Have I mentioned that I am retiring next week? Possibly not, I don’t tend to talk about it very much. Anyway, in anticipation of a bit of spare cash I’m busy sorting out a few quotes from different companies to come out and fit some bedroom wardrobes. I’ve got a couple of firms booked in already, and yesterday Betta Living contacted me to make a date, having received an email enquiry from me.
“Yes,” I told them. “You can come out the week after next sometime.”
“Fine. Are you the home owner?”
“And is there just you there?”
“No I live with my partner.”
“I see, and when will he be in.”
“I’ve no idea; it’s me who wants to see you.”
“We can only come out when both of you are there.”
“My partner will be at work.”
“We can come out in the evening.”
“My partner isn’t particularly interested. I don’t want you out in the evening, I want to see you through the day, when it’s convenient to me and I will be in. We do stuff in the evening, and my partner will not want to take time off work.”
“We need him to be there too.”
“Forget it then.”
I was so incensed, that actually, it was me who couldn’t forget it. I rang them back five minutes later to have a go. I said that in fact my partner is a she, who’s desire for input into all things appertaining to wardrobes extends only as far as a bit of finger jabbing at the glossy brochures. Apparently the company’s stance on this is not a sexist one. They want both decision makers (their term) to be in the house together, because their designer might have to travel 100 miles to see us, and what they’ve found is, that one person makes a decision, then another person changes it, and they have to trawl back and forth. He went on to say that my partner did not have to be in the same room as the designer, just as long as she was in the house. Presumably then, I could still get them to come out and just pretend that Heather was in the loft? Apparently these consultations sometimes take two hours. I can just imagine how this would go down. “You’re in all bloody day, and yet you have to make an appointment for 6pm after I’ve been slaving at work. Why couldn’t you get them out this morning, why does it have to be tonight? Well they’d better be gone before the Champion’s League game starts I’m warning you, and my tea had better be on.”
There must be a way around this surely? Maybe I should book an appointment and lie, say that Heather would be in even though I knew she wouldn’t? Ah yes! This could be the way forward. Then again, after driving for 100 miles up the A1 would the designer simply refuse to cross the threshold? What if you’re married to someone who works on the oil rigs or serves in the British Army? These are conundrums which I’d love to get to the bottom of, but sadly I never will, because Betta Living have refused to come out unless it’s to see two of us, and Heather has stated that she would rather squirt detergent in her eyes than spend a cosy evening chatting about wardrobes. It’s a pity, because I must be losing out on some exceptional service if Betta Living can afford to turn down a sniff at some ready cash. I’m guessing that the real reason for the silly rule is that they’ve got more customers than they know what to do with, and they need a way to sift a few of us out. They don’t fool me you know, they might think they do, but they don’t.
Back in May I told you about a parking ticket I’d received and promised you an update. My crime was to overstay the time limit (by about an hour and a half) in the Asda car park just next to the Metrocentre. You’re only supposed to park there for a maximum of three hours, though you can get an extension if you ask in the shop. This is to prevent people from using Asda’s parking facilities and then buzzing off to Newcastle for the day. On receiving a parking notice from private operator SMART, I was able to produce evidence (from receipts) that I was inside Asda for the entire duration of our stay, parked in a disabled bay with a valid blue badge, and that the holder of the badge was with me. We took so long because we both had our eyes tested, chose and purchased spectacles, and then we each did a large food shop, and stayed for lunch.
If you get a ticket from a private company remember it is not a fixed penalty ticket issued by the local authority or the police. It’s simply an invoice for parking on private land, so don’t just automatically fork out. The invoice came with all sorts of warnings, i.e.; that it would only be £40 if I paid it straight away, but if I appealed and lost, then it was doubled – all designed to put you off appealing. In fact I took my case to POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals) and they found in my favour. If they hadn’t, then I was happy to let SMART take me to court. You see there were no signs in or around the disabled bay, or between the disabled bays and the shop entrance, stating the time constraints. POPLA found; “The Appellant submits that the only signage in the vicinity of her vehicle related to blue badges. Accordingly, the Appellant displayed her passenger’s blue badge. No indication was given as to a 3 hour time limit. Having seen and read the sign displayed, it is not clear that there are further terms of parking. The sign states that the motorist must display a blue badge to park in these pays, and that a parking charge notice will be issued to those who do not. Having read the sign, POPLA are not satisfied that it would have been obvious to the Appellant that there was a 3 hour time limit, or that she needed to find further signage for more terms of parking.” Quite so, and you particularly can’t root around in the rain for further signage whilst manoeuvring a wheelchair with a shopping trolley attached.
And finally. A few of photos taken at the Gung Ho! event at Newcastle Racecourse last Saturday morning. A very entertaining couple of hours, even for spectators. Heather took part with her friends Marie and Helen, and Dan looked after me. He’s going to do it himself next year.