Tag Archives: B&Q

John le Carré falls flat?

Three weeks ago I wrote (here) that I was reading ‘Our Kind of Traitor’. I have just managed to finish it (it was very put-downable and I found plenty of other things to do). For me it was a huge disappointment. I found the ending VERY predictable and completely lacking in originality. The whole book seems to have an air of so-whatness about it; there was the occasional flash of the old le Carré brilliance, but only for several pages in the last quarter of the book). Sad, but I won’t be buying any more. As I said in my B&Q rant, it’s my money. As in the case of B&Q’s poor service, I do not intend to subsidise writers that are past their best. Cruel? I don’t think so. Remember that expression, ‘quit while you are ahead’? It applies to everyone.

BUT… I won’t be going back to the Beano because there must be some good books out there. How many do I have to buy before I get one that I really can’t put down? Am I really that fussy? Hope not.

I may even have to buy some of the books recommended by Scott Pack (see blogroll links to the right>>>).

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B&Q: just not good enough, guys!

B and Queue, maybe?

I have spent thousands of pounds in various B&Q shops in the last few years. Now, when I go in to any of my regional stores (there are several), I have no idea whether or not there will be any staff at the checkouts. Today I was forced to take a trolley-load of goodies to the self-checkout, those hateful devices that I have vowed never to use because their sole purpose is to reduce the number of checkout staff and thereby swell profits. They are also hateful because the chance of them working properly (judging by the number of flashing red lights and garbled orders from the machines’ speakers), must be close to zero – as is the customer satisfaction. It’s not that B&Q is short of staff, because if all the checkouts are all closed then chances are you will find them elsewhere in the store in a management huddle, oblivious of the dozen or so customers at the self-checkouts (some with trolleys heaped high) struggling to buy their goods.

Believe me, I am no technophobe (see my other blog posts if you dare). I refuse to use the self-checkouts because I believe that if I have chosen a particular shop then it is not simply because of the reasonable cost and the extensive range of goods, it is also for the standard of service. I do not get any service at all from a machine! All I get is to be told that the item I have just scanned must be put on the scales. Really? Why should I have to lift all the heavy items out of my trolley? And why does it want to weigh a saw? I suppose I should be grateful that it didn’t ask me to count the number of saw teeth. Am I going to read a list of instructions on a screen so I can correct my (more likely the machine’s) little mistake? No bloody way! YOU ARE ABOUT TO TAKE MY MONEY, folks, so do it with a bit more style! Don’t give me pain, because it’s my money and you want it. I am willing to exchange it for goods in your shop, but only if you are nice to me. If not, I will buy my goods elsewhere.

And that is what I shall do, because from now on, Mr B and Mr Q, I shall be frequenting my local Homebase. They may not sell the range of goods you sell, but until you have at least one checkout open at all times I shall simply abandon my trolley-load of stuff in the aisle and go elsewhere – and don’t tell me the self-checkouts are there for my convenience, or they are there to speed-up buying (because judging by the frustrated, embarassed, angry customers I see, that is rubbish). Provided there are no more than about four customers in front of me I am perfectly happy to queue.

If you think this is a one-off, Mr B and Mr Q, then think again. It has been going on for months now, at all stores I visit. I have spoken to other customers and they are really pst off with your system and your closed checkouts.

Am I bovvered about all this*? You bet I am! Ah, you say, but you are only one customer. You might spend thousands of pounds, but we take millions. BUT Mr B and Mr Q, 200 readers read my blog yesterday….

And Tesco and Sainsbury – in case you are listening – don’t bother to encourage your staff beckon me towards those infernal machines in your shops either, because I won’t go. I know what happened to those ancient mariners.

* click here (then go to CT).

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Blizzards at Blackwell’s

I visited Blackwell’s yesterday. We have a very good one in Edinburgh, it took over from James Thin a few years ago. I used to spend a lot of time in Blackwell’s in Oxford, usually buying technical books rather than novels. If you have never been there and ever get the chance to visit, it’s well worth it (the sign over the shop in Edinburgh says ‘Blackwell’s’. In Oxford it says ‘Blackwell’. I wonder if they know that?). Blackwell’s is quite different from Waterstone’s. What I noticed in Blackwell’s yesterday was that there seems to be an unusually large number of covers on show on the shelves, rather than just spines. For me, it made browsing more pleasurable. Perhaps I just like pictures. The Edinburgh shop appears to have a roof leak, though – not buckets everywhere, as in some of these B&Q-sized shops, but all in one place. The carpet was paved with washing-up bowls and empty plastic book tubs. I walked out of Blackwell’s an hour or so later – maybe three hours – into the worst blizzard I have seen for years. Better leave the bowls and tubs right where they are, guys.

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