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Double Vision

Why can’t every customer have the magic button?

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Charlie Adley had customer service issues ordereing a new rowing machine. Note: photo does not depict Charlie

My body weight doesn’t grow or shrink much, but there’s so much of me that I change shape in quite dramatic fashion.

Four days a week I’ll do a 10 minute warm-up on my rowing machine, followed by a three-mile walk with Lady Dog. On the Snapper’s day off I sweat for two hours mowing the lawn.

All good and triff, as long as the rowing machine isn’t broken. A month ago the belt went, and now my body is falling to bits. No, sorry, my bits are still intact and attached, but everything has fallen out.

Watching telly with my arms resting on my belly is not good for morale. Buttons zinged off two pairs of trousers that were giving me an inch of spare air only a fortnight ago. Worst of all, pecs the size of small continents are inexorably morphing back into what my beloved wife once described as “14 year-old nubile breasts”.There cannot be a less attractive look.

So off I went to find a new rowing machine pronto. Visiting a major catalogue store’s website I found a €490 piece of kit on special offer, going for €220. Great! I’d simply drive into Galway City and buy it, but first I needed to check whether it was in stock. I clicked on the drop-down menu beside ‘Check stock in your area’, entered ‘Galway’ and up came a big tick and words saying ‘In Stock’. On the other side of the window it advised me that if I wanted home delivery, it would be done in 10 days.

But I neither needed nor wanted home delivery, as the rowing machine was in stock in Galway. Eager to look more like a man than a schoolgirl, I drove into the city, filled out the slip in the shop and presented it to the checkout server, who said I couldn’t buy this rowing machine in the shop.

When I told him I’d just driven all the way into the city because their website specifically said it was in stock in Galway, he assured me that yes, it was in stock. In a warehouse in England. If I wanted it, I’d have to go for home delivery, but I’d have it within two weeks.

Living in an obscure spot, I try to avoid home delivery at all costs. I pointed out that everywhere I looked delivery times were estimated within 10 days. He shrugged.

I asked him to go to the product’s website page and follow my click trail, which he did and then said: “Oh yes. I can see why you thought it might be in stock.” Why I thought that? Why I thought that a search for stock in their Galway shop resulting in ‘In Stock!’ showing below a great big tick might lead me to believe it was in stock in Galway?

I paid for the item and went over to the shop’s customer service counter, where the server told me she couldn’t help me as I needed customer service. I stood back and pointed to the sign above my head and then she explained that customer service for the website was different.

I showed her my website journey once again and she said that it was confusing. “It’s not confusing,” I assured her, “It’s just wrong; a lie.”

Back at home I called to set up my delivery and was told that the next available delivery date was just under four weeks later. Worse, it was coming on a Friday, sometime between 7.30am and 6pm – a window that in this day and age is anachronistic and ridiculous.

Holding my breath I told her that Fridays are busy days in my life and to be stuck in all day would prove extremely inconvenient. I asked if the driver could leave it at the garage in the village, to which I was told that yes, that could be arranged, but this delivery would then have to be cancelled and a new delivery organised, and the nearest date for that delivery might be even further away.

At this point I sort of lost it. I told her that nobody expects their customers to wait in an entire day any more. Their customer service ethic and delivery service was stuck in the 1970s.

So I called their customer service team to make a complaint and after waiting a long time in the queue I spoke to a woman who was frankly pretty confrontational. Unlike the staff in the store, she adamantly refused to see that the website was at fault. She raised her voice and dug her feet in. I asked to speak to her supervisor and she was much more conciliatory, yet could not offer me any solution.

Later that day I received a call from a UK number on my Irish mobile, so I didn’t answer. The message left advised me to call urgently about this order, as some new information was available.

Believing it possible that someone had worked miracles, I sat on the phone, waiting in long queues all that afternoon and twice the following morning, until eventually I got through to a human, only to be advised that they had no idea why I’d been asked to call, because there was nothing new.

They said I’d probably got a call from the automatic dialler. Great! More valuable hours wasted waiting on the phone for no reason whatsoever. So I pressed my magic button, available only to those willing to make enough noise or write about consumer debacles in newspapers.

Within a couple of hours of sending an email to their media department, the entire matter was resolved. The rowing machine arrives next week, for which my body and those around me are truly grateful.

What bugs me though, each time things like this happen, is that if they can do it for me, just because I’m threatening to write about it, why can’t they do it for everyone?

Connacht Tribune

Space and silence – it’s all us oul’ lads ever wanted in pubs

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The crowds that flocked into the centre of Dublin last weekend provided the clearest indication yet that, thank God, a cure had been found for Covid.

The masses dancing and hugging on the streets was vindication that all of the self-isolation had been well worth it, when you could now congregate as close as you like to each other, to your little heart’s content.

Or so you’d think.

One weekend of slightly relaxed licencing laws was all it took, and in the blink of an eye thousands of revellers were up and at it like this was Paris in 1945 after it was freed from the Germans.

The newly-imposed regulations for relaxation would suggest that all of these bouncy people at least had the benefit of a nine-euro meal inside them – how else could they get served?

So, we’d better brace ourselves for when they go out on an empty stomach.

Much has already been made of the fact that pub life will never be the same again – and that might well be the case.

Social distancing is bad news for the publicans, limiting their ability to wedge the entire student population of NUIG and GMIT into the equivalent of a phone box.

But it’s great news for curmudgeons – particularly for those whose capacity for imbibing alcohol is shot.

Advancing middle age has seen the tolerance of the early twenties reduced from the equivalent of a sizeable plastic bucket to an amount that once wouldn’t have even pass the standard definition of being out.

Three pints? That’s what you’d order when they rang the bell at closing time.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Angels took pain out of hospital Christmas

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Charlie Adley

Double Vision with Charlie Adley

More than any other time of the year, when we sit around our dinner tables on Christmas Day, we are aware of who is there and who is not. At the age of 17, having performed impressive acrobatics with my Yamaha 250, a saloon car, a ditch and a barbed wire fence, I spent six weeks in hospital over Christmas and New Year.

My femur was snapped in two, which is no mean feat with thighs like mine, and my tibia had a crack or two as well.

Bed-bound, with my leg in traction, I developed a bronchial chest infection after an emergency operation.

Every two seconds for six weeks I coughed in hacking spasms, thus shaking my smashed leg, which was hung in a sling, supported by a metal pole they had driven through me, just below the knee.

Suffice to say I came to terms with pain.

In our part of the ward, there were four beds and three bikers with broken bones.

There was Kev, who had fallen off his sleek and mean Suzuki GT750 (a two stroke 3-into-1, since you ask), and opposite us two was brick shithouse Yorkshireman Gary, ex-SAS, and mighty embarrassed, having survived several covert tours of duty in Northern Ireland, to have to admit to falling off a Honda 125.

Compared to the other patients in the hospital the three of us were well off.

We were not sick. We’d had our operations, and apart from antibiotics for wounds, and pain killers for broken bones, we needed very little medical attention.

We were young, male, bored, and allowed to drink beer. Naturally, we tried to attract the attention of the student nurses as much as possible, and equally, they were happy to have a bit of a laugh with lads who were not ill, physically, at least!

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Don’t be a slave to the algorithm

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Charlie Adley

Double Vision with Charlie Adley

Saying “I love newspapers!” feels these days like buying a ticket for the next David Bowie gig, but I do: I love them. When I read a newspaper, I’m not a slave to the algorithm. Were I ten years younger, I’d read all my news online, on apps that I’ve set to my personal preferences.

Even when I visit media sites I’ve never been to before, there are cookies and bots and gordknowswot working away to offer me more of what the algorithms think I want.

Every link off each page is tailored to please me, but that’s no good.

I don’t want to be fed things that only fit into my areas of interest and opinion.

Sitting at my living room table, mug of tea and two slices of toast (peanut butter, since you ask), and a paper – any paper – open in front of me, I can see the full wonder and horror of the world, as interpreted by The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Irish Times or Daily Mirror.

As I browse into the heart of the paper, far from major news items, I let my eyesight fall all over the place, because each page is full of varied items, and, here on page 14, I’ll find the big story that’s being buried: the story they have to report, but are under instruction to dampen down.

Also here are stories that no algorithm-driven link would ever lead me to. Quirky little tales, able to dissolve an adult brain in seconds.

When driven sufficiently doolally by what I’m reading, I tear that particular piece of madness out of the newspaper, placing it on top of the wobbly towering stack of other torn madnesses by my desk.

There are dark torn madnesses and fearsome ones, but today I’m in the mood to prowl the ones that force me to furrow my brow, gasp for breath, pout my lips and grunt “What the -?” at the universe.

Notes are seeds, from which every writer will grow different fruit. When that writer is working for the Daily Mail, the fruit need bear only minuscule relation to the seed.

To read Charlie’s column in full, please see this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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