Woolworths into administration

Woolworths may be one of the oldest names on the highstreet, almost 100 years old, but it hasn’t saved their brand of oddly unrelated tat products from going under in the credit crunch. Amid cries of despair from the public, and over shadowing the demise of MFI (doesn’t anyone give a toss about them?) Woolworths has gone into administration and will be broken up, sold off and its staff made redundant.

So why are people bothered? If the general public actually shopped at Woollies this would never have happened. When was the last time you went into a Woolworths store?

Personally I’m glad they’re going under, good riddance. I’ve two awful customer service experiences in Woolworths over the years and am not in the slightest bit sorry to the latest, and biggest, casualty of the credit crunch.

First off, when Star Wars was released on VHS in the special edition format I pre-ordered it from Woollies in Newport, South Wales. When I went into the store to pick it up, on the day of release, they said they didn’t have any widescreen versions left and that as I hadn’t specified widescreen all I could have was a full screen version.

If I’d wanted over half the film cut out of it, I’d have asked for it. Still, I left, giving them my number and instructing them to call when the widescreen came back in… the widescreen I’d ordered and paid a deposit for. Some weeks later they called saying my VHS boxset was in. Great. I went into town to collect it, only to be told that they’d just sold the last one.

What about my pre-order? I’d just received a call to say it was in??? Nope, they’d sold it.

I demanded my deposit back and bought the Laserdisc version from Our Price.

The second bit of Woolworths lunacy came some years later when in Bracknell. I picked up two Thomas the Tank Engine products for their ‘buy one get one half price’ (BOGOF) offer. The offer said ‘ALL Thomas the Tank Engine products’.

Sure enough, one of the products I picked up wasn’t on their list, so I was refused the discount. Despite bringing their attention to the sign in the store and the wording on the sign they refused. I left.

I then filed a complaint with Trading Standards and phoned Woolworths head office. Trading Standards investigated the matter and Woollies head office said I could go back into the store to get the discount. It was too late though as I wasn’t about to head back into town again.

Now, today, I see that Woollies has been advertising its closing down sale (not before time) with a ‘All Stock 50% Off’ sign in their windows. Yet, the sign is wrong. Very few items are 50% off and shoppers have been angered by the lack of a sale.

Way to go Woolworths, you can’t even do a closing down sale without annoying your customers. Is it any wonder they’re going under?

Student accommodation in Leeds

I feel that after my last post, where I showed up how a property company in Leeds that offers student accommodation was cybersquatting on a rival company, I should explain how that’s done. It may have been confusing, or people might have thought that it was done by accident.

It wasn’t, it’s a blatant attempt to cash in on the good name of a decent student accommodation company.

The screenshot below shows the HTTP Headers of the domain www.pickarproperties.com when you visit it. You can see from the Headers (which are returned by the server) that a 302 redirect is in place to the rival company. This redirect even goes to the http:// version of the website, rather than the www version, creating a canonical URL issue (very poor).

That’s by the by though, the proof of the deliberate attempt to cyber squat is in the image below.

What is Cybersquatting?

You may have heard the term Cybersquatting in the past. It’s when someone buys a domain name that is a subtle miss-spelling of a well known person or company in an attempt to get traffic from people typing the address into their browser incorrectly.

It is illegal under US law, but in the UK it’s a little more of a grey area. However, it is clearly dodgy because to do it you’re trading on someone else’s name.

Now, because I have some student friends in Leeds, I know of an article that appeared in the latest issue of the Leeds Student Paper about a certain property company in Leeds that lets to students.

No, not that one, another one. This property company is called Pickard Properties, and their website is www.pickardproperties.co.uk. They’re a well known and reputable letting agent in Leeds and are approved by the Leeds student union, so anyone looking to rent student accommodation in Leeds from a decent company knows to go there.

However, if you were to type in www.pickardproperties.com (notice the .com extension) you get redirected to a website owned by a different company, one that is Cybersquatting on Pickerd Properties good name.

I hope no students fall for this one, it’s a very underhand trick.

HDNL Complaints

The delivery company Home Delivery Network (HDNL), who deliver for Internet retailer Amazon, have managed to annoy a great many people online. My posts on the subject have received hundreds of comments from outraged customers and idiotic, vulgar and racist drivers for HDNL alike. Most of the customers have been trying in vain to get hold of someone at HDNL to locate their delivery, but there is no phone number on the company’s website.

Luckily, I have it. The phone number for HDNL is 08448 111 816 – but don’t expect to get anywhere when you phone it.

One thing I did notice in Google when I searched for HDNL (besides this very website of course) was the website reviewcentre.com. Anyone who runs a dodgy business like HDNL will know all about reviewcentre.com, the website shows up on the first page of Google for searches on every dodgy company you can think of (try it ;)).

The funny thing about the site is that when companies like HDNL get listed on there, and get awful reviews from their customers, they all tend to react the same way. They go onto the website themselves and submit fake reviews of their business, with really obvious made up comments. You can tell they’re fake because the real reviews all give them 0/10, whereas the staff of HDNL give themselves 10/10… that’s quite a discrepancy!

Plus, the idiotic staff of HDNL who have reviewed their own company have all tended to add reviews as ‘guest’ writers, rather than having the good sense to create an account, log in and write a few genuine reviews for other companies before spamming their own listing.

Don’t any companies know how to perform reputation management online?

I guess not.

So again, if you want to complain to HDNL, you can ring the Home Delivery Network phone number: 08448 111 816. Mention this website for extra annoyance factor!

The Bridge Pub, Deansgate Manchester

This guest post was brought to you by Simon.

This Saturday I took a trip to the bridge pub in Manchester for lunch. Having dined there before, I felt confident that I had picked a suitable public house for lunch and a few beers. This confidence was misplaced.

Having walked in and seen the dining area rather empty I assumed that there would be no problem getting a table. That was until the barman told me that he would “have to the clean the tables” before we could enter the dining area, this despite there being plenty of unused tables available. Not wanting to quibble and having no objection being sent towards a bar, we waited by the bar for him to clean the tables. And waited, and waited…. until eventually the bone idol cretin finally said it was okay to take our seats some 15 minutes later.

We ordered what seemed like two very rudimentary meals, fish and chips. Having been hungry, slightly sedated and sat next to a bunch of scumbags from Salford we were very keen for the meal to arrive swiftly. 30 minutes later nothing had arrived, when the food did come it was most enjoyable albeit rather meager in size. At no point did they ask if we wanted more drinks which meant we had to queue up at the bar.

All in all a pretty piss poor effort at lunch- over priced and served by a bunch of morons who couldn’t care less about the patrons. Unsurprisingly I do not recommend the bridge pub on Deansgate.