Browsing Tag

review

Epilation vs Home Waxing

Posted on 14th October 2012 in hair removal

A few months ago I bought an epilator and wrote a post about how I got on with it…click here to read.

Although it’s fair to say that the pain did lessen each time it was still very painful, but worse than the pain at the time was the amount of pain afterwards; I found that my underarms were sore for up to a week after each session.

It came to the point where it needed doing ago and I found that I put it off, then put it off some more until it got to the point that my legs were hairier that my OH’s and I realised something had to be done.

So, while in town I popped into a couple of places to see if I could get waxed. It seems you have to plan these things in advance as everywhere I tried was fully booked – and it was blinking expensive too.

OH suggested I try home waxing strips, at £8-10 a box this was a much cheaper option but I was pretty sure it either wouldn’t work or would hurt like hell.

However, as I really didn’t fancy epilating again I decided to give it a go.

I was very nervous, absolutely convinced that it would rip half my leg off, but it was fine :)

There was a brief pain while the strip was whipped off but it was quite bearable and there was no pain after!

It was easy to do and the strips smelt lovely too. Even though I found it easy to do myself, my OH offered to help and with him doing it was much simpler and quicker and before we knew it my legs were done.

The pain of epilating my underarms had been borderline horrific so I was pretty tense about waxing them but told OH to carry on regardless and was pleasantly surprised to find that again the pain was really not too bad and only lasted for a few seconds.

I don’t think I’d have managed to do my underarms myself so I would definitely suggest that you have a friend or partner help you at least for the first time but overall I can’t recommend it highly enough.

There is a little sachet wipe thing included in the pack that removes any excess wax from your skin and that has left my legs and arms feeling lovely. I showered afterwards and then applied deodorant without any stinging what so ever.

I am a complete convert, so much so that I am sticking my epilator on to ebay tonight as I have no intention of ever using it again!

The Eden Project – June 2012

Posted on 8th June 2012 in days out/ photography/ review/ The Eden Project

The only thing on our ‘must do’ list when we visited Cornwall was The Eden Project.

I have to make a teensy confession, before we went I did wonder just how interesting plants could be…

But, I am so glad we went as it was a fabulous day out for all of us and we are all really pleased to be able to say that we’ve been.

I definitely preferred the Rain Forest dome to the Mediterranean dome but both of them were amazing and filled with huge plants, trees and wildlife. I loved this flower which looked like a giant white spider!

In addition to the obvious attraction of the domes, there were several interactive areas suitable for all different age ranges, my boys (aged 10 and 12) had a great time on the velcro walls!

We stopped for sandwiches at one of the many cafes and found them to be incredibly fresh and tasty. They also offer a lunch deal for younger children which was excellent value. There were lots of areas where you could stop off for coffee or ice-creams or full on dinner and it really felt as though every need had been catered for.

Above is a photo of a giant egg like sculpture that was concealed behind a wall!

In the Rainforest Biodome we were lucky enough to see a huge Titan Arum which was just about to flower – pretty special as not only is it the biggest flower in the world, but it only flowers once every six years! You can see more about it here. I am secretly glad it didn’t flower on the day we were there as it apparently smells of rotting meat with a hint of vomit…

One of the indoor areas had lots of interactive exhibits in it where the children (and indeed the adults) could get hands on with levers, pulleys and fridge magnets!

 

Including one whole giant wall of fridges!

There was a trail that young children could follow to find salad and edible items and then get their card stamped at each point to win some seeds at the end. There was a trail for older children with clues to be followed which helped lead you around parts of the project which you may otherwise have missed. There was an ‘easy’ route for wheel chairs and push chairs and there was a more challenging route with more steps and steep climbs.

A family ticket to The Eden Project set us back around £65 which I was hesitant about spending but we all agreed that it was worth every penny. As you can probably tell from the photographs, it was raining on and off on the day we went but that didn’t spoil our enjoyment as a great deal of it is undercover.

Woburn Safari Park – excellent!

Posted on 7th June 2012 in days out/ family/ review

 

We took a ‘spur of the moment’ trip to Woburn Safari Park this week and it was excellent, we saw lions and tigers and bears!

We booked a family ticket online before we went which made it slightly cheaper and went along not really knowing what to expect as although we’ve been to Colchester Zoo several times, we’d never been to Woburn.

Driving through the animals was just amazing, it was so exhilarating to see them up close and looking as relaxed and ‘at home’ as possible. They calmly wandered around between the cars and the boys were very excited by how near they came.

We were a bit worried at one point as a wolf seemed to have walked out of his ‘area’ and found himself among the bears! But even though they were only a cars length apart they gave each other nothing more than a bit of a look! Thankfully.

We had a giggle near the bears as there is a big sign saying ‘Keep driving, bears break wing mirrors’ and as we passed it the boys suddenly fell into fits of giggles – turns out they’d misread the sign and thought it was warning us to keep driving in case the bears break wind!

The monkey enclosure was lovely, apart from all the silly people dropping sandwiches out of their windows to entice the monkeys over! Not a great plan as it usually resulted in 5 or 6 monkeys fighting on top of your car as the people in this nice shiny car soon found out!

The monkey by the back wheel had literally just slid all the way down from the roof – no doubt scratching the paintwork as it went!

We stopped for lunch in the restaurant and were pleasantly surprised by both the quality of the food and the price.

We then took a walk through the lemur enclosure followed by a swift walk around the ‘on foot’ areas as it was raining slightly and then hopped back in the car for another trip around the car safari through the zebras, giraffes, rhinos, elephants, tigers, lions, bears, wolves, monkeys, bison etc etc etc!

It was a brilliant day out that wasn’t spoiled by the rain. We did have a bit of a giggle at the guy who wanted his money back as they wouldn’t let him drive through the lions and the monkey – in his convertible! (They would have thought he was meals on wheels!)

Lightstrike #Review

Posted on 11th November 2011 in laser tag/ Lightstrike/ review

My children (both boys, aged 10 & 11) were seriously over the moon when they saw that we’d been sent Light Strike to review. My 11 year old said he’d seen the adverts on TV and thought it looked good.

Excuse the red eyes – I don’t call them the evil twins for nothing 😉

They very quickly got through the packaging and assembled their weapons. The fun actually stopped there that night as I’d stupidly forgotten to get any batteries! So they were left tantalisingly on the coffee table until after school the next day!

So, next day, batteries a gogo and we were off! I have to say I’m not really a fan of boys toys per se but the noises these make are brilliant and I can completely see the appeal. The packing is brilliant and the weapons themselves have a range of phrases and noises all of which are loud, clear and help to get the boys into the mindset of the game.

As well as the noises, all of the components light up (hence the batteries!) which adds a whole new dimension to gameplay as you can switch the lights off and play in the dark – or in the garden.

Another feature we all liked is the finger print recognition. Obviously it doesn’t actually recognise your fingerprint but there is an area where you have to press your finger in order to get the gun started – cool huh.

The whole game is very similar to Laser Tag and I can see that the boys will get hours of fun from it in different ways. They are already ‘customising’ the game play as the basic concept as far as we can see is that you have 3 ‘lives’ and each time your gun or your target is hit you lose a life, but the scores are not tallied anywhere unless you do it yourself so it is easy to just re-set and keep playing. I think this feature will be really useful for younger players who might get upset if they were to keep ‘losing’.


I’ve asked the boys to tell me some things about it, they said:

– it’s like having Laser Tag at home

– it’s like a computer game except that you are having exercise too

– the noises are good

– you need quite a big area to play it in

– you could buy more assault strikers and use it for a birthday party

As a mum, I get quite fed up with the constant barrage of online warfare games and the apparent peer pressure for the boys to take part in online games which are aimed at an 18+ audience (even though half their classmates seem to play them…). For me, Light Strike seems to satisfy that boyish need to play a strategy tag game without the children being subjected to all the imagery of the more violent, more adult, online games.

The only cons that I can see are that it takes quite a lot of batteries and that the small ‘targets’ do not clip on very well so my boys ended up not using them, although @liveotherwise pointed out to me that you can buy wearable target vests which would do the job a lot better!

The Kitchen – National Theatre Live – A Disappointment

Posted on 7th October 2011 in National Theatre Live/ odeon/ One Man Two Guvnors/ The Kitchen

I love the concept of being able to see live theatre at my local odeon – think it’s truly inspired and feel very lucky to be able to take advantage of it.

I recently saw One Man, Two Guvnors which I thought was sensational – without doubt the funniest play I’ve ever seen.

Last night I saw The Kitchen. I am genuinely surprised by the glowing reviews I’ve read about it as I found it really quite weak and felt the first ‘half’ dragged on beyond measure. The, albeit well choroegraphed ‘busy kitchen’ scenes just went on and on and on with no obvious purpose – could easily have been a 15 minute scene.

I couldn’t help but notice some empty seats after the interval, it seemed that some people had give up on the play and gone home. I thought about it and actually wish that I had done too.

After the interval the pace picked up somewhat and Paul the pastry chef became a very engaging character. However the scenes between main characters Peter and Monique took a very macabre turn and it became obvious that you were meant to feel sympathy for Peter despite the fact he’d been a bullish, selfish character up until that point.

Monique’s soliloquy about her dream in the slaughterhouse was unbearably brutal and I would imagine that any woman in that audience who was unfortunate enough to have suffered either a miscarriage or an abortion would have gone home feeling quite haunted. In my opinion, it was unnecessary sensationalism to cover an otherwise weak play.

I need a tumble drier! #appliancesonline

Posted on 6th October 2010 in 10 day returns guarantee/ appliances online/ buy tumble drier/ free delivery/ price match/ review

I actually already have a tumble drier, it’s a condenser one that I’ve had for a few years and I’ve been thinking about swopping it for a vented one as it’s now out in the garage so I no longer specifically need a condenser one.

As such, I was more than happy to review a website for Appliances Online. Especially as I personally don’t enjoy the whole trip to the electrical superstore experience. I always end up not having a clue what I’ve looked at, what features it needed and whether or not the salesman was promoting one model because it was good or because they couldn’t shift it for love nor money.

On first impressions I found the site easy to read, with a lot of obvious links and images on the front page. It also flashed up that free delivery is currently available and that they can recycle your old appliance for £9.99 – and they price match.

I’m told that Appliances Online was started in 2000 when someone bet the founders that they wouldn’t be able to sell washing machines on the internet. Today Appliances Online and the DRL group is still owned by the same people and is the UK’s largest online white goods retailer.

It took me literally 2 clicks to find exactly what I wanted. Then out of idle curiosity I opened a new browser to compare the price of the tumble drier on the website of one of the electrical superstores. Although the tumble drier was the same price, I did find that because the superstore sells many other items (laptops, pcs, software, ipods, tvs etc) that it was harder to navigate.

The Appliances Online also offer a ‘no fuss, 10 day returns guarantee’ which I think is pretty great and completely takes the risk out of the purchase. All items are rated and reviewed and customer testimonials are available.

Nice website, I like it and I’m glad I know about it.

Eczema friendly washing liquid

Posted on 17th August 2010 in child/ children/ eczema/ Itchy & Scratchy/ son

A quick post, it’s a review but I want to stress that it’s a review because it’s a product that I wanted to try.

One of my sons has quite severe eczema, this is worsened by almost everything and means that finding suitable laundry products are a bit of a nightmare. Please see The Itchy & Scratchy Show for details of our battle with eczema.

I recently tried a laundry product from Alma Win which claims to be completely safe for people with eczema.

I have tried several other washing products that weren’t meant to be skin friendly and in general have either found them to be completely ineffective at washing or in some cases, actually make his skin worse.

But, I have to say that this stuff actually got the clothes really clean! And he has shown no effects from it.

The bain of my life (well, one of them!) is the kids school polo tops. They seem to be dirt magnets and almost never come clean. But, this liquid detergent got them clean!

Before washing:

After washing:

The only downside to the product, and it’s an obvious one really, is the smell. It has a very subtle aroma of herbs. I quite like it now but found it unusual to start with. It honestly is quite subtle. They do also sell a lemon concentrate that you can add to scent the wash but I was scared of trying it as one of the major things that upsets his skin is citrus.

Product retails for £6.06 for 750ml and is available at www.almawin.co.uk


The East of England

Posted on 17th June 2010 in Blog/ castle/ colchester/ east of england/ norwich/ roman/ smitten by britain/ visit colchester

Welcome one and all to the East of England – a guest blog for @smittnbybritain

The East of England is a beautiful and underrated part of the country. It isn’t especially well known and yet it contains both a wealth of beauty and a depth of history within its boundaries. If you ask someone from another country what comes to mind when they think of Britain, you often get the very stereotypical answer of ‘a london bank manager in a bowler hat’ or ‘a scotsman in a kilt’, I doubt anyone would ever say ‘an office worker from Peterborough’.

Yet Peterborough, Huntingdon, Ely, St Ives and Ramsey all have a lot to offer. As well as being close to Cambridge where you can immerse yourself in student life, shop till you drop or go punting along the river – these fenland towns offer a gloriously flat landscape, fabulous markets and an array of differing architectural styles.

Norfolk brings the beauty of the ‘The Broads’ a stunning network of canals where many a holiday maker can delight in being captain for the day (or week!) in a narrow boat – the fictional home of Swallows & Amazons that was so captivatingly brought to life by Arthur Ransome. Norwich is a busy, metropolitan town with everything you could need for a memorable city break – shops, shops and more shops plus exciting nightlife and all to the backdrop of an imposing Normal cathedral.

Although just over 100 miles apart, Great Yarmouth and Southend both offer an amazing family experience with exciting rides and attractions on the seafront and a multitude of reasonably priced B&Bs, caravan/camp sites and chalet parks to accommodate those wanting to stay for a few days.

Tiptree in Essex is a small town with several small holdings and a very special jam factory! Wilkin & Son make the most delicious jams and you can enjoy a visit to their museum, a tour of the factory and then of course it would be rude to leave with out a visit to the tea room! Just over 20 miles away, up the A12 you can find the Dedham Rose tearoom where they also serve Wilkin & Son jams with warm scones and clotted cream – a fantastic venue for a mother’s day treat! If the guilt of the scones gets to be too much you can take a stroll through Constable country – maybe you will even walk the same route that inspired John Constable in 1800?

Did you know that Colchester (Roman name Camulodunum) is Britains oldest recorded town? The earliest record of the town’s existence is a reference by the Roman writer, Pliny the Elder in AD77. When describing the location of the island of Anglesey, he wrote that ‘it is about 200 miles from Camulodunum, a town in Britain’. Colchester also boasts a stunning castle, in the beautifully kept (and aptly named), Castle Park where seasonal flowers seem to magically appear in breathtaking displays throughout the park.

Last, but by no means least, we come to ‘the Essex Sunshine Coast’. The East of England has an amazing shoreline, loved by families and responsible for many happy holiday memories. Clacton’s annual air show is an amazing event with exciting air displays that can be viewed from the comfort of a good old fashioned deck chair! Beach huts are synonymous with the great British summer and seaside resorts in the East are lined with rows of brightly painted, weathered and well loved ‘huts’ most of which have been in families for decades and are viewed of more as holidays homes than little wooden sheds.

If you haven’t been to the East of England before – it’s about time you did! The excellent road and rail links mean that once you’ve picked a town to use as a base, the rest of the towns and attractions are all within traveling distance. The only question is – where do you start?

T is for… Taste London – customer service deficit

Posted on 21st May 2010 in auto renewal/ bad service/ complaint/ customer service/ debt/ review/ taste london/ theft

For anyone who has a taste london card, please be aware of their auto renewal clause. I signed up for a taste london card after receiving a 50% off special offer email. I did not know that I had signed up for auto renewal.

I tried to use my card in the restaurants stated, but each time I tried the restaurants said that because they had other incentives running the card could not be used. I wrote it off as a bad purchase and forgot about it until recently when I spotted that taste london had debited my account. I then immediately emailed them – via their website as they don’t show any actual email addresses – and below you will find a copy of the emails in which they repeatedly refuse to issue a refund.

Web site enquiry

number2: Hi – you seem to have deducted £29.95 from my bank account but I didn’t actually want to renew my card. Please can you cancel this and refund my account.
Many thanks.

Tue 4th May 2010

Good morning Lisa and thank you for taking the time to contact us.

When you first join tastelondon you cannot proceed with your order until you have clicked that you accept the terms and conditions of the membership (copy below). I am unable to offer you a refund however if you do not feel you will use the card over the next 12 months but a friend or family member may benefit instead please return the card to me with details of their full name and I can transfer this for you.
You must read, agree and accept all of the terms and conditions expressly set out below and those incorporated by reference before you may become a member.

We reserve the right to amend these terms and conditions at any time by giving you Notice (“Notice”) by posting the amended terms and conditions on the Site.

Any amended terms and conditions will govern new memberships after the expiry of 30 days following the date of the Notice

“We”, “Ourselves”, “Our”- means Taste London and Taste Marketing Ltd

“Site”- means www.tasteuk.co.uk

1. The tastelondon Club is an ongoing subscription service so your membership is continuous, your membership is renewed automatically at the end of each membership year. We will send you a reminder by email (or by post if you have not supplied us with your email address) approximately 3 weeks before your renewal is due, to advise you of details of the new subscription. If you do not want to renew your membership you should contact us by telephone at any point within your 12 months membership period and at least 7 days prior to your renewal date. You are required to inform us if you change your correspondence address (both email and postal) – and we will not be liable for any non receipt of communication from us, this includes the renewal reminder.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee

Tuesday 4th May 2010

Hi TasteLondonEmployee,

Thank you for your email.

I am very unhappy with your response. If you make it compulsory for people to tick the autorenew option then I do not believe that to be fair and I certainly did not realise that I had done that when I bought the card.

I do not want my card to be renewed. I do not live in London and I have not been able to use the card as the restaurants that I have tried to use it in have always had other promotions on at the time meaning that the card cannot be used – thus making the card pointless.

If you are unable to issue a refund I would be grateful if you could pass this matter onto your supervisor.

I look forward to receiving confirmation of my refund.

Lisa

Wednesday 5th May 2010

Good morning Lisa and thank you for your reply. The reason why we do not allow customers to proceed with their order until they have clicked that they have read and understood the terms and conditions is to avoid circumstances such as this. I have cancelled your renewal for 2011 and as I said before we can transfer the membership to a friend or family member for the next 12 months if this is something you would be interested in.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee 
Operations Director

Wednesday 5th May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

I have written to my bank today to complain about this under the terms of the Direct Debit guarantee.

I do not agree that I gave you permission to auto-renew. I did not receive an email ‘reminding me of the renewal’ (as stated in your email of the 4th of May) if I had of done I would then have cancelled the subscription – within the permitted timescale.

I would again request that you do the decent thing and cancel my renewal and refund the debit.

If you refuse to do so, I hope that the bank will be able to enforce the Direct Debit guarantee. Either way, I think this is an appalling lack of customer service on your behalf.

Lisa

Wednesday 5th May 2010

Good afternoon Lisa,

Thank you for your subsequent email. Our subscription is not a direct debit, it is a continuous authority transaction and therefore not covered by the guarantee to which you refer.

I hope this helps clarify, I am now away from the office until Monday 10th May. If you would like to transfer the membership into another name please contact a member of the customer service team on the free phone number below.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee 
Operations Director

Thursday 6th May 2010

No TasteLondonEmployee, it does not clarify.

I makes it sound even more like a sneaky loop hole built in to ensnare the unsuspecting.

However, as you did not honour your own terms and conditions, it is quite clear that you have violated them and I would like a full and immediate refund.

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010 – sent high priority

TasteLondonEmployee,

I still have not had confirmation of the refund.

Please can you action this and confirm urgently. As we have established, I did not want the card renewed. I did not receive any notification of the renewal and I would like a full and immediate refund. If you are not authorised to action this please can you kindly pass it on to someone who is.

Many thanks,

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010

Good afternoon Lisa,

As I said before I am the Operations Director for Taste Marketing Limited and I cannot process a refund for you. I can transfer the card into the name of a friend or family member instead if you would like to do so.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee

Thursday 20th May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

I have absolutely no intention of letting this drop.

You have renewed the card without my permission and I want a refund.

As you have refused several times to give me a refund I will now look into how I can escalate this complaint. I am absolutely disgusted with the attitude of taste london over this matter and think you need to take a long hard look at your customer service. If you believe that tricking people into renewal is good practice then you are very wrong.

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010

Lisa,

At no point have you been tricked into a refund and it’s disappointing that you have suggested this in your email, you yourself accepted the terms and conditions of the membership when you joined and this would also have been flagged as a reoccurring transaction on your bank statement at the time.

With almost 200,000 members we cannot waive these terms or get into a situation where we are making any special exceptions. That said when a member does forgot to cancel their membership we do everything we can to assist them in transferring this and cancelling the renewal for the following year.

Kind regards,

TasteLondonEmployee

Thursday 20th May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

I was not aware that I had signed up for anything other than a 1 year membership.

In your email of 4th May you said “1. The tastelondon Club is an ongoing subscription service so your membership is continuous, your membership is renewed automatically at the end of each membership year. We will send you a reminder by email (or by post if you have not supplied us with your email address) approximately 3 weeks before your renewal is due, to advise you of details of the new subscription. If you do not want to renew your membership you should contact us by telephone at any point within your 12 months membership period and at least 7 days prior to your renewal date. You are required to inform us if you change your correspondence address (both email and postal) – and we will not be liable for any non receipt of communication from us, this includes the renewal reminder.

I did not receive a reminder. As such I feel that I was tricked.

I have explained to you that I have been unable to use the card. I have asked you 6 times for a refund. As stated in my last email I am now looking into ways to take this further. My bank have already assured me that they agree with me that payment should not have been taken and they will be contacting taste london to request a refund. In addition to this I am now investigating whether the financial ombudsman or the office of fair trading will be the most appropriate person to complain to, I have emailed Money Saving Expert for their advice, I have asked on Twitter what people suggest (and warned them not to be tricked in the same way) and I will now continue to seek further ways to complain.

As I said in virtually every email, I am disappointed and quite frankly disgusted that you have refused to refund.

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010

Lisa,

I can assure you that our transactions are all perfectly legal, not in any way misleading and have been reviewed and approved by all the relevant authorities. We work closely with Money Saving Expert and they are fully aware of the terms and conditions of our membership. We will have sent you the reminder email however there are a number of firewalls that block certain traffic – for example those with links to social networking sites which is why we also notify members when they first join that we cannot control any correspondence which does not get delivered.

We do have exceptional levels of customer service which is reflected in the high percentage of members who stay with tastelondon year on year and take the time to write in offering their thanks or congratulating the team on the work they do. Members cannot proceed with their initial order without first confirming that they have fully read and accepted the terms and conditions of the scheme which quite clearly state that this will renew unless we are notified otherwise. We allow members to do so at any point within the twelve months, providing this is no later than 7 days before the expiry date on their card.

When you do contact your bank they will inform you of the details of your initial transaction and verify the legality of the “continuous authorised transaction” which you yourself accepted and authorised . I have noted that you are seeking advice from the financial ombudsman and the office of fair trading who will also confirm the same, therefore I shall now leave the matter and assume it closed.

On behalf of everyone at tastelondon I would like to thank you for your custom and wish you the very best for the future.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee

Thursday 20th May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

Whether or not you consider the matter closed – it is not.

I have already contacted my bank who, if you read my earlier email, do not agree with you and have confirmed that they are writing to you to request a refund.

I would be grateful if you could send me a copy of the document which you have stated “which you yourself accepted and authorised” along with a copy of the email that was sent to me “approximately 3 weeks before renewal is due” .

Your arrogance during this matter has been most unpleasant, please can you also provide me with the taste london complaints procedure along with clear details of how I can escalate this complaint within your company.

I look forward to hearing from you and receiving the items requested above.

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010 – sent high priority

TasteLondonEmployee,

It has just occurred to me that I have not received a new card anyway!

IF you have sent a new card, you need to cancel it immediately. And please DO NOT issue a further one.

Lisa

Friday 21st May 2010

Good morning Lisa, I will answer both your emails at the same time.

Firstly with reference to the non receipt of the renewed card, I note from our earlier correspondence that you no longer reside in London therefore I assume that you had not updated your address details with us and the pack will be at your old address. Under normal circumstances we ask for the card to be returned to us before we re-issue it in the name of a friend or family member but I had already taken that into consideration and offered to issue one without receipt of the original.

As our terms and conditions have been approved by all the financial regulators the matter is closed. I am disappointed to hear that you feel the company and I myself are arrogant in our approach, this is certainly not the case. We offer a fluid and ease of transition service to all our members, as I said before we prevent you from being able to join the scheme in the first place before you confirm that you have read and accepted our terms and conditions.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee

Friday 21st May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

I have never lived in London.

I have not received the card and would again request that you therefore cancel it with immediate effect and that you do not print a new one.

I look forward to receiving your confirmation of this along with the items requested in my previous email.

Lisa


No reply, as yet, will update if/when there is an outcome.

UPDATE  – I am delighted to say that on the 26 May 2010 the sum of £29.95 was re-credited to my account by my bank who are now going to take the matter up with Taste London themselves.

S is for… Starbucks

Posted on 24th April 2010 in Art/ Blog/ caffe nero/ coffee/ customer service/ review/ School Governor/ starbucks

Anyone who has kindly read C is for… Coffee, Cats and Caffe Nero will know that I have recently expressed my views about the differing levels of customer service that I have experienced in Caffe Nero and Starbucks.

A million years ago when I used to work in customer service I was taught to invite feedback, whether positive or negative as then you get the opportunity to: ‘turn every complaint into a compliment’

For this reason, I feel strongly about bad service and if I ever experience it, then I do like to the let the company in question know. Equally if I feel that I have received exceptionally good service I also like to let the company know – it does a person good to know that they are appreciated.

So I wrote C is for… Coffee, Cats and Caffe Nero as a way of acknowledging the great service I’d received at my local Caffe Nero. But then as I had made some less than complimentary comments about Starbucks I thought it only fair that I offer Starbucks the chance to see what I’d said.

I think it is true to say that I wasn’t really prepared for the events that followed!

After exchanging a couple of tweets, the Starbucks UK MD (nice American man called Darcy) rang me and said that he would arrange for the district manager to call me and arrange a meeting.

The meeting was set up for Tuesday 20th April and I duly went along to Starbucks, not really too sure what to expect.

OK – The Good Points

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how seriously they took my concerns.

I was in Starbucks for about an hour and a half, which means that the district manager and the branch manager both gave up an hour and a half of their time just to speak to me.

I asked them all the questions that I had been given by the good people of twitter, they listened, made notes and answered them all.

They gave me a coffee at the start of the meeting (latte – with an extra shot of course) and about half way through a barista delivered a caffetiere with some different coffee in for us to ‘taste’. What was nice about that was that the branch manager had specifically selected the blend of coffee as it was one of their ‘bolder’ coffees because he had noted from my blog that I prefer strong coffee.

They were both very knowledgeable about Starbucks. After listening to the DM at length, I am also now very knowledgeable about Starbucks! The branch manager, in particular, came across as being genuinely concerned that he had an unhappy customer, which was quite touching.

They have a display of ‘local art’ on the wall, they see this as being of benefit to the community. I thought that was quite a nice touch.

And – The Bad Points

On Sunday 18th April I did a ‘secret squirrel’ visit to Starbucks with my family as I suddenly felt conscious that I hadn’t been in for a while and maybe it was lovely now….  However, we were served cold coffee, we weren’t offered any cutlery with our food, there was a broken plate on the floor and the staff were quite unattentive even though the place was very quiet. Also the upstairs was roped off, leaving only the downstairs tables and just one toilet available to customers.

I’m left a little confused as I felt a real sense of Starbucks being a ‘corporate’ enterprise and I wonder if that is why they are lacking the personal touch.

My Questions

1. Myself and people from various different towns on twitter feel that Starbucks is lacking cleanliness, especially in it’s toilets. They made a note of that and said they would feed it back to HO.

2. Is there a problem with your wifi as people have mentioned that they’ve found it very frustrating to buy a coffee, then sit down with their laptop only to find they can’t connect. The district manager did admit that this was a problem that Starbucks were currently experiencing, he said they are currently changing their service provider which will hopefully alleviate the problem.

3. Why are your drinks sometimes cold? Apparently the ‘flat white’ is meant to be served at an immediately drinkable temperature – in one gulp.

4. I have had cold latte before – is that because your milk isn’t hot enough, if so, could there be a risk of bacteria? They said the only way that could happen would be if a barista had steamed some milk for one customer and then let it sit and used it again for a subsequent customer rather than steaming more milk. The branch manager said he would speak to his staff to make sure this wasn’t happening.

5. Why don’t you have a full range of merchandise in all stores.Apparently merchandise is only available in larger or newly renovated stores. The district manager told me that Starbucks merchandise is quite collectable.

6. Why don’t you offer a loyalty scheme – like the Caffe Nero buy 10 coffees get 1 free scheme. The DM said categorically that Starbucks would never do a scheme like that.I said I thought that was a little short sighted and that the reward card is very popular and I couldn’t believe that it didn’t lose them customers. He did say that it was potentially a problem for them in the London branches.I have to say I felt he spoke quite derisively of the Caffe Nero loyalty scheme which surprised me.

7. Will your ‘proudly brew’ concessions ever do frappuccinos? The DM said that Starbucks will very soon be bringing out a massively extended range of products across the board including ice creams, shots in a can and many take away items.

8. On behalf of @nudieprincess I asked why in the Brighton store they often serve a latte with half a cup of froth. The DM told me that a latte should have no more than a quarter inch of froth. The BM said that if you are served a latte with much more froth than that then you should return it to the counter as ask for a fresh one. They also said you need to ask for a ‘wet’ one if you want no froth.

My Conclusion

I massively appreciate how much effort they took to listen to me. I am after all just one disgruntled customer in a sea of happy ones. When I left they gave me a couple of coffee samples from the Via range and a preloaded starbucks card (which I haven’t decided yet whether or not to use – I’m not sure if it would be hypocritical of me to use it?). This was nice of them but certainly not what I went there for.

What meant more to me was that the BM wrote down both his email address and mobile number and asked me to keep in touch. The DM asked me to ‘work with the BM’ and feedback after future visits to say whether I felt there had been improvements in the branch.

I went there thinking they would tolerate me, that they would listen for 10 mins, give me a coffee and then send me on my way. But they didn’t, and whether I like their coffee or not, whether I feel their branches could be cleaner or not, I cannot fault Mike and Carl for the way they handled my complaint and the fact that they both made me feel that they valued my opinion and had all the time in the world to listen.

I can’t say right now that I’m ready to ditch Caffe Nero, but I can say that Starbucks have an impressive reaction to customer complaints which is clearly led from the top – and the branch manager of my local Starbucks is a real asset to their company.


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