything is in one big, brick building, everyone has to evaluate when the fire alarm goes off. When we got to the hotel, people had been standing outside of it as well as the next door restaurants. But the hotel was awesome. Premier Inns are always clean, comfortable & good at providing tasty breakfast.

We didn't do much site seeing that Friday night but we did see Liverpool One, a shopping mall to make love the city. Three story, outdoor, shiny, with new stores (I spotted Gap, Dr. Martens, Lego, and Vans for starters.) We ate upstairs by the cinema at Zizzi and used our O2 Priorities for free dough sticks and champagne. Yum. It was so nice to just have together time without technology to distract us. Well, aside from the iPhone coupon app. Saturday we headed to Hoylake so I could finally meet the rest of the P.s. There were 10 people, plus cats, a dog and neighbors to shake hands with as a new member of the family. It was great fun and I felt so comfortable & welcomed. I even got the biggest plate of roast turkey dinner! Now that's hospitality.

Sunday was museum day back in Liverpool. First we went next to the hotel to The Beatles Story just to be interrupted by the fire alarm after we got into the first room. We walked down towards the other building for The Beatles were we saw the White Feather Lennon Exhibit and The FabFour 4D. We went back to The Beatles Story which was more busy & got hot in some rooms (why don't all public places have an A/C?) Next was the Museum of Liverpool which was just put in this year. The building is amazing and there were tons of things to look at even though the 2nd floor wasn't open yet. We also did a quick sweep through the Maritime Museum. I saw some artifacts from the Titanic and items from the Slavery Museum section which is as depressing as it sounds. We were super tired by Sunday night and after a hot bubble bath in the hotel we slept from 9PM-7AM.

After our last tasty Premier Inn breakfast we headed back through Liverpool towards the train station. I saw James Street and the entrance for the on-foot Beatles tour. By afternoon we made our way back home. I'm still suffering from "train lag". I thought I should go jogging today but after I got up I knew this would be another day in front of the computer. I walked enough this weekend so that treadmill can wait until tomorrow.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Heading South before Winter

Today marks the start of another adventure for Mr. & Mrs. P.  We will be heading down South to visit Steve’s old school, family house and, most importantly, all the other P.s in the family.  So exciting!

Being a lady, the need to over plan and organize to excess is crucial for any kind of trip, no matter how small.  I have to think of the “What if? scenarios and pack something like an extra pair of jeans in case I fall in a puddle.  I also have a ton more toiletries but luckily now that I’m use to wandering around England these days, I know how to pack lightly.  Well, at least lighter than I did when I lived in Florida.

Now I have a small suitcase and a book bag.  I have carefully decided which books to not take (important decision there) and organize the many, many chargers and batteries that are needed for my many, many travelling gadgets: Canon camera, iPhone, Blackberry (yes, I have two smartphones since I’m still stuck in my AT&T contract), Kodak video camera and my HP laptop.  I decided not to bring my Kindle because I am moving slowly through Philosopher’s Stone and that will take up my train ride time. 

Usually though, I’m busy looking out at the window to see the landscape.  Trains are fascinating things to me. I’m from Florida, after all.  I’ll make sure to update more on the trip later on but for now; have a great Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Too many books in the world?

Librarians are of a profession that requires certain attributes.  You need a library and a lot of the times you need a degree (though I’m still trying to figure out how I get past the entry level stage into the “professional” stage so I can show off said degree.)   The art of being in the library and working for said library patrons best interest is essential too.  It’s a distinct field that has a nice amount of decent, like-minded folks but there aren’t too many of them in the world (heck, there’s a lot of information out there that needs wrangling). 

Same goes for educators though the amount of teachers is much more broad – for every 1 librarian in a small school, you may have 100 teachers or more for larger schools.  For the 400 teachers that you could have in an elementary, middle and high school for one area of town, there are probably 3 school librarians.  Point is the profession is distinct.

Once I started looking at writers online I found twice as many as I did for teachers.  The thing is, librarians and teachers can be writers.  But engineers, bank managers, plumbers and garbage men can be writers too.  There are hundreds of writers on Twitter to follow.

When I went to school, back in the good `ol 90s, I was young and naive and I was the only one (maybe two of us) in my circle of hometown high school friends who considered an English degree.  Writing and literature were my first subjects to love (computers, technology and gadgets coming in a close second) so once I went to UCF as an English major I was finally in my element.  We learned historical, cultural, comparative, subjective, interpretive, scholarly aspects of literature.  We wrote papers and talked about books all day.  How fun. (I need to add this to my “About Missus P.” page.)

But when I got to my Creative Writing courses I knew that from my years of writing in elementary school and high school had a place in college.  So, of course, I taught English and I studied Creative Writing more.  And there were plenty of people in college in Orlando who were into writing and teaching English Literature (and/or Reading). 

Now that Twitter has opened up the world to us, I found that there are way more writers in this world than I imagined.  I know there’s always been an issue with too many people flooding the market with books that aren’t so great, making the opportunity for decent work to get published.  (Queue J.K. Rowling, Jack London and Dr. Seuss who were all repeatedly rejected.) 

The biggest issue now is that with ebooks people can self publish which can be encouraging and discouraging equally.  On one hand, what you write won’t be in vain because it will be out there somehow.  Plus the amount of Kindle books (my personal choice because of its worldwide store access) sold is outstanding compared to print books.  Plenty of writers are successful in ebook sales.

But as the last link commenters note, there’s a lot of self-promotion involved and man, oh, man does Twitter have that going.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Panic on the streets of London

There is a ton of online information that we have the ability to share or comment on these days.  If we find an article that’s interesting we share with our friends and followers and gets responses in the hopes of an active debate.  However, as with cyber bullying, is it really good to be that plugged in all the time that we react to things publically because it’s so easy?

We’ve been talking about the riots in England which, thankfully, didn’t come any where close to Newcastle.  We have a pretty good life up here and we even had another food market the other day and the more obvious police presence was really more for Match Day than anything else.

So what makes people want to riot?  Is it because “kids these days” live their lives seeing iPhone and iPad commercials and knowing they don’t have the money for them?  Is it because with rising British college tuition these kids know they can’t afford school even if they wanted to go so they would rather loot and risk imprisonment?

What about the fact that an Olympic athlete was one of the rioters?  What about the police not being present enough, due to budget cuts, so kids knew they could run rampant and no immediate punishment would be issued?  Or is it because they finally had a reason to just do crap that they always wanted to do?  I sort of think that’s what it mainly is.

The riots in Tottenham were fuelled by a gang member being fired upon by the police (in a Rodney King kind of basis for protest).  But what about Birmingham, Manchester or the few in Liverpool?  That was done because they could do it.  I mean even the kids in Tottenham were seen putting pictures on Twitter with a bag of rice they stole.  Seriously.  A £.60 bag of rice was worth getting arrested over?

Anyway, I’m glad the riots are over and nothing happened up here.  I hope the clean up efforts are quick and paid for by plenty of Council money.  I’m glad to know that the CCTV has worked and they’ve arrested over a thousands kids who just wanted to smash and burn crap for a couple of days. 

Kids these days…

Saturday, August 6, 2011

August means almost Autumn

So summertime is almost over and we had a few nice, warm days here.  Today, as usual, however, is gray and rainy.  During the week it was more motivating to go out even though we did have some wind yesterday.  (The wind gets really strong in Autumn too, so I’ll report back on that later.)

I had a cold last week too so I didn’t update anything then.  But I finally got back to feeling like my old self again and even went jogging on Monday.  I got to a 25 minute jog which is way better than I’ve done before.  Once I get to 30 minutes I’ll feel like I’m actually doing something right.

I’ve also been reading more as a self-assigned goal.  I finished Twilight last night finally so I can official say that I can give an informed, albeit already assumed, opinion.  I’ll write the review for Unfinished Book Reviews soon too while I have a fresh memory of why I had to put that book down a bunch of times last month.  Now I’m on to Harry Potter so I can get prepared for Pottermore!  I already have my username: MoonstoneGlow93. (Quite an awesome name if I do say so myself.) I’m just awaiting my email to get me in.  I know Steve’s company has worked hard on Pottermore and I’m super excited to be a part of the fun.

We’re also headed to see the rest of the Pick family soon so another adventure awaits us this month.