Category Archives: Rants

Chill Factore Complaint

The following complaint about the Chill Factore in Manchester was emailed in by an avid reader. They have sent the same complaint to Chill Factore themselves, but as yet haven’t received a reply. As I always say, there’s nothing quite like complaining publically (it does tend to get better results, especially when those ‘results’ are influenced by search results in Google).

Anhow, here is the complaint about Chill Factore in Manchester

——–

To whom it may concern,

Sorry this email took a week or so to send to you but after seeing it’s length, and taking into account my hectic work schedule, I had to write it in bits as and when I had a minute spare.

I write this email of complaint in the hope that you can ensure that this level of unacceptable service does not recur.

My friend Jenny and her mother, Betty, came to Chill Factore for a Ski Taster Session for Betty and my friend and I to Ski, as we are both members.

Before I explain my complaint, Firstly, please let me give you a little background information.

My friend and I came to Chill factor in November of last year for a Taster Session on Skiing for my 30th birthday. It was on the small beginner slope. We liked it so much we then booked a full days lesson with an excellent instructor named Noel. We loved it that much we then booked and went on a holiday skiing in Bulgaria. We are now members and come skiing with you most weeks and are planning to go back to Bulgaria this coming February.

Betty has only been skiing once before and was very wary of the sport due to an unfortunate incident when on holiday. She was told by someone, an ‘instructor’, would teach her how to ski. She was strapped to some skis, then placed at the top of a slope on a mountain and then, for lack of a better description, pushed down the mountain without even most the rudimentary instruction on what to do, it was a sink or swim type of scenario.

As you can imagine Betty’s appetite for skiing somewhat diminished. The problem was, Betty actually WANTS to like skiing but thought that it was just not right for her. It was only with excellent raving reviews about chill factor and much cajoling by me and my friend that she agreed to give it another try. My friend and I are going skiing in Bulgaria again in February and would very much like her to come.

So, with that in mind we booked the Taster Session at 7pm on Wednesday with, according to your system, an instructor named Chris.

My complaint has 2 main issues. Firstly, the conditions. Secondly the instructor.

The Conditions
The Taster session was not on the beginner slope, but on an unreasonably small section of the main slope, that was hosting 2 skiing classes, 2 snowboarding classes and , I believe, a number of other lessons. While I understand that you are a business and you need to make money, you should also have an obligation to give ALL your customer the same level of experience. After all, they are all paying customers.

The Instructor
My grievance with the instructor is the largest part of this complaint. I believe that if the instructor had carried out his role with at least the basic level of aptitude then the above concern would not have manifested into an email of complaint. He showed, contrary to what one would have expected, very little, if any, instruction. Little to no enthusiasm about taking the class, and seemed more interested in his mobile phone and the delights that it held, than taking any vague interest in the class. The resulting quality (the word quality is used very loosely) is detailed below.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but one of the most basic and possibly important bits of information that a new person would like to know when trying to learn to ski is how to go slow or stop. The instructor did not tell her, or the group how to stop, or did, but advised that in order to stop they should use the barrier and/or pile of snow at the bottom. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions from this as I am sure you don’t need me to tell you how scary this can be to a new person with a bad or scary previous experience of skiing.

After side stepping up the slope, and then getting ready to slide down, Betty advised the instructor that she did not feel comfortable as her skis were not pointing in the direction in order for her to go down the slope but rather diagonal across the slope and across the path of the many, many, people on the ridiculously small section of main slope. The instructor just told Betty that it was fine and to just go. She would then ski diagonally across the slope, across everyone else’s path and colliding and/or near colliding with other people.

This happened every time she went down the slope, she then, before the official end of the session, understandably gave up and left the ‘class’.

Ordinarily when putting someone on the slope, instructors would stand in front of the person to make sure they are set right before setting them off the slope, as they did with my friend and i when we started, and as i have since seen them do with numerous others.

After the session, we spoke to Betty, I went to a gentleman on your reception and advised him of the situation and my views upon it and he kindly gave her another free Taster Session.

This was a nice gesture; however, Betty has decided that she, again understandably, does not want to go through the ordeal of another Taster session. My friend and I have eventually persuaded her to give it another try, but to do a lesson level 1, only after may assurances that the experience at chill factor is not like the one she experienced this time, and also next time she is taking her husband along for moral support.

We are going to book this in for next Saturday morning but I would like to ensure that the lessons on that day are not going to be held on the main slope?

If you would like to contact me about this matter please feel free to do so using my number below.

Many Thanks

Groupon lies about over charging on Clouds Memory Foam offer

I recently purchased four memory foam pillows on Groupon from the company ‘Clouds Memory Foam’. The Groupon offer gave a great discount by offering 4 pillows for £55, instead of £239.96 – with just a £4.99 delivery charge (as you can see from the link).

However, when I came to place the order the delivery charge was £10 – not £4.99. As you only have a limited time to redeem your Groupon vouchers I had little choice but to pay the £10 and quibble about it later.

Knowing Groupon as I do (I’ve never had a transaction go without a hitch of some kind) I tweeted them immediately about the issue, and received an instant response saying to email their UK support team, which I did.

However – I received the following reply from Groupon’s email support:

Pal, Sep-27 00:05 (BST):
Hi Darren,
Thank you for your email. I am sorry to hear that you were charged £10.00 delivery fee for your Clouds Memory Foam Pillows.
I have checked our system and cannot find any other customers being charged this amount.
Please find below the contact number for the partner, to request a refund for this fee:
Phone Numbers: (+44) 203 086 7423 & (+44) 207 760 7562
Email: contact@cloudsmemoryfoam.com
Also did you follow the below procedure to place your order:
– Go to www.cloudsmemoryfoam.co.uk/bedding/pillows-3/super-deluxe-memory-foam-pillow-1
– In the checkout, enter your voucher codes
– Have your credit/debit card details ready to pay the £4.99 postage

It was the ‘I have checked our system and cannot find any other customers being charged this amount’ that interested me, as this means they have checked, and nobody else has been charged £10 for delivery – except of course that they have, and Groupon has lied. Not only has Groupon lied about this, they have knowingly attempted to deceive as they have indeed checked, and have sent me exactly the same email as someone else has already received – so they looked up the problem, found someone else had reported the same problem, saw the email they had already sent to them, and then forwarded it to me.

Pal, Sep-26 23:27 (BST):
Hi Lianne,
Thank you for your email. I am sorry to hear that you were charged £10.00 delivery fee for your Clouds Memory Foam Pillows.
I have checked our system and cannot find any other customers being charged this amount.
Please find below the contact number for the partner, to request a refund for this fee:
Phone Numbers: (+44) 203 086 7423 & (+44) 207 760 7562
Email: contact@cloudsmemoryfoam.com
Also did you follow the below procedure to place your order:
– Go to www.cloudsmemoryfoam.co.uk/bedding/pillows-3/super-deluxe-memory-foam-pillow-1
– In the checkout, enter your voucher codes
– Have your credit/debit card details ready to pay the £4.99 postage

How disgusting is that? They must have known for a fact that someone else had been charged the £10 in order to send me the exact same email. Groupon clearly can’t be trusted. Mistakes happen, that’s a fact of life. When a website becomes as successful as Groupon has become these mistakes will be more frequent, but it’s how you deal with these mistakes that sets you apart – and to knowingly lie to customers marks you out as a company that simply cannot be trusted.

I wonder what Groupon will come back with now, following this response:

That’s funny, because someone else has received this exact same email from you (GroupOn code error (ticket #906501)).

Seems you’re lying through your arse on this one. How many people have you sent this exact same email to, claiming nobody else has been charged £10?

This is a disgraceful lie that has been found out. I suggest you tread very carefully with the way you reply to this.

I await the next chapter with bated breath.

Recruitment Consultants won’t leave me alone

The last few weeks I have been receiving numerous calls each and every day from recruitment consultants. I made the mistake of updating my CV on one website, just because it was out of date, and now I’m getting recruitment sharks swimming around me as though I’m clinging to a piece of driftwood while haemorrhaging blood from my leg.

Now I don’t mind so much the odd recruitment consultant calling me as I know they’re only doing their jobs and trying to fill positions – but seriously, some of them haven’t even looked at my CV before calling – if the jobs they’re suggesting are anything to go by. I’ve been asked about positions ranging from an SEO manager in Dublin (interesting, for sure) to a developer role in Bristol – even though I’m not a developer. I’ve been asked about entry level developer positions… I’m 34 (for a few more days at least) and have worked in Internet marketing for the last 11 years!

I’m half expecting to get calls from bakery recruitment or transport recruitment agencies, such is the irrelevance of some of the calls I have been getting.

What makes matters even worse is how some of these recruitment consultants handle being told that I’m not interested. Some of them are fine, and say sorry and wish me a nice day. This is good. Some of them argue, saying that they’ve seen my CV and think the role they have would be very suitable, even though they have already been told I’m not interested.

Some of them, however, decide that the best, and quickest, option is to just hang up on me, which is unacceptable. As anyone who knows me, or reads this website regularly, will testify I am known for remembering infractions such as this and, suffice to say, StuckOn won’t be using recruitment agencies where its staff have behaved in this way.

A little tip there for recruitment consultants; when you phone someone about a job it’s best you’re not rude to them when they say they’re not interested because, just maybe, they could be responsible for recruitment where they are now… setting fire to those bridges isn’t a good idea.

As a side note, I have even been called by BD Recruitment in the last two weeks. I told them to Google BD Recruitment and then never phone me again. A read of this post will explain why.

Stupid Business Plans in The Apprentice Final

If anyone watched the final of The Apprentice a few weeks ago I’m sure you felt just as I did as the candidates went into the final task, revealing their ‘business plans’ for Lord Sugar to choose from. Just how bad were each and every one of those business plans?

Jim, who was without question an excellent salesman, wanted to piggy-back off the back of Lord Sugar’s reputation and even suggested his business idea be ‘non-profit’ – something that the dour cockney Sugar almost choked on his water when he heard. That idea was blown out of the water straight away.

Susan MaSusan Ma, who is very young you know, in case she didn’t mention it, wanted the £250,000 to set up a range of natural beauty products and compete with some of the biggest players in the game overnight. Lord Sugar of course instantly put her straight by pointing out that £250,000 isn’t going to get you very far in the cosmetics industry and, no matter how much passion and belief you have in your products, you can’t compete with the cosmetics giants on a shoestring budget like that.

Helen had an off-the-wall idea of a concierge service for the busy career men and women of London – those people who were too busy to book their own dentist appointments and thus would need to call someone else to make the appointment for them. Despite having no contacts and no experience in this industry, she thought it was a winner; Lord Sugar did not.

This left Tom who, despite being a great guy and a clearly talented inventor, had come up with a business plan that angered Lord Sugar because of its reliance on the service industry, whereas the gruff cockney is a ‘products man’. Lord Sugar tore into every business plan that was presented, leaving me thinking that he was regretting this new format for the show of investing in an idea rather than just employing someone.

Luckily for Lord Sugar, Tom was a proven inventor and had sold products before – so he went with him, although you got the feeling that his business plan would be binned on day one and his old products would be returned to.

I’m sure for the next series of The Apprentice that, should they persist with this investment prize, that the business plans will be vetted before hand – or Lord Sugar will at least have been appraised of them before filming begins so he knows not to get rid of someone with a genuinely good idea in favour of someone with a crazy, off-the-wall notion such as running a concierge service or competing in the natural beauty products industry against multi million pound companies.

Cheltenham and Gloucester’s stance on my mortgage

Recently I attempted to move house, from Manchester to Ellesmere Port. I planned on moving to be nearer work, as the 70 mile round trip is a bit of a time burner (not to mention heavy on the fuel).

I own my house in Manchester, and have about £17,000 in equity in the house and a mortgage with C&G, who are part of Lloyds TSB – my bank. I wanted to release that equity to use it as a sizable deposit on another house. Now, without going into significant financial details and the particulars of the purchase, and the equity release, I wanted to buy a house in Ellesmere Port for £72,000 – which was significantly cheaper than I’d have been selling my Manchester home for, and port my mortgage across – which this time last year would have been a formality.

Not so now however. After handing out mortgages left, right and centre to people who had no means of paying them back, causing the economy and the housing market to collapse, the banks have now gone the other way and aren’t giving mortgages, even to people who can afford them and are indeed already paying more to them now.

I wanted to reduce my mortgage by about £100 per month, trade up for a bigger (cheaper) house and reduce my liability with the bank – reducing the amount they had loaned to me. Basically I wanted to pay THEM money back, reducing my mortgage – and they said, after careful consideration, no – it was too much of a risk. You see, every mortgage application is treated as a new one, even though I would have been porting my mortgage, rather than getting a new one. Even though I’d be giving them money – they still couldn’t see the wood for the trees.

What really annoys me about this isn’t the fact that I’ve lost the house I wanted to buy, or that I’ve been turned down for a mortgage for the first time ever – no, it’s the fact that it’s the banks own stupidity that has caused this financial crisis and now it’s their own stupidity again that is stopping the economy from recovering.

It’s common sense you idiots – if someone already has a mortgage with you and wants to downsize their mortgage, paying you money back, then surely they CAN afford it??? Otherwise they couldn’t afford what they have now.

David Lloyd, Ellesmere Port, and the Groundhog Day quiz

As someone who enjoys a pub quiz (for a combination of reasons that include showing how much I know about useless trivia and the opportunity of winning alcohol) I always enjoyed the quiz, every two weeks, at David Lloyd in Ellesmere Port.

Now, some people use this place as a gym, or to play tennis, as I believe it has these facilities. I wouldn’t know – I’ve never made it past the bar area, where the quiz is held. However, this quiz has suffered in quality of late due, it would seem, to management decisions.

Let me explain; in the good old days of a few months ago the quiz was every two weeks on a Wednesday evening. For the people playing the quiz they would also have a special food offer, where outside caterers (this is important) provided a curry or chilli, and there was an offer for a bottle of beer and ‘help yourself’ to the food.

This was great, as you can imagine.

The quiz itself also offered some worthwhile prizes. Every team member paid a pound, which went into a pot and would roll over to the next quiz if nobody won it – the first pot went to around £500 before it was won. Teams were no more than six players (at least, there were supposed to be) and the winning team at the end of the quiz would receive either a crate of lager or five bottles of wine. Not too shabby.

There was a special lucky losers prize of another bottle of wine, drawn randomly from the teams who didn’t win. Finally there was the matter of the money, where everyone who had paid their pound entry received a raffle ticket, and the winning ticket drawn following the quiz gave its holder the chance to draw one of a dozen or so envelopes, containing prizes such as a banana, a meal for two and the prize pot (which got quite large). Whether you won anything on the draw or not, you still received a bottle of wine for having the winning ticket – so David Lloyd gave away seven bottles of wine each quiz.

So, for your pound entry you had the chance to win either nothing, some fruit, a few other small prizes, some lager, wine or a prize pot of cash. All sounds excellent doesn’t it? At least it did before management tinkered with the formula.

Following some changes the chap doing the quiz was replaced and someone else took over, the prizes were severely reduced and the quality of the quiz plummeted.

Now, there is no prize pot – no raffle draw and no chance to win any money; although everyone still has to pay a pound each. Where does this pound go? David Lloyd pockets the money, that’s where.

The prize for the winning team (a team of six remember) is now just three bottles of wine, not five. As there is no draw, there is no money prize, and no bottle of wine for having the winning ticket. There is still a bottle for the lucky losing team (small mercies I guess) but, and this is the biggest issue, the first quiz under this new ‘management’ was a recycled quiz we’d had before!

As one of two teams who’d been to almost every quiz, it became more of a memory test between us and another team as to who could correctly remember the answers from having taken the quiz previously.

We won – and won the THREE bottles of wine.

So, in short, David Lloyd has taken what was a great fortnightly quiz where they gave away seven bottles of wine, and had a prize pot that grew each time nobody won it and transformed (or destroyed it) into a quiz that still costs us, the punters, the same to enter, has no cash prize, is held monthly (so long as the person doing it isn’t ‘off sick’, which she has been in the past and the quiz was cancelled) and they’re only giving away four bottles of wine – AND they recycled an old quiz in the process.

Oh yes – they’ve also stopped the outside caterers, so no decent food with the quiz either. What great decisions they’ve made.

Bring back the old quiz master and the old ways; we don’t like change.

Pirates Dinner Adventure in Orlando

When I was in Florida last October I attended a ‘Pirates Dinner Adventure’, as I’d wanted to try out one of the themed dinner events I’d heard so much about. The show was actually free, for reasons I won’t go into, otherwise I may have opted for one of the other dinner themed nights I’d seen advertised such as the murder mystery dinners or the comedy dinner shows.

Anyhow, the Pirates Dinner Show it was, located just off I-Drive in Orlando. The dinner was situated in a building decked out like a pirate ship in the middle of a row of buildings – it looked as though the ship had been dropped there during a hurricane storm (of which there has been a few in Orlando).

So, the building was impressive – and when we got inside we were greeted by pirates, English naval officers and what can only be described as wenches, carrying out an elaborate play that involved sword fights, rope swings and battles. The area where you ate your dinner was located around a giant lagoon, in the middle of the building, where sat another pirate ship – this time a full ship, on the water. It was visually very impressive.

pirates-diiner-adventure

Why am I gushing about this when I usually complain? Well, here comes the complaint. The dinner and show was free, and the dinner included 1 drink – a ‘lite’ beer, as the Americans call it. When it came to ordering more drinks… well, let’s just say that London prices have nothing on this. One lager, and a Coors at that, plus a cocktail came to roughly $29. At the exchange rate at the time, that was around £20… for TWO drinks!

I’ve never paid so much for a drink in my life, AND it was a crap, lite beer.

Next time I’ll try the murder mystery.

Apprenticeship jobs for the apprentices

As an avid watcher of the Apprentice on BBC1, I often think how I would have fared with some of the apprenticeship jobs that they’ve had to do over the series. Tonight sees the budding apprentices travelling to France where, no doubt, we’ll see which of them are educated in the classic sense of the word (and can pass a sentence or two in French) and which of them opt for the speaking slower, louder and in English tactic of communicating.

Looking back at previous tasks however, it’s clear that some of the ideas on offer from the apprentices are truly shocking. The mobile app task springs immediately to mind, where both teams decided upon an App that simply makes annoying, and not particularly amusing, noises. One app was simply awful, while the other app was awful and mildly offensive – while also alienating the ‘worldwide’ audience by focusing on UK regional accents.

I did notice that one of the other apprentices mentioned the idea of a bubble wrap popper app, which was quickly dismissed in favour of the badly executed regional accents app. This, of course, was a much better idea and would have been far more successful – certainly would have won them the task.

It was, though, the general lack of ideas that I found surprising on this task, and on others. Mobile apps is such a big industry that ideas should have been flowing, although of course they would have been limited with the short, overnight, development time (which is very limiting it has to be said).

The dog food challenge where the budding apprentices attempted to brand a dog food ‘Every Dog’, which could then be broadened out to ‘Every Cat’, ‘Every Horse’ and ‘Every Elephant’ was a monumentally bad idea. Even when the focus group, which contained a vet, said that it wouldn’t work they still went for it.

If only they’d just targeted puppies, as dogs tend to have three stages of dog food during their lives (puppy, adult and senior) they’ve have won the task – as their branding and their advert was very good. It was just the basic idea that was flawed.

I look forward to seeing what they come up with tonight, and who embarrasses themselves with their lack of education or willingness to even attempt the French language.