Tag Archives: poor service

20140109 – Living The Dream

Thursday – cold, wet and miserable, as we leave Belthorn. Makes you appreciate reaching escape velocity.

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Yes we’re off on our great adventure to live the dream. 3 months skiing and living in Park City, Utah – the greatest little town in America, a veritable Sodom and Gomorrah in the midst of Mormon country. We’re renting a house for 8 months in my favourite town. Unfortunately with Visa, travel insurance and home insurance weasel words we have to come back every 90 days. So we’re back to sunny Belthorn in April, couple of weeks in France early May, then back out to PC for summer in the mountains June, July and August.  My dream. Awesome.

Manchester airport so much more relaxed in winter but still the usual crap and lobotomised, uniformed, little hitlers. But cheerful check in girl (not PC I suppose) and bacon butty man were the best thing about the airport. Someone, she shall remain nameless, had put a load of energy bars in my rucksack. Boy did that confuse the Xray geezer. Strip search me haversack, any moment now I can hear the sound of the rubber gloves slapping on!

Delta have changed our flight coming back. Flight arrives at 19:30 and next flight takes off at 19:05. Some mathematical genius there. Mind you at least they’ve given me 3 months notice so that I can train to be a Time Lord. That’s coming back so who cares?

Flight from Manchester to Atlanta was good, adequate leg room, just about tolerable, excellent service and they all smiled and seemed to enjoy their work.

Atlanta, well. What can you say. 40 minutes passport control and then 25 minutes TSA underwear scanning, peeving and long term sterilisation. Why we have to go through security again, only the Flying Spaghetti Monster knows. Perhaps they think the Delta flight crew were dishing out explosives and running bomb making classes on the flight over. Just more TSA madness.

Short drive up to Park City and we’re home.

Good news. A new study shows that drinking coffee is not bad for you. In fact, moderate coffee consumption appears to be mildly protective.
Based on this and other studies the most effective “dose” is two to five cups a day. More than that and any benefits drop off. Sadly I don’t know who conducted the study – possibly Starbucks!

Friday – cold (23 – 31F) and snowy (that’s what we’re praying / paying for).

Up a 06:30, cooking a cup of tea for Wendy. Mortar round explosions rippling through the mountains, IMG 2019 t’s either the Talibans attacking, or the Ski patrol out on avalanche control. Open the curtains to snow, snow, snow everywhere. It’s the proper stuff, none of that slush grey and black we seem to end up with. Mr Plough been out and done his job already. Roads are cleared, just a thin layer of compacted snow / ice, even our garage area is cleared.

Start the holiday with an all American breakfast at Squatters – awesome food.

Leisurely day getting settled in. 3 trips to Comcast to sort out Wifi. 1st they’re closed for lunch, that’s what you get employing French; 2nd no you need you’re property rental agreement to prove you exist – keh; 3rd terribly sorry computers down for the next 3 hours, by which time they’ll have pissed off home. Starting to make BT look good. Canadian customer summed them up when he said their service was totally crap in Canada and is just as crap here. That’s good quality control for you, consistency. Takes a lot of effort to be consistently bad.

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Wendy hits the supermarket whilst I take care of the important things. State liquor store to get some essential supplies; bank to get some dollars to pay rent. Ask how much I can draw out? “As much as you have in.” “what no daily limits?” “No it’s your money, why should we stop you spending it.” My sort of bank.

Meanwhile some more PC terms to help me become a good brainless PC liberal:

Fail – achieve a deficiency.

Fat – Differently Weighted; gravitationally challenged; horizontally challenged; horizontally gifted; People of Mass; person of substance

Fictional / Mythological – ontologically challenged

Freshman – first-year student

Full of Crap – fecally plenary

Gang – Youth Group

Garbage Man – sanitation engineer

Gas Station Attendent – petroleum transfer technician 

Geek, Nerd, whatever… – socially challenged

Ghetto / Barrio – Ethnically Homogenous Area

Saturday – cold blue sky day.

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In the lift queue at 08:50 for the Eagle lift. May be a bit slow. May be a tad antediluvian – pre-dates Noah. But, it gets you to some of the best skiing quicker than doing the multiple hi-speed 6 packs that most tourists do. Yes, I’m a local this year.

Have a few runs to get back in the swing of things. Then meet up with Carol for a great bluebird mornings skiing. 

Feeling very at home on these skies, just as if it was only yesterday I was on them. Then I have a couple of falls. Mind you given that it was like skiing in a war zone, with all the mortars going off to clear avalanches, it’s enough to make anyone jump out of their ski boots.

That’s it these new skis are going back. Well at least the left one is. It seems to be demonically possessed, about as obedient as a half brained spaniel. Why is it trying to copulate with the right ski? Two falls in one day is more than a full seasons worth. Embarrassing, especially the first, I was only doing about 2mph. If I’d have gone another foot before stopping a parachute would have been handy. 2nd was a tad more spectacular as I did an impression of a star fish sliding down a mountain.

Perhaps I should have done more than 1 days pre-ski exercises, rather than relying on 3 months IMG 0699skiing to get fit. Who knows perhaps by March I might have full control of my left leg.

In the afternoon I take on the ultimate challenge to my sanity and ring Comcast to sort the TV and set up Internet. They obviously don’t want to be bothered with new customers, takes me 15 minutes to find a phone number. Abandon hope all you who ring this number. 3 calls, 4 people and 2 hours 15 later I’ve got it all set up – allegedly, although the proof will be Monday when I try and pick up the modem. By now I’ve totally lost the plot and the will to live. They are so bad I just can’t describe it. But at least now I know why they have a service called “Infinity”. It’s because their service is infinitely worse than any anyone else. That includes BT. Just imagine your worst BT nightmare experience and multiply it by infinity and you still don’t get even with a lightyears distance of how bad they are. Time to rattle a CEO’s cage.

Sadly there’s no alternative.

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As we’ve got Comcast cable TV set up, it comes free with our new home, we decide to have a flick through the channels to see whats worth watching. By the time we’ve gone through all 950 channels it’s time for bed and we’ve found nothing of merit to watch.I think I’d rather watch the CBBeebies with a blindfold on and the sound on mute, than some of the wasted photons produced by some of the USA TV channels. The adverts are just another excess, but they’re that lengthy at least you can cook a 3 course meal during each interval.

More PC terms:

Hamburger – Seared Mutilated Animal Flesh

Handicapped – Differently Abled, Handi-Capable

Having PMS – cyclically challenged

Hearing Person – temporarily aurally abled

Homeless – outdoor urban dwellers; residentially flexible; Mortgage-Free Living 

Housebroken – Family Disfunction

Housewife – domestic engineer

Hunter – Animal Assassin; Bambi Butcher; Meat Mercenary

Sunday – cold, snowing and howling a gale.

Do a good imitation of a nesh, lethargic chicken and stay in. With snow, 30mph winds and gust up to IMG 2045 0mph there’s a good chance they’ll shut a lot of the lifts down, so I do the sensible but boring thing, stay home and win some browny points with Wendy.

After lunch Wendy tempts me to an alternate orgasmic excitement. A trip to Walmart and TJ Max . Somehow doesn’t compete with the excitement of skiing in a howling snow storm; swinging 100 foot up in a 6 man chair; being roped down when the chair stops because it’s too windy. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) for iPhone and 3’s Feel At Home Service which means I can at least access As Much As You Can Eat Data here in the USA. Can even watch BBC from iPhone to ITV to main TV.

Monday – cold, windy and some snow round.

Do you ever wonder about the difficult life choices you have to make:

Option 1 – 9″, that’s 225 mm to those not classically educated, of fresh, white, fluffy, virgin snow to ski on. 

Option 2 – go to Comcast to sort internet (vitally important); then drive down to Costco for some orgasmic isle and trolley duelling; then Ikea. Have to do this today as tomorrow we are poor and car less.

Hang on there’s another option. 

Option 3 – I go skiing and Wendy drives down to Salt Lake to do the rest. 

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So which is it to be?

Go for option 2, wins me some extra browny points for my remaining 3 months skiing.

Start with Comcast. There at opening time to pick up a wifi modem. “I don’t believe it”, the lobotomised girl with the personality of a granite boulder (why would anybody employ anyone so miserable and uninviting) can’t get the storeroom open. Her key won’t work. I offer to break the door down for her but she’s not enamoured with the idea.

We’re going down to Salt lake so I’ll pick one up from their. What’s their excuse going to be? Turns out they don’t have one – unbelievable. At least the guy there has a personality and a brain so we discuss the pricing options and he manage to get $50 pm to $25, gives us a shed load more channels to flick through so we probably won’t get to bed until the early hours. But best of all set us up with a free, my sort of word, trial of all HBO for 3 months.

Then it’s off to Costco. Our account has been cancelled for some reason but assistant is most helpful IMG 2036 nd gives us a day pass. Wow what a place. It’s like Asda on steroids and very cheap. We stock up for 6 months on all the major consumable. Must work out about 30% cheaper overall than you best supermarket bargains. But alas they don’t sell tea. Finally manage to get our overloaded trolley to checkout. Come to pay and Wendy’s Master card not  accepted; plan B other master card rejected; plan C my master card rejected. Getting to be fun now. Plan D Chase Debit card – accepted. Obviously don’t like UK cards.

Then it’s off down to Ikea for a free Friends and family coffee and Wendy has some lunch. Unlike UK Ikea’s they have everything in we want – quite refreshing.

Call back into PC Comcast an pick up wifi modem and ADT box. They’ve finally managed to open the storeroom.

Evening spent setting up wifi and extended TV channels. Suffice it to say the saga continues. Instructions are wrong. Oh yes says the call centre lass, with a giggle, we get that a lot, they are confusing – soups spoons for breakfast if you ask me. 4 calls to “Help Lines”. Finally figure out they’ve given me a black ADT, when HBO needs a silver DCT. Oh well another chance to pop in for some stimulating banter with the granite boulder in the Comcast store.

Well we said it would be great to come and live here and experience America and Comcast has certainly been one of those experiences. If you think BT are bad then Comcast takes poor service to a whole new inter galactic level of unimaginable incompetence and frustration, just one visit / interaction generates enough material for a comedy show. I now understand where the Comcast genii in their marketing department came up with the Xfinity logo. Simple. It stars for take the worst possible service you can imagine and multiply it by  infinity and you have a measure of the quality of our service – Xfinity. I can feel a ranting ode to rattle the CEO’s cage coming on.



20120628 – Last Days in France

Thursday – too hot and sunny.

Camp siteWell it looks like we both provided a feast to some starving mosquitos yesterday. One day later we can see how many bites. That’ll teach us to go walking by the river on a humid day without the benefits of Deet or having had marmite butties the previous day.

It’s so hot it makes you appreciate why shaded pitches are so popular over here. We’ve just booked for August 18th next year but are now wondering whether we’ll cope. Unlike Arizona it can be a very humid heat – very debilitating.

Spend the morning doing the nerdy things. Crack off my first Ajax and PHP web pages. Really excited, sad but who cares.

In the afternoon I escort Wendy to her weekly highlight at the InterMarche. Achieve my mission objective (2 dozen bottles of wine) within 5 minutes so for being such a good boy I disappear to the cafe for a coffee and some iPad time. Wendy’s no doubt mightily relieved as she doesn’t have to drag a bored complaining husband around.

In the evening we go round to Dot and Barry’s patio for drinks. Two bottles of wine and 4 hours later it still in the mid twenty’s as we stagger back for bread and cheese.

Snazzy games title introduced:

The Stressful Life of Salman Rushdie and Implementation of his Verdict is the title of the game being developed by the Islamic Association of Students, a government-sponsored organisation which announced this week it had completed initial phases of production.

News of the computer game came as Tehran played host to the country’s second International Computer Games Expo. Press TV, Iran’s English language propaganda channel said (maybe alluding to the Salman Rushdie fatwa game):

The organisers considered the event as an opportunity to introduce Iranian culture, value and Islamic identity to international computer games designers and producers.

Little has been revealed about the game but its title suggests players will be asked to implement Khomeini’s call for the killing of Rushdie.

Car for saleHmm Iranian culture, that sounds interesting, perhaps they’ll do one called “Stoned” where you’ll get the virtual chance to stone someone to death or “chopper” where you get the chance to do virtual amputations or flogging – all in the name of the religion of peace.

Friday – warm, sun and cloud.

At last my claims that coffee is good for you have been vindicated. Recent studies show that;

Coffee found to boost muscles in the elderly helping them maintain their strength and reduce their chances of falling and injuring themselves.

Two cups of coffee a day can reduce the risk of heart failure and

Consuming caffeine has also been linked to improved thinking processes and improved memory skills in later life.

It looks like us silver surfers need to get knocking back the coffees – get the Blue Sumatra out. Now we need more research on red wine and German lagers.

Thouars churchThankfully it’s a bit cooler so we manage to clean half of the caravan. My view is we should leave the other half to next year.

Saturday – warm, sun and cloud with an odd sprinkle.

Manage to clean the other half of the caravan while it’s not too hot.

Now you’re probably all aware by now of the new edict in France that means you have to carry an unused breathalyser in the car. Comes into effect 1st July. Of course you expect that this would be a merchandising gold mine and you wouldn’t be able to get into a SuperMarche or Pharmacy without falling over massive display stands flogging them at exorbitant prices. Wrong. You can’t seem to get them anywhere. But then again this is France. My conclusion is this. Firstly they’re not enterprising. Secondly, and probably more significantly, they know that no self respecting Frenchman is going to bother, it’s just another rule / law to be ignored, it doesn’t really apply to them.

Thouars artworkApparently eating a handful of pistachio nuts a day can help reduce the damage done to the body by acute stress, scientists say. The nuts help lower blood pressure and heart rate in difficult situations. Just what we need to cope with this stressful life. Wendy’s OK with this but she wants them ready shelled. I can understand wanting Trout ready filleted, but come on shelling some nuts is not that difficult – even I can manage it.

Why will I never go to Saudi Arabia:

A Saudi man has been beheaded on charges of supposed sorcery and witchcraft, the state news agency SPA says. The execution took place in the southern Najran province..

The victim, Muree bin Ali bin Issa al-Asiri, was found in possession of books and talismans. He had also admitted adultery with two women, it said. Asiri was beheaded after his sentence was upheld by the country’s highest courts.

Human rights groups have repeatedly condemned executions for witchcraft in Saudi Arabia.

Amnesty International says the country does not formally classify sorcery as a capital offence.

Museum of Resistance & LiberteIs this really the 21st Century?

Sunday – warm and sunny.

Lazy day. Well it is the sabbath!

Cycle into town for some croissants from the bakery. I think they must be giving it away judging by the length of the queue.

Drinks on our patio with Barry and Dot – after 17:00 of course. Try some wine tasting as obviously one bottle will not suffice.

Monday – cloudy but warm.

Clean the car in the morning and take some photos whilst it’s immaculate ready for selling in AutoTrader.

Drive up to Thouars to visit the World War 2 Resistance Museum (Resistance & Liberte).

Receptionist at the museum is classic all that bad about this country. There’s only us there. She asks”just a Arrogant French twatmoment” and then proceeds to do her filing – it’s a wonder it wasn’t her nails – and complete some paperwork. After a few minutes of this charade I’m ready to blast her and vote with my feet. She finally deigns to serve us. Offer her a credit card. Complete look of incredulity – I explain to Wendy she’s obviously never seen one of these before. Where do they get these people from. No concept of customer service. A brown envelope and swift kick up the arse as she’s booted out the door is the best solution. Picture on right is symbolic of all that is bad about France

Museums quite interesting with English audio guide. Thoaurs was the centre for resistance in WW2 and the RAF dropped supplies to the resistance movement. Of course that explains why the large roundabout which has loads of National flags up, including the German flag, does not have a Union Jack or Stars and Stripes! Personally I’ve no problem with the German flag, I’d rather be in Germany any day than with these snail munchers, but I find the lack of a union jack just bloody typical. Why did all those British and Americans give their lives freeing this country from the Jackboot? Why didn’t they just land in Belgium; free the rest of Europe and bypass France.  “A lovely country spoilt by the French”. Such a pity the other countries in Europe aren’t nearer with better weather then we could give these a miss.

Thouars another churchThouars is a horrible town. Full of run down empty shops, even worse than Blackburn or Warrington – now thats as bad as it gets. If you don’t trip up over the mountains of chewing gum on the pavement  you tread into the valleys of dog muck everywhere.

Wendy’s obviously been quietly studying wines and how they are categorised. We’re talking about one I want to try again. “oh I know it’s in a tall bottle”!

Lets celebrate the Hadron collider has finally found the Higgs Boson – the God Particle.

Evening on Barry’s patio for drinks.

Tuesday – warm, sun and cloud.

Awning down and cleaned. Mats up and cleaned just in case it rains Thursday – female logic.

Apart from that a lazy day. Good news is it’s bread and cheese for dinner.