Ed Lines

FOR a chap who helps old ladies cross the road and loves babies, who strokes dogs (except yappy Jack Russells) and gives generously to charity, I can actually be a tad impatient.

I know what you’re thinking – surely not! It’s true. I’ve been known to drop a full load of timber in the aisle at B&Q in Dewsbury (it was years ago) and storm out.

Is it unreasonable to give up in exasperation after 20 minutes wondering why there’s only one till open, when there are OAPs everywhere, wearing their orange pinnies, standing around talking about the weather?

But I digress. These days I find B&Q staff everywhere to be the models of helpfulness.

Specsavers, however, I have given up on for the third time, having also given the boot to Boots and Vision Express in the past.

I had an eye test last year. My specs and vision are fine but I needed some more daily disposable contact lenses. I was flatly refused some – because it had been over 12 months since my eye test.

So what? My contacts work fine, thanks, just sell me some. It isn’t like I’m trying to replace the batteries in a heart pacemaker with some cheapies from Poundland.

But it wasn’t happening. Non-negotiable (and not to get politicial about it, it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s against some EU directive!)

However I think I know what they were doing. My optical health needs apart, the fee for an eye test (or Government payment if you get free eye tests) trumps all.

Because my mum had glaucoma I actually get free eye tests. So what’s the problem, you ask? Here’s the problem. I don’t want to waste public money, and I don’t want to waste a couple of hours of my life playing their game. So shove your varifocals where the sun don’t shine.

PS: I’ve just ordered some new lenses online, using my existing prescription. Ner, ner, ner-ner-ner!

IN THE give-you-a-stroke hierarchy of customer frustration however, I must say that Specsavers are amateurs. Their staff at least are polite and attentive, even when driving you round the bend.

If you want to talk about corporate HQs you’d gladly point ISIS in the direction of, BT and pretty much any insurance company has to be right up there.

How can a telephone operator be so woefully rubbish at communication?

BT has to be one of the richest companies in the UK – they probably make a fortune teaching evasion tactics to insurance call centres – but I get more sense out of my dog than their staff.

At least when I tell houseguests that he’s a trained blacksmith and kick him in the wotsits, he makes a bolt for the door. (That was a joke by the way, please don’t bother calling the RSPCA. No doubt someone will).

Back to BT.

Making it so fiendishly difficult to basically understand your account, tariff and various phone line/broadband convolutions is stage one of their Operation Rip-off.

Stage two is leaving you hanging on the line until they hope you lose the will to live. Persevere long enough and you can finally try getting sense out of someone who couldn’t beat my flaming dog at Scrabble.

This week my business name, address, account number, shoe size and quite possibly a retina scan wasn’t sufficient for BT’s moron-in-chief to help me.

I had to crawl under three desks and locate the broadband box, crawl out, find a torch, crawl back, and hopefully find a barely legible phone number pencilled on said box … then waste another half day trying to get sense out of yet another complete **** (You can’t say that boss. Really. Editor.)

I hung up in the end, before I had a thrombosis. By then I just wanted to track down his call centre and beat someone to a pulp with a BT handset. They do that to you.

But I did, in the end, the only thing any of us can do. I decided to change our broadband provider and ‘communicate’ with BT in the only manner they understand.

Within 24 hours, that’s what I also decided to do with Sheila’s Wheels home insurance and possibly the biggest rip-off merchants of the lot, Sky TV.

To be continued…

PS: The doctor says my blood pressure should be back to normal by Christmas.

I DON’T watch a lot of television except sport, the occasional news/current affairs programme, plus a bit of Red Hot Wives when the missus is working away (I don’t really and couldn’t anyway because the kids have blocked the adult channels. They reckon they’re too tame...).

As such, I have no idea whether the new Top Gear host Chris Evans was a poor imitation of Jeremy Clarkson, or just the epitome of a bloke with a face/head that was absolutely made for radio.

When I see Evans’s mush in a newspaper or on telly these days he looks like Tin Tin’s grandad, after sleeping on a park bench for a week. Stick to FM pal – I hear Rwanda Radio is looking for someone to do their traffic reports. And they just love power-mad egomaniacs.

I used to quite like both Clarkson and Evans, but at some point they became altogether too big for their boots. The ‘me-me’ is just too wearing. If you remember the brilliant film Marathon Man, Laurence Olivier is drilling Dustin Hoffman’s teeth and asking ‘is it safe?’ He wouldn’t need the drill for me – just a recording of either Clarkson or Evans. I’d talk straight away.

Even as I write this, the lounge is a no-go area because it’s Emmerdale/Corrie time for the missus, and I’d rather go get my eyes tested at Specsavers than endure that.

And when I do get to sit down at about 9pm in midweek, is it just me or is there really sod-all on except ‘reality’ rubbish featuring single mums on benefits, drunken lasses in Benidorm, and fat heifers complaining that they’re too fat to be either single mums or on the lash in Benidorm? Who’s ‘reality’ is that, exactly?

PS: I’ve just re-read this week’s offering. To stick with the TV theme, do you think I’m turning into Victor Meldrew...?

THIS is a bit of a Brexit-free week, but I have to offer my condolences to anyone trying/hoping/failing to fly over or drive through France, given the wide variety of industrial actions their workforce is indulging in.

This isn’t new for our French brethren. They strike more than Bryant & May matches if their government so much as says boo. However the streets of Paris – and farther afield – have been in uproar over demands to amend employment laws. The country hasn’t quite been brought to a standstill, but it’s not far off.

And if history teaches us anything, it’s that Francois Hollande will lose his job and the workers will prevail. So what has this to do with the price of bread – or the vote to Leave or Remain?

In short, this: France is broke. Bust. If it was a business it would be bankrupt. It’s Greece with even more debt, which perversely means the EU absolutely must keep it afloat.

President Hollande is trying in baby steps to make badly-needed changes, but the French people have lived lazily off the EU tit for so long that they won’t wear it.

Italy, Spain and Portugal are almost on their knees, but their residents prefer bribery and laziness as a means of muddling along, to the all-out rebellion and revolution which has been in the French blood since Marie Antoinette.

But not to worry. When David Cameron terrifies the British people into voting Remain, the UK will bail out all of the EU’s problems. We’ll be saving France – again.

Or, quite possibly, we’ll be dragged down with it...

A BRIEF word of congratulations to everyone connected with the marvellous Thornhill Trojans ARLFC, who lifted the BARLA National Cup last Saturday. We’ll pay a more in-depth tribute to them next week.

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