The Truth, The Whole Truth & Nothing But The Truth?

I was watching the television today when there was an advert on for Tetley tea with the following slogan:

‘Tetley, We don’t make tea for anyone else’

Well I thought to myself, that’s bullshit I know at least 3 other people who drink it.


It set me thinking about the other lies and misleading statements around us. For example we spend 11 1/2 months of the year terrifying our children about paedophiles and the remaining time we encourage them to get excited about a fat old man with a beard coming into their bedroom in the middle of the night. Just what are we teaching children?

Virgin Media and the truth are two things that are not known to each other very well. I am currently experiencing problems with my broadband connection. I called Virgin on Saturday and they arranged an appointment for an engineer to call out today (21st December) between 0800 and 1200.

Yesterday morning Virgin called me to confirm the appointment was still needed. So far so good. Yesterday, I got something like 40 text messages from Virgin between around 1700 and 1800 all stating Virgin were having problems in keeping their appointments. Some stated that Virgin would call if there was a problem with my appointment.

So by 1230 today, no engineer had called, so I rang Virgin, spoke to someone who spoke to the engineers team and told me the call was live and the engineer was running late but would be coming today. When I asked when and asked why I had not been called given they could not keep the appointment slot, answers came there none.

I called back almost immediately, spoke to a different person in the same department who told me the appointment had previously been cancelled.

a) He could offer no explanation as to why I had not been called to be told this.

b) He could not advise when the appointment was cancelled

c) He told me the people who knew the answers to the above questions were the engineers team, but I could not speak to them as they were not taking calls! Yes they were refusing to tell people what was going on.

d) He advised me the previous person I spoke to had typed in the notes to say they had told me the appointment had been cancelled.

e) He advised me Virgin Media would not consider any compensation for the missed appointment nor for the failing to call. This despite the fact they accept I have had to take a day off work to be here, and will have to repeat this again at a future date in the event that Virgin do bother to re-arrange this appointment.

So, Virgin Media, I would ask you: –

1. Why did you cancel my appointment after confirming it yesterday and texting me last night repeatedly?

2. Why did you not contact me at any stage to advise the appointment had been cancelled?

3. When exactly was this appointment cancelled?

4. Why when I telephoned you, after the appointment slot was I told the engineer was on his way still, despite it having already been cancelled?

5. Why do you employ dishonest staff who record on the notes they have told me that the appointment had been cancelled, when they had done precisely the opposite?

6. Why do you think you can ignore the loss you have caused to your customers, and refuse even to consider any compensation?

Whilst you are thinking of the answers to these questions Mr Branson, you can deal with the small claims court summons that has now been issued against your company. I am not prepared to waste my time in correspondence with your company when you have told me point blank that you will not even consider compensation for your causing me to lose a day’s work unnecessarily.

I am repeatedly amazed at companies that have no idea of how to treat their customers. This situation would never have arisen if :

A. Virgin had rung and said “sorry we can’t keep today’s appointment owing to the weather”.

B Having failed to ring, they hold their hands up and make a token gesture of apology, say 1 months free broadband. This would cost them perhaps £25 or less.

Instead they lie about what is happening and then refuse point blank to consider recompense for their actions (or lack of them).

I think too many companies rely on customers inertia and the customers failing to pursue matters. Write to many companies complaints departments and you get generally unhelpful letters fudging the issue and refusing to compensate customers.

As consumers, we need to fight back and remind companies who is in control. The simple remedy is to issue a claim in the small claims court. This can be done online at It costs £25 to issue a claim for up to £300. This court fee is recoverable from the other side. There are no other costs involved. If you lose the case, you do not have to pay any costs of the other side and vice versa. The small claims court is designed to be simple and to keep lawyers out of it.

Simply put, it is rarely worth companies defending these claims as it will cost them more than the amount you are claiming. The  small claims court is a very underused process. All you do is:

a. type in your name & address,

b. the name and address of your opponent (if Ltd or PLC, then their registered office address)

c. State your case in less than 1080 characters

d. Pay the issue fee online

The court will issue the proceedings and serve them on the opponent. The opponent then has 14 days to file a defence. The process is on the website I gave you, if needed. However, often after issuing proceedings you will be contacted by the opponent looking to resolve the matter.

Fight back against bad service, take control and issue proceedings in the small claims court. Don’t accept second best or bad service.



Well, apart from fighting with Virgin Media, what else have I done today?

I know some of you won’t believe me, but I have done some work. Quite interestingly, I have had to look up some references and stories online relating to recent criminal cases and finds what references there have been to a couple of people involved in recent criminal cases. This was quite interesting as it brought up references to criminal cases that I had forgotten about.

I have also spent a couple of hours wrapping Christmas presents. Given that Michelle has assisted me in Christmas shopping and has numerous presents for people from us at her house, I seem to have more presents here than I have ever had before. I think I must have gone for quantity not quality this year.

I will confess that I am the world’s worst present wrapper. Its only matched by my lack of skill in choosing presents. Michelle, a sister and a mother to guide me, as well as good help from my ex wife. Where would we be without females to help us choose presents.




A Muslim wearing a rucksack walks into a bar. He orders a pint of lager and everyone realises that he’s integrated perfectly well into society and has been out hill-walking

To Train or not to Train

The question is directed at National Express East Anglia (NXEC). They bid for the franchise to run trains out of East Anglia. Its a shame they don’t seem capable of doing that.

We had 3” of snow on Saturday lunchtime. Its been cold since then circa  0 to 4C but no more snow. So, NXEC decided to run a reduced train service this morning cancelling 2/3 trains through Seven Kings at rush hour. Quite why, I’m not sure. I am certain that in other countries, some 40 hours after 3” of snow had fallen they would be able to run trains. Strangely other rail companies were able to run local and long distance train services into London.

This would have been bad enough, but when at Seven Kings station this morning, they were announcing random time times and then trains did not turn up- think the trains they had announced were figments of the PA chap’s mind. Eventually a train that was announced arrived at the station, but despite the station tannoy announcer telling everyone this was the train to London Liverpool St, the driver was telling everyone to get off the train as he was terminating it there. No explanation was given. however, as everyone was getting off the train, the station announcer was telling everyone to get on this train to London Liverpool Street. It was like watching the hokey cokey. You put the passengers on, you put the passengers off, on,off shake them all about….

After this train departed empty for the depot, various announcements were made about the next train, advising it was due here in 15 mins, then 17 mins, then 8 mins, then 15 mins again. Then 2 mins after the last announcement, a train arrived going to London Liverpool Street.

Dear left hand, this is your right hand……Still, tonight the trip home must be better surely…….

Well, tonight, the trip home was interesting…I arrived at Liverpool Street at rush hour, to find instead of 8 trains an hour, there were no trains in at all. There was no news on the display boards either as to when the next train would be. No worries, surely the PA system would keep us informed? There is more chance of Osama Bin Laden representing the USA in the next Olympics.

After waiting about 15-20 minutes we were told “ Passengers waiting for a Shenfield train (my train) there will be an announcement in 10-15 minutes about your train.”  no indication as to why there was a delay or what the problem was or when we could expect a train.

20 minutes later there was another announcement “ Passengers waiting for a Shenfield train (my train) there will be an announcement in 10-15 minutes about your train.” Great help NXEC, thanks for that information, it was very helpful – not.

Never mind, eventually, a train came in and as the passengers to alight, some mug tries to force his was on. I’m not sure how he expects to get on as people are still getting off! some people are so self-centred and stupid. Eventually the sardines were squeezed in. I’m not saying the train was packed, but if I got any closer to the female in front of me, I would have been facing a rape charge. There was no room to move on the train anywhere. The aisles, the doorways etc. were all packed solid.

The first stop on the train was Stratford, where normally more passengers get on. This was not possible. It was however, quite funny to hear those on the platform getting quite angry and demanding people move down the train. I’m not sure exactly where those on the platform thought all the empty space was, unless the meant in the overhead luggage rack. It certainly wasn’t doing much for their blood pressure all that ranting.

After leaving Stratford, the driver helpfully told us that the train would no longer stop at Seven Kings. Cheers NXEC, cancel most trains and then reduce the number of stops on those trains that are running.

The plan [B] then was to get off at Ilford and get the next train to Seven Kings – except checking the display board, the next train had been…….. yes, you’ve guessed it cancelled and no other train to Seven Kings was currently showing. Time for a new plan [C], I’ll walk to the bus stop and get the 86 bus home. so, i waited patiently for the 86 bus. After 20+minutes and no bus (they run every 7 mins allegedly), I checked the display indicator and there was no bus due in the next 30 minutes. By now it was snowing, so walking home was not sensible.

Plan [D] was to go back to the railway station and try to get a train. Eventually, a lesser spotted NXEC train turned up and I was able to squeeze my sylph like figure into the train and get to Seven Kings. Never mind it was about 3 1/2 hours since I left the office and only 12 miles travelled.

What else did I do today? Well, I sent the rest of my Christmas cards well there were just 3 left to send. I also posted a couple of Christmas presents (ok, cheques actually) not the most thoughtful presents eh?

Then it was a bit of Christmas shopping. A present for a VIP and a present for someone else. I do like people who give me ideas for Christmas presents. It helps though if:

a) I read the list properly

b) the items on the list are in stock!

Its nerve-wracking trying to choose something similar to the item someone specifically wanted. Hope I made the right choice. I’ll find out at Christmas!

Well the good news is that after tomorrow ( ok Tuesday 21st – today as it is now….) The days will start getting longer. The lights are starting to get lighter after 21st. Yes, tomorrow is the shortest day and after it summer is on the way. Time to start digging out those speedos and my surfboard!

Finally, Happy Birthday Jacqui- it was my sister’s birthday on 20th December. it is quite a co-incidence that as on 20th December last year, she also had a birthday. I think she has had a birthday on 20th December a few times before as well!


Boy: “Do you want to play the fire engine game?”
Girl: “How do you play that?”
Boy: “My fingers are the fire engine and I drive up your legs. You say ‘Red light!’ when you want me to stop.”
Girl: “Okay, let’s play.”
After a few seconds…
Girl: “Red light!”
Boy: “Fire engines don’t stop for red lights.”