Thursday, 10 November 2016

Slimline or Full Fat? Cucumber or Lemon? Lady M Insists!

After the disasters of the Battenberg and cupcakes, one sharp eyed colleague questioned whether Sally really was that bad at cooking. Referring to Mmm…No1…Cookbook on Amazon she said, ‘Didn’t Sally help you to write your [best selling] cookbook?’ Of course she did, she took the photo for the front cover!

Ole has a new job at PaperEscape in Chinley. It was not a great beginning as he rose bright and early for a 9am start. Unfortunately he was supposed to there at 8!

He has started going to the gym regularly, and eating healthily, at least whilst he is at home. However, it seems that once he is out of reach of home cooking the Whaley Kebab House is his favourite haunt. So much so that they even let him run up a tab until his pocket money got paid into his bank.

Zac, meanwhile, has also started going to the gym.
Me: What have you been doing?
Zac: Cardio
Me: What’s cardio?
Zac: No idea.

One thing I am sure of is that he will be disappearing for the next few weeks as the Beta edition of his new game morphs into the full blown version. I suppose I should get my own Xbox account to keep in touch with him.

There have been a few experiments in the kitchen, including chicken, pasta, bacon and spinach in a creamy sauce, and praline cake which is very, very hazelnutty. At first I thought that this was a healthy alternative to other chocolate cakes, but it isn’t really! Although it contains no flour or butter, it does contain whipped cream, dark chocolate, and rather a lot of Nutella. I also started Christmas preparations with Creole cake. The fruit was steeped in alcohol for week and then the cake was baked. This week I gave it its first feed, with numerous injections of brandy. Next week it will be port, then rum, then whatever comes to hand!


Dizzy Praline Cake


Drunken Creole Fruit 

Another successful experiment came in the shape of pumpkin pancakes. It always amuses me that people get excited by Halloween and pumpkin season, then post recipes stipulating canned pumpkin. These were definitely made with fresh pumpkin, and they were delicious.





Had an interesting trip to London last weekend to see Bill Wyman’s 80th birthday concert at the Indigo Theatre in the O2. We waited for the train at Macclesfield, and there was an announcement saying that seat reservations did not apply. That seemed a bit strange, but we soon found out why as the previous train had been cancelled and this one had to accommodate twice as many passengers. When the doors opened there was simply no room to get on. Undeterred, Lady M headed straight for first class. We got on there quite easily, then she proceeded to rearrange a few passengers so that we could sit together. Quite nice in there, particularly when the free drinks came along. Anyway, the train announcer kept saying that everyone should complain to get their due compensation, which seemed a bit harsh as we appeared to have gained a free upgrade. But, in for a penny, as they say, so I got on the Virgin Trains website and soon realised what I would be up against.

My message went to Virgin Trains Customer Support, and I got a helpful email stating that I should contact Virgin Trains Customer Relations.

My response was…

That's great thanks.

Would have been really helpful if you could have passed on my complaint to the relevant people, but maybe that is indicative of the very poor customer service that I am coming to expect from Virgin trains.

So, Virgin Trains Customer Relations, (as opposed to Virgin Trains Customer Support) do you need me to email you separately or are you bright enough to be able to extract the info from this email?

The same guy in customer support then sent me this…

Thank you for your response.

I would like to inform you that I have forward your request to our Customer Relation Department, they will investigate and will revert to you.

I hope this information is helpful, If you have any further queries, kindly do not hesitate to contact us.

I then got an automated response telling me that someone from Customer Relations would be in touch. That was over a week ago. This could run and run, just like KLM (see below!)

Anyway, at this point I had not touched a drop. We disembarked at Euston, and after a pitstop for Prosecco and nibbles at M & S we hit the tube to North Greenwich. I’ve never particularly liked the tube, but at least now it is Contactless which makes it easier. We followed the crowds, then realised they probably weren’t all going to the O2 so we checked a map. We boarded a tube for Tower Bridge, where we changed to the Jubilee Line. We arrived at North Greenwich having shared public transport with a totally miserable set of travellers. Its as if everyone is scared to smile on the underground, but we had a much more pleasant journey on the return.

We walked around the O2 to our hotel, which was very nice, but there was something about the service that wasn’t quite right. Check in took about 15 minutes. That’s a long time. Something to do with my loyalty card, and they wanted to ensure we were in a double rather than a twin room. After our ordeals to that point we headed across the reception to the nearest bar, and although there were a lot of staff milling around, none of them actually seemed to be serving. Eventually we got a bottle of Peroni and a large G & Slimline T, complete with a huge slice of cucumber. I don’t mean a horizontal slice. This was a vertical 4-5 inch slice, and Lady M was not impressed. She went in search of our waitress and insisted on lemon. The waitress remarked that cucumber was the more traditional accompaniment, but Lady M responded in a ‘Do you know who I am?’ kind of way, and the lemon was provided. We decided to head for the first floor where they had draught lager, and this time the waitress made the fatal mistake of pouring full fat tonic into the G & T! A very expensive mistake at London hotel prices, as Lady M insisted on a replacement.

We eventually reached our room, a twin as it turned out, but we were too pissed to complain! We had a quick turnaround and then we headed for the Sky Bar on the 18th floor. Very nice, but again service was a bit slow.

Next stop was the Indigo, which was a short walk from the hotel. This is a great theatre with spacious seating, generous walkways without bouncers telling you to sit down, and an expansive bar at the back that was open throughout the show. The backdrop to the stage showed pictures of Bill Wyman throughout his childhood and his career. As showtime approached this was replaced by a huge white screen containing a quote on rock and roll and music in general from Brian Jones. ‘Do you think he will be appearing?’ Sally asked. ‘I wouldn’t have thought so,’ I replied. ‘He died in 1969.’ The show itself was fabulous, except for Mark Knopfler. I’ve never been his biggest fan, and when he launched into a 5 minute dirge at the start of the evening it didn’t augur well for the rest of the event. However, I needn’t have been concerned. Van Morrison was brilliant, as were Martin Taylor, Andy Fairweather-Low, Robert Plant and, surprisingly, Mick Hucknall and Bob Geldof. For me the star of the show was Imelda May who belted out a couple of numbers before joining Robert Plant for the finale. 
Van Morrison

Bob Geldof with Andy Fairweather-Low in the background

Imelda May - with Andy again

Bill Wyman and Robert Plan discuss retirement homes



Roll Out The Barrel...

Apparently Harry Styles walked past us as we watched the show, but I didn’t recognise him and he didn’t recognise me. We staggered back to the hotel and hit the bar for a nightcap and a burger. It was a bit odd that all of the restaurants around the O2 shut as the shows finished, but the Clipper Bar came to the rescue. The burgers arrived, and were delicious, but would have been enhanced by a bit of ketchup for the chips. We asked, and we waited, and we waited. We asked again, and the bar man reached under his bar for a couple of pots of the red stuff. Why the waitress couldn’t have done that I have no idea. Anyway, the next morning we ventured out to get Sally some headache tablets, and after a gentle stroll along the Thames we boarded a Thames Clipper to take us back to the city centre. It was refreshing and blew the cobwebs away as we passed the Globe, the Houses Of Parliament, The Shard and many other famous landmarks before getting off at the London Eye. A quick cab ride took us to Euston where Gino D’Acampo served up a lovely bacon butty and coffee.
The view from the Thames

There's always someone who wants to photobomb

The return train journey was much less of an adventure than the outward one.

And its always nice to return home, unless Sapphire decides to leave you a little present on the doormat...


Ahhh, KLM! You may recall that I had a cancelled flight back in July, and because of the unholy alliance between Delta, Virgin and the Royal Dutch carrier it was down to KLM to sort out the refund. I had the option of a £670 voucher or £503 cash. I opted for the cash. And submitted my details on the unintelligible KLM website. I wasn’t overly concerned as they stated that all refunds would be paid back to the card that paid for the original flight. That was on 15th September, and it would be paid within 20 days. On 27th I was assured that the refund would be processed in good time. On 10th October I was sent confirmation that they would transfer the money to my account. On 19th they informed me that they had completed the transfer but it hadn't gone through because the IBAN was incorrect. I told them that the IBAN code was for my credit card account and that the credit card number should be used as the reference, otherwise it would not be recognised. It then went a bit strange!

On 25th October I got this…

Thank you for your email.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we were unable to answer your inquiry in time. Please accept our apologies.

Your refund is on its final stage of being wired to your account, it took a longer period to refund due to the high volume of refunds to be handled.

Yours sincerely,

Filipe
KLM Refund Team

2 days later I got this…

Thank you for your e-mail.

I took a look at the request and noticed that it was already handled on 10th October, but the payment was rejected by your bank. Could you maybe check with your bank why the payment was rejected, please? I will also check with our payment department here for clarification, and will let you know as soon as I receive their answer.

I apologize for the inconvenience and hope for your patience.

Kind regards,

Susanna
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Meanwhile, my Twitter communication with them was completely ignored so I tried live chat. They then pointed me in the direction of their Facebook page. This is what followed…

·        Could you look into the following CHAT and provide the payment reference number? Regards. Mike Madden
·       Rogier R: Hi there!
·       Me: Hello. I have submitted a request online but had no response. I would like to know when my refund Ticket / PNR number 8214752101 will be paid. Regards. Mike Madden
·       Rogier R: Hello Mike Madden
·       Rogier R: Did you also receive a refund request ID?
·       Me: I received that on 15th September. 29 days ago!
·       Rogier R: Alright
·       Rogier R: One moment please
·       Rogier R: It seems that an amount of GBP503 has been transferred to your bank account
·       Rogier R: You didn't receive this yet?
·       Me: No - it should have been transferred to my credit card account but I have not received it
·       Rogier R: I see that it was transferred to your bank account and not credit card account
·       Me: I understood you would only transfer it to the account from where the original payment was made. The IBAN code for this is probably that of my credit card provider - not my personal bank account. Any suggestions what to do next?
·       Rogier R: GB77MIDL40025031316044
·       Rogier R: Is the above correct?
·       Me: That is the bank account for my credit card provider (Tesco). Without a reference they would not be able to direct it to my account. The reference would be my credit card number (used at the time of payment).
·       Rogier R: I see that you've selected bank transfer as how the EMD was paid with
·       Rogier R: That clarifies the confusion
·       Rogier R: I kindly advise you to call your credit card provider in order to see what they can do
·       Me: Ok - do you have a payment reference?
·       Rogier R: One moment, please
·       Rogier R: I am not sure about the payment reference, we have to forward this internally
·       Rogier R: Would you be able to send us a message via Facebook?
·       Rogier R: Please copy this chat and request them to look into this and provide you the payment reference so you can contact your credit card provider
·       Me: Yes - I tried yesterday via Twitter and got no response!
·       Rogier R: That's strange. May I have your Twitter name?
·       Me: Tumbattle

   The response was received via Messenger...

10/14, 5:32pm
We will investigate this further and revert shortly, Mike.We have read through your conversation and are apologize for not being to pick your message from our twitter account. Stay put, we will be contacting you soon.
·         October 15
10/15, 12:50pm
Still here and still waiting....
·         October 15
10/15, 5:30pm
Mike, your file is currently under review and we appreciate your patience in the mean time. Rest assured we'll get back to you when we have more information and should you have any other questions, please don't hesitate contacting us again.
·         October 18
10/18, 1:32pm
Any update?
10/18, 2:40pm

Nothing as of now, Mike. Please be assured that we will be in touch with you as soon as we know of any new updates.

10/18, 2:49pm
What is your estimated completion? Or do I need to escalate?

10/18, 3:54pm
We can see that GBP 503 are approved to be refunded to your account. It's the matter of transferring the money.

10/18, 4:31pm
That is what happened previously. The account you have is my credit card providers bank account so you need my credit card number as reference. The choices are...1. Pay it back to the account used to make payment which is my credit card, and according to your website the only way you can make a refund. If you want to do this I am happy to supply my CC details again. 2. Pay it to my personal bank account - happy to provide details

10/18, 5:43pm
Please feel free to send us the details and we can check if we have the right ones on hand in the file.

10/18, 6:04pm
To pay to my credit card the IBAN is GB77MIDL40025031316044 and the reference is 111111111111111 To pay to my bank account (preferred) the IBAN is GB32MIDL404012111111111
10/18, 7:12pm
Your information is well received, Mike. We have forwarded it to the concerned department and they will do the needful. Should you have any further concerns or queries, just let us know, as we're more than happy to assist.
10/18, 7:13pm
Great thanks - just ask them to keep me informed!
10/18, 7:51pm
We will keep you posted.
·         October 25
10/25, 9:58am
Hmmm - nothing yet - and not much communication. Your customer service rating drops by the day!
10/25, 11:31am
As soon as we will have news, we will get back to you.
10/25, 12:07pm
Hello, Mike. We will immediately check this for you and get back to you at the earliest. We appreciate your time and patience.
·         October 26
10/26, 8:07am
Please allow this a bit more time, Mike. As we are awaiting a reply from our refunds department and this can take some time. We thank you once more for your patience and kind understanding with this. In the meantime, should you have any further inquires, please do not hesitate in reaching out to us. We're always here to help. :)
10/26, 8:10am
I will be escalating this through management and social media. You are an absolute shambles. Your website clearly states 20 days. My 'patience and kind understanding' has now run out. My next step is to file a legal claim which will incur interest and expenses on your part.
10/26, 8:44am
We are sorry you feel this way, Mike. Please keep in mind that we are doing our best to resolve this issue for you at the earliest.
Your utmost patience is very much appreciated.
10/26, 8:53am
Frankly, your best is proving to be not good enough. Look back at all of the messages you have sent me (Messenger and email) including the assertion that it is ready to go it just needs to be transferred. Remember, this is for a flight that was cancelled! So you (or Delta) have already screwed me once! This is compensation for that and you cant even get that right. I will give you 3 more hours (until 12 noon UK time) before I file a legal document. Then you will incur charges and interest.
10/26, 11:43am
We have spoken personally to our Refunds Department, Mike. We immediately sent a follow-up and we have been informed that they are all looking into this. We'll get back to you proactively about this. We would like to humbly seek for more patience.
10/26, 12:01pm
Same old story! Patience expired.
10/26, 12:17pm
Haha - now your Twitter team have responded. Shame your accounts team havent sprung into action. My legal counsel is standing by. Would you like her contact details? BTW - she is expensive!
10/26, 12:39pm
We certainly understand the situation, Mike. Rest assured, our Refunds Department is currently working on this. We will get back with an update as soon as possible.

My patience was wearing thin, so I emailed them this…
For your information this was emailed to me and submitted on 19th October!

Can someone just give me a call to discuss how we can get around your 'issues'?

Your customer service is appalling. I have been told that the delay is because there are a lot of refunds to process, the IBAN was incorrect (which I corrected), and now you tell me that my payment was rejected 17 days ago. That's hardly news!

Meanwhile, over on Twitter the following was happening…
@klm_uk How come you say allow up to 20 days for a refund but really you seem to take as long as you want?
@Tumbattle We apologize for the following delay for the refund, Micheal. Please help us with the refund request number for us to look >>
@Tumbattle >> into this and provide you with proper information. We remain at your disposal
@KLM_UK I have been personally assured that you are doing everything - but its simply not good enough.
@KLM_UK BTW - the fact that you spelt my name incorrectly does not exactly inspire me with confidence! .....
@Tumbattle We apologize for spelling your name incorrectly, Michael. We had no such intention to misspell your name incorrectly. We would >>
@Tumbattle >> request you to delete the tweet in which you have mentioned your refund request as it is confidential. Upon checking the >>
@Tumbattle >> request we see that you would still need to wait for some more time as the file is still in process.
@KLM_UK ...I will ensure that I spell 'KLM' correctly on the small claims forms
@KLM_UK finally, whilst I applaud comms via social media when is someone going to pick up the phone and tell me exactly what the problem is?
@Tumbattle We wish we could inform you of a specific time frame for the approval. However, we are only able to tell you that the request >>
@Tumbattle >> has been marked for approval. So, its at the final stage of the processing. Thank you for understanding.
@KLM_UK ...pardon my scepticism!
@Tumbattle We truly understand where you're coming from, Michael. Please know that the status of your refund is validated and it should >>
@Tumbattle << only be a matter of time until our Refund Team will contact you. Please bear with us a little bit more. Thank you.
@KLM_UK We can see that GBP 503 are approved to be refunded to your account. It's the matter of transferring the money. Received 18/10...
Meanwhile, back on email, on Halloween I got this…
Thank you for your e-mail.

I am sorry that it is taking so long to get your voucher refunded to you.

Could you confirm if the below details are correct, please?

- Name of the account holder: MICHAEL MADDEN
- IBAN code: GB32MIDL40401211111111
- City of account holder: HIGH PEAK

These are the details our refund department is using now that they try to process the payment again.


Once again, I apologize for all the inconvenience and look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Susanna
KLM Refund Team
On 3rd November I got a familiar email telling me that £503 would be refunded to my bank account.
A day later I got this…
Thank you for your email.

We have reviewed your refund request and see that we transferred a refund of GBP 503 today the 3rd
of November. Due to the processing time at banks, it may take up to 10 banking days before the money
is in your account.

We recommend that you check your statements for this period.

Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours sincerely,

Maria Elena
KLM Refund Team


Ten days! WTF? Do they have to print the money?
Finally, also on the 4th, I got this…

I just wanted to let you know that our refund department has processed the payment (again) yesterday
for your request BEF-4DE674B2E186. They confirmed that everything should go fine this time.

I hope to have informed you sufficiently and I am really sorry that it has taken so long time. If you have any questions, feel free to reply to this e-mail.

Yours sincerely,

Susanna
KLM Refund Team

Well, I thought it was ‘finally’, but on 6th I got this…

This is an automatic generated e-mail. Reactions to this e-mail  will be deleted
automatically. Please forward your questions / reactions to the relevant
Accounting Office in your city / country. Contact details in the footer below.

Payment id: 001000019421
Vendor id : 20031 - 000X902GQ4GH, MICHAEL MADDEN

We have instructed our bank to remit on the 9th of November 2016
by bank transfer the amount of 503,00 GBP on bank account
GB32MIDL40401211111111 according following specification.

Invoice-number           Invoice-date                   Invoice-amount
---------------------    ------------                   --------------
BEF-4DE674B2E186          19-10-2016                            503,00
                                                        --------------
                                                                503,00 GBP

Accounts Payable
So is that as well as the previous correspondence? I hope so. If they pay me twice I’m really going to have some fun!

I guess it’s a good thing for KLM that I am not a hormonal woman. As Zac rather plainly put it, ‘Yeah that’s why I sometimes get sent out of class for no reason, because the teacher’s having a period’.