Wednesday, January 26, 2011

419 Email Of The Day
Hello My Dear

I am Mrs Jeanette Ogasu, please I need your help in this lucrative business that I am about to present to you, since after the death of my late husband Mr. Abraham Ogasu of Niger Delta Area of Nigeria, who was the paramount leader of the Niger Delta Developing Communities and during his time, he did governs with sense of humanity and peace.

I know we have not met before but I am contacting you with due sense of humanity responsibility and the few awareness that you will give it a mutual understanding. I am soliciting for an assistance to move a secured consignment (trunk box) with the sum $2.5 million United States Dollars to your country for investment. These funds is presently in a security company in United Kingdom for safety since on the 12-2-2009. The real content of the consignment was not declared as it was kept as Family Legacy by my late husband, I need you as partner to assist in transferring the fund and provide good investment plans for it.

The fund will be under your investment control for three years during which only the profit will be shared annually 70% for me and 30% for you annually. I am a Christian with the fear of GOD in any thing I am doing, so please I want us to build trust to each other. I will appreciate your urgent response as soon as possible for further directives on how to achieve this transaction successfully.

Thanks in anticipation of your response.
Best regards
Mrs. Jeanette Ogasu
Please reply through {}

Dear Mrs Ogasu,

Thank you for taking the time to contact me. Unfortunately your email seems to have come through to the wrong person as I too was the wife of Mr. Abraham Ogasu - but I am having trouble getting his personal safety deposit box *out* of the country.

Perhaps we could meet up to swap boxes? I believe the one I have is also filled with US$2.5million. Or cats. It could be anything to be honest, as it's the deposit box Mr Ogasu used to share with that nice Dr Shrodinger and I won't know what's in it unless I open it.

I have no interest of investing the money, but instead will spend the money on a fine selection of hats and scarily loud shirts.

If you can forward your bank details to me, I would appreciate this greatly.

Many thanks for your time

Mrs Odette Ogasu


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Amusing Myself With Moben Kitchens.

I've decided to email every company that irritates me. Not people, for the moment, but I may expand my remit as and when I run out of companies I dislike.

This week, Moben Kitchens are up. If you haven't seen their advert, here's the one they broadcast before Xmas.

Now listen carefully to the woman 12 seconds in who gives out the telephone number. Hear it? Listen again if you didn't, as the sound quality isn't as good as the broadcast version on TV.

Right, that should explain this mail to Moben.
Why, in your current adverts, do you use an actress who can't say the word "three" to be the person to give out your telephone number?

While it is entertaining to hear your number as "oh eight hundred four won fwee four won fwee" it is beginning to grate somewhat.

How badly did the other actresses say it so that you felt she would be the best?

Any information would be gratefully received. Plus if you'd like me to do the voice over, I am incredibly cheap, but I do sound Northern.
Oddly enough I've not had a reply yet.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Sainsbury's: The End Of The Love Affair.

Before we begin, I'd like to point out that I've been a loyal customer of Sainsbury's for about 15 years, maybe more. For the past few years my local branch has been Streatham Common, and up until mid-2010, I was delighted with the store. I'd even sent them an email telling them how much I enjoyed shopping there.

I used to be fairly happy with the prices that I paid, until last week when I noticed that some prices had increased by 15% or more pretty much overnight. Previous Friday, three cartons of 1 litre own brand juice were £2, by Tuesday this was £2.30. Previous Friday, Whiskas Katzini was 91p a pack, by Tuesday, £1.02. You'll see all of this in the email conversations below (if you can be bothered to read them) but thought you should be aware that I do pay attention to prices and can do math/maths.

So my first contact with Sainsbury's Customer Services (via their website form) was this;
We have been loyal customers of Sainsburys for over 10 years & have normally been very pleased with the prices charged. However, over the past three weeks, I have seen prices on items that I buy going up by over 15%.

While I did expect some prices to rise due to the increases in VAT & fuel duty, I am astounded that you can justify an increase of 11p on Katzini, 30p on three own-brand one litre juice cartons & over 10p on a loaf of instore bread.

When I asked about the increase in food prices, I was informed that this was due to "VAT increases" which is interesting as I was under the - perhaps misguided - impression that most of food was VAT free.

("VAT increases" was, by the way, also offered as the explanation at our local Streatham store for why there were four different prices of the same product on display in the vegetable section. I would include a picture of this, but there's no way of attaching it on your website.)

I asked the customer services department in Streatham Common if it was to them I should complain about the prices, but they tell me it is a national pricing decision and I should contact head office, hence this email. Can you please tell me why some of your prices have gone up by such a large amount? Are you trying to con the consumer into thinking that the price rise is due to VAT increases?

This is disgraceful behaviour by a supermarket which is currently advertising that there are 974 price cuts around the store. Can you send me a list of the products that have been reduced in price and their availability, as the majority of red shelf edge labels seem to refer to products that are not on the shelf.

Any response would be welcomed.
Okay, so my first mistake was that "any response" would be welcomed. I realise now that I should have been more specific. I'll save you the auto-responder thanking me for my feedback, and skip to the first reply I got from a human.
Thanks for your email about our recent price rises

We’re committed to offering great quality food at fair prices which is sourced with integrity. We regularly review our prices to make sure we offer value for money whilst remaining competitive. Although we try to keep our pricing as fair as possible sometime prices can go up as well as down.

There are lots of factors which can affect pricing, from rising costs of raw materials, to the production and packaging and even transportation. Whilst we try to absorb these increases for as long as possible, sometimes we eventually have to put the price up. I can’t be anymore specific why some of our products have become dearer, but I do hope that you’ll still find your overall cost of shopping at Sainsbury’s is good value.

I’m grateful to you for taking the time to contact us as your feedback helps us to improve our products and services. We look forward to seeing you again soon.
Maybe it's just me, but I was hoping for more of an actual reply to the points I'd raised than what felt like a cut & paste job of standard answers. So I replied to them.
Thanks for sending me a reply, of sorts.

As I mentioned in my email, I understand that VAT and fuel duty increases affect prices. I am also open to the idea that raw material costs have gone up and that this could affect prices in the future (such as the floods in Australia causing flour prices to increase worldwide due to the likely shortage). What I still don't understand is why some of your prices have gone up by more than 12% in a week.

If you were absorbing increases in costs over a long period of time, and now need to increase prices, can I suggest a phased increase, rather than suddenly lumping 12% on? As a shopper, if you put something up by 2p a week over 5 weeks, I'm less likely to notice and/or feel ripped off than by you suddenly pushing the price up by 10p overnight without any warning/explanation - while simultaneously seeing advertising designed to give me the impression that you have cut prices throughout the store.

Your methodology seems flawed, as you are now making me think my shopping is no longer good value as I am acutely aware that the prices have just shot up by 10-12%. Couple this with your instore customer service staff trying vainly to pass off every price rise as being due to the VAT increases - on items not even within the remit of VAT - and the whole shopping experience feels like a rip-off. You have essentially done the exact opposite of what you have set out to achieve.

I also note that despite me asking for a list of your 900+ half-price items (surely just a cut & paste from somewhere) and my comments about their apparent lack of availability in our local store, you have chosen to not respond to this part of my query. Could you possibly respond to it this time?

While I'm here, could you also confirm whether there are 100s or 1000s of products that have been reduced in price as your website shows both numbers on the same page. I've attached a screenshot so you can see what I'm talking about. (Click on the photo to embiggen)
And I've also attached a photo which shows the multiple prices on display for the same product that I mentioned in the previous email but couldn't attach via your website. (Click on the photo to embiggen)
Having previously commended the Streatham Common store, I was hoping that my comments in the previous mail regarding the price increases, the lack of staff knowledge about why the prices have increased, the lack of availability of your half-price items etc would possibly be mentioned in your reply. Or that you had passed them on to the store manager. I'm sorry that you didn't feel it necessary to do so.

Something I'd also intended including in the original email, but coincides nicely with my feelings of being ripped off, are when you keep prices on certain items the same, but reduce the amount of product. You used to do a circular goat cheese tart with six pieces of cheese on it. This then was reincarnated as a rectangular goat cheese tart with five pieces of cheese for exactly the same price. You used to do a fairly priced bag of basic brocolli. The bag shape changed, the amount of stalk increased and the amount of useable brocolli reduced. Price remained the same. The number of spring onions in a bunch went down. Price remained the same.

I noticed these things at the time and felt like Sainsbury's was trying to deceive me, but didn't bother mailing you. I'm beginning to suspect that I shouldn't have bothered mailing you this time either and should just take my business elsewhere.

Any comments or further information you can provide would be appreciated.
Which may seem harsh, but I was feeling like I was being brushed off. And I hate feeling like I'm being brushed off by companies that I actually like. Again, I'll save you the auto-response and go straight to the next mail I sent them, which includes their email to me. The bits in italic are their mail.
I have replied to this mail within the "reply" you sent me.

Thanks for your email. I’m sorry our response wasn’t satisfactory.

I'm beginning to expect it, to be honest. Which saddens me, as I try to make the mail I send to you very clear and do expect some level of actual answers in any response I receive.

I’ve passed your request for the list of products which are on sale at half price to our marketing team. I will email this to you as soon as I get it.

You know what, I suspect there's going to be no point as I can't actually see myself visiting Sainsbury's ever again.

The advert one the website states there are 100s of great offers at the moment, which there are. The statement of bringing you low prices on 1000s of products every week is basically stating we have many products at prices.

Well thanks for reading through what you'd written and checking it made sense before you bothered sending it. Surely all your products are "at prices", not just many of them? As you could see from the picture I attached last time, part of the problem is discovering just which of the prices on display are actually the correct one for the product. Did you see the picture I sent? I'm assuming that you didn't, or are ignoring it, as you haven't made mention of it in the reply.

Your comments on colleagues not being aware of prices increasing and stock availability have been fed back to the Streatham Common store. They will monitor the situation and ensure colleagues are fully trained in areas needed. Our colleagues won’t always be aware why some items have increased and may have to find out.

Yeah, or they could do what they've done repeatedly to me and just make up an answer and claim it's due to VAT. Thank you for passing my comments on to the store, although I won't be back in there to see if there's any improvement. Could you also mention to them that leaving out of date vegetables in the section right beneath the price label, while having the in date version of the same vegetable just a couple of feet further down isn't acceptable either? Could you also ask them why there's less people on the cigarette kiosk on a Saturday than there is on a Wednesday afternoon?

It's not just Streatham Common store I have issues with, I've tried shopping in the Wandsworth/Vauxhall branch and the one on Purley Way as I honestly did enjoy shopping at Sainsbury's. It made no difference, the problems seem endemic: no-one who works for you seems to care about the shop anymore. I personally think that there will be more customers who feel that if the staff don't care, then why should they - the customer - pay more for their products, get smaller portions, and "mis-informed" by staff when they could be getting the same level of service at Asda.

Hopefully you won't lose too many other shoppers or your shareholders - for whom you must need to increase your prices to maintain your profits - are going to get seriously unhappy when people stop shopping at Sainsbury's altogether. I cannot be the only shopper to complain about you increasing prices by over 15%, and I cannot be the only person who has contacted you and been unhappy at the non-reply I've had back. Is there anyone in charge of your Customer Service department? Do they know what mails are coming in and going out?

Our products are constantly reviewed and sometimes changed to try and improve them.

With the Basic brocolli you made the package smaller, the product worse and kept the price the same. With the tart I also mentioned in the previous email, you decreased the amount of goats cheese and kept the price the same. The only improvement made is in the profit margin as you've reduced the cost of manufacture. If you'd like to inform me of any products where you've increased the size of the portion, or added costlier ingredients without increasing the sale price, please enlighten me as I must have missed them.

We try our best to supply high quality products at fair prices whilst still remaining competitive.

You might want to try a bit harder then, as I can do a comparable shop for less at Waitrose. Would you like a copy of my receipt?

We would never intentionally deceive our customers and want you to be able to take advantage of the vast amount of products we have.

I'll ignore the non-sequitur in that sentence, but point out that by not telling the consumer that the product they're paying the same price for is now smaller than it used to be isn't exactly going to inspire trust and confidence, is it? Particularly when a fellow shopper points it out to them as I did the last time I was in Sainsbury's. I may well start doing it online as well, just to reach out and connect with as many people as possible.

We appreciate your patience.

What patience are you appreciating? Do you appreciate my sense of humour, my attire or my ability to juggle, none of which have been evident either?

If you'd like to get someone who can string a few words together that make sense, and maybe sit them next to someone who can answer any of my queries from any of my emails, please do reply. If that's beyond you, then please don't bother.
So that's where it stands. I'm waiting to see if I get a reply, but I'm not holding my breath.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Clear And Helpful Pricing Of Sainsbury's

In case you can't see it well enough there are three separate prices for the same product (loose cauliflower) varying from £1.39 to £1.49.

I mentioned this to Customer Services instore and was told that it might have been due to VAT changes. I pointed out that fresh vegetables were VAT exempt, and left.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Complaining To Optimax About Their Advert
Dear Optimax

In your current advertising campaign, you suggest we should "wake up to laser eye surgery". Since I've heard this, I've been beseiged with nightmares of waking up to laser eye surgery.

I've now heard a woman in your advert say that she feels more awake. I can believe this, as I am now too terrified to sleep - in case I too wake up to laser eye surgery.

May I suggest you re-phrase the lines in your adverts? Or send me some sleeping tablets and a metal eye mask that I can lock. Or do you know of a way I can stop laser eye surgery from happening to me?

Any information you may have would be gratefully received as I haven't slept since 2009.
Received a reply from "Sarah Snowdon" at their Customer Services, dated 11 days ago.

So I replied with:
Dear Sarah,

I am living in some kind of Kafka-esque waking nightmare. I've just submitted a comment to your website, and I discover that you sent me a reply 11 days prior to me commenting.

Have I already woken up to laser eye surgery and am now living in the future? Or can I now see through time? If you are still living in 10th January, I'd advise you to put a bet on Alan Johnson resigning from the Shadow Cabinet. You can then retire from your job and move to the Bahamas.

I think you would enjoy that.

Many thanks

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Complaining To WH Smith, Is There Any Point?

Before Xmas our family flew to Barcelona, and we departed from Gatwick Airport. Normally this is quite straightforward, so we weren't expecting to discover that the Gatwick North WH Smith is so much worse a shopping experience than the ones in Gatwick South that we normally visit.

When we got back from Barcelona, we submitted the following complaint via the WH Smith website.
My partner is a wheelchair user and attempted to use your air-side shop at Gatwick's North terminal on Friday 3rd December at approximately 6am.

Having selected her items for purchase she queued for over 10 mins before getting to the entrance to the till area. At this point she was unable to proceed as the barriers were too narrow to allow wheelchair access and too heavy for her to move. Neither member of till staff offered her any assistance, and despite her attempts to get around the back of the barriers, she was unable to complete her purchase. When she then moved out of the shop to get my assistance, the staff member moving the newspaper trolleys towards the shop pushed them into her and pushed her backwards into the shop.

She was extremely upset and hurt by this. She finds leaving the house to be stressful enough and this was supposed to be the start of a relaxing trip to Barcelona. Suffice to say, this was not the way in which we wished it to proceed.

When I went back into the shop to ask why the barriers were not wide enough to allow wheelchair access, the "manager" said that she'd had no other complaints about them and told me that she "didn't design the layout" of the shop. Not exactly the ideal attitude for a representative of your organisation, I would suggest, nor particularly
aware of the present Disability legislation.

Could you please confirm whether the queue barriers in all of your stores are wide enough for a wheelchair to navigate easily, or is the Gatwick North store something of a novelty? Could you also please confirm whether your staff receive any training on how to deal with disabled customers or whether the "manager" I spoke to an aberration on an otherwise exemplary staff training policy?

Any information or comments you have would be gratefully received.
We received the obligatory auto-response thanking us for our email; "We appreciate the time you have taken to contact us. We take all of our customer comments seriously and want to make sure we fully investigate your concerns before responding to you."

Ominously, the last line said "Thank you for your patience."

So I waited three weeks, during which time we heard not a peep out of them, and then sent them this:
Any possibility of an actual response to my complaint? I feel three weeks would give you sufficient time to speak to any and all staff concerned, so I am disappointed not to receive anything from you apart from this auto response.
Quite surprisingly, I got a reply two days later, and not just an auto-response. Although they did thank me for my email.

"I'm sorry that you have not recived a reply from us. Please can you reply to this email, detailing your enquiry again, and we will endeavour to reply as quickly as possible."

So I replied with the text of the original mail and got this reply three days after that. Twenty-four days after the complaint was first submitted, if you're keeping count.
Thank you for your email of 28 December 2010, expressing your disappointment with the level of service you received at our Gatwick North store.

I sincerely regret this situation and can confirm that all aisles should be wide enough to be easily accessible for wheelchair users. I have immediately passed your feedback to the Gatwick site so this can be addressed

We are committed to offering excellent customer service so it is always a great disappointment when we hear that we are not achieving this. Rest assured our Store Manager has addressed this matter as an urgent training issue with all members of staff and we will take any steps necessary to ensure that this standard of service is never repeated.

I am very sorry that we have let you down on this occasion. I do, however, appreciate the time you have taken to bring this matter to my attention and if I can be of any assistance to you in the future, please feel welcome to contact me.
You may note the lack of actual answers to my question about any training the staff receive on how to interact with disabled customers. And I'm delighted that the aisles are wide enough for a wheelchair. Unfortunately, I asked about the checkout queue barriers. And mentioning you'll "take any steps" to a wheelchair user is surely taking the piss, no?

I have replied to their email and if I get anything back, I'll post it here.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Spam E-Mail Of The Day

This is to bring to your notice that I am delegated from the United Nations To Central Bank to pay 150 scam victims $3,500,000.00 (THREE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED UNITED STATE DOLLAR) each.

You are listed and approved for this payment as one of the scammed victims to be paid this amount, get back to me as soon as possible for the immediate payments of your $3,500,000.00 compensations funds.

On this faithful recommendations, we want you to know that during the last U.N. meetings held at Abuja, Nigeria, it was alarmed so much by the world in the meetings on the lose of funds by various individuals to the scams artists operating in syndicates all over the world today.

In other to compensate victims, the U.N Body in conjunction with the Nigerian Government is now paying 150 victims of this operators $3,500,000.00 each in accordance with the U.N. recommendations.

Your particulars was mentioned by one of the Syndicates who was arrested as one of their victims of the operations, you are hereby warned not to communicate or duplicate this message to him for any reason what so ever as the U.S. security service is already on trace of the other criminals.

You are thereby advised to contact the payment officer in Nigeria through the following information. Name............. Mr.BEN KOJO E-mail: You will receive your compensations payments through CERTIFIED BANK DRAFT OR ATM PAYMENTS SYSTEM. You will be detailed with the modalities as you contact us for details.

Yours faithfully, Mr.Ben Kojo
Well that seems reasonable to me. Let me just get you my bank details.


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