Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Keep It Local II

A couple of month ago I posted about the appalling lack of customer service I experienced while doing my shopping in two shops in the nearby town. If you want to refresh your memory, the post is here. I told you how I had emailed both shops and was waiting on response. They both did.

Shop A apologised profusely, gave me the whole "this shouldn't happen" and apologised again. What baffled me the most was the statement that this issue had been brought to their attention before and that they were "putting measures into place to deal with it". So I wasn't the only one to find myself leaving the shop feeling as if I was an inconvenience to their staff. I was surprised that they admitted to there having been more than one complaint about their staff. Surprised, but at the same time a little bit glad.

Shop B gave me the standard apology letter, assuring me this wouldn't happen again and wished I would continue to shop with them and that all their staff was trained to a high standard in order to provide excellent customer service. They told me that should I go back to their shop I would find my shopping experience only delightful.

After driving to the further away town once a week for my shopping for a month or so, I decided to give my local town another chance. Mainly because I needed to go to the bank and the beauty salon and didn't fancy driving to the other town for my food shop after my lovely, relaxing massage. So in I ventured to shop A.

Full of Christmas cheer and sweets, christmas puddings and fairy lights. The shop was, not me. Maybe the Christmas cheer had infected the staff as well, but I did think I was seeing an awful lot of smiles around. And the service was excellent. Had a nice chat with the man at the till, smiles all around and a big "Thank You" at the end. I spotted the woman who had served me the last time and prompted me to email the shop. She was serving another customer at the express counter and she was smiling! 

Shop B was an equally positive experience. No pushing of the shopping into the trolley to get customers out of the way; no broken bags of cat litter; no rush and no hurry. There was an item that they used to stock, but I was unable to find it this time. I was told they had stopped stocking it because of low sales in this branch but would be able to get it in for me from another branch if I wanted to do so. And all this done without sighing or rolling of the eyes.

After these to experiences I decided to bring my pennies back to my local town. I also emailed both shops to let them know I had seen a marked improvement in their level of customer service and that they had succeeded in convincing me they were indeed dedicated to improving their services. I feel that if I took the time to complain about bad customer service, I should take equal amount of time to thank them for good customer service. And seeing as I didn't name and shame these shops in my first post, I shall leave them anonymous in this one, too.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Grey Skies

Today has been bloody miserable, weather-wise. At around noon I decided I wasn't going to leave the house at all, there's no point in getting soaked. I started the day with a winning breakfast of bacon and fried eggs. And liberal amounts of coffee, of course. The cats kept me company for all of half an hour before racing into the bedroom and taking up their assigned corners of the bed and went to sleep. Lucky kitties.

I got all my shopping done yesterday; more than I needed if I'm honest but I am actually buying bits ready for Christmas as well in an effort to spread the cost over a few weeks rather than doing a mad dash at the shops on Christmas week. I picked up a few bottles of wine over the last couple of weeks, seems like every shop is doing some sort of a promotion. I'm going to try this one out soon, mainly because it was so cheap I'm struggling to believe it can be in any way drinkable. Having said that, in Italy we enjoyed some really nice wines that cost at around €2per bottle. So there may be hope for this little Australian Shiraz.

It was also pointed out to me that the lizard in the label bears an uncanny resemblance to my tattoo:

As far as my anti-social experiment is going, all I can say is "So far, so good". I haven't started climbing the walls yet, I've not been reduced to tears watching the John Lewis Christmas ad nor have I been trying to converse with the cats. Yet. It's been a week and a bit and I must say I'm holding up remarkably well. That being said, I feel I must point out that I've spent precious little time at home, so maybe I haven't just yet realised that I am home alone. I even watched a scary movie by myself the other night, and didn't feel the need to sleep with our trusty baseball bat beside my bed.

This next thing is going to annoy some of you; I've started my Christmas shopping already. And for once, it's Mr. S's present that I got sorted first! He's so difficult to buy for, I'm usually picking his brain for weeks and weeks before an epiphany hits me as to what to get him. The epiphany-fairy must've been doing his rounds early this year, that's one present out of the way and dealt with. As for the rest, I know what I'm getting everyone else, so there's really no big panic. Now all I have to do is get off my arse, get down the shops and buy the bloody things. No panic at all.

The work Christmas party date and venue were announced the last day as well. Cue dress panic. I've had a quick look on asos.com and came to the conclusion that most of the dresses are ridiculously short! I don't like my legs all that much and parading them around in a teeny tiny dress in front of all my work mates isn't something I'm planning on doing no matter how much Morgan's Spiced Rum you pour down my throat. I do have a dress already that I haven't worn all that much at all that I could fall back on if all else fails. Still, the temptation to buy something new may prove too much to resist...

I'm off to fight the greyness outside with a nice big fire, some candles and some bad telly. And a drop of wine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Home Alone

Hello, there! You may or may not remember my anti-social experiment form two years ago. I'm more inclined to think that you many not, so feel free to refresh your memory here. Done? Okay, then.

I find myself in the same situation as I'm typing away right now. Mr. S has gone off to England to do some work on his dad's house. He went last Sunday. Today is Wednesday. I'm already a little bit bored of being home alone. Saying that, compared to two years ago, I'm working a full five days a week rather than the three I was doing back then. Today and yesterday are the first two days I have had off since he went.

The house has been cleaned top to bottom, all the washing has been done and dried outside (I'm determined to use less electricity), I've thrown out loads of magazines and newspapers I was holding onto for lord knows why etc. etc. I find I can be very productive when left alone and in need to fill my time with something other than TV.

I'm saving my visitation rounds for later. For all I know, Mr. S may be gone for four, five or even six weeks. He has promised me he'll be home for Christmas, but that is all I'm working on at the moment. Last week we bough a chest freezer (I know, exciting, right?!). Mainly because I've been nagging to get one for what seems like forever but what probably is a few months. Seeing as we're here for Christmas, I want to start prepping things well in advance rather than facing the horrible Christmas Shop sometime during the few days before the big day when every shop is packed, people are cranky and there's no parking anywhere!. Seriously, it was like that in Galway last Wednesday and I pretty much promised myself that if I have to go there again, I'll head out at 7am and have everything over and done with by 11am.

So, I've been baking and buying things to get ahead of the game. The freezer is looking nice and full with cakes, pastries and breads. I also got a few bottles of wine which I stashed away discreetly to wait for the holiday season to be upon us. I already know where I'm getting my Christmas ham (we don't eat turkey) and I've picked the place to put our Christmas tree.

Just in case we get another bloody Big Freeze this winter and I won't be able to leave the house, I'm safe in the knowledge that it'll take me quite a while to eat my way through the contents of the freezer, even if I have Mr. S to help me. Which reminds me, I must bake another loaf of rye bread. You know, just in case.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

While I Was Away

Hello, there! Been a while, hasn't it? Last time I posted anything I was ready to go on my holidays to see my family. Can I just say that it was one helluva long journey. I worked a full day on Monday, got home, finished packing, fed myself and the cats. We headed off in plenty time for me to catch the bus to the airport. Well, in plenty time we thought at the time. The weather was hideous, roads were covered in water and it was bucketing down accompanied by a lovely gale force breeze. I ended up having to ring the coach station and talk to the driver to let him know I was on my way in. In a very laid back Irish way which holds very little regard to timetables and such, he said there was no problem for him to wait for me to get there. In the end I got there all of four minutes before departure time.

Thanks to the extremely loud man on his phone for 3 hours sat across the aisle from me, I got no sleep and arrived bleary-eyed at Terminal 2 at 5am on Tuesday morning. Breakfast, security check, more coffee and board the plane. I was looking forward to sleep. The 6-year old boy sat beside me had other plans. His granny apologised to me roughly 47 times during the flight. All I could think of was the four hour train  journey still ahead of me and how I would enjoy sleeping there.

My brother met me at the airport and took me to lunch, I had three hours to spare before my train. After consuming an obscene amount of nachos with spicy beef, salsa, cheese sauce and sour cream, I was in dire need of coffee again. I had been awake at this stage for about 28 hours. I was surprised I was still functioning.

Once I got onto the train, my brain decided it had given up on sleep and decided it was time to read now. Karen Rose's book kept me company for four comfy hours. I love the trains in Finland, they are so comfortable. Although, they did do a complete overhaul on their ticketing system which caused the online ticketing service to crash for a few days and saw actual people selling tickets at train stations. Can you believe it?! I got charged twice for my ticket in the online ticket shop, but got a refund of 150% of the ticket price. I call that a win.

My parents met me at the train station and we spent another hour in the car before I was properly home. Hours awake at this point: 34. After being fed and watered, I don't think I have ever slept as soundly.

And then we cue hours spent with family, catching up with friends, eating, drinking and making merry. I needed that break, badly. I spent a week and a half at my parents' and then went over to my brother's and his partner's place for a long weekend of more family, eating, drinking and making merry. Lots of laughs, and badly needed down time.

I got back into work straight away and did a gigantic 12 days in a row, to cover someone else's holiday. To be fair, they covered mine so I can't really complain. Especially when I now have four days off. While I was gone, my friend had a baby boy, the people of Ireland elected a new president and my cat has developed a strange affection towards my slippers.

Yup. Lots to catch up on.