and the magic, disappearing complaint form

As admitted recently, they’ve been getting an awful lot of email complaints about orders not turning up and they haven’t even bothered to reply to most of them. But, one wonders just how many more complaints would have received had it not been for their magic, self-clearing complaint form.

That’s right, if you’ve tried to email from their website using their contact form, you’ve probably noticed, and raged, about how the form seems to clear itself of any data you enter. You can spend ages writing out a complaint letter, check the order number on your email confirmation, go back to the complaint form and poof – the email disappears. Just like that!

Data completely vanished from complaints form

Is this a mistake? Is it something you have done wrong? No, has coded the form to clear itself whenever you change the focus of the form fields.

I’ll explain. Focus means that you have selected one of the fields of the form to write data into, such as your email address in the email field, your order number in the subject field and your long complaint letter in the message field. As has default text in those fields, they have set the fields to ‘clear’ whenever you select them (OnFocus), but the trouble is that they also clear when you click on them after writing your email. This means that your email is lost, instantly, all courtesy of their form.

Here is the code used on their form, so you can see exactly what I mean. ‘OnFocus’ means to do the action when you select the form field, or click on it with your cursor, and ‘javascript:clearText’… well, that’s pretty self-explanatory.


So you see, not only is struggling to meet the demands of orders this Christmas, not only is even refusing to reply to emails asking about orders, but the website is doing its darndest it ensure that complaints aren’t even making it through in the first place.

Snow affects emails from

I emailed a complaint to on December 11th, and am still yet to receive even a reply to the email. This is quite incredible seeing as they ‘aim’ to respond to emails within 24 hours. Needless to say I emailed them again with the following:

I still haven’t received a reply to my email from DECEMBER 11th, that’s over TEN DAYS to reply to an email. I realise the snow plays havoc with deliveries, but tell me just how does it affect your response times to emails?

I need to return the Michael Jackson doll because it arrived damaged, again. You can see it here:

I am also still awaiting three orders. I would send you the order ID numbers but sadly your order history page conveniently doesn’t show them!

I take it from your ‘wait 21 days‘ policy I have no chance of actually getting any of these items before Christmas, and your ‘can’t be arsed to even reply to emails‘ policy means I’ll never hear from you on this matter either.

Before you click delete on this email, as that appears to be how you actually deal with complaints, try Googling ‘ complaints’ – you’ll see every step of this issue being reported online, on page 1 of Google. The next post is up to you.

After having sent that I received an auto email from, one that they have presumably sent to everyone who is concerned that a) they haven’t received items they’ve ordered for Christmas and b) can’t even be bothered to reply to emails.

Some of’s excuses can be read below:

We would like to update you on the delivery of your recent order with You are probably aware that the adverse weather conditions are causing issues throughout the transport network in the UK and this has resulted in delays for our delivery partners. However, making sure your order arrives in time for Christmas is our top priority and we are working tirelessly with them to try and make this happen.

Understandably, many of you are contacting our Customer Service department to get an update on the status of your order. As a result, we are seeing an unprecedented level of activity and while our team is working long and hard to address all your calls and emails, we are seeing an impact on our normal level of service.

If your order was despatched without a tracking number please be aware that the item has been shipped and is likely to be with you before Christmas.

We appreciate that this is an important delivery for you and we will continue to work closely with our delivery partners over the coming days to do our utmost to make sure your delivery arrives before Christmas.

So, they’ve acknowledged that they’re not even replying to emails, en masse, and they’ve stated that orders are ‘likely to be with you before Christmas’… I don’t personally believe this is very professional, or reassuring.

Looks like you can’t rely on for Christmas shopping in the slightest.

Apprentice final ends in barroom tussle

Like many people in the UK, I watched the final of the Apprentice last night where Chris Bates faced off against Stella English (of course, Liz really should have been there but Lord Sugar has apologised a few times about that debacle).

I watch the Apprentice every year, and have even wanted to apply myself, but no year would have been better for me than this year; they had to make and brand an alcoholic drink! I’m gutted.

As usual with the final, the actual quality of the product itself isn’t important, branding is what matters, so both finalists left the mixing and choosing of ingredients to delegated members of their team. If you disagree with me about taste not being important to a brand, explain Budweiser… you can’t, can you?

Chris went with a pyramid styled bottle, with three sides, that really looked quite slick. Stella went with a bourbon, and tried to aim it at women as well as men. Both contestants really messed this one up though as bourbon, no matter how hard you try, isn’t going to appeal to women on the whole and Chris’ drink was pink… pink, so was never going to appeal to men on the whole.

So both contestants had a decent brand image, and both missed the target market of appealing to men and women. It was the adverts where things went a bit one sided though. Stella’s ad featured two couples in a bar ordering the drink, and really seemed to work. Chris however, already lambasted for his work on a previous task when he directed the ‘Germinator’ TV ad, made yet another balls up of this one. He spent the majority of shooting time attempting to get close ups of the barman mixing a cocktail with the product, except the barman seemed unable to actually get any of the ingredients in the glass. Ice cubes, shots and pomegranate seeds went all over the bar from close range as Chris’ advert seemed to get away with him. Perhaps the barman would have been better off using liquid filling machines rather than trying to use his obviously unsteady hand.

With only 30 minutes left to shoot the remainder of the ad, it fell into something of a disaster – and was even singled out as being dreadful by Lord Sugar. Not something you want to happen in the final of the show, and it cost Chris dearly.

It was a shame for Chris as his product looked good and his pitch was strong (even with his low flying bomber of a voice) but you just can’t do a rush job on an alcohol advert.

Maybe I’ll apply for the next one… couldn’t hurt.

Lambrini girls just wanna be original?

I saw this advert on TV today and by Christ it made me chuckle. Firstly, it’s for Lambrini – which is just about the most disgusting alcoholic drink ever made.

Secondly, it uses the song ‘I am what I am’ which is always played by people who are trying to avoid criticism for being shite because they want the world to accept them for what they are. Something Lambrini can certainly empathise with.

So we have an advert that wholly admits that the product is crap by the nature of its song, and then finishes it off with the tagline ‘Lambrini girls just wanna be original’… be original? Quite how is singing ‘I am what I am’ in any way original? How is drinking Lambrini original? It’s as much a cliché as white stilettos and Ford Escorts.

No, what they should have gone with is ‘Lambrini girls just wanna get pissed as quickly as possible; taste not an issue

What made this ad even funnier is that Lambrini’s brand manager, Sue Beck (probably a Lambrini girl herself) commented about the shite campaign:

“Lambrini is enjoying a good year with loyal and new customers buying into the range of Original, Peach, Rose, Cherry and Light varieties. The new campaign created by BJL, captures perfectly just why hard working, down-to-earth consumers love Lambrini, now one of the nation’s most iconic wine style drinks brands.”

wine style drink brands’? … wine style!?! It’s more like malt vinegar than wine.

A director at the ad company BJL, Charlotte Thompson, commented on the awful advert as though it were one of great originality:

“The new ad tells the story of Lambrini Girls’ lives to the iconic soundtrack, ‘I Am What I Am.’ They’re down-to-earth divas and the new commercial, beautifully directed by Kezia Barnett, literally places them in the spotlight. Celebrating the originality and character Lambrini shares with its consumers, the ad shouts out that being on a budget shouldn’t stop you enjoying life.”

Where are they getting this originality vibe from? It’s women drinking the cheapest shit they can buy and singing in the streets; no wonder this country has a bad image when it comes to alcohol – and yes, I realise the irony of me saying that.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video replacement item also arrives damaged

Last month I ordered two Michael Jackson dolls from and they both arrived packaged in nothing more than plastic bags, naturally damaged. I complained to, obviously, and was told by the complaints team that I needed to wait in for the damaged items to be picked up, and that they couldn’t guarantee that the items would be resent packaged properly.

Billie Jean doll from PlayThe Thriller doll arrived well packaged, in a box, with protection, delivered by our friends at HDNL. Nice job. The Billie Jean doll however arrived packaged in a plastic bag, delivered by Royal Mail, and crushed – again.

I have now sent the following email to complaining about the state of the replacement item. This dance will continue until they get it right, or until I get tired of complaining… I think we know which one will happen first.

I have just returned from the Post Office after collecting this item, where once again I find that it has been packaged in a plastic bag. This is the second time you have attempted to send this item to me, and the second time that it has arrived damaged.

I initially ordered this and a Thriller doll, both arrived damaged in November. I complained to you, you told me to phone your expensive 0845 number, which I did. The woman on the phone said she couldn’t ensure that the replacements would be sent out packaged correctly, which astounded me. I then waited in for HDNL to collect them, taking a day off to do so.

The Thriller doll arrived in perfect condition, packaged in a large cardboard box (the original box used by Character Options to deliver the dolls to you in the first place) – you know, the sort of box ‘designed’ to ensure these figures arrive undamaged.

The Billie Jean doll however was once again dispatched in a plastic bag, despite there being room for two dolls in the aforementioned cardboard box. The doll has arrived, once again, damaged.

This is not good enough. I want the item I paid for in a condition fit for sale.

I now expect you’ll send me another template auto response requesting that I call your premium rate 0845 number and arrange another pick-up, costing me another day of work

This will not be good enough either. I expect to be compensated for this shoddy service, for my repeated phone calls and for my time waiting in for someone to collect a parcel, twice, that you should have delivered correctly the first time.

I await your automated email with baited breath.

JE James Cycles dumps Home Delivery Network

As regular visitors to this website have found, a great many people have been experiencing problems over the years with deliveries (or usually the lack of deliveries) from HDNL, or Yodel as they’re now known. Many visitors to this blog have sworn never to use any companies online who choose to employ Home Delivery Network, with even BBC Watchdog featuring them on their recent series.

Cycle fans will be pleased to know however that a cycle business based in Yorkshire, JE James Cycles, has dropped HDNL after using them for just two months. In that time JE James Cycles reported incidents of bikes being lost for long periods, and even bikes going missing (possibly stolen) while being delivered. JE James Cycles noted that an incredible 77 bikes went missing in a single day because of Home Delivery Network, only to turn up 2 weeks later in the corner of a warehouse.

Naturally this isn’t the sort of customer service that JE James Cycles wants to be associated with, and they have now ditched Home Delivery Network in favour of their original courier, APC Overnight.

Andy Lindsay, from JE James Cycles, commented:

We are a small cycle business based in south Yorkshire, we have just opened up a new warehouse in Rotherham mainly to be used with our mail order side of business.

Due to large increase in internet orders we had a few offers from courier companies, and surprisingly HDNL popped up and the contracts manger/regional sales manager sold this company to us superbly.

Their price was great and they offered us the SMS text messaging service which could boost sales with customers finding deliveries much easier to arrange. We used HDNL for two months and that quickly proved to be two months too long.

We were sending roughly 120 consignments out a day with HDNL and in the very short time we used them we had 3 lost/stolen parcels that we had to claim for and in one day 77 of the 120 were lost for 2 weeks, we were told these got accidentally put in the corner of their sorting depot.

Home Delivery Network Van crashedAndy also added that had JE James Cycles been aware of the Watchdog program before it was transmitted they would have liked to have been involved so they could apologise to any of their customers who have been inconvenienced as a result of HDNL.

As an added bonus, Andy also sent us this photo of a Home Delivery Network van reversing into a wall in the icy conditions these last few days. We don’t know who the person’s wall is, or whether there was any damage to the wall, but it’s in Rotherham, near the Wilton Pub.

Is this your wall?

Already submitted my self-assessment – no mad rush this year

It’s usually about this time of year that I start thinking about filling in my tax return and submitting it online. Of course, I wouldn’t actually do it until January, but I’d start thinking about it now. When you complete your self-assessment and file it online you have until January 31st to complete it, file it and pay it – and last year I used every last second of that allowed time.

However, this year – or rather next year, as January is next year – I won’t have that last minute rush, that awful January weekend of going through bank statements and credit card statements, and that panic over how I can pay on time and not incur any penalties.

So what do we owe to this unrivalled and unprecedented show of organisation on my part? Is it because I’m using an accountant who has whipped me into shape with regards to my finances? Is because I’m using an online accountancy firm that has carefully gone through all of my receipts in plenty of time?

No, it’s because the Child Support Agency wanted to see my accounts for the last financial year, 2009-2010, forcing me to complete my return early. When I met with them in August they harped on about wanting to see my accounts, and wanting to know what each payment into my account was for over a four or five month period. Then, after my completing my self-assessment, filing my return and sending it to the CSA – they changed their mind and instead said they just wanted my return for 2008-2009, even though none of the payments they had asked about were for this time period.

I can’t complain too much. Their incompetence has forced me to file my tax return nice and early, meaning I don’t have any last minute rush in January – and I know exactly what I need to pay (which of course I’m still leaving to the last minute, you don’t pay a bill before you have to).

Thanks CSA – you’ve done something useful, even if it was by accident and it was through your own special brand of disorganisation and incompetence.

Amos Web Designs

A few weeks ago I received a comment on one of my posts from Thomas Amos, of Amos Web Designs. It’s always nice to hear from fellow Internet professionals – well, it’s almost always nice, Thomas’ comments were the exception to the rule.

Thomas took offence to a post I made about Computeach. Thomas believes, for some strange reason, that I actually work for Computeach, and he gave me his opinions wrapped up in a torrent of abuse.

Now, having spoken to the owner of Computeach on the phone about the nature of some of the comments on that particular page I can confirm that I do not work for Computeach, and have never done so. If I did work for Computeach, I might perhaps have been more selective over the comments on that page. Anyhow, Thomas Amos, from Amos Web Design, had this to say:

Mr Daz Your a complete prick. You are blantently working for computeach. I have been completly ripped of on my course and I am going to get every penny back from them robbing cunts. I done the first module and am on the second and have not got one thing that I was promised yet. What a joke. People If you want a carear in IT go to colleage or university night school but what ever you do dont go to a long distance pretend education centre.

Now, I would normally pick at his obviously low intellect and lack of attention to detail in what he has written – but he was clearly upset and it is just a comment on a blog. He can be forgiven for writing dross, making up words and generally having a distinct lack of understanding of the English language. Instead, let’s have a look at his own website, where he offers his web design (and SEO) services.

I can’t help it – sorry.

Amos Web Designs

On this page of his beautifully designed website (a real showcase of his talents) he promotes himself thus:

Our prices are reasonable, wont break the bank and to your needs.

There is a distinct lack of punctuation and cohesion there – probably how he can promise that his services won’t break the bank – he’s saved on the apostrophes and non essential words. He goes on to promote his own ethics, which is a laugh.

Were reliable, honest and professional in everything We do.

They ‘were’ reliable, but presumably not now? At least he’s up-front about it, stating that he used to be reliable, honest and professional.

Guess copywriting isn’t one of his services.

Anyhow, thanks for the comment Thomas, Thomas Amos, from Amos Web Designs. I do hope you sorted your problems with Computeach and you managed to forge out a decent ‘carear’ in a ‘colleage’ somewhere.