sarahx: (Default)
You know I got a debit card on my Euro account so I could easily spend my euros abroad?

Ha bloody ha.

Two problems so far...

Yesterday's may well not have been the fault of the card, but anyway... Went to cashpoint. Asked for €100. Receipt said it had given me €100. Machine gave me no money.

It was in the lobby area of a bank branch, which was closed. But there was a button on the wall that connected to their call centre. Where no-one spoke any English (or French, for that matter), and my Spanish wasn't good enough to explain what the problem was. So I rang Citibank's call centre in India, and apparently I have to fax them to tell them what had happened before they can do anything about crediting the money. But the girl on the phone only ventured that information after going to ask someone what to do after I pressed her on whether I had to do anything else. Went back to the hotel, went online, and the account has indeed been debited the €100.

And today..... well... The background is this evil little thing called Dynamic Currency Conversion. This is the practice that's springing up all over the place – and in Spain in particular – by which the retailer converts the currency for you and adds its commission, so you end up paying in sterling for something that's priced in euros, often at an unfavourable rate. Now I got a euro card so that I didn't have to worry about currency conversions, and just pay in the local currency – I do the odd bit of work that's paid in euros and I've been keeping them in currency. So what happens? I spot on the receipt that €25 has been magicked into £17.70. It had picked up that it's a UK card – regardless of the fact that the only money in the account it debits is in euros. This would mean that not only was I being fleeced for the conversion by the shop, but also again by Citibank to turn it back into the euros it should have been debited in in the first place.

After about 10 minutes on the phone, the assistant managed to establish that the computerised till at El Corte Inglés does it automatically, and there was no way to override it. Which is, in fact, illegal – EU law says you have to have the option of paying in local currency. In the end, I was getting fed up and got them to cancel the transaction on the card and paid them in cash instead. I have to hope it was indeed cancelled and not debited and then re-credited, otherwise I'll wind up paying for two lots of conversion – twice.

Am I going to have the same problem next time I try to use the card? And when I come to pay the hotel bill on Monday?! I bloody well hope not.

I feel a dirty great rant at Citibank coming on. But I get the impression that most of the people who answer the phone haven't got much idea what's going on. This may or may not be because it's been outsourced to India.
sarahx: (sweary)
Phone rings, disturbing me when I'm busy trying to concentrate on proof-reading that feature I was battling with yesterday and finally managed to finish last night.

'Hello, it's Saffy from Numpty and Eijit. We sent you a press release about our latest report into widget wangling couple of months ago. Did you use it?'

Saffy, please note:

1. Don't you read my publication?
2. If not, why did you bother sending me the release?
3. And if you can't be arsed to read the magazine, why don't you pay a cuttings agency?
4. Oh - and the press release was irrelevant anyway...

sarahx: (poshburd)
Ah, the joys of technology. I've been stranded at a trade show all week (and trade shows are in my top-three most hated things, so you can imagine how happy I am to be here). Until today I was doing the show's daily newspaper so all computered-up. Today being the last day (hurrah!) the G5s have been packed away. So I opened up my laptop to start writing the show review copy (deadline: tomorrow lunchtime) and huzzah! One of the exhibitors nearby has, most generously, set up a wireless cloud around their stand and failed to password-protect it. So I'm back on the interbadger again. Can't be arsed to write - think I've got a cold coming and my brain resembles mashed potato. I'll do it in the morning.

Anyroadup, here I am in Paris. Or, more accurately, Villepinte - yes, one of those delightful Parisien suburbs where if you had a car last month, this month you've got a burnt out wreck. We were also stranded at the Hyatt at the airport - which isn't really at the airport at all, it's a trek in a shuttle bus away. And, despite the proximity, an utter pain to get to at the end of the day. Going on the train involves going to the airport and getting on said shuttle bus. Going in a taxi involves braving the vast queue that is inevitable when there's 10,000-plus people at a show all being kicked out at the same time.

On Tuesday it was less of a problem, as one of the nice companies I do re-Englishing for took me out for dinner (yes, Stu, I booked the table and it might just have been at Les Bouchons, and no, I was good and didn't have cheese and dessert). However, I did get back to the airport just nicely in time to see the arse of the Hyatt bus disappearing into the distance. It was a 'sod it, I'll get a taxi' moment. Proof that claiming it's an airport hotel is a joke: it cost €12.

But at least I wasn't hanging around in the freezing cold at Charles de Gaulle for half an hour. Unlike when I arrived. They claimed the bus picked up at both terminals and the train station. So (having gone on the Eurostar and caught the RER back up to the airport) I stood at the train station, at their bus stop, and the shuttle bus sailed past down the road without pulling into the stop for me. Then did it again. When it ignored me for the third time, I called the hotel, got very cross (erm, yes, well, and a little bit sweary). Well, I was freezing. The bus then deigned to pull in to rescue me. It took nearly an hour for my fingers to thaw out once I finally made it to the Hyatt.

Tuesday dinner aside, I might just as well have been in Birmingham. Glamorous it ain't. And as I'm here working for the show organisers, I was stuck in the hotel with them. They're proof positive of Sarah's Law of the Dutch: the men are lovely, the women are, um, not. And, unfortunately, most of them are women. Fortunately the Dutch contingent of the newspaper team (two photographers, one designer and a manager from the printers) were men, and hence nice. We've all been avoiding the women.

Oh, and I feel the need to have a bit more of a rant about the hotel. When I'm booking and paying for them myself I always ensure they're either within walking distance or a sensible public transport ride away from where I want to be, so I'd never dream of booking this one myself. If I had, I'd feel ripped off. Hell, I feel ripped off and it cost me nothing! The rack-rate of €330 is quite outrageous for a room that looks pretty tired, and even the much better rate they will have been paying was, frankly, too much. For example, two huge chips in the enamel bath had been 'disguised' with white gloss paint that just serves to make them more obvious. The shampoo etc were crap. And then there's the cost of the incidentals. No Wi-Fi cloud at all - and the broadband access was an eye-watering €23 for a day. When I arrived, I had a sandwich - which cost €20. I came to check out this morning, and they tried to charge me €7 for something from the minibar - which I hadn't even opened. Bah.

Thank goodness I get to go home soon - I'm on the train a little after 6pm. Fingers crossed it's on time. I'm knackered and I want my bed!!
sarahx: (doll)
Last Friday, while I was in France, the postie attempted to deliver a recorded delivery item to me. They say on the card that they will hold RD items for seven days, and then return them to sender. I should have been able to pick it up on the way to Cambridge this morning as I wasn't driving in until mid-morning. But yesterday it turned out I had to come in at daft o'clock instead. There's no-one else to go and pick it up for me during sorting office opening hours (the cat's not so good at signing her name), so I called once they opened at 8am to see if they could hold it for me until Saturday when I could go in for it.

And the bloke in the sorting office turned out to be a total jobsworth, saying he wasn't allowed to: 'The sender pays for the service so he knows it's been delivered within a week,' he burbled.

'Erm, no, surely they pay for the service to ensure that it actually reaches me? And they'd rather it reached me in nine days than have to deal with resending it.'

'No, madam, it's going back to the sender at 1pm because it has to be signed for before then.'

He wouldn't even go and check the letter to see what it was, because I've absolutely no idea what it is or whether it's important. 'I can go and look,' he said. 'But I'm not allowed to tell you who it's from.'

After far too many minutes of going round in circles (and him insisting on continuing to call me 'madam' despite me asking him not to as it makes me feel geriatric) I gave up. He was completely insistent that if I couldn't come in and pick it up before 1pm this afternoon, it would be going back to sender and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. Miraculously, I managed not to get sweary with him. And hung up.

So I called the Royal Mail complaints line. The bloke in the call centre agreed that the bloke in the sorting office was an idiot and promised to try and see if someone there could be made to see sense. He wasn't sure he'd actually manage to get hold of the manager - he warned me they can be difficult to pin down so they usually email them rather than call - but he'd do his best, and took my mobile number so he could let me know what he managed to sort out.

Ten minutes later, he called back. They are going to hold it until Saturday for me.


Though I have to hope that the office at Lewisham don't send it back anyway, just out of spite.
sarahx: (Default)
Went to see the Ukulele Orchestra of GB with [ profile] stu_n & [ profile] burge this evening. They were excellent - Anarchy in the UK, on ukulele anyone? And their rendition of Yes sir, I can boogie was truly inspired.

We made it to the pub in time to see Pink Floyd's glorious and unlikely reunion on the telly. Wow.

But there were far too many people at the station and on the train who'd clearly been in Hyde Park and had left before PF took the stage. OK, so they were running an hour and a half late. And there were last trains to be caught. But... Bloody Philistines. You get the night bus, you go clubbing, you even kip in the park - it's hardly cold out. YOU DO NOT MISS PINK FLOYD FOR THE PATHETIC REASON OF GETTING THE LAST TRAIN.


(and yes, I'm rewatching Floyd now. Still wow)
sarahx: (Default)
Next door are having a bonfire.

My laundry's on the washing line.

I'm now going to have to wash it all again.

How hard would it be to have knocked on the door and warned me in advance? Some people's lack of common courtesy is astounding.


sarahx: (Default)

July 2010

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