25 April 2024

My faith is restored

It seems nowadays that dealing with large companies and organisations can be a headache to negotiate sometimes. Not just a headache but an uphill struggle on slippery mud, where you get nowhere fast. I've had one such experience lately where I felt I'd be better off banging my head against a brick wall.

About six months ago I received a letter to my address but with a strange man's name on. Let's call him Mr Putin. (That is not his name, but it did sound Eastern European). Now I have lived at my address for 36 years and, apart from my husband and daughter, there has been nobody else living here, and certainly not by the name of Mr Putin,  unless he's hiding in my loft somewhere. I asked all the neighbours in my small cul-de-sac if they knew who this man was and nobody had heard of him. Reluctantly I opened the letter. It was from a leading UK High Street building society (let's call them BuildSoc) telling the said Mr Putin that his account was overdrawn and to contact them.

Now, call me paranoid,  but I was worried someone, or to be more precise Mr Putin, was using my address fraudulently, so I rang BuildSoc's head office and reported this. I was told to return the letter and it would be dealt with.

A couple of months later, I received another letter to Mr Putin. This time I took the letter to my local branch of BuildSoc and the counter clerk there promised the account would be blocked and investigated and that should be the end of the matter. 

Then in March I received a third letter to Mr Putin asking if they had the right address for him! Well, clearly not, as it was sent to my address again. I rang head office again and was on the phone for ages explaining, then being put on hold and then cut-off after 28 minutes!  I rang again and was cut off again after 11 minutes.  In the end I sent the letter back to BuildSoc with an explanatory covering letter. I asked them to sort this out once and for all and to let me know the outcome. Of course there has been radio silence ever since.

Then, yesterday, I received a fourth letter to Mr Putin asking if they had the right address for him. By now I felt like tearing my hair out. I rang BuildSoc again and was advised to take the letter into my local branch, which I did.

Within an hour of being home, I received a telephone call from a very pleasant lady (let's call her Diana) who apologised profusely and said she would look into the case and ring me today, which she did. Diana explained that she had listened through recordings of the very long phone calls I made in March and had traced what had happened since. She was amazed that I had been kept on hold for so long and she explained that indeed my phone calls were cut off because of technical faults the company was experiencing on that day. She said someone should have rung me back and had failed to do so.  She also explained the legality of trying to trace someone when they don't reply to letters and, whilst not promising that I may still get some more correspondence as they have legally to show they are trying to contact someone who may be forced against their will to not reply, she said it should all stop soon. Meanwhile to compensate me for my troubles and holding on the phone for so long, they would be sending me a cheque for £50. She asked me to contact her on her email if I experienced any further problems. BuildSoc has certainly gone up in my estimation. My faith in humankind is restored. 

Meanwhile my faith in mousekind has been shaken and slightly stirred. More on that another day...........

13 April 2024

Mouse in the House

For many months now, I have seen the cutest little mouse come through from my neighbour's fence, scurry from one side of my patio to the other, where it nibbles on seeds dropped from the birdfeeder which hangs on my lilac tree. It is a tiny little thing and very cleverly hides behind plant tubs until it thinks it can safely negotiate the big open space it needs to traverse to get to the seeds. I have shown it to many a visitor to my house and we have all agreed how cute it is. Sometimes I have fancied I have seen two mice as as soon as one scurries next door, another appears almost instantly a bit further away in search of the seeds, so there is no way it could be the same mouse.

I keep bird seed and peanuts in my kitchen ready to throw out to the birds and squirrels. There is an injured pigeon that comes daily and  literally walks pigeon-toed, placing one foot on top of the other as it walks and seriously losing his balance. He spreads his wings in an attempt to steady himself and looks a sorry sight so I always throw seed and peanuts out to him. The antics of the birds and mice have kept me amused over the long winter months and I felt happy to feed them. Until now.

About 6 weeks ago, I was thoroughly cleaning out a corner of my kitchen that I confess I don't clean often enough. Behind a piece of furniture,  alongside where I keep the bags of seed and peanuts, I discovered what looked like lots of  tiny black seeds or black grains of rice.  Now I know the seeds I feed to the birds are not black, so I was a little clueless as to where these seeds had come from. I vacuumed them up and thought no more about it.

Last week, I was cleaning near the bags of seed and peanuts and found some discarded  peanut skins and another scattering of 'black rice grains'. Also there was a chewed hole in the plastic bag of peanuts. Suddenly the penny dropped! I have mice in the house! I have never felt so uneasy in all my life. I love the little critters outside, but sharing the inside of my home with them is definitely unacceptable. Unfortunately I have no idea how they are getting in or out, as there is no trail. The droppings seem to be clustered around where the seed and peanuts bags were and a few along the works surfaces and behind the microwave (ugh). But as my ground floor is entirely made of concrete and there are no floorboards, it is mystifying. It called for desperate measures.

One week on, I still have a problem, although I think I am winning. I have put down traps with poison in them. I checked this morning and the poisoned sachets have been chewed open and the contents obviously taken back to the nests, but that has not stopped the occasional dropping here and there, so they are still alive.  But the dropping are a lot less than they were. I have also bought peppermint oil as apparently mice do not like the smell of that, although last night's visitors did not seem perturbed by it. I gather it may take a week or two to see the results I want, so I persevere. A friend rather seemed horrified that I had used poison and suggested a more humane trap would be better, but if I catch them alive and put them outside, they will only return. Should I put them in my car with seatbelts on and drive a few miles away and dump the problem on someone else? If anyone has any further advice, it will be gratefully received. Meanwhile today I have thoroughly cleaned all kitchen work surfaces with bleach and disinfectant and await tomorrow's findings with interest.

Maybe I should get a cat, although, knowing my luck, it will be vegetarian.