20 May 2023

Bad luck

My run of bad luck (sprained ankle in November, Covid in December, washing machine flood in January, ongoing continuing saga of bed delivery) has now been increased by another incident. This week I was due to go on holiday for a few days, but the trip was unexpectedly cancelled at the very last minute.

As I am a widow, an only child with no cousins or wider family and, as my two best friends live at least 60 miles away from me with busy lives of their own, I have nobody really to go away on holiday with. (Sound of violins in the distance.) Before the pandemic I had therefore decided the only way to get a holiday was to go away on my own, but the pandemic soon put a stop to any thoughts on that. 

Over the past few months however, I had decided to resume my courage to go away solo and had decided to start with Salisbury. Not only was that a reasonable train distance from London, but I have an old schoolfriend, with whom I still keep in touch, who lives in an outlying village to Salisbury. We still write to one another at Christmas and usually threaten to visit one another, but life and the years have passed so quickly and suddenly forty-seven years on, we have not seen one another since 1976. We agreed to meet for lunch last Wednesday. I meanwhile had booked into a Wetherspoons hotel for two nights in Salisbury - I thought it fitted the bill as it was closest to the station and the town centre -so that I could travel down by train and sightsee on the Tuesday and Thursday either side of seeing my friend on Wednesday.

On Tuesday morning, I was all packed and had just finished my breakfast. My first train connection within London was due to leave within the hour. I was just thinking of checking all the things you check before you leave home, when an email pinged in on my phone. "Reservation Cancellation". In horror I read that my reservation at the hotel had been cancelled. The email was not even from the hotel I had booked but from one in Henley. At first I thought it was a joke but when I tried to ring the hotel, I was getting unobtainable and the Henley hotel was not answering either. In frantic desperation with only half an hour to go before my train, I tried online to find an alternative hotel in Salisbury, but none had availability at such short notice. I had no choice but to abandon the trip altogether. I was so disappointed. To add insult to injury, when I went down to the station to get a refund on my train ticket (which I had bought weeks ago) I was told it was non-refundable.

I have been trying all week to get in touch with the hotel for an explanation but still get the unobtainable tone. Then I found this online. It helps to explain why, but still hasn't sadly pacified my disappointment. What were the chances of that happening on the day I was due to get there?

11 May 2023

Goodnight, sleep tight

You would think buying a bed would be simple. You go into a shop, try out a few, find the one you want, pay for it, have it delivered and "goodnight, sleep tight". That's the theory. In practice I have had the most awful experience.

Back in November, when Kay and her fiance bought a house, I decided to give them my bed to put in their guest bedroom. My bed was nudging 30 years old and I decided maybe it was time for a new one. They say that you should change your bed every 8-10 years. I don't know whether that is just the bed manufacturers' way of getting you to buy new, otherwise they would never make a sale once everybody had one, or whether there is some science in the need to change it that often, but I had deliberately ignored it until now. I had donated my bed on the spur of the moment while Kay had the removal van handy and intended to go looking for a replacement the very next day, except I sprained my ankle (see here) and was virtually housebound for three months, so couldn't go looking until late January. 

Come January, I decided to go to a small shop not far away that I had used in the past for Kay's bed and wanted to give the small shopkeeper some business. These days, there are so many options - single, queen, double, king and super king, not to mention natural fibres, memory foam, latex foam, gel-top, as well as firm/medium/soft tensions. After careful deliberation, I chose a lovely oak frame bed with headboard and footboard and bounced up and down on a few beds until I found the mattress I liked. Easy peasy. Or so I thought. 

I had to wait 4 weeks for the mattress to come over from Ireland (apparently) before the bed and frame were delivered, so by the end of February, having slept on a camping bed since November, I was getting very excited. The day of the bed delivery arrived, two men carried the mattress up to the bedroom and it was then that I noticed...... a dent in the headboard and fingerprint-like stains on the mattress. I rang the shop and took photos and they agreed without any fuss on receipt of photos that they would replace everything. 

some of the stains on the mattress

In the meantime, I had noticed that the mattress I had chosen had no handles (I had mistakenly thought they all did) and, given that I live on my own, turning it periodically (as is advised) would not have been easy, so I took the opportunity to change my order for a more expensive mattress (double the price) with handles. 

I waited another 4 weeks for the replacements to arrive, but finally in  early April mattress number 2 and headboard number 2 arrived. That bedhead was also damaged and I was promised yet another replacement in due course. After several nights it became clear to me that the mattress was far too soft and causing lower backache. It's one thing to try it out in the shop for 30 seconds and quite another to spend a whole night on it. I asked if they could swap it back for the original model but obviously one without stains! I would just have to cope without mattress handles. I also asked if they could get their warehouse to check the wooden headboard for damages before putting it on the delivery van to save a wasted visit. This was promised. The shop had gone to great pains to tell me that they can return a damaged mattress to the manufacturer, but as mattress number 2 was not damaged and merely uncomfortable, they would charge me £290 extra as "scrappage" in other words the only way they could make some money out of my return as they do not have a licence to sell second-hand beds and they would literally have to destroy it.

Another long wait began until the mattress number 3 could be delivered from the manufacturer, but finally this week I was promised it would be delivered. The headboards had however all been checked in the warehouse and none were damage-free, so they were going to speak to the manufacturer with whom they were having some problems anyway. The wait for that would continue. 

Mattress number 3 arrived yesterday. As the delivery men unwrapped it from its packaging and laid it on the bed I noticed the same familiar fingerprint stains on it and pointed them out to the men. They had delivered the very mattress (number 1) that I had returned in February. I rang the shop, but had to leave a detailed message as there is only ever one salesperson in the shop and they cannot answer the phone if dealing with a customer. Shortly thereafter, I got a phone call from the shop's customer service manager located in deepest Surrey somewhere. He was  overflowing with apologies, saying there had been a monumental mix-up. First of all mattress number 1 with stains should never have gone back to be stored in the warehouse as it would cause "contamination" with the rest of their new stock, but somehow or other it had been returned to the warehouse as "stock". Secondly, the message that I wanted the original choice of model  back had somehow been relayed that I wanted the original complete with stains (as if) and that is why it had been delivered yesterday. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I rarely lose my rag with people, but I let fly and said this was disgraceful service. Not only that but I had paid the £290 scrappage fee because I was told they would never resell a used mattress and yet, here I was getting a used mattress (I know, as I had used it previously!) The customer service man assured me this was a very unusual mix-up and should not have happened and there was going to be an Inquiry.  He could not have grovelled more if he had tried. Meanwhile he told me I have another 4-week wait to get mattress number 4.

So here I sit 4 months on still waiting for the perfect mattress and bedhead to materialise.  The customer service man said I was a one-in-a-million for this to happen to. Just my luck!