Shoe voodoo

Last night I went shoe shopping. I normally buy shoes in outdoor stores. They tend to stock hiking-type shoes which suit my lifestyle, plus I don't wear bright white shoes. Ugh.

Anyway, I'm going through all the stock and the sales guy is telling me why some pairs were worth £80 or more. Oh yeah, such-and-such high-tech feature. Of course you read the blurbs on these high-tech features, and it's just marketing bullshit. "x technology means we design for maximum durability and performance using space-age materials and..." wank wank wank.

The daggy thing I ended up doing was this: I bought the same shoes I'd walked in with. I tried on heaps of these high-tech new designs, but none was as comfortable as the ones I'd already owned, and I know they're durable and good for long hikes! They were also cheaper. Daggy huh?

I fought Easycar and won (for now)

A month or so ago, I tried to hire a car from Easycar. First mistake, of course, with their ridiculous policies and puny (100km/day) mileage allowance. But anyway, I attempted to do it.

I use Mozilla to browse the web, which has no problems with nearly all sites these days. Easycar's site seemed to work fine but, for some reason, at the very last stage of booking, it crashes. So I got that far with my booking, and no further. I hadn't finalised the booking, so I just gave up.

A few days later, I thought I'd try it again, this time booking a longer hire as my parents wanted to drive around England a bit more after our weekend away. The browser crashed again at the last stage, so I gave up and rented from a company without such ridiculous policies for not too much more money.

So a few days later I'm looking at my bank statement online and notice two payments from Easycar. Odd, I think, since I haven't received any emails or anything from them thus far. Going to their site and logging in, however, I discover that there are indeed two bookings under my name. Opening the bookings at this point also seems to trigger the confirmation emails, which are sent at that point.

Not wanting three cars, I decide to cancel the Easycar bookings. Of course Easycar have a policy of not allowing cancellations, despite the fact that they don't have this right under consumer law. So I fill in a problem ticket on their online help system. I'd phone them, but the only number they publish charges 60p/minute for the privilege of sorting out their fuckups!

Two days later, I've still received nothing from them over there online system, nor heard from them. I'm fed up by this point and can see I'm just going to hear nothing and will have to exercise my consumer rights. Digging around, the only fax number I can find is the one you're supposed to use for damage reports. I fax them a formal letter cancelling both bookings, pointing out my right to do so under the EU Distance Selling Directive (which, of course, Easycar are trying to weasel out of), and the fact that the order wasn't actually finalised and there are faults in their system. As a precaution, I also sent it by registered post to the address listed for them at Companies House, so they can have no excuse of not receiving it at the appropriate place.

Of course, I still haven't heard a peep from these clowns. It's the height of rudeness that they don't even bother to respond to ANY communications. If this were to end up in court, I suspect the judge would rule in my favour just due to the fact that I made so many attempts at communication and they ignored them all.

So I sent a fax to my bank, explaining all this. They have summarily refunded my money, put the transactions in dispute and asked Easycar to explain. I know how these things (chargebacks) work from my time working in mail order. Easycar would have to present a pretty damn strong case to get the money back from the banks without resort to the courts.

Regardless, I now have my money back and the ball is in Easycar's court. If their communications with the bank are anything like their communications with their customers, they'll just ignore the chargeback notification and lose the money. Good.

If you're in dispute with Easycar, let me know how you get on. I'm curious.

Can you find something more brain damaged?

I'm thinking of getting a driving licence, so I check out this site from the Automobile Association. And they have this little gem of idiocy:

Get a £24 discount when you sign up for lessons online.
Click the special offer icon for more details.
Call us on 0800 587 0087.

Of course, clicking on the link gets the same info and the same exortation to call them for details, and no link to book online. Smart huh?

Power is back

London can't let New York edge us out for crappiest infrastructure of a so-called modern city. No, we had our own little power outage this evening.

I was in the tube but fortunately the power cut out just as the train hit Waterloo station, my destination. 20 seconds earlier and I would have been stuck in the tunnel. As it was, we all had to file up to the front carriage to get out, but it wasn't so bad.

So I go along to my play at the Young Vic (Le Costume, directed by Peter Brook -- quite good but a bit pricey at £25 for four actors, even if they are amongst the best) which starts a bit late due to the power cut, but the power came back just in time.

After the play, two hours since the power cut ended, and I wander back to Waterloo to find that all the tubes are still down. Four transport changes and two hours later, I'm finally home. Yeesh!

Recruit scum volume 1

(first installment of a trilogy in eighty-three parts)

What is it about recruiters that they're uniformly clueless, lying scumbags?

But getting more specific, why are they all terrified of email? Surely those recruiting technical people would have worked out that most of us prefer not to be interrupted from our daily work, prefer not to need to surreptitiously glance over the shoulder to see who's within earshot before you start discussing some job, and mostly prefer not to have to waste real-time communication space dealing with the world's lowest profession.

Case in point is an exchange I just had, here's what I sent the person concerned:
Please give me a call when you can.

I'd prefer to do it by email, if you don't mind. It's a lot more convenient for me.

And about five minutes later, the phone rings. ARGH!

If anyone from the recruit scum industry is reading this, I'd be happy to consult with you on how to make the ideal IT recruitment company. I warn you that it's not going to be easy, as the first tenet is going to be "don't lie, ever".