Archive for April, 2011

Crooze

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Well, as some of you will already know, I’ve been on a fabby cruise, with the lovely Purple Fred (Whom I Love Very Much), and the excellent MiniFred. We went around the Western Mediterranean, as this display from channel one on the cabin TV shows:

Map

We went with P&O on the good ship “Azura” and really had an excellent time. We visited

  • Cadiz, – with a visit to a sherry producer and the Royal Spanish Riding School
  • Barcelona – where PF(WILVM) sang the appropriate Freddie Mercury song quite a lot
  • Cannes – where we walked down the red carpet, found a geocache, saw the place where the film festival happens, and were charged film star prices for Croque Monsieur
  • Pisa – where the tower was leaning spectacularly
  • Florence – which was really pretty and old, and we visited an art gallery, found a geocache and ate genuine Florentine pizza
  • Rome – where some scumbag nicked my wallet, and we saw the coliseum and the forum, and threw coins in the Trevy Fountain
  • Alicante – where we went on a coach trip to Guadaleste, a pretty mountain village which was our favourite destination of the holiday, and we met a friendly pair of cats and found a geocache
  • Gibraltar – where we met the famous Barbary apes and one of them tried to do to PF(WILVM)’s glasses what a Roman scumbag had done with my wallet
  • We also enjoyed the facilities of the ship, including the theatre, the casino, the bingo, the pools, the open air cinema, and of course the five-course silver service meals every night.

    And an important added feature – for people who like minimal fuss – is that it all started and finished in Southampton, a mere fifteen minutes from home :-)

    There’s a good chance of photos at some point…

Krap Fit – Even Krapper

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

In this blog entry I described my encounter with a chain of tyre fitters I referred to – in order to anonymise the guilty – as Krap Fit. Almost seven years later, I’ve clearly not been learning from experience.

One of my over-winter caravan jobs was to take the caravan wheels to a tyre fitter and have new tyres fitted – the old ones were five years old, and that’s how often it’s recommended tyres are changed for safety. So I whipped one of the wheels off, got out the spare wheel (which I bought and haven’t got round to getting a tyre fitted to yet) and headed off to my local independent tyre specialist.

They were shut, on account of it being Sunday. On my way home, with wheels still in the back of the car, I passed the local Krap Fit, who were open. “OK” I thought, “I had one bad experience with them, but that was years ago…surely they must have sorted themselves out by now?” So in I went. They didn’t have the tyres in stock – which I was sort of expecting – but they could get them in and everything would be ready for me to collect the following Saturday (because I work in London I can’t be in Southampton during their weekday opening times).

“Great”, I said, “and while you’re doing it, could you fit Tyron safety bands?”. Tyron safety bands are a pretty standard thing to have on caravan wheels and almost every caravanner either has them, or wishes they could afford them. And Krap Fit are an authorised distributor. “Never heard of them, what are they?” asked the tyre fitting sepcialist. When I described them, he said he’d heard of something a bit like it, but didn’t know where to get them from and didn’t think their tyre fitting machine could fit them.

WHY DIDN’T I RUN AWAY SCREAMING THEN???

So on Thursday, Darren rang and told me the job was done and I could collect my wheels and tyres Saturday morning. Saturday was a bit fully booked but I wanted the job done, so I made time and called in.
“Oh, are you just picking them up? We thought you were bringing the caravan in to have them fitted”.
“Oh that’s a good idea, I’ll just go and get…ah hang on…IT’S GOT NO ZARKING WHEELS ON IT!!!”

At this point – remember they told me the job was complete on Thursday – they started to fit the tyres to the wheels. I went and got a cup of tea from the machine and a six month old Top Gear magazine, and sat in the customer waiting area. When I came round to check progress fifteen minutes later, they were stuffing plastic bin bags inside my tyres (yes really). Apparently because caravan tyres are a bit sepcial, they were having trouble getting them to inflate – they didn’t explain the function of the plastic bags, but I’m sure it’s all legit and above board. Anyway, they finally admitted defeat and said they’d have to get their mate, who fits lorry tyres, round with his sepcial tool, but that wouldn’t be until Saturday evening. I agreed to return Sunday morning.

Sunday morning: “I was here till seven o’clock last night inflating your tyres!”. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with that information, so I just commented “OK, as long as it’s done” – only to be told they hadn’t finished balancing the wheels, at which point I may have gone a bit nuclear.
“Hey, I was here till seven o’clock doing your wheels last night – that’s service above and beyond, that is…”
“Sorry, the fact that you were here till seven o’clock finishing a job you were supposed to have completed three days ago doesn’t impress me in the slightest”
. Was I being unreasonable (the person I was having this conversation with was the same one who’d phoned me on Thursday, and who’d failed to know what Tyron bands were)?

So, I paid and ran away – having already decided that I was going to take the wheels to an independent tyre fitter who I trust (and who I should’ve given the job to in the first place) to make sure they weren’t still stuffed with plastic bags, and to get the Tyron bands fitted. As a bonus, I came away with the old tyre – it still has pretty good tread and I thought it might be useful to have a spare around, as they’d had trouble getting hold of them (or at least that’s what they told me).

So it was particularly annoying to check the invoice, to find they’d charged me for “ecological disposal of two tyres” – partly because there was only ever one tyre, and partly because their “ecological disposal” was to give the tyre back to the customer.

So in summary…

  1. The tyre fitting specialist has never heard of a standard tyre safety device for which his company is an authorised distributor
  2. They lied about the work being completed on Thursday
  3. They were unable to fit tyres, and resorted to what I’m pretty sure was a cowboy technique to make it look like they had
  4. They tried to make the measures they’d had to take, to cover up their own inadequacy, look like they were doing me a favour
  5. They charged me for tyre disposal without disposing of any tyres, and then allowed me to take the “waste” tyre away (which I’m pretty sure is an offence under the Environmental Protection Act, as I’m not a licensed waste carrier)
  6. …and I’m pretty sure, given the time it took, that they didn’t balance the wheels properly either

So to repeat what I said seven years ago…I am NEVER going to Kwik…er sorry, Krap Fit EVER again.