Monday, May 21, 2012

I Don't Believe It!

I’m sure age is turning me into a curmudgeonly Victor Meldrew. Nothing to do with the events of this week, for which, apparently, I only have myself to blame.

It started with the puncture. It was two miles from the National Tyre Service depot in Newcastle, where I’d just been persuaded to buy three new tyres. You see, I’d stupidly let them sell me winter tyres last Autumn, and when I came back to have them swapped for my old summer ones, they said that summer tyres shouldn’t be stsored, because they rot, so I now needed to spend £600 on replacements.

“It’s because they haven’t been driven on”, they explained, as if to an imbecile.

“But it was winter!” I began to say, then meekly paid the bill.

On the way back to my office, the car suddenly swerved to the left and I narrowly avoided a pedestrian. One of the new front tyres was flat as a pancake. So I called my wife, several times, but the phone appeared to be off the hook. By the time the rescue vehicle arrived and I was back on the road it was nearly midnight.

Naturally Jo berated me for being so late – supper was ruined. She’d been worried sick, with visions of the car upturned in a ditch (which it nearly was); she couldn’t get hold of me because our phones and internet were down. All because I’d stupidly switched the line to BT.

For three happy years Sky had provided us with a perfectly good service and, just because an ad offered us an incredibly cheap deal, I’d switched and now we were cut off. So I rang BT at 1 in the morning, standing on a window ledge above the back door to get a faint signal on my mobile. Several chirpy songs and a fortune later (“0800 calls are charged at normal rates from mobiles” they said), I heard distant crackling, and what sounded like someone telling a joke in Hindi. I could hear people laughing. It was probably a joke about a man who switches his service to BT to save money and spent twice as much listening to jokes in Hindi.

I hollered down the mouthpiece: “Anybody there?”  I whistled and cursed. Izzy woke up with the noise and I nearly fell off the window ledge. I rang back and, eventually, a woman with an Indian accent answered. She’d check the line for me and would call me back in “exactly 5 or 6 minutes”.

“Is that 5 minutes or 6?” I asked, “because I have to climb back onto this window ledge, you see”.

“Yes, exactly 5 or 6”, she said.

An hour later at 2am, with my fingers numbed, I called again. A man checked my records and said, “We have investigated your line and you most certainly have a fault with your house wiring”.

“No, I don’t have a fault, you do”, I screamed. “Sir, it is most certainly your fault, our wiring is fine. We can send an engineer to fix it, but we will charge you £98.”

“OK,” I said, “I’ll pay you £98 if I’m at fault if you agree to pay me £98 if it’s your fault. Deal?”

“Yes, sir”, he said, clearly not understanding one word. “An engineer will arrive on Monday morning”.

“Monday?” I fell off the ledge in disgust. An entire weekend without phone or internet.

The following day I returned to the garage with my broken tyre and a manager called Darren said it wasn’t their fault, as it was a faulty valve. A valve they had just sold me, fitted, and not checked.

“It was new, so why would we check it?”

“Because it could have killed me?”

Darren didn’t apologise. Nor will BT, I’m sure, even when they discover that they’ve cut off all my neighbours’ phone lines as well. And I’m pretty sure they won’t cough up my £98.

Who could blame me for being a little cross?

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