Sunday, January 09, 2011

Swimming lengths

I can't believe it. I owe Leeds City council an apology. Not nearly as big as the one they owe me - but that's another story. But so far as swimming pool size goes I was wrong. The pool at Armley Leisure Centre is as big as the other one I go to - took me the same number of strokes to get to the end...Must be an optical illusion (to do with Armley being a really high roof maybe?) I was wrong anyway...

Not only that but the bloke at the pool today didn't give the VAT line to explain the inflation busting price increase. Instead he gave me that vaguely sympathetic 'yeah, it is a bit rubbish' kind of look that you would expect.

It was busy today - that's because they won't let you in without kids in tow until 12 so everyone has to go at once. That's another complaint and another story.

Consumer affairs 4 – The Race to Easter

I’ve noted before that shops allow you to buy stuff in the run up to a festival so long as you stop a few days before so you don't interfer with them setting up for the next consumerfest – so ask for an Easter egg on Good Friday and they’ll look at you like you’re some sort of tardy retard who must have just got out of prison or something. However, Christmas seemed to be an exception this year with loads of people being allowed to buy Christmas stuff even on Christmas Eve. Terrible. However, normal service ran in some sort of parallel with this.

Wilkinson’s for example started Easter before Christmas – though it’s taken the other supermarkets several days into the New Year to start palleting in the eggs and all the rest. I wonder how close to Easter they’ll let it run?

And hang on...they’re a bit late with Valentine’s Day aren’t they? We’re nearly a third of the way through January. I've probably just not noticed it.

Consumer Affairs 3 –

I ordered an album from last March (Broadcast and the Focus Group since you ask). I waited and waited but no CD. By the summer I contacted them asking where it was – I think I got ‘standard bollocks email number 54’ where they say they’re having trouble getting copies from the supplier. A few months later I sent them a rather cross email asking what was going on and pointing out that the CD was still being advertised on their website. No reply. Finally, 9 months in I contacted them again explaining what had happened and asking them to note that I’d ordered 72 items from them over the last couple of years. I also asked them to note that I’d completely stopped ordering from them since their failure to send me the CD. I also provided them with a link to the album on their own website in case they couldn’t find it.

This time I got a reply saying “Unfortunately this item was only available in limited quantities and all stock has now been sold. As it is unlikely that we will be able to offer the item again in the near future we have cancelled the order. rest assure you were not yet charge for this order. Please be advised that the item you are seeing now on the website is not from anymroe. Instead, thisi tem is being sold by a Playtrade seller or third party seller. You may order the item if you still want it”.

Leaving aside the grammar and spelling, what they’re saying is ‘yeah, it’s for sale on our website but it’s nuffing to do with us chief’. So there you go. It looks like a duck, it quacks like a duck, it appears on the ‘Ducks R us’ website and you pay We Supply Ducks Ltd to supply you a duck – but actually it's not a duck and they don't know what you're so upset about. It must be from another firm and somehow got on the Buy a Duck from Us website by accident.

So if you want a CD from they probably have fuck all to do with it, it’s just there for sale on their website but nowt to do with them.

In case everything else on their website isn’t really from them and they can't supply it I’ve decided to try to find someone who does have some responsibility for what’s in their shop.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Consumer Affairs 2 – WH Smug comedy prices

More on prices – You have no idea how annoying I find this (or maybe you do...) – I really hate WH Smiths for this (though never as much as I hate Firstbus and printer ink dealers obviously - oh, and anti-virus software pedlars).

Anyway, a chunky Kitkat in WH Smiths in town yesterday was 82p! Yup – 82 tossing pee – that’s nearly a quid! For a Kit-kat! - some for a Twix by the way. Tesco’s price today was 48p. So a bar of yer standard sort of chocky bar is about 50p in sensible places (hey, I’m calling Tescos sensible!) and over 80p in WH Smug. Why is there no boycott? Why is no-one distributing leaflets in the shop? Why is no-one squeezing poo under the roller shutters? Anyway, I’m not buying owt from them. 82p for a Kit-kat – they’re ‘avin’ a laarf

By the way, when you get to the counter they’ll probably offer you cut price chocolate. I guess the staff are all too aware of the irony. Maybe a KitKat Chunky inserted up them by irate customers would learn ‘em?

Consumer Affairs 1 – Leeds City Council

Re my suspicions re the pool length at Armley Leisure Centre, you’ll have to wait for that...

Anyway, I went there yesterday (though the snow by the way). It cost £3.20 for a swim with a ‘Leedscard’ not long ago. Then it went up to £3.50. I wish I could remember when that happened – I’ve come to the conclusion that if you want to track price increases the only way to do it is to write them down at the time, as organisations (even the ones you pay for like Councils) won’t be keen on telling you. First Bus for example told me that there was no graph of their prices against inflation – yeah right!

Anyway, thing is that today the cost of swimming had gone up from £3.50 to £3.80 – that’s with a Leedscard – it’s more without. The person on reception said it had gone up ‘due to the VAT increase’. I accepted this for a minute until I worked out that an extra 2 ½ % on £3.50 was less than 9p – so an increase to £3.60 would be reasonable. They’ve added an additional inflation busting 5 ½ % increase. Mind you, people in Armley are loaded... (erm, no...that’s a joke).

So are Leeds City Council sneaking through increases hiding behind the excuse of VAT? It would seem so. If they were planning an increase anyway (I wonder if they’d try that one on?) they could have postponed it (or even brought it forward!) so it didn’t coincide with the VAT increase.

By the way, I checked the prices on a list on their website. They call the price list “Sports centre charges - Key Benchmark Prices”. Yow! ‘Key benchmark prices’. Priceless...

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The full 25 yards

The Council website says that the swimming pool in the new Armley Leisure Centre is 25 meters long. It also says that the pool where I usually go is 25 metres long. I think the Armley one is much shorter. It takes me about 30 strokes to swim a length of the Armley pool. Next time I get in the one I usually go to I'm going to count strokes. I'll let you know. The alternative by the way would be to turn up with a big tape measure.

Incidentally the place where I normally go doesn't seem to want me there. They were closed this Sunday for instance. Sunday 2nd Jan - a special day in some way? Nope. A day they're usually open? Yup. A Bank Holiday? Nope. In the school holidays when people are looking for things to do with their leisure time? Yup (quick reminder - this is a 'leisure centre we're talking about). Just the Council having a few days off for no reason I guess.

I usually go as part of a group of three of us. I went on my own a couple of Sundays back and though I go every week (sort of) they wouldn't let me in - as it was time for 'family swimming'. I didn't have a family with me so they didn't let me in. There are usually about 8 people in the pool on a Sunday morning. I think they've come up with this to deal with demand that isn't there. It would have been big enough to fit me in. It's 25 meters long you know...

Hit the Ground

I saw a job advert today which said that “you will be required to hit the ground running”. 'Back of the net!' as Alan would say. Shit lives!

Lady Boys of Bangkok

Good to see that the Lady Boys of Bangkok have their own yellow AA sign. I was in a shoe shop with some of them once...

Congrats from the Engine Room

Just for information - The project I work on (we're talking about 'work work' now...) is part of "a regional collaborative programme" which (wait for it...) "reports to a multi-agency Engine Room". It seems that "all projects are achieving milestones and targets and demonstrating delivery of high quality work".

I've never been congratulated by an engine room before, least of all a multi-agency one. Amusingly the 'engine room' is also the steering group! The Tiller Girls or the boiler room? I dunno. Add this to 'Community Anchors' as an illiterate would be nautical metaphor.

Robin Hood Robin Hood

Went to a primary school Christmas show just before Christmas – Robin Hood. It was top notch of course though there were a few missed cues and the prompt at the back of the hall had to help out on a few occasions.

My favourite was when one of the cast yelled ‘three cheers for Robin Hood!’ The kids then proceeded to look at each other for a few seconds clearly not knowing what came next. The prompt came in with what might have been a rather disappointed sounding ‘hip hip...’

Half price at Wilkinson's

Wilkinson's have a sale on. A half price sale. They have large cards up on the displays telling people what half of each price is - mmm. Almost like they think their customers can't divide 3 quid into 2. Or work out what half a tenner is...Oh well...

Terry’s Chocolate Orange Goes minty

Post-Christmas dispute about the Chocolate Orange (a product incidentally which I have had to explain to people used to be posh).

Anyway, I said that the produce labelled as ‘Chocolate Orange goes minty’ would be er, minty. However, it was put to me that as it was a chocolate orange it must therefore be orangey - Though it was allowed that as it had gone minty it would be minty and orangey. I thought that this would involve a triumph of logic over a brand name – so no contest, it was going to be minty and not orangey – the idea that a chocolate orange had to have some connection with orangeyness – nonsense. And so I was proved right – It was minty. Not orangey at all.