Saturday, December 24, 2005

The truth hurts but retail therapy heals

Okay, so it was the last day at work before Christmas and we finished at 1pm.

I'm still a bit under the weather so thought I'd head home and have a well earned(!) nap.

As I walked home past the hustle and bustle of the last minute Christmas shopper crowd I thought about how this can be a challenging time of year for me. Christmas is a time for family, love it or hate it but I have none. I see friends and colleagues disappear off out of London or travelling abroad to meet up with their nearest and dearest and I couldn't help but feel a bit meloncholic that here I was going home, alone to have a nap.

That was when I got a text message from an old friend of mine (let's just call her Ami, cause it's short) who wanted to meet up for a few drinks as she was finishing early too. "Great!", I thought, "just what the doctor ordered!"

Me and Ami had known each other for over seven years. We used to work together back when I got my first job out of Uni and apart from my old boss too we are the only ones that meet up every few months or so for a meal and a few drinks after work, to catch up on old times and generally talk bullshit.

Problem is....I have been nursing a crush on her since I knew her but she's engaged to some bloke, who I have never met, but is built like a brick-shit house. And that coupled with the fact that I was really feeling sorry for myself that evening could only have spelt d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r!

To cut a long yarn short, after a few drinks I blurted out how I felt. I don't think she took it that well. It was awkward to say the least. I haven't heard from her since *sigh*

Can a man and a woman be "just" friends? I hope that we can again...

Binge drinking on Friday didn't do anything for my temperature either. I got home last night, hit the pillow and was asleep in seconds but woke up around 3am unable to get back to sleep again.

I watched a bit of TV, read a bit but for some reason, my brain wouldn't switch off. Over the past week I've toyed with the idea of getting hold of an XBox 360 from e-bay and at 4am, for some reason this seemed like a good idea to follow up on again. Retail therapy perhaps?

I had actually tried unsuccessfully during the week twice but each time the price goes from something reasonable (just 30 pounds over retail) to over 100-150 pounds up in the last minute of bidding. There was no way I was going to pay over the odds for something that I could buy in February for normal retail price.

But, boy, I struck lucky this night. Somebody with a good rating seemed to be really eager to make a quick sell on Christmas Eve so long as whoever bought it could pick it up that day.

So, result! I managed to get a shiny new XBox360 and 3 games (he did seem desperate for the money) for normal retail price! The guy didn't appear dodgy. He was a friendly French guy who said that he'd bought 3 and kept one for himself.

Hehe. I met him at Southfields train station (by Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Club, as the automated voice on the tube announced as the train pulled in.) He opened up the box, showed me the contents and the games and all appeared fine.

I wore my long black coat, hoodie and black wool hat to (try to) look hard in case he did turn out to be a dodgy geezer. At least I'd look a lot less like an easy score.

Anyhow, got the console home and all is fine. It makes a nice Christmas present for myself. Woo hoo!

Unfortunately Microsoft have only provided a cheapo cable to connect the console to the TV and so I spent the rest of Christmas Eve trying to avoid the humungous crowds in Central London whilst trying to find the "Advanced" version of the cable that gives you awesome picture quality and surround sound. I went to 11 places and walked miles.

It was sold out EVERYWHERE!

I can understand how the console was in short supply and sold out so quickly, but the cables too ? Come on, how long can it take to get a few more of those into the shops???

As it is, I had to rely on E-bay again to buy one *sigh* I should get it next week.

Anyway, despite us having a cold spell a few weeks ago, today was actually quite mild , so there is absolutely no chance of us having a white Christmas. So to get into the Christmas-y spirit, here's London as it was two years ago.

Lovely and snow covered :)

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Take care and try not to eat too much! Yeah, right(!)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

January the fourth!

That's the earliest I can expect NTL to pay a visit to me to connect my phone. *sigh*
Will they even frigging turn up? Who knows. But it's got to be better than BT's February reconnection.

I usually ring my relatives in Hungary up over Christmas. If they try to ring me they'll get a dead tone so I'll have to bite the bullet (cost-wise) and ring them up on my mobile this year.

I'm still not feeling well but forced myself to write my Christmas cards and go outside to post them off. I discovered that cold, fresh air feels nice when you have a temperature.

Anyway, it's not as if I could put them off any longer! Normally I'd have them gone at least a fortnight ago but kept on putting it off and then I got this stupid flu.

One of my old uni mates sent me a nice card with a photo of his kids in. He's the same age as me and is married with two kids..... Sometimes I feel that life is passing me by. Hmmmmm.

On the good side of things, the few presents that I had to get were all bought in plenty of time thanks to the marvel of the internet and Amazon next day deliveries and I've had time to wrap them all up ready.

I may even get around to sticking my fibre optic, fabuloso changing colours Christmas tree up this week, just to get into the right vibe before the weekend.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Hanging On The Telephone

So I've been off sick today and Bulgarian Bert the NTL engineer didn't turn up....

In fact nobody did *sigh*

At all!

I shouldn't be surprised really. It turns out that the woman in NTL Customer Services who booked my appointment did so on the wrong system and the installation department didn't know anything about it!

This was the last straw. I rang up BT to try to re-connect. You see all those adverts about all the people who reconnect being welcomed back into open arms?

Well, I'm obviously not one of them!

- "Yes, sir, we can do that for you. How does February sound?"

- "Excuse Me? Did you just say February? NTL haven't actually got around to my flat to do anything yet, I just need my number ported back."

- "The computer tells me that somebody in the exchange has to do some work to port you back. And the computer is my god, (she actually said that!) it's always right. They're very busy with all the customers who are coming back to BT"

- "But I have no phone whatsoever now. I want a phone line.....please?"

- "So shall I go ahead and book that for February?"

- "Click"

That was the sound of me hanging up.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Time an arrow. Fruit a banana.

ACK! Where did my week go? And can I have it back? I kind-of need it...

Well, some stupid cold has caught up with me this weekend after I got back from seeing the excellent 'King Kong' down the flicks yesterday morning.

Since then I've not left the house....not even once. It's runny snot city and cough central at the moment with me and I have a raging temperature. *sigh*

I was due to go to a Black-Eyed Peas gig tonight but couldn't even do that :(

At least, you'll be pleased to hear that my Hotmail Plus issue got sorted last week. (sort of). I had a few more robotic replies along the lines of the previous posts and just as I was at the end of my tether, I got a reply from someone who wasn't a robot (or else was very good AI but then this is Microsoft that we're talking about, so probably not.)

They gave me a UK number to call! Alleluiah!

And in 5 minutes the issue was sorted. They had to credit me the joining fee and then get me to rejoin though.

Unfortunately my online bank statement says otherwise. No credit, just debit. *sigh*

Remain calm...breath slowly....too ill to care at the moment.

The next episode of the NTL muppet show that is Bulgarian Bert and his Supervisor Superfluous Ernie are due to pay me a visit tomorrow morning too to actually connect up my phone (more than 2 weeks after their original visit and 2 months after I ordered it!)

Much badness is that they are due between 8:30 and 9am. *sigh* Just when I needed a lie in.

I sooooo hope that they bring the keys to the switch box this time...Can you imagine Bulgarian Bert turning up a third time and saying "Sorrrrrry. I no rrrrrealise same flat......again."

!!!Slaaaaaaammmmmmmm!!! Squeeeeelch!!!!

That's the sound of his foot in my door as I slam it in his face. For added effect, perhaps I should look up some Bulgarian swear words tonight? Hmmm, this should do the job.

Anyway, fingers crossed it all turns out better. My TiVo box that relies on dialing up to get programme guides has now run out and I have had to be extra careful to ensure that my mobile is charged up else I go all incommunicado.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Mr. Alex

Hello Mr. Alex,
Thank you for writing back to Microsoft Passport Network Technical Support.
I am Paolo and I understand that you are having an issue regarding MSN Hotmail Plus.
I would like to apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused you.
I know how important this matter is to you and I would like to take
this opportunity to assist your concern.

Mr. Alex, to help you reach the customer support for United Kingdom,
please follow the instructions I have provided below:

1. Go to
2. Sign in with your MSN Messenger email address and password to view the available
support options for Customer Service.
If you have any other concerns or inquiries, feel free to write back.

Microsoft Passport Network Technical Support

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Damn! Microsoft IS run by robots!

Dear Alex,

Thank you for writing back to Microsoft Passport Network Technical Support.
My name is Alma and I understand that you are having an issue with your Hotmail Plus account
reverted to an ordinary account.

I know how important it is to resolve your issue and I will be assisting you.

Alex, to resolve your issue, please call (866) 672 4551 or go to :

We appreciate the time you spent in sending us your inquiry.
Please feel free to write back if you have any Microsoft Passport Network related concerns.


Microsoft Passport Network Technical Support


A much more polite e-mail has been sent to Microsoft to resolve a problem that I have been having with them for the past few days. This is the e-mail that I wished I had sent:

Hello Edlyn, Shiela, Patrick, Dennis, Ryan Rick and whatever other stupid names the automatic Microsoft Technical Support name generation software comes up with for all my e-mails. I shall start to refer to you from now on as Zarg.

Thank you for writing back to me. I am a disgruntled customer who is very confused by the e-mails that I am receiving from Microcrap. Please read my e-mail and don't ignore this as you have done the previous ones.

- Are you all robots with dodgy versions of Windows 3 installed?
- Why haven't you upgraded to Windows 2005?
- Can you understand any of what I am saying?
- Has your support been outsourced to Uzbekistan or some other country where they don't understand English?

Zarg, my issues are:

1) My Hotmail Plus account that has been active for over two years and that was renewed on September the 9th (with the money already out of my account) and has been working fine post-renewal until December the 5th is still not working. You already know this because I have been stating this simple fact in every bloody e-mail that I have sent to the black hole that is your support department.

2) My support call has been passed from department to department, backwards and forwards for the past week. Contact MSN support, Hotmail support, Hotcrap Plus support, Pissport support and back again. You're all the same bloody person/robot/computer, so why hasn't it been dealt with yet?

3) Suggesting that I call a US number to resolve this when I live in the UK is no freaking good to me. Microsoft is an international company. Or is geek-speak in Microsoft US not backwardly compatible with the UK version? Bloody hell(!), could you f'ing forward a UK number to me. Or are telephones too retro for you too?

4) Your customer service so far has been sooooo bad. As I have said, each time that I write an e-mail, the robotic reply is to ring a number in the US or else contact the department that asked me to contact you. So, can you please let me know to whom I should complain (preferably not a telephone number in the USA.)

c-o-m-p-l-a-i-n Please take the time to look that up in your English translation dictionary. You might learn something.

5) Zarg, I am getting a strong suspicion that I am not being taken seriously. Forgive me if I am wrong but the level of customer support that I am receiving is not adequate for such a simple query.

I am keeping copies of all the e-mails going backwards and forwards. I hope that this state of affairs will not persist much longer. Or are you having a Christmas (ooops, sorry, non-religious denomination holidays) laugh at my expense??!!

Thank you for taking the time to process this e-mail Zarg. I know that you'll only ignore it but hey, you can't blame a weak human for trying(!)

Yours Pissed Off,

Alex (Soon to be an ex-customer at this rate)


Haha....I bet that title got your attention!

Hmmm, trying out a long exposure shot of traffic outside the window at work.

Too tired to blog....
Darn, should have logged in earlier(!)

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Boy! Saturday was fun. About about a month ago I realised that I could save a bit of money if I switched from my current phone company (BT) to one that also provides my cable (NTL), The only weekend that they could make it was this weekend. (I wasn't really in the mood to use up holiday time just to get my line switched.)

They give you the usual time slot (AM, in my case) and I waited. To my surprise the engineer turned up at 9:30. Wow! He should be donw in no time and I can have the day free to go out and do stuff.

Okay, so he's only looks about eighteen and is from Eastern Europe (or somewhere that gives him a thick accent with lots of rolled rrrrrs.) I have to listen hard to understand what he is saying. I'd even tidied up the flat the night before (long overdue) chucked out loads of old magazines and bills and stuff (through until 3am!) and pushed the TV out a bit so that he could get to the phone socket. My TV is mega-heavy so I thought that if he needed more space to work, we could probably shift it out more together (it takes's THAT heavy).

He took a look at where the socket was and asked, "Do you know where the main switch box for the aparrrrrrrtments arrrrre?" (rolling Rs, remember?)

This wasn't a good sign. It meant that he'd never been to my apartments before (engineers in the past who'd known where to find the main swu=itch generally impressed me in the past as they knew what they were on about) but I knew where the cabinet for this was (ground floor).

We headed down and I pointed it out to him.
- "Errrr, I don't have a key for this. Do you have a key for this?"
- "No, the engineers generally bring them with them. It's a utility cupboard. I don't have access."
- "I will have to ring superrrrvisorrrr."
- *sigh* "Okay"

He goes out. Obviously can't make the call in front of me. He comes back in.
- "Superrrvisorrrr says that managerrrr in flats have key?"
- "Errrrrrm, no, there is no managerrrrr (he had me doing it now!) The engineer always bring the keys."
- "I call superrrrvisorrrr again"

So off he went, outside again. Ten mintes later he knocks on my front door.
- "Someone come with key laterrrrr."
- "When, later???"
- "About two hourrrr"

Okay, so it was still early. I had planned to hang around in the morning anyway.
Obvious what happens next, really. Nobody came. I rang up NTL mid afternoon and they said that someone was still coming. There wasn't much point complaining yet as it wasn't anything to do with the person on the other end of the call.

Six o' clock came, and still no sign. I ring customer services again.
- "NTL customer services is now closed. Normal Saturday hours are 8am until 5pm"


Must remain calm. Breath in....Breath out.....

Boy, was I pissed off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have wasted an entire day of my weekend waiting for some stupid muppet who never turned up. And to top it all off, when people ring me up, they hear ringing but the phone doesn't ring at my end!

There is probably eff all chance of them contacting me to rearrange. And I am out for the next few weekends anyway. If they can't agree to a fixed time in the evening over the next week I am going to be.......Grrrrrrrrr!