Saturday, 9 August 2014


My body weight doesn’t grow or shrink much, but there’s so much of me that I change shape in quite dramatic fashion. 4 days a week I’ll do a 10 minute warm-up on my rowing machine, followed by a 3 mile walk with Lady Dog. On the Snapper's day off I sweat for a two hours mowing the lawn.

All good and triff, as long as the rowing machine isn’t broken. A month ago the belt went, and now my body is falling to bits. No, sorry, my bits are still intact and attached, but everything has fallen out. 

Watching tele with my arms resting on my belly is not good for morale. Buttons zinged off 2 pairs of trousers that were giving me an inch of spare air only a fortnight ago. Worst of all, pecs the size of small continents are inexorably morphing back into what my beloved wife once described as 

“14 year-old nubile breasts.”

There cannot be a less attractive look.

So off I went to find a new rowing machine pronto. Visiting a major catalogue store’s website I found a €490 piece of kit on special offer, going for €220. Great! I’d simply drive into Galway City and buy it, but first I needed to check whether it was in stock.

I clicked on the drop-down menu beside ‘Check stock in your area’ - entered ‘Galway’ and up came a big tick and words saying ‘In Stock’. On the other side of the window it advised me that if I wanted home delivery, it would be done in 10 days.

But I neither needed nor wanted home delivery, as the rowing machine was in stock in Galway.

Eager to look more like a man than a schoolgirl, I drove into the city, filled out the slip in the shop and presented it to the checkout server, who said I couldn’t buy this rowing machine in the shop. 

When I told him I’d just driven all the way into the city because their website specifically said it was in stock in Galway, he assured me that yes, it was in stock, in a warehouse in England. If I wanted it I’d have to go for home delivery, but I’d have it within two weeks. 

Living in an obscure spot, I try to avoid home delivery at all costs. I pointed out that everywhere I looked delivery times were estimated within 10 days. He shrugged. I asked him to go to the product’s website page and follow my click trail, which he did and then said:

“Oh yes. I can see why you thought it might be in stock.”

Why I thought that? 

Why I thought that a search for stock in their Galway shop resulting in ‘In Stock!’ showing below a great big tick might lead me to believe it was in stock in Galway?

I paid for the item and went over to the shop’s customer service counter, where the server told me she couldn’t help me as I needed customer service. Standing back I pointed to the sign above my head and then she explained that customer service for the website was different. I showed her my website journey once again and she said that it was confusing.

“It’s not confusing,” I assured her, “It’s just wrong; a lie.”

Back at home I called to set up my delivery and was told that the next available delivery date was just under 4 weeks later. Worse, it was coming on a Friday, sometime between 7:30 am and 6:00pm - a window that in this day and age is anachronistic and ridiculous,

Holding my breath I told her that Fridays are busy days in my life and to be stuck in all day would prove extremely inconvenient. I asked if the driver could leave it at the garage in the village, to which I was told that yes, that could be arranged, but this delivery would then have to be cancelled and a new delivery organised, and the nearest date for that delivery might be even further away.

At this point I sort of lost it. I told her that nobody expects their customers to wait in an entire day any more. Their customer service ethic and delivery service was stuck in the 1970s.

So I called their customer service team to make a complaint and after waiting a long time in the queue I spoke to a woman who was frankly pretty confrontational. Unlike the staff in the store, she adamantly refused to see that the website was at fault. She raised her voice and dug her feet in. I asked to speak to her supervisor and she was much more conciliatory, yet could not offer me any solution. 

Later that day I received a call from a UK number on my Irish mobile, so I didn’t answer. The message left advised me to call urgently about this order, as some new information was available. 

Believing it possible that someone had worked miracles, I sat on the phone, waiting in long queues all that afternoon and twice the following morning, until eventually I got through to a human, only to be advised that they had no idea why I’d been asked to call, because there was nothing new. 

They said I’d probably got a call from the automatic dialler. 
Great! More valuable hours wasted waiting on the phone for no reason whatsoever.

So I pressed my magic button, available only to those willing to make enough noise or write about consumer debacles in newspapers.

Within a couple of hours of sending an email to their media department, the entire matter was resolved.

The rowing machine arrives next week, for which my body and those around me are truly grateful.

What bugs me though, each time things like this happen, is that if they can do it for me, just because I’m threatening to write about it, why can’t they do it for everyone?

Charlie Adley

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