Bits & Bobs

A collection of random diary entries and my favourite photos.

Ikea | Worst Customer Service?

My house is furnished by so much lovely Ikea furniture, our styles and budgets seem to match up, so it should be win/win right? Well frankly, no.

Their furniture is lovely, their store and customer service is not. Let’s talk about the store for a minute. My closest one is Ikea Warrington, iconic for a while as is was the only one in the North West. It’s on the Gemini Retail Park alongside a huge M&S and adjacent to your more standard Next, Boots & McDonalds.

It’s essentially a warehouse which makes for a VERY large, windowless shop. It’s on two levels starting with the showroom, leading eventually to the marketplace and till point. The store’s main issue for me is that once you are in, you can’t get out. No matter how hard you try, you have to walk through every single section to get to the till and exit. On Summer days they will prop open some doors which means you can bypass the odd section, but otherwise, every single time, you have to walk through everything. 🙈

Now for those familiar with the Warrington store, yes, I know you can go straight to the marketplace bit but often I am not sure where things are OR I want to look at the furniture to make sure it’s ok. So I invariably HAVE TO GO ROUND THE WHOLE BLOODY THING.

Over the last few years I have had consistently poor customer service from Ikea and I wanted to share with you why my relationship with Ikea is firmly in the category: “It’s complicated“.

Incident Number 1

A few years ago, my parents bought a bed from Ikea, which included bed frame, headboard and mattress. It was all supposed to be delivered together, but sadly it was not. In fact there were 3 attempted deliveries, some that included the bed frame, but no slats, one that included just the mattress, and one that had other bits missing. My parents refused the three deliveries as they didn’t want to have to store odd bits of bed without having everything. After the 3rd failed delivery, my parents had had enough and decided to cancel the order. But Ikea refused to give them a refund over the phone and we decided to go into the store to complain.

Ikea said they couldn’t give my parents a refund until their 3rd party delivery partner confirmed they had the bed back at their warehouse. They said this might take 2 weeks. They wouldn’t even try to sort it out sooner, refuding to make a simple call which would have done just that. I have to admit I got frustrated, might have raised my voice and was more or less asked to leave. I’m not proud of that, but I honestly felt, then and now, that they were wrong. My dad hadn’t paid the 3rd party delivery company for the bed, he had paid Ikea who had failed to deliver a bed. Why should he have had to wait so long for his money back?

I wrote to complain about their service, but they rebuked my complaint as I had raised my voice to their staff. I am by nature, a very calm person and not a person that ever really shouts, so you can only imagine how frustrated I was!

Incident Number 2

In 2017 we bought some PAX wardrobes from Ikea and as they do many different designs and configurations, we visited the store several times to make sure we were happy. As always, we had to trail around the whole store each and every time. Yawn. We did eventually make our decision and almost skipped to Ikea one last time,  excited to make our purchase, I should have known better.

We schlepped around to the Wardrobey section and waited near the design area where there were usually Wardrobey peeps ready with their lukewarm advice. There was no-one there. So we waited for 5 minutes. Still no-one. I got fed up and M went to search. He couldn’t find anyone but eventually a young girl ambled towards me and proceeded to “assist” us in spending £1,200 on Ikea wardrobes. Her attitude and general manner was indifferent and if anything, irritated at our presence. We then asked about the fitting service, which was advertised on the Ikea website as 20% of the purchase price. Now this annoyed me, If I’m honest as I think this policy is very unfair. Why should how much I’ve paid for something impact on what it costs to fit? Anyway…as neither M or I can fit a thing, we had decided that we would just swallow the daft cost and get them to sort.

Turns out though, that Ikea DON’T fit, they employ a local company that we had to pay in cash on the day, which would be anything up to a week AFTER the wardrobe parts were delivered. The thing is, we had got gift cards to pay for our wardrobes and didn’t really WANT to pay CASH to a 3rd party company we didn’t know or have any choice of.

This whole transaction ended with the irritated Ikea peep asking, “So no fitting then?” with cocked head. “Noooo” I sighed. Awful.

Incident 3

Last WEEK, I went to Ikea with my best friend Karen to purchase a new Kitchen cabinet. I chose it before we went using the Ikea website and was expecting a short transaction. We arrived, found the kitcheny bit, checked out the cabinet, chose a colour, found an Ikea person to order from. So far so good. Cabinet ordering going well, until we reached the supplementary questions. “Do you need some feet?”, Me: “No I don’t think so”, Her: “Well you won’t be able to open the cupboard doors”.  I gave Karen a look which I think accurately expressed “Well why did you fecking ask me then?”

So I agreed to feet, which she told us were around the corner, against the back wall in a variety of colours. Ok ace, we found the feet, picked a white pair, paid, picked the cupboard up from the off-site warehouse, loaded the car came home. Happy days…. I should have known better.

When we got home, M spent a fair old while putting the cupboard together, only to find I had the wrong feet and they didn’t fit. It was Sunday evening, so the next afternoon I went back to Ikea, found the Kitcheny bit and approached the Ikea Kitcheny peeps. I started to explain about the feet mis-match when she interrupted me

“Did you want Capita feet?”
Me: “No, I just wanted feet to go with the Matcha cupboard that I bought.”
Her: ” Well we have to order them.” Silence……
Me: “What does that mean?”
Her: “We have to order them and you have to pick them up from the off-site warehouse. I visibly sighed.
Me: “That’s really frustrating as I came yesterday and she told me that the feet were on the back wall — she told me that several times”.
Her: “No we have to order them,  Would you like me to?”.
Me: “Yes”.
Her: “Ok that’s done for you, do you know where the offsite Warehouse is?”
Me (very pink in the face by this time) “YES BECAUSE I WENT THERE YESTERDAY!!”.

No apology, it was clearly their mistake, but she just didn’t seem that bothered.

So Ikea, I challenge you to do better. Things go wrong from time to time with customer based transactions, but good customer service is about how you deal with them that makes the real difference. How do you train your staff? What makes them so indifferent to customers and providing a good service? Maybe windows would help in your store? Who knows?

I have experienced all kinds of service from many many retailers in my life and Ikea ranks pretty low on the scale. So come on Ikea – do better, it’s not enough to make every home in the UK have a MALM set of drawers or a  Billy bookcase, you need to make your customers feel valued. Because I certainly don’t.

Gill x

 

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10lb gain (An Honest Post) | Getting Healthy

OK, well before I write this post I look at these photos and what I notice is that I look happy, I mean the mad hair and odd socks say it all I think. Also YES, my t-shirt does say Ewe Tube. That’s the way it goes.

Anyway, the last time I posted a Getting Healthy Blog was on the 1st January and that’s mainly because I haven’t really been as healthy as I should have. I haven’t been weighed for ages, but when I finally bit the bullet this morning, I had gained 10lbs. Gutted. All my life my weight has gone up and down, and it’s been a constant struggle.

So I am going to re-focus, and see where I am this time next week. I just need to move a little more and eat more fruit and veg. One of my favourite evening meals is a Turkey Hash which I cook in our slow cooker:

Turkey Hash (Slow Cooker)

Serves 4
Cooking Time: 7 hours on low

Ingredients

500g Turkey Mince
500g New Potatoes (diced)
500g Butternut Squash (I used a bag of Frozen from Tesco)
1 x red onion (diced)
3 x bay leaves
3 x tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce
2 x Courgettes  (I have subbed this for Aubergine, also lovely)

Basically bung it all the slow cooker and cook for 7 hours without taking the lid off. Delicious.

G x

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3 years today | Grief

It’s 3 years today since we lost my mum. I say “Lost” she was actually ripped from our family much earlier than expected when Cancer took hold of her body and destroyed it.

She wasn’t an adventurous woman, any trip further than Wigan brought her out in a cold sweat, but she made a good brew, she cared brilliantly for the old people in her care for over 20 years for her job, she was a vehement Wigan Warriors supporter and her fruitcake was the stuff of legends.

She left behind my dad and husband of 43 years, myself and my sister, 2 granddaughters, and a whole host of other people that loved her. She is missed. I miss her. I am nowhere near as sad as I have been since it happened, but I always feel a little “off” around this time.  The upside is I get to talk about her a bit, which I don’t do so much anymore.

Grief is hard and weird and nothing like I thought it would be. But whatever it feels like, it does, in fact, suck.

Miss you Mum.

G x

 

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Getting a Dog | Pupdate

I love dogs, like LOVE them. I have never wanted children, totally not my thing. Dogs are my thing. We had Peggy dog from 2004-2013 and when we lost her we were so devastated that up until recently, we haven’t felt ready to have another pupster in the house. There were lots of other factors and things to consider and the time never really felt right, but in the last few months things, things have changed and the upshot is that last weekend we started the search for a doggy to share our lives with. Here’s the story so far:

Sunday 8th April 2018

OK, today is the day we start our search for a dog. As Peggy dog was a rescue, we have decided to try and adopt another dog. However, we drove past the place we got Peggy from yesterday and there were protestors outside brandishing banners that said things like “Dogs Die Here”. So maybe we won’t go there! We decided to go to The Dogs Trust in Manchester instead here:

When we arrived it was MASSIVE with plenty of parking and many branded vehicles outside. However inside the experience was a little…clinical. It was a huge double height building, with big indoor areas containing park benches and places to exercise dogs (presumably). But there was no reception as such and the staff we did see where dealing with other people or doing other things. It also wasn’t very clear where the dogs where at first, as we thought we could see kennels, but not many dogs. We were sort of separated from the perspex kennels by a walkway and a wall. The wall contained mounted iPads which held each dog’s photograph, story, and sometimes a short video, but the actual dog was more often than not, not visible in the kennel. We didn’t know what to do, so to be honest, after a short look round, we left. I am sure it works very well for lots of people as there is no doubt it’s an excellent facility, but for me, it was more like a school or hospital and I personally, didn’t get a good vibe. Shame.

We sat in the car and decided we would remain positive and try the Dogs Trust in Merseyside here:

From the start our visit here was much more successful as it was busier and there seemed to be many more dogs to look at. They were in more traditional kennels, which meant it was easier to see the dogs and to get an idea of size and temperament. We walked around for a while, saying hello to each dog in turn, trying hard to resist the urge to kidnap every pair of sad doggie eyes and waggy tails we saw. Do you know what was really interesting, the main 2 type of dogs that we saw in both Dogs Trust centres were Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Lurchers! It’s a shame as neither of these breeds appeal to us for different reasons.

However, towards the of our time there, we came across a terrier cross called Dexter.

I think we can all agree he’s pretty cute. We went to the office and spoke to a staff member and she told us that he hadn’t been properly assessed yet, but after checking she told us a bit about him, including the worrying news that he had shown aggression towards children. M & I have 2 nieces under 13 and so we quickly realised that unfortunately Dexter would not find his forever home with us. Sad times. However after visiting the Merseyside centre, we left more hopeful and decided to continue our search another day.

Saturday 14th April 2018

Today’s dog search took us a little further afield, as during the week both people in my office and one of my Twitter friends had suggested alternative rescue centres for us to try. The first one being Freshfields Animal Sanctuary here:

It took us a little longer to get there than usual for 2 reasons, one being today is Grand National Day and the second one being, despite Sat Nav, I took a wrong turn and ended up in Race Day traffic! ANYWAY…. we arrived at Freshfields and there wasn’t any parking, which was ok as we parked in a little lane nearby. We followed the signs for the entrance, but the first odd thing was that we had ring a doorbell for someone to let us in. It turns out, they don’t have any public viewing facilities and they kicked off by asking if we had seen a dog we liked on the website. We hadn’t.  We were then shown to reception and given a folder of prospective dogs to look through, then if we liked any of them, and we met the criteria, the dog would be brought out to meet us. I don’t know why, but this felt like I was hiring a prostitute in a brothel. 😣

But we politely perused the books just in case, but ultimately left with a slightly odd feeling. *sighs*. So our final place that someone had told me about was a place called Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary in Ramsbottom.  So we set off, wondering what on earth we would find when we got there.

Bleakholt is here:

Again, despite Sat Nav, it was a little tricky to find, especially because my route took me up a large hill and down some tiny country lanes, but as it turned out, that was exactly right and we did end up in the right place! Bleakholt was lovely, it’s positioned with 360° stunning views and not only rescues dogs and cats, but some large and small animals too.

We found reception and a lovely lady told us all about the rehoming procedure and where all the kennels where. Bleakholt probably had about 20-25 dogs for adoption and the place was packed out with prospective owners. There were lots of staff/volunteers around and about and it was a lovely place to visit. We even met a sheep:

But despite the good vibes, we didn’t find a dog for our family. 🐶 We did however, sit on a bench in the sunshine and start to formulate another plan…..

You might just have to keep your eye on gilliblogs.co.uk to see what happens next… I for one am VERY excited!!!

Mood:

via GIPHY

 

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An 80th Celebration & A Musical Surprise

So on Saturday we travelled to a little town just outside Wrexham in North Wales to celebrate the 80th birthday of on of our lovely family friends. She’s had a tough couple of years with one thing and another and so to turn up to find her enjoying a lovely party with an Afternoon Tea theme was a joy.

What was most unexpected was the surprise performance that her daughters had booked for her and I have to say I was blown away! They were called A Handbag of Harmonies:

They were led by the wonderful Matt Baker and after their heart exploding rendition of Shine by Take That (Swipe left on the above Insta to hear)… I was just blown away. They were incredible and if you are looking for something different for your next event, and you just want to smile for 20 minutes… then look no further. Loved every single minute!

G x

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Being a Feminist Can be Hard Sometimes

So I am feminist. I am pro-women’s right, I am pro equality and more than anything, I will always stick up for women. This doesn’t mean of course, that I love all women and so sometimes, when I have a bad experience, that is particularly female, I sometimes don’t like to admit it. But I have to remind myself that woman are mostly brilliant, but not perfect – whatever that is.

The experience I had recently was to be in a room for the day with 6 women, who all knew each other reasonably well and most of which I know reasonably well too. I have a good enough relationship with them all, one of them is a little cocky IMHO and one of them blows hot and cold in her attitude to me, but that’s ok with me too.

But, after spending a day in their company it struck me that I basically wanted to hit them ALL with a big stick. The reason for this… they spent the entire day talking about dieting and men. Every other conversation was about diet shakes, calorie counting, how rubbish their (their friend’s) husband or boyfriend was and whether or not they, despite being off sugar/on a diet/being good they should have a McDonalds. Made me want to plug up my ears with bourbon biscuits.

It was like being in an episode of Mean Girls where they all judged each other on life choices and seemed to take their worth from their dress size. I mean WHAT?!  If you ever wonder why we still need feminism, then the answer, after a day in the company of these women is yes. They will never read this, but here is my letter to you:

You are beautiful. You are worthy. You are intelligent. You are funny. You are a kick ass human.  None of this is affected by your weight, dress size or (believe it or not) whether or not you eat the burger you so crave. By all mean, do exercise and things to keep healthy, but don’t do it to confirm to some fucked up Kim Kardashian image of perfect. Perfect – DOES NOT EXISTS.

You can can be skinny and facially symmetrical, but be a complete cow and therefore couldn’t be less beautiful. So girls, be proud of who you are and remember that you are so much more that what you weigh. You are amazing and don’t let a number on a scale tell you any different. You are warriors.

G x

 

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Why can’t all restaurants be like Nandos?

So as you know, I have been travelling around the UK over the last few months for work and as such, I have had to find somewhere to eat in whatever town I am  in. As someone who is Lactose Intolerance, this can be more of a challenge than it sounds.

Recently, I was in Leicester and stayed at the Premier Inn, right in the middle of town. As part of the deal I got a “Premier Breakfast” included, which was advertised in the hotel’s lift.

This picture contains the following items:

  • Pancakes
  • Bagel
  • Croissants
  • French Patisserie
  • Cooked breakfast
  • Fruit
  • Yoghurt
  • Juice 
  • Coffee

The items in red contain Dairy, the items in do not. The cooked breakfast is half and half as some of the cooked items do and some don’t. So actually the Premier Inn breakfast is a no-no for me.

Then of course the Premier Inn has a restaurant and as you can see from the menu below, it contains SO much dairy it’s ridiculous. It’s ok, I get it, cheese is delicious and butter is so tasty for cooking with.

But would it be so hard to add a few more options, or at least make it easy to see which food contains what? Which leads me nicely to Nandos. My second night in Leicester, I decided to go to Nandos for some chicken. Before I visited, I decided to check out the menu online. I was therefore THRILLED to find I could very easily filter it by items that DID NOT CONTAIN MILK!!

This is the first time I have seen this and honestly, it made such a difference to my personal dining experience.

It meant that I could eat in confidence, knowing that I wouldn’t have a reaction. Bravo Nandos, thank you for catering for those us with special requirements. It seems to me that ALL restaurants have this information about their foods, it just isn’t commonplace for us as customers to see/use it in order to make an informed selection.

Let’s hope more restaurants follow Nandos lead and let the filtering begin.

G x

 

 

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My YouTube Channel is being de-monetised

I have been creating videos on YouTube since 2009, before I even knew “vlogging” was a thing. I have always loved having that creative freedom to commit anything to video and then have those memories saved within YouTube. From around 2013 – 2015 I had a break from creating videos and then I decided to pick up my camera again and got a little more serious in my content creation.

One of the reasons I took things a little more serious, was that YouTube had changed in my absence and I found out I could monetize my videos – “Ok” I thought, I’m in. Of course I have never made ANY money over those 2+ years of monetization, despite having over 72,000 views to date.

But after logging in to YouTube this afternoon after a little day-job related absence, I saw a notification to tell me from next month, my channel is being de-monetised as it doesn’t meet the criteria of 4,000 watch hours and 1,000 subscribers. 😣 . *sighs*

So I guess I have a decision to make as to whether I carry on my channel, I still enjoy making videos and I’ve only had a hiatus as my day-job has changed, which doesn’t leave me with enough time or energy to create things each week. I need to have a think about it.

I have to say though, that I have continued to blog throughout this intense work period and so maybe this is where my heart actually lies. But either way, if you have got all the way to the end of this blog, I would like to thank you for reading and for your support.

I have always loved keeping a sort of online diary and even though I have loved working with brands, this isn’t why I do it. I love just simply keeping a note of where I have been, what I have done and in doing that, passing on any useful information I might have collected along the way.

Anyway, Happy Sunday people – thanks for stopping by!

Gill x

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