Friday, February 27, 2004

I write a letter to Amazon.

It is not a stroppy letter, it is courteous and well-thought-out. Stroppy letters don't work, and are written by pompous arses so they can smugly claim 'that TOLD them!' as they bore their golf club mates with the interminable story of their washing machine problem.

I used to work in a company that occasionally received stroppy letters, so I know what I'm talking about. There is an accepted procedure in UK business for dealing with them:

- Read through, roll eyes wearily
- Pass round to co-workers for shared amusement
- Make token attempt to solve problem
- Draft reply, thanking writer for stroppy letter. Deliberately misunderstand at least one of their points, and carefully phrase to make it obvious that you think they're a small piece of dirt, without quite ever spelling it out. Give some nice customer satisfaction statistics that run counter to what the writer and everybody else knows to be true
- Conclude with annoying non-phrase, such as 'assuring you of our best service at all times'
- File in big blue folder, marked 'Funny Stroppy Letters'

I never did this, I hasten to add, and disapproved heartily. I just couldn't quite work out what British business had against sending people straightforward replies, admitting things had gone wrong, etc. Viz:

Dear Mr Blah,

I was alarmed to receive your letter, and am very sorry to hear of your explosion.

This is the first we have heard of one of our products exploding, but clearly one is too many. Please accept our sincere apologies.

A cheque for £85 is attached, to cover repairs. Agreed, it seems only fair that we should pay for them, and let's face it - it's a pissy, derisory amount of money to a company like us. For some reason, my boss thinks that we should try every delaying, haggling tactic in the book to try to avoid giving you any recompense whatsoever, but that would seem like a waste of all our lives.

Please let me know immediately should you have any more queries.

As it's the first and last time you'll ever receive a straightforward letter like this, I know you'll go around telling everybody that you had a small problem, but received absolutely great service in sorting it out. Therefore I look forward to you being a customer again.

Best wishes,


Thursday, February 26, 2004

I want to buy a CD. 'Happiness from a Distant Star' by Animals That Swim.

So I order in from Amazon. Limited availability, two in stock, one to two weeks blah blah blah.

It arrives. I open it. They haven't sent me 'Happiness from a Distant Star' by Animals that Swim. They've sent me 'Punchbag' by The Bees. I didn't want 'Punchbag' by The Bees. I wanted 'Happiness from a Distant Star' by Animals that Swim.

I have an old git moment. There could be no possible confusion between the two products. 'Punchbag' isn't even a long-player.

I wrap it up again in the original packaging, working myself up into righteous anger. I take it to the post office and send it off. The post office is actually only three hundred yards from my home, but if it had been a long way away and if I were disabled then this would have been a real problem. I send Amazon an email.

Nothing happens for a couple of weeks. Then I notice that 'Happiness from a Distant Star' by Animals that Swim has reappeared against my outstanding orders, zero rated. They are sending me another, apparently.

The package arrives. I open it.

The box does not contain 'Happiness from a Distant Star' by Animals that Swim. It contains 'Punchbag' by The Bees.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

I think I smell of curry.

Found on Unlucky Friend's dining table: millions of small bits of soggy paper. He had washed his driving license in his jeans pocket. We drank Guinness last night, and talked writing and music.

Listened to a rarities DVD by the Doves. The Doves are terrific - they're what I wish Pink Floyd had turned in to. Talked more music, borrowed the DVD.

I'm sure I smell of curry.

Got home. Realised that I do not posess a DVD player. Read the liner notes.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Slowly, but inexorably, I am turning into an old git.

A year ago, I gave up office life to become self-employed. I downshifted. I now work by myself, staring at a PC screen for much of the day. I am less stressed, less worried. I enjoy life more. I am a better person to be around.

But also...

I find myself despairing and crotchety about aspects of modern life.
I seem to be developing some form of obsessive-compulsive thing about doing the laundry.
I have long meaningless conversations with the bloke in the shop, as picking up the newspaper is the highlight of my day.
I go on and on about trivial things to my Long Term Life Partner (LTLP) when she gets home.
I suspect I am becoming increasingly tight-fisted.
I am increasingly intolerant about crap popular culture.

Slowly, but inexorably, I am turning into an old git. This must be what it's like to be retired. This must be why old people write to local papers. It wasn't meant to be like this.

Picked up the paper this morning, and some milk.