NPME

BigCorporationsRipingUsOff

posted by Natalie Paddick

All of you reading this blog will have been subject to the poor service, corruption if you prefer from one of the big corporations and their like… They don’t supply goods or can’t supply the services they so readily advertise. In the full knowledge that their products do not fulfil their advertising remit …. To say I find it frustrating would be an understatement …. Me… I fight back …

My most recent example of the lack of care and duty to customers is with what was once First Utility now renamed Shell Energy….A utilities company.. You will all have seen the advert on TV sponsored by the government, an animated production with pretty butterflies flying around and a little girl skipping around a flat, reminding us all that it is our job to protect the environment from damage now and in the future and our way to help is by installing a so called Smart Meter…. For the good of the environment ….

It turns out it is load of old tosh … The government states these new meters and their Smart Meter reading monitors save the environment from ‘our’ overusing precious utilities …. For the record I am all for that …

The new Smart Meter roll out  is slightly different than that we have been lead to believe! After a sales call from Shell Energy to advise/recommend to me an update to smart meters, I agreed, I had no reason to believe there were any issues… I mean you can’t research into everything, sometimes you have to take things at face value and believe what you are being told… An appointment was made back in April 3rd 2019 and the meter man went to work installing the two new meters, all I did was make him a cup of tea…

One of the sales points of the meters is that we can all enjoy ourselves watching the smart meter reading monitors on an hourly basis to see just what we are spending on gas and electricity … Brilliant … As if we aren’t already stressed out enough over house hold bills!… I question if I want to clock watch it on an hourly basis… Yes… I know I can put the reading unit in a room where I can’t see it … But that is not my nature … I am a natural born worrier, I could win prizes if there was a worrying/anxiety competition… I am really good at it!! I can find worry where no one else can see an angle! So for me on reflection this was a disadvantage…

At the end of the installation the engineer told me that he had put the fully working reading unit in the room nearest to the newly installed meters and that I must leave it there for the next four hours, then I could move the unit anywhere I wanted in the house.. So the  reading unit was placed on the floor in a dimly lit room which was undergoing renovations at the time… Ten minutes after the engineer left I decided to take a peek at my new monitor, to my horror I had managed to run up a bill of £166.00 …. I was instantly catatonic, with terror, I mean how did I do that?? What had I got switched on? …. I spent the rest of the afternoon periodically snatching the door open to surprise the unit, in the hope of catching the monitor off guard and praying that it would showing a more reasonable meter reading …. It never happened it was still showing £166.00 … By the time my husband got home I was on my second glass of wine … And was lamenting my future obsession … Meter Watching …

My husband left me with my glass of wine and went off to observe our new nemeses… Unlike me.. He takes a much more pragmatic approach… He switched the light on in the room and observed the new monster, put his glasses on he bent down and picked the unit up.. He called me into the room standing up he turned to me; “Did you turn the light on Natalie & did you put on your glasses?” … Well obviously I had not, I was too involved in worrying about it! I had already taken the view that the meter was out to get me …. My husband turned the meter toward me and I could see without my glasses that the meter reading was actually £1.66 !! … The only problem is … The unit still says £1.66, some seven weeks later … It does not work! And nor do the new meters, they read still read ‘0000’ and ‘00000’ respectively! You see I knew that there was good reason to worry…


In the many conversations with Shell Energy they tell me many things one being that the unit might not work for 28 days, as it takes time for the unit to warm up ….! They have also told me that they will never estimate my bills because the unit and meters don’t work.. They are currently estimating my bills!! So we have no control over the amounts we are using or paying … They have told me to press the button ‘A’ on the gas meter … I have told them there is no button ‘A’ .. They say ‘Oh’ … Apparently there are two types of these new smart meters the former does not have a button ‘A’ the latter meters do … But the energy company have run out of the new meters so they are installing the old Smart meters in the full knowledge that they don’t work, properly!

I have told Shell Energy that their engineer had taken, without my permission or consent a piece of wood cut and shaped for another job and used it to ‘prop’ up the gas meter, a complete bodge job and I want compensation for this… They say that they don’t give compensation but only ‘good will gestures’! … But they can’t give me a ‘good will gesture’ until the units work!!

They have made an appointment to replace the meters … Then I get another call from Shell Energy stating that I have not made any arrangement for the engineers to come into the property to replace the meters..…. Today I got a call to say they are going to replace the smart meters with the old meters at my request … And so it goes on… It is a complete debacle … And I am not the only one suffering the incompetence!

The facts behind the Smart Meter roll out…

The British Government decided to roll out these meters country wide because they wanted the UK to be in line with the EU … Brilliant!! Considering the current state of affairs… Not to mention Brexit!

Here are just a few facts …

1) Smart meters could make it harder to switch gas and electricity providers

You can’t change providers with the old Smart meters because the government has not put the meter readings into a secure third party domain that would then allow you to change supplier!

2) Smart meters don't bring an end to estimated bills (or billing errors)

3) Smart meters won't work if you have a poor signal in your area

I told them that before they installed it!

4) The display units linked to smart meters are crude and difficult to understand

The display units will become obsolete in a few years! Also they provide no information on how the units are supposed to work … You have to guess!

5) There's little evidence so far that smart meters will save energy - or money

6) Smart meters 'pose security and other risks'

Terrorism …. They are apparently very ‘hack-able’ …. Brilliant… Also the meters if they work will provide the supplier/government information on how you use your energy … Big brother is watching us again! As far as I am aware at the moment they can’t monitor how many units of wine I drink!!

British Telecom sold me a product that ultimately wiped out all our emails; which as you can imagine was more than a little inconvenient and expensive, the package they recommended did not support the email configurations we had… Despite me asking if I could keep my emails before I signed up to the package …. Unlike Shell Energy they did offer compensation and they did not call it ‘a good will gesture’ which I think was to their credit…

On another occasion British Telecom updated our router except it never turned up! .. I called them, once I had answered all the pressed button automated questions which are a total waste of time… And are unhelpful and irritating.. Finally I got through to someone in Dubai… Who told me in no uncertain terms that I had the router and it had been delivered to my address in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire…. I did once live in Henley about 14 years ago! … Now I live in Somerset!! The ‘helpful’ woman in Dubai consulted her map of good old Britain… She advised me that I could just pop up the road to collect the router!… She informed me that it was a simple stroll up the M4! Eventually we came to agreement for another router to be sent! More compensation was sent….!

Working on a project for a client I had purchased an entire communications package from British Telecom on their behalf. It was a wet day and I was outside under an umbrella redesigning the garden, when I heard a van screech on the roadside, a van door slide open and then a number of boxes were slung over the fence into the puddles and mud in the garden! … The door slide shut and the van drove off at speed… Yes you have guessed it! My delivery had arrived from BT! I complained…. More compensation! I don’t want the compensation … I want some Customer Service!

Vodafone – Once you are tied into a mobile phone contract they are almost impossible to break… I had five contracts with Vodafone who had told me at the time of signing that they had 3G in the area. Problem was that they didn’t, they were hoping to get, and that is quite a different thing! So the service was very poor, you were lucky to even get 2G… I repeatedly complained and was given various different excuses. My main problem was not just the bad service for myself, but for my teenage children, who at the time like most teens, living their dreams partying around the countryside and beyond, so I needed to be in contact with them to make sure they were safe.. And of course they wanted to call me in the middle of the night to ask for a lift home for them and ten of their friends from some field or other in Somerset!… Vodafone network did not work and subsequently were putting my children at risk… I went to battle with Vodafone on more than one occasion I was told by customer service, that whilst I was on the phone that they had sent a man up the mast and he was working on the problem …. I might not know a great deal about the technical workings of a telecommunications company… But one thing I do know is that one man cannot find my lost signal for my phone on the Mendip transmission station that is 293 meters/961 foot high… Yet another total lie! I went the press! … Front page in the local paper… Within a week Vodafone cancelled all the contracts… And shut down their high street Vodafone outlet…. Due to bad publicity …. No due to poor service and telling ‘fibs’!

John Lewis, I have a trade account and deal with this high street brand a great deal, they have a really good product, mostly. The problem is the delivery service, I would say on one job 40% of deliveries arrive either wrong or half complete and mostly damaged, which is a concern and costly if you are working on a project for a client, re-ordering and then there is the time wasted waiting for a further delivery. John Lewis have great customer service and they are more than helpful in dealing with any issues you may have… If needs be they send you a product free and or send you a gift or in trade accounts send me all sorts of expensive gratuities… But to be honest I would rather they sent the goods out correctly in the first place… I was once told by their customer service representative that they spend at least as much on compensation as they do on staff bonus … How can that be right?? It is madness and it is impactful on the environment in all sorts of ways…

In conclusion this was my experience with Currys, again good products with a good price point…There was an issue with our new Fridge/Freezer and Currys agreed to replace it, it was a debacle from start to finish… But to be fair they did offer compensation … This is what happened…

A cheery Currys Delivery Man [CDM]arrives at our home, [finally] with our replacement Fridge/Freezer….

CDM: Good morning Madam, I am here to deliver your new Fridge/Freezer. Would you like to see it? .. It is on the lorry…

Me: Great… No that is fine just bring it in …

CDM: I am afraid I am unable to deliver this item as I am not qualified to deliver Fridge/Freezers..

Me: What???!!!

CDM: Do you have a back entrance to this property?

Me: [Confused] … No would you be able to deliver if we had?

CDM: No … I am not qualified to deliver fridge/freezers … I told them this at the depot, before they loaded it on the lorry… Can I see your old fridge/freezer… Please?

Me: [More confused].. Yes please come in ……This is the one you are supposed to be taking away…

The delivery man and I stare at my old dead fridge/freezer ….

CDM: It is big isn’t it?

Me: Yes… [I think… Course it is big - It’s f***ing fridge/freezer….! What did he expect?]… Can you take it away? [Desperation now setting in…]

CDM: No …. I am not qualified ….

[Through gritted teeth] I show the delivery man back to the front door…

Me: Why don’t Currys send someone who is QUALIFIED?!!

CDM: No-one else was available so I volunteered …..

More compensation was forthcoming from Currys ….

These few examples are just a snap shot of the bad service we all receive… It is just not acceptable …. I fight my corner, but it is time consuming.. Not to mention frustrating … FIGHT YOUR CORNER, if you can … DON’T LET THEM GET AWAY WITH IT! Failing that I find wine helps!

 




TimetoRelax

posted by Natalie Paddick

Wishing you all a Happy Bank Holiday .. Let us all hope that the weather warms up! .... We here at NP/ME have had a busy few years ....

And... We are going back to our routes of 'doing up' our own properties as well as dealing with clients needs ... Which is exciting ... 

As you will know from this site we have been involved with the design of a new product on the market THE/TOOL ... Which is the only tool on the market that easily and cleanly removes wall plugs ... Click on  THE/TOOL tab more information and special offers ... 

We have always designed bespoke furniture items for clients and ourselves and we are now doing more of this ... Can't find it on the market we will design it ... Some of this is based on the up-cycling/recycling trend of the moment... I will post more on this as the items become available ... We have sold all the pieces we have designed so far ... So all very exciting ... 

Here is just a small piece that I designed for myself ... A wooden composite chopping board polished with oil and set on a stainless kitchen stool base ... It is great because it can be used as a side table at any height ... Or pushed to the lowest level for me to chill on & eat my dinner in front of the TV .... I will be using it for this purpose this weekend eating my Sushi [See Voyage tab] to watch Line of Duty!

So my friends have a wonderful Break .... Natalie x


PuttingYourHomeOnTheMarketPart2

posted by Natalie Paddick

Bathrooms & The Little Girls Room – Make sure it smells nice! You can hide air fresheners discretely in the room. New fresh towels are a must! A must! They are your stage set for colour, you can move them out of the room when not being used for a viewing, and they give a fresh crisp and clean feeling! Good quality hand soap and hand cream, always looks and smells nice too. Always check the toilets before a viewing …! A new loo seat in a colour coordinating style to your towels can harmonise they the whole look. In some of the bathrooms I have used horizontal poles on hooks over which I draped magazines… Let’s face it people read in toilets and the magazines add a splash of colour and pizzazz. Make sure they are new magazines .. If you get my drift!

Halls and General Areas - Make sure there is good access, don’t let dozens of shoes block the floor area, remember this may well be the first viewed area when your potential purchaser pop’s their head through the door! Make a statement, this is your big chance! Open up the area with the strategic use of mirrors and maybe a statement piece of art work. Hallways in old houses can sometimes be quite dark, a good way around this can be the use of feature secondary lighting, such as plug in socket lights on a wire cord. When using this type of lighting make sure the spot light is focused on a subject.

Gardens & Outside Areas – Apart from keeping them tidy, it is always important to make a view, a focal point or two! It does not matter if it is summer or winter, you want to give your buyer an idea of how lovely it will be to relax in this space. If the outside area is small, make it appear to be bigger! Again mirrors! Wall mounted planters or just some simple but bold flushes of colour are essential. If the garden is bigger… Personally I love a water feature, and there are so many to suit any design or budget. But it can be expense work, so if you feel you do not want to run to that, put out a table and chairs, in the summer use cushions make a splash of comfort, pop a jug of orange juice and some glasses on the table, Pimm’s if you prefer! Because I am a avid cook I usually have a cake or two around for the children, pop one on the table with a couple of plates for your “guests”!.. Just for the look, this gives an image of how they can relax and / or entertain in their new home. If you don’t cook improvise with some posh biscuits… Make it look normal and natural, you have to sit somewhere whilst there is a viewing, why not outside? I know it sounds a lot… First impressions count! … You have to pull out all the stop’s my friends!

If it is winter, leave the table and chairs out, keep them clean and pop some colourful foliage on the table in some lovely pots / Baskets … Choose a colour scheme that suits your design… Colour in winter is a challenge, but evergreens with brightly coloured berries are in abundance……

If you have the opportunity to have some pots, hanging baskets or window boxes go for it, especially to the front of the house. First impressions again! Secure them well! ….

Lighting – Go around your house, switch the main lights off and the side lights on, check the focus of the lighting – ambience! Consider if it is worth the relatively small investment of dimmer switches as an option for the main lighting so you can select the effect creating an atmosphere. If any light bulbs have blown …. Change them!

If your kitchen is dark, work tops hidden under overhead cabinets.. Why not brighten things up with under counter / cabinet lighting. Mains, low voltage, LED and battery there is a simple solution, which will not require an electrician or in fact any real DIY aptitude on your part. This can be unbelievably effective and can really make a difference to the feel of the room.

Storage – Whenever I look at a house for ourselves or for a client, storage is one of the things I consider high on the ‘tick box list’. You can kill a viewing dead with not giving the impression that the property has a good amount of storage space. If you love books and magazines and have a collection they can look great if organised. Put them in piles of similar size and quantities. Erect the shelves according to the size of the books, biggest books at the bottom, largest at the top, it makes a great feature and gets them out of the way. I have been known to use utilitarian garage storage shelving, it is brilliant, it is cheap and easy to erect, you can choose the dimensions of the shelves to suit your items and they come in a range of sizes and frame colours – and they are very strong and durable! In fact they are perfect in children’s bedrooms to get the clutter off the floor, but make sure like all items of furniture that they are securely fixed to the wall! Just in case your ‘little darlings’ find them an interesting climbing frame!

Do a purge, you don’t want to take all this unused ‘stuff’ to your new home, it takes up space AND it will cost you money to get moved there, when in reality you are only going to throw it all away once you get there! Cut out the middle man! Put clothes that you are not going to use away, I store them in suitcases and hat boxes on the top of my cupboards, which look great and it is another way to get things out of the cupboards and make space. What about shoe boxes, they can be easily obtained on line and are a fab way to sort your shoes and they stack neatly. It is good advice…. One big job done ready for your move to your new home, which will reduce the stress levels … Now there is a plus!

Just a thought! (A big thought)

If you have not already utilised every conceivable option to maximise your property … Here is another idea to throw into the mix? Is there any extra leverage in say, a loft or garage conversion, this may seem like a massive expenditure! But just obtaining the planning consent will add immediate sales and value to your property with a minimal investment.

One last thing … It is so disheartening when you have made all this effort and a viewer comes into your beloved home, flits about the place like they own it already, makes one or two disparaging remarks and the odd very negative comment AND looks down on you like you are a second class citizen. This happens, you do and will have to suffer this indignity but it is always the means to the end! Grin and bear it, they just may buy it!

Don’t get jaded, hang on in there! When you’ve had a number of viewings, but still no offers… It is easy to get a bit low … Don’t

The” purchaser can very often be the last person you would imagine! But there is a purchaser for every home. Just keep the faith and keep the house looking like a designer shop…

I have had some very odd viewings over the years, one old couple, two ladies, after the viewing sat in the garden on the outside bench and ate their sandwiches! Needless to say they did not buy the house – Day trippers - Yeh!! On another occasion, [another house] I used to try and keep our delinquent cats out of the house, believe me they were not socially acceptable! Unfortunately, the Estate Agent left the door open and our most outrageous Bengal cat … strolled nonchalantly into the kitchen to join the assembled family of potential purchasers. Without further ado or formality, in my beautiful kitchen, Bangers the cat started to vocalise in a very animated way, “retching” and “retching” as if she had swallowed her entire body weight in fur balls! The guttural howling was spectacular, it was like a soundtrack from a horror film which culminated in her regurgitating one half of a masticated baby squirrel! Hideous and disgusting in equal measures … The family were ushered out of the kitchen, ‘quickly’ and that was the end of that viewing! …. No, they did not buy the property, but as far as we are aware needed no long term counselling either!

Finally, there was one occasion when a person was so enamoured with the prospect of replacing our lives with theirs in our property, that when viewing they asked me where we ate our dinner? I was a bit bemused by the question as the property had a large kitchen with centre island console that sat eight. Plus a separate twelve seater dining room and a sitting room large enough to comfortably house a table for six should you want to eat whilst watching the TV… Eventually I came to my senses and responded … ‘If you buy the house …. You can of course eat wherever you want!’ … They did not buy the house, perhaps due to confusion as to the eating arrangements – Who knows!

But the person who did buy the property I thought was a fantasist, not a purchaser! Posing in every room, hand on chin, hand of hip … Looking pensive, looking important… He requested I take his ‘selfies’ in every one of his various states of repose and in practically every room! Frankly I thought this man was a complete waste of time.. WRONG .. As I said – You never can tell - He was the one that bought the house!

So good luck, keep up the hard work, maybe get a few interior design magazines to give you some ideas …. And soon you will be moving into your new home …. X


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