I've been away again, atop ladders, under ladders, standing in hallways, bedrooms and stairways brandishing a steamer as if it were a weapon of mass destruction, which of course it is - if you are a piece of wallpaper. I haven't reported on the worm charming in which a worm entered the Guiness Book of Records, although not physically, I don't think, nor the Wrenbury scarecrows, although I may get around to it all in my memoirs that you all keep begging me to write. No, it's been 'all go' in the house and I think that I have finally had it for good with this wonderful customer service that all Brits in Belgium rattle on about. Give me Belgian customer service any day; at least they get the point when I am sick to the back teeth of answering the phone to give praises to Scarlet, a telephone company that I was not using nor ever did.
But England? Oh why, oh why oh why oh why didn't anybody tell me how much this country loves, no, adores and craves sending out surveys. Since I arrived here at the end of April this year I appear to have spent at least 28 days filling out absolutely pointless surveys that do not improve the service that you may have received - or in some cases, not even received.
Let's see where it all started.....
Scottish Power. Well, they were so good in not replying to my emails and phone calls that I simply went ahead and switched to British Gas. Scottish Power finally contacted me, most likely after British Gas notified them that I was switching meters and before they could even start asking me questions I told them that I wanted nothing to do with them whatsoever and would they please leave me alone. For good.
British Gas came next and aren't they just charming? They called me up, sent me follow-up letters to all the emails that they sent me and then confirmed again via text message. Mmmm. And then, before - yes, before, I am even using their services, they sent me a survey. My first. Of many surveys, it appears. How was I to reply to the question: On a scale of 1-10, what do you think of British Gas? or even: Would you recommend British Gas to friends or family?
Result: Pissed Off+++
BT. Now BT really, really pissed me off in a major way. Once I finally got a date for the technician to install my phones (the poor dear ended up having to call a cherry-picker to get up the telephone pole opposite as it appears that this house has been cabled with alarm wire, or something. I wasn't here so ask Richard). Once the mega-slow wifi and phones were installed I ended up being bombarded by emails - and a survey. This being only my second survey, I thought that I would point out something that really angered me, such as the fact that the day after, yes, the day after I signed up for the world's slowest internet connection as that was all I could get in this third world country, BT started promoting this slow internet connection for free for the first four months. Surely they would read this and think "Oh no! Poor Zoe, who had to leave her home country to live here really has had a bit of bad luck - let's forward her order by one day so that she can take advantage of the great offer that we are offering and then she will tell ALL her friends too."
It does get better though. For some reason, probably because my ancient laptop is foreign to these climes, I couldn't get onto the interwebs. With some great help from someone at BT who knew how to operate a laptop, I was connected. Many thanks, mate - but hold on, an email already - from BT? Ah, a 'quick' survey to report back on how great the technician had been. While I was doing it, BT called asking how the technician was, so Richard just told them that his partner was filling in the survey as they spoke.
Result: D (even if I do have a landline and wifi.)
Hairdressers. A 19 year-old who called herself a Creative Stylist, got the colouring more or less right but cut off so little hair and was even more minimalistic when it came to conversation, leaving me on the search for a different salon to go to - and a survey. I didn't even bother filling this one in.
Currys. Lovely people who sold me the World's Tallest Fridge at half the price and a washing machine with £80 knocked off decided to deliver the items at 6.39am this morning. I was not happy and it's best not to say anything to Richard today as the poor sod only got 4 hours sleep last night.
Result: Too tired to judge.
AXA. I was with them in the Heart of Europe and their prices over here were by far the cheapest so I have stuck with them. They sent me a survey. How could I fill that out when I hadn't had to make any claims or anything yet?
BettaLiving: Great cupboards, excellent and very professional, but the two lads who delivered the cupboards had the cheek to ask us if we could take the 3 two metre boards off them as "if they went back with them, the boards would be knocked off their salaries." So we have 3 huge boards to saw up and take to the tip, along with the leftovers in bedroom.
So apart from 10 days in hot and sunny France at a family reunion where the wine was plentiful and the food was excellent, I appear to be getting on slowly.
Filling out surveys.