Monthly Archives

March 2012

M&S Breaching Sale of Goods Act?

Posted on 31st March 2012 in customer service/ M&S

I had the most ridiculous conversation with a cashier in M&S Cambridge today.

In a nutshell, we bought some things and one of them was in the sale. At the till the cashier said that the sale item cannot be returned. We queried why this was and she said that people try to bring them back and claim they were bought at the original price.

This immediately made me feel as though she was implying that she thought I might do this.

I said that surely you would need the receipt in order to return an item.

She said it is just their company policy and that she would have to stamp the top as ‘soiled or damaged’ so that it could not be returned.

I would point out here that we have no intention of returning the top. It had been tried on and fitted fine. It was just the sheer principle of the matter.

We then queried that if we got the top home and found it to be faulty, surely we would have the right to return the top?

She agreed that yes we would. We then said that if she’s stamped the top as ‘soiled or damaged’ surely we then wouldn’t be able to return it if it was faulty?

She repeated that it was just company policy and then said that we didn’t have to take the top if we don’t want it.

We said that we do want the top but it is factually inaccurate of M&S to stamp it as ‘soiled or damaged’ when it isn’t.

She again repeated that it was just company policy. We asked her if the top was soiled or damaged: she agreed that it was not.

I said to her that I couldn’t believe that M&S would have a policy to stamp an item as ‘soiled or damaged’ that was in fact not soiled or damaged. I said that if the intention was to stop items from being returned then perhaps they should have a better returns policy?

She said that if an item was at its final reduction price they were told they HAD to stamp it as ‘soiled or damaged’ to prevent people from ‘trying to pretend they bought it at a higher price’.

I pointed out that made no sense. Surely if it was a M&S decision then they would get a stamped made up that stated ‘non returnable’ or ‘final reduction’ – I cannot believe that a massive company like M&S would opt to instruct all of its staff to inaccurately mark clothing as soiled or damaged when it blatantly was not?

As you can see, we bought the top, stamped as soiled or damaged and, at our request, the cashier wrote on the receipt that it was not! Pointless much?

I will be sending this on to M&S as I would love to hear their official response!


RESPONSE FROM M&S, 3.4.2012:

Thank you for emailing Marc Bolland about your experience when you bought a top in our Cambridge store. As a member of Marc’s personal team I’m replying on his behalf.

I am sorry you are disappointed by the service you received when you bought your top. I appreciate the advice we gave you was confusing and didn’t seem to make sense.

We use the “S” stamp in question on two occasions:

     If an item is in either our “Final Reductions” sale or our “Managers Reductions” sale

     If an item is soiled or damaged

In both instances, we use the “S” stamp to indicate an item can’t be returned under our goodwill refund policy. However, customers may still be entitled to a refund in accordance with their legal rights (eg if the item has a manufacturing defect).

We hold “Final Reductions” and “Managers Reductions” sales to clear stock before we introduce new styles and designs. This means our customers can buy our high quality clothes at significantly reduced prices. Your top was in a “Final Reductions” sale, and was therefore stamped accordingly.

As you’ve rightly pointed out, your top wasn’t soiled or damaged, and I’m afraid my colleague in our Cambridge store appears to have misinformed you. Please accept my sincere apologies for this mix-up.I’ve discussed your concerns with {name removed}, a XXXXX in our Cambridge store. XXXXX will review this matter with the assistant concerned, and will ensure any relevant refresher training is completed as soon as possible.

I acknowledge it’s not ideal to have the same “S” stamp for two different types of reduction. I assure you our Board of Directors have been made aware of this matter, and that we will review this policy as part of our ongoing service improvement programme.

Thank you very much for taking the time to bring this to our attention. I hope I’ve clarified the situation but if you have any further queries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


AFTER giving it further thought, I have replied:

Thank you for your email.

I think you are mistakenly pegging this as a ‘training issue’ when that is clearly not the case. If you look at the comments left on my blog post you will see that several people in from many different towns have experienced the same issue. It very much appears to be exactly what your staff are taught to do and say.

One commenter in particular raised an excellent point:

“So I buy a top that’s perfectly ok, it’s in the sale and gets marked with an S. I get in home and discover a hole under the arm. My mate buys a top with a small hole on the arm, it’s marked as soiled and therefore unrefundable. We both turn up to the customer services counter for a refund. Who gets the refund? I’m confused.”

Perhaps you could clarify exactly how your staff would differentiate? If, as it would seem, they cannot, then it would very much appear that M&S are breaching the sale of goods act.

I have always viewed M&S as a shining example of correctness, quality and excellent service and it saddens me that your staff are trained in this manner.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Their reply: to me this suggests that they are agreeing that they cannot differentiate?

Thank you for your further email about our refund policy.

I acknowledge it’s not always particularly clear when we will refund an item that has been “S” stamped. However, I would like to stress that if a customer is entitled to a refund in accordance with their legal rights (eg if an item is faulty), we will always refund them the price they paid. This is irrespective of whether an item is in a sale or soiled/damaged.

I accept that a potential complication arises where we sell as soiled/damaged an item that already has a fault. In these circumstances, we will highlight the fault to the customer before they buy the item, and we will not subsequently offer a refund in connection with this fault.

However, if a different fault then arises, we will offer a refund. In the hypothetical example you’ve cited, we would refund the first customer. We probably wouldn’t refund the second customer because we should have already highlighted the damage (the hole on the arm) before he or she bought it.

Nevertheless, I agree we don’t necessarily know why an item was originally “S” stamped when it is returned to us.

If the returned item is faulty or damaged, we rely on the discretion of our advisers and the honesty of our customers to ascertain whether a refund is appropriate. If there is any doubt, we will offer a refund. All our advisers should be following our “S” stamp policy correctly, and I’m concerned by your suggestion that we’re not.

We investigate every instance where we’re not acting in accordance with our own policies, and I’d like to thank you and your contributors for bringing these examples to our attention. I’d like to reassure you that our Board of Directors will review our use of the “S” stamp, and that we will take any appropriate action accordingly. We are generally reducing the number of soiled/damaged items we sell in our stores, and this will help to prevent the complications you’ve highlighted.

I hope this is helpful but if you have any further queries, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

I think this clearly shows that they ARE currently in breach of the sale of goods act as (as highlighted by the experiences shown in the comments below) if an item is stamped with the magic ‘S’ stamp then they WILL NOT give a refund on it.

Dear Audi, your sat nav sucks!

Posted on 30th March 2012 in audi/ sat nav

Dear Audi,

You make lovely cars.

They are exceptionally lovely to look at and I’m assured that they also have great build quality, superior engineering, handling, safety etc etc


The sat nav sucks! It is only possible to put in part of the post code which really doesn’t help you to find places.

For example, at the weekend we wanted to get to Van Hages in Peterborough so we looked up the post code and put as much as we were allowed into the sat nav, which is PE1 4 – the sat nav did not recognise any of the remaining address so we set off to PE1 4 which as it turns out is a pretty big area!

The sat nav took us to here:


But where we actually needed to be was here:


The distance between the two places? Over 4 miles:


We actually had to pull over and find our way using the navigation system on our mobile phones! How ridiculous is that?

Please tell me there is something that can be done about this; an upgrade or something?


What’s Your Story – #WIN £5000!

Posted on 30th March 2012 in #WIN

Research released today by internet safety expert Trend Micro reveals that nearly a quarter of children aged 7-16 years think that the World Wide Web was invented by the late Steve Jobs or co-creator of Facebook Mark Zuckerburg. While one in ten, and a quarter of those aged seven, believe music mogul Simon Cowell is responsible for the backbone of the internet – with a further one in ten seven year olds attributing the innovation to Alexander Graham Bell and Albert Einstein.

The findings, launched as part of the company’s What’s your Story? project might be viewed as good fun, further findings reveal a more concerning side to internet usage by youngsters. Although they’re deemed old enough to use the internet, over three-quarters of children admit to accidentally clicking links which led them to adult websites, downloading viruses to their computers and visiting a website they were unsure of ‘because it sounded like fun’. A further one in five confess to being embarrassed by a picture someone else has posted of them online and downloading ‘free’ music from the internet. One in ten also report being upset by something they’ve seen online, admit to being friends with people on Facebook who they don’t know in real life – and of more concern, admit to bullying others online.

Rik Ferguson, Director Security & Communication EMEA at Trend Micro said: “The findings of the survey reveal a light-hearted insight into what children love about the internet, but it’s important that it also reinforces the safety message. The internet is a powerful tool and using it safely is an important life skill.”

So who does know the most when it comes to using the internet? For those aged 7-13 one in ten believe its them, while over a quarter of 14-16 year olds believe they know more than everyone else in the family. Dad definitely rules the roost overall with a third of children revealing he knows his stuff when it comes to the internet, followed by older siblings and Mum. And the story isn’t that different when it comes to sharing internet safety, nearly a third say it’s Mum or Dad who’s had ‘the talk’ with them, followed by one in five who get their advice from teachers or grandparents.

Rik continued: “Like everything in life, the internet is about learning, education, and creating a two way dialogue between parents or teachers and children. To reinforce this message, we recently launched the What’s your Story? competition, in partnership with Get Safe Online and supported by a number of internet safety and anti-bullying charities. The competition helps teachers, parents, and young people to become more aware of internet safety. Those aged 7+ are asked to create and submit a short video, song, story, poem or drawing to share their advice to other young people about ‘How to be Web Safe’ – with a £5,000 up for grabs for the Grand Prize winner.”

So when it comes to Facebook, who is it children really want to befriend? Justin Bieber tops the chart with nearly one in five (18%) young fans, followed by over one in ten (14%) of One Direction-ers, with Amy Childs and Cheryl Cole fighting it out for third place in the hearts of the UK’s children (8% and 9% respectively).

The Facebook BFF wish list:

Girls (aged 7-16)

1. Justin Bieber  2. One Direction  3. Amy Childs  4. Cheryl Cole  5. Joey Essex  6. Jessie J  7. Robert Pattinson  8. Jedward  9. Tulisa Contostavlos 9. Peppa Pig

Boys (aged 7-16)

1. Justin Bieber   2. One Direction   3. Cheryl Cole    4. Amy Childs   4. Joey Essex   5. Robert Pattinson   6. Jessie J   7. Tulisa Contostavlos   8. Jedward   9. Rastamouse

What’s Your Story will award a grand prize of £5,000 to the winning entry, as well as three runner-up prizes of £500 each, and one school runner-up prize of £1,000. The last day to submit entries is 3 April 2012. To learn more about the competition and submit your entry, visit

Council Tax Dilemma – What Would You Do?

Posted on 26th March 2012 in council tax

After moving house in December I was somewhat floored by my council tax bill.

It’s a lot more than I have ever paid before. I thought it must be wrong so I applied online to challenge it.

Three months later (and three chase ups) they have written to say that they think the band is correct.

I have now looked into it all further and it seems to hinge on the value of the property in April 1991.

My house wasn’t built in April 1991 so you have to use to reverse house price calculator like this one.

It is obviously a rather inexact science! Using the calculator, it would seem that my house (based on the reverse calculation) would fall into a particular band by about £500.

So, in theory, the council are correct.

However, surely I could argue that as my house wasn’t built then there is no real way to ascertain its value and as it only just tips into the higher band it might be reasonable to assume some margin of error?

In normal circumstances I would appeal against the decision.

BUT. And here lies the dilemma:

I’ve also checked some of the other houses on my street using the reverse calculator. My neighbours for example. Their house is worth about 100k more than mine and using the reverse calculator their house should actually go up into the next band – this would obviously increase their council tax bill.

So do I leave it and put up with potentially paying £500 a year too much for my council tax?

Or do I appeal it and risk my neighbours having their band put up?

What Do You Know About Triple A?

Posted on 23rd March 2012 in Asthma/ Avoid Asthma Attacks/ Triple A Test

When I picked my 12 year old up from school last night he was feeling very unwell.

His eyes were red and puffy, the skin around his mouth looked puffy and he couldn’t speak more than a couple of words at a time without struggling for breath.

It was terrifying.

We saw the doctor and he now has a regime of inhalers, steroid creams and antihistamine tablets to take in the hope that we can get in control of it all.

He has suffered with eczema since he was a few weeks old; he is allergic (yes allergic) to apples, among other things, and the hayfever season sends his eczema off the chart so he is very uncomfortable right now.

He has suffered with hayfever to a worsening degree for the past few years, but this year is seems to have hit particularly hard.

In addition, we now have the asthma to contend with.


It really, really scares me.

When I went into his room last night I could hear him wheezing in his sleep; should I have woken him up? I don’t know. When I suddenly woke up at 3am to hear him in the bathroom struggling to catch his breath, I felt guilty for the fact that I’d fallen asleep. What if he’d had an asthma attack and I hadn’t heard him?

I feel desperately un-equipped to deal with this. I feel out of my depth.

I went on the asthma uk website. A headline smacked me across the face ‘Three People A Day Die From Asthma‘ it told me.

However I’m really glad that I visited the website as I’ve ordered some free publications that will hopefully help me understand the condition a bit more. I’ve also ordered some things for my son: an asthma attack card, a personal action plan and an asthma calendar. These should help him feel a little bit more in control of it all and will also mean that he can carry the attack card in case he falls ill so that someone will know he has asthma.

Also on the website you can take the Triple A Test – it will help you determine how at risk you are of having an attack. The triple A stands for: Avoid Asthma Attacks.

I would like to praise Asthma UK for their site, I found it incredibly informative, clear and easy to use. I can see that I’ll be referring back to it often!

I found the following information, taken directly from the asthma uk website, particularly useful:

What to do in an asthma attack

attack cardThe following guidelines are suitable for both children and adults and are the recommended steps to follow in an asthma attack:

  1. Take one to two puffs of your reliever inhaler (usually blue), immediately.
  2. Sit down and try to take slow, steady breaths.
  3. If you do not start to feel better, take two puffs of your reliever inhaler (one puff at a time) every two minutes. You can take up to ten puffs.
  4. If you do not feel better after taking your inhaler as above, or if you are worried at any time, call 999.
  5. If an ambulance does not arrive within 10 minutes and you are still feeling unwell, repeat step 3.

If your symptoms improve and you do not need to call 999, you still need to see a doctor or asthma nurse within 24 hours. You can order a free, pocket size ‘What to do in an asthma attack’ card to carry with you here.

You’re having an asthma attack if any of the following happens:

  • Your reliever inhaler does not help.
  • Your symptoms are getting worse (cough, breathlessness, wheeze or tight chest).
  • You are too breathless to speak, eat or sleep.

Do not be afraid of causing a fuss, even at night. If you go to A&E (accident and emergency) or are admitted to hospital, take details of your medicines with you if possible.

After an emergency asthma attack:

  • Make an appointment with your doctor or asthma nurse for an asthma review, within 48 hours of your attack.
  • You will also need another review within one or two weeks to review your current asthma treatment and ensure your asthma is well controlled.

Do not ignore worsening symptoms

Asthma attacks are the result of gradual worsening of symptoms over a few days that you may not have noticed.

Needing to use your reliever inhaler more than three times a week may suggest that your asthma is not as well controlled as it could be.

Think about it – if your asthma symptoms are getting worse or you’re using your reliever inhaler more, don’t ignore it.

If your symptoms continue to get worse, make an urgent appointment to see your doctor or asthma nurse within 24 hours.

Mother’s Day Meme

Posted on 21st March 2012 in children/ love/ meme/ Mother/ mother's day

This meme was created by over at More Than A Mum as a way of celebrating motherhood in the run up to Mother’s Day.

I have been tagged for this meme by the lovely Kate from Makeshift Mummy. The only person in the world I’ve ever had to tell that I don’t own a horse. Bless her :o)

Q1. Describe Motherhood in three words.

So. Much. Love.

Q2. Does your experience differ from your Mother’s – how?

I think this is the hardest question of them all for me to answer. In some ways I guess they’ve been similar as we’ve both been single mother’s. But we’ve both dealt with it very differently and I think we all try to learn from what we perceive to be our parents mistakes.

Q3. What’s the hardest thing about being a mum? 

The fear.

The fear you feel when they are ill, or when you momentarily lose sight of them, is heart stopping.

There is also a constant battle between wanting to shower them with everything they ask for and knowing that you will teach them more about life and the differences between want and need by sometimes saying no.

Q4. What’s the best thing?

Kate’s answer “All of it” was so spot on. Sounds twee but every experience is amazing in it’s own way, even the bad times!

The pride you feel when your child does something of their own volition. When they suddenly smile at you. When they share without being asked. When they tell you they love you without any prompting. When they confide in you. When you share a moment because you both ‘get’ something and you realise how much you genuinely have in common.  When they reach out to you for a cuddle or to hold your hand; just because they want to.

Q5. How has it changed you?

It made me find a selflessness that I didn’t know I had. I would do anything for my children. I would lay down my life in a moment to save either of them.

Q6. What do you hope for your children?

I hope they learn to be happy with themselves and not require external validation. I summed this up in one of my favourite ever posts, called My Legacy.

Q7. What do you fear for them?

Oh god, everything! I want to be able to protect them from every mistake I ever made even though I know it’s not possible.

Q8. What makes it all worthwhile?

They do. Seeing them smile. Seeing them be friends with each other. Watching them grow into their own personalities and make their own footprints on the world.


I won’t tag anyone else as Mother’s Day has passed – but it’s a nice meme to do so I would invite anyone who wants to do it to consider themselves tagged by me and to go for it!

Extra Thick Chocolate Mmmmmm

Posted on 21st March 2012 in Easter Eggs

A thing of beauty isn’t it!

I received one of these to review from this selection at Hotel Chocolat.

If it is beyond your budget, their Easter range starts from just £5 and you can sort the products by ‘lowest price’.

I have been looking at other ‘luxury’ eggs in the supermarket and although I can see cheaper ones and ones with BIG packaging, I can’t actually find one that surpasses the quality of the Hotel Chocolat eggs.

The Packaging screams quality at you and as for the egg itself – it’s a chocaholic’s dream!

I also couldn’t help but note that their head office is practically round the corner (ish) from my house….. :)



Missing You Haikus

Posted on 20th March 2012 in haiku/ Missing You/ poetry

The sun still shines but

I cannot feel it’s warmth

When you are not here


I sleep, I wake up

Sometimes I dream of your face

But I can’t see it


I turn to you to

Speak or to share a smile

But you are not there


I remember the

Touch of your hand holding mine

As I fall asleep


haikuplural of hai·ku (Noun)

  1. A Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five.

Haven Easter Egg Appeal 2012 #CharityTuesday

Posted on 20th March 2012 in #charitytuesday/ domestic violence/ Wolverhampton

Wolverhampton based charity The Haven is appealing for donations of Easter Eggs for their annual campaign which aims to distribute seasonal treats to children and young people affected by domestic violence and homelessness.

The Haven has been providing practical and emotional support to women and children who are vulnerable to domestic violence, homeless and abuse for over 39 years. The Haven provides a range of support services including a 24 Hour Helpline, Emergency Refuge Accommodation, Community Support and a Children and Young People’s Service. This Easter it is anticipated that The Haven will support up to 100 children through its refuge provision and many more out in the community.

The Haven Easter Egg appeal has been launched in order to help make Easter ‘eggs-tra’ special for these children and young people. Donated eggs will be distributed across The Haven’s 5 refuges where staff and volunteers will organise Easter Egg Hunts for the children and young people and encourage them to take part in craft and cooking activities using the eggs. Easter eggs are also distributed to the children of clients accessing our Community Support services.

Last year’s appeal saw over 300 eggs being donated by generous individuals and organisations across the Wolverhampton borough. This year it is hoped that The Haven will top that amount. Grace Lee, Public Relations Officer for The Haven said “we would like to encourage as many people as possible to get behind this appeal and help spread a little chocolate cheer to our young service users. Whether you donate 5 eggs or 500 eggs your donation will go a long way to making Easter 2012 memorable for all the right reasons.”

All you need to do is pick up an extra egg whilst out shopping and drop it into The Haven Women’s Resource Centre which is located at 103 Salop Street, Wolverhampton, WV3 0RX. Donations will be accepted up until Wednesday 4th April and deliveries can be taken from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

For more information on The Haven Easter Egg appeal please contact Grace Lee on 01902 572173 or email

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