I fully believe that the British postal system (as run by The Post Office) has hit rock bottom. It’s been getting worse over the past twenty or twenty-five years. How many can remember the days when we received two postal deliveries? There was one early morning, and another around lunchtime. At Christmas time, there was even a delivery on the Sunday before Christmas Day. The delivery was always around the same time. You could almost set your clock by them. Collections from pillar-boxes happened at least twice a day, with an extra collection from your local post office.
It’s all gone now though. We are lucky if we see the postman/woman. It is no wonder that more and more people and organisations are using one of the big courier services when it can be a lot cheaper, and safer. Which brings me to the point of this post.
I ordered some light bulbs from eBay. I didn’t go for the cheapest or the most expensive but settled on one that appeared to have a least a few good reviews. I duly paid and the expected delivery date was the 2nd of November. I got home on the 29th of October and found a parcel on the doorstep. The label told me who it was from and so I knew it was my lightbulbs. However, I could immediately tell that something was wrong. The parcel was squashed at one corner which led me to believe that the ‘post person’ had attempted to post the item through the letterbox. In marked contrast, the delivery by a local courier was hidden behind a planter, with an email showing a photo of the exact spot.
As I expected, we go into an almost full lock-down on Thursday. I think it was inevitable given what the experts were saying, and have been saying for the past month. Hopefully, this will bring the dreaded “R” rating down, which may mean that the youngest could be home for Christmas. However, I’m not holding my breath. When you listen to Ministers like Micheal Gove, who last week was saying that there was no chance of a ‘lock-down’ and is now saying that may go on beyond the 2nd of December, you have to wonder whose strings are being pulled by whom!
I have already decided that my hair is not going to be a priority over the next few weeks. I did have it cut back in July and have been meaning to go again, but the last time I tried, the barbers were busy (1 customer and 2 waiting) and the time before, it was shut. So I’m not going to bother.
I purchased one of these yesterday. In fact, I got two for £15.00 which was a saving of over £8.00. Always up for a bargain! I have been meaning to change two of the sockets in the conservatory since we had the new roof and windows. I should have got the electrician to do it then, but never got around to asking. Now I have no excuse. I just have to get into the mood sometime this week.
It’s not been the best of starts technology wise, today. I got and realised that my new iPad had not been on charge overnight. That in itself was not too much of an issue, as this new tablet seems to hold its charge very well. No, the problem I had was that the screen had frozen. Not only that but I could do nothing with it. All the ‘help’ sites told me to power off the iPad, but the power switch did nothing. So it wasn’t just the screen that had frozen, but the entire tablet just did nothing. You may be able to imagine the string of expletives that were forthcoming.
Nothing that I tried worked. I had a vague recollection that you could connect an iPad to iTunes on a laptop and ‘do something’ but couldn’t remember what, so I gave it a go. I was still at the time searching online for any sort of help and I came across a site that explained that whilst connected to iTunes, if I held the power button down and tapped the home button, this would refresh the screen. It was a work around for older tablets, but I had nothing to lose. Remarkably, it worked! I was ‘back in the room’ I think the phrase is.
Then came ‘tech-prob’ number two.
Mrs Me wanted some cleaner for her contact lens’s. I checked on eBay and there was going to be £10.99 plus £6.00 postage, which made it more expensive then going the opticians and buying it. Now I rarely use Amazon as I often think their prices are a bit on the high side, but I checked and they had the product, and it was selling at £13.90 postage free. So, I ordered some. Then I got an email saying that my payment had been declined. I thought I had set up a PayPal payment option, but it seems payments are direct from my debit card, which had just been updated/renewed, so the expiry date was incorrect.
After seeing a couple of my colleagues wearing them, I decided it might be good idea to get a smart watch. Nothing expensive as I don’t really like wearing watches as they tend to irritate my skin. But, I thought it may have it’s benefits. I trawled through eBay and there seemed to a lot of really cheap ones around the £3.00 mark with a larger number between £10.00 and £30.00. Then there were the popular branded ones going up to £150.00 +. I wasn’t that desperate, so I plumped for one at the lower edge of the mid-price range.
Everything went well, I bought and paid for the unit on Tuesday evening and it was delivered on the Friday, by first class post. All was good and it arrived within the stated time frame. I was surprised by the appearance, as it looked good quality and it felt quite comfortable to wear. The English instructions were well written and easy to follow. I plugged the charger in and left it overnight to fully charge.
It can only be a small battery and usually these kind of things need a good charge to start with, but after 12 hours it was still only 50% charged. I realised that when I placed the unit on my desk, the two pins that charged the unit were not in the right place. This time I got everything right and within 2 hours the watch was fully charged. I installed the software on my ‘phone and I was good to go. It correctly picked up the time and date from my phone, and I began to play around with the numerous displays. The only few things I wanted it for was: a) a step counter b) blood pressure monitor and c) heartbeat monitor It did all these and many more.
Skip forward to Sunday lunchtime and I became aware that the time on the watch was wrong. The clock said 11:40 yet the watch said 00:04 with a date of 01/01/01. I thought at first I had set it wrong. I re-synchronised the unit with the software on my phone and everything went back to how it should be, Except … all the data from the previous day was gone! This happened again later that day and it seemed that the unit was resetting itself back to its factory settings. I read some of the reviews and soon realised that the phone an watch connect via blue-tooth so both needed to be near to each other. That seemed to make sense, so where I went, the phone went with me.
All was now good, or so I thought! Monday morning and again, the watch was showing a random time. I wasn’t happy about this to say the least, so I contacted the seller with all the problems I was experiencing. About 2 hours later, I received an email telling me that I had been refunded in full and that there was no need to return the unit. I checked PayPal and indeed the refund had passed through and was now in my back account.
I was one happy chap, especially as I didn’t need pay for any postage to send it back. That bothered me a little. How much did the thing cost to make and sell, if he can simply refund me with getting the unit back?
Unfortunately, my From Now to Then series has had to be put on hold for a while. The friend I ask to ‘proof read’ the posts is not going to be available for the next few weeks. He is in the process of changing jobs which has resulted in him emigrating to Canada. So for the next few weeks or so he only has internet access on his smart phone. Once he is settled, he has promised to continue helping. After all, I need to be as accurate as my memory serves me and it needs to be libellous free. Hopefully it will be not too long as I still have a few things to tell.
Recently, I was asked by a friend if I could do a bit of shopping for him. All he wanted was some blade for his razor. He has a famous brand of razor that uses multi blade cartridges. They are disposable and simply click into the handle. Very popular as they are supposed to give a very close shave. I have never really found them to my taste as I was put off by those horrible two blade disposable razors that were becoming fashionable in the mid 1970’s. I found them very uncomfortable to hold and use, and could never get more than two or three shaves before they were put in the bin.
But to the point of this moan. I went straight to a well known supermarket and sought out the ones my friend had asked for, only to find that the pack had eight cartridges and cost just over £22. I thought that they must be cheaper than that somewhere. I tried B**ts and they were more expensive there and the price in Sup***rug was the same. I was very shocked to see that the packs also had security tags to prevent theft. I bought some, but vowed never to buy them for myself.
This is my wet shaving setup. The soap-mug was a present, so I don’t know the cost. The soap was bought from the previously mentioned supermarket and was about £4.00. But the real bargain was the razor and the blades. The razor was bought on eBay and cost me £2.99 postage free. I came with a pack of 5 double edged blade, an comes with its own storage box. I also bought a pack of Astra blades. They came in a box of 10 packets, each packet had 5 blades. Price, including postage £2.00. But the real bargain was the soap brush. I had originally priced them up as around £6.00 for a ‘genuine badger’ bristle. The ones I got are natural bristle and there were 10 for £6.50, and they are just as good. I usually wet shave twice a week and have an electric razor for the other days, as it is often quicker.
At the beginning of last week I noticed a new bird in the garden. It was small, rounded, grey with a few white spots and a red ring around it’s eyes. I did a little probing around the internet and discovered that it could have been a Diamond Dove. This seemed a ridiculous notion as the bird is native of Australia. Now I know migratory birds can travel huge distances but this thing seemed far too small to travel very far. I took a picture and used, what I now know is Google Lens to try and properly identify the creature. Google Lens confirmed that the bird was in fact a Diamond Dove. I can only assume that it had been in somebodies local aviary and it escaped. It was with us up until around Thursday waddling around on the ground picking up seeds that the Starlings drop from the feeder. It now seems to have gone, which is a shame.
September sees races in the UCI World Cycling Championship being held in Yorkshire. The main racing takes place between the 22nd and 26th, but on the 21st one of the Yorkshire 2019 Para-Cycling International legs is starting locally in Wetherby. A local Knitting/Craft shop has been given permission to have knitted bunting both sides of a 1/2 stretch of the route. So a call had gone out for local knitters to create some bunting in the right colours. I managed to knit 20 triangles making 4 sets. I could have done another five, but was running short of a couple of the colours.
Luck, that is. Or so people say. Well If it’s right, then I’ve just had my ‘three’ with eBay. The first one, with the mouses (mice … meece…?) was resolved, but since then another two issues have occurred. Both of them are leading up to a successful conclusion, but it’s the time and the trouble to sort out the problem that’s the real issue.
When I bought my new laptop, I did not realise that most do not come with a CD/DVD reader anymore. So it came as a bit of a shock when I found out. ‘No worries’ I thought, they are as cheap as chips on the internet, I’ll just buy a USB one. The one I found wasn’t the cheapest, but it was a UK seller that appeared to have a good reputation, well from most of the reviews at least. It arrived and it was about a week before I had the chance to try it out. Guess what? It didn’t work. I tried various combinations of connecting, but nothing seemed to have any effect. What was happening was quite strange. I have two stand alone USB hard drives (labelled D: and E:), and when the DVD drive was connected, the E: drive disappeared from the device list. After a few message between me and the seller, we both came to the conclusion that the drive must faulty. It is now just waiting for me to go to the post office and then I can get a refund.
Now comes the third issue. I have an old laptop, which plods along as a spare. It has it’s own printer, which I tend to use for printing text documents. It is not good enough for photos, but it is otherwise okay. Because of this, I usually buy compatible ink cartridges to save cost. The only problem is that the printer does not show the correct ink level, but I can live with that. So when the colour ink ran out, I sought to buy another one. Of course, it had to be eBay again. The company I used was based on the Channel Islands (they all seem to be) and it arrived four days after buying. It came with the usual fitting instructions and a brief trouble shooting guide. Back to the guessing game … it did not work. The printer software was telling me that the cartridge was faulty. I used the trouble shooting guide and tried again. Still no luck. ‘Here we go again!’ I thought. A message to the seller brought a quick response, and after a few more messages back and forth, a replacement is on it’s way. So that’s the three bits of ‘bad luck’ with eBay (hopefully).
I just need the the bits of good luck, and I banking on the National Lottery for that.
Not quite the whole story … I never bother for small amounts! I’m talking about eBay purchases that go wrong. If the sum is less than £10.00, I tend to put it down to experience and never use that seller again. I have a personal blacklist that I refer to when I’m buying something, and add new sellers that don’t come up to the mark.
About a month ago, one of my computer mice (or is it mouses?) started to fail. It was only a cheap one, but it had lasted about two years. I thought at first it was just a bad battery, but it wasn’t and it had to be consigned to the “Tech Bin” for disposal when I next go to the recycling site. I started using a wired one, but it’s not the same after a wireless one so I looked on my favourite selling site … eBay! There were quite a few for sale within my price range, but I spotted an seller offering two for the price of one, or ‘make me an offer’. I made an offer, and it was accepted. I was well pleased with myself.
They arrived after about two weeks, and as they were coming from China, I thought that was an acceptable length of time. Now for the crux of the matter … they did not work. The computer could not see either mouse. The seller started nattering a bit about feedback for the sale, so I simply put in the feedback box ‘Don’t work’ and gave it a neutral rating. I thought no more about it and left it at that. Meanwhile, my original mouse had been borrowed by a friend who had taken it to pieces and cleaned some part or other, and handed it back in full working order.
Skip forward to this morning, and an eBay message from the seller asking if I could amend the feedback, and he would issue a refund. After a bit of messing around with eBay, the said feedback was amended to something like ‘issue resolved with seller’. Within ten minutes I received an email from PayPal to say that I had received a full refund from the seller. I was surprised to say the least and there has not been a request to return the faulty goods.
So I have now raised an issue with another seller regarding another piece of IT equipment that I’m having a problem with. We shall see how that goes.
Change! It’s not a thing that I’m particularly good at. I tend to stick to something I’m comfortable with or something I like. I’m not one for trying out new things. Prefer the ‘status quo’ rather than be adventurous. But … I’m seriously considering changing the theme on this blog. I’ve had this current theme for quite a while now and while I still like it, I think it’s time to to have a change. I’m looking for something a little more subtle. So you may see a change over the next few days, but then again …
I finally got around to putting a picture on the Simply Knitting Group Facebook page, of some the knitting I had worked on. They are three plant pot hangers that were in the style of those macramé hangers from the 1970’s. When I knitted them, I found that one of the patterns was slightly wrong. I managed to work out what was wrong and was able to complete the knits. I emailed the magazine, the designer and the Facebook group about the error, and finally I got the response that I was expecting and the correct instructions were posted on the magazine website. Feeling a little chuffed with myself as I have got a few likes, which I wasn’t expecting.
Whilst I bragging about my knitting ‘success’, I have to boast about another one. Way back in October last year, we had a new bathroom fitted. Just before the plumbers finished and packed up, one of them said he was going to fix the kitchen tap. Now the problem was that when K*** got the kitchen sink replaced, the ‘handy-man’ fitted the tap, but did not tighten it up fully. He claimed that he didn’t want to over-tighten the fitting and crack the sink basin and it had been loose ever since. The bathroom plumbers found this highly amusing and went on to explain that there was a silicon washer that prevented the tap from over-tightening. They fixed it and all was good for a while. Then recently I found that the tap had worked loose again. The plumber was due back again for a small thing and I cheekily asked if he could fix the tap again. Unfortunately the tool he needed had been lost on another job. However, he explained that all I needed was a number 10 box or tubular spanner. eBay to the rescue. After a quick search, I found what I was looking for and am now the proud owner of a full set of tubular spanners and a fixed sink tap.
In spite of the fact that I don’t like change, I’m experimenting with a different internet browser. For the past few years, I’ve flitted between Firefox and the Google Chrome browsers. I gave up on Internet Explorer (IE) years ago and find their new ‘go-to’ browser, Edge to be not dissimilar to IE. I finally settled on the Google offering about 18 months ago, and have been reasonably pleased (if that’s the right phrase) with it. However, over the past couple of months I’ve noticed that opening webpages/sites in Chrome has slowed down a great deal to the extent that sometimes the page/site just doesn’t even open. I’ve done all the obvious things like clearing down the cache, deleting offline pages and deleting browser history but it has not had much effect. So I have now installed the Opera browser and am testing it for a while. It seems faster (could not be slower) and I have managed to import all my shortcuts and bookmarks. So we shall see if it is any better.
No, this post has nothing to do with the early 1970’s song by The Who, but to the bad practices by some on eBay. You may remember a previous post last week when I got caught by a fake seller. My, I suppose it’s greed, led me to purchase an item that turned out to be from a compromised site. The good news is that I got a refund more or less the following day.
Well, today was something different. I am nearly ready for some more ink for my printer. I tend to buy it from the same seller each time. It’s a competitive price and the seller send me an envelope so that the empty cartridges can be recycled. So I was checking to see if his price was indeed a good bargain and looked at the ‘suggestions’ at the bottom of the page. They all seemed to be in roughly the same price bracket of between £18.00 and £20.00. Then I spotted one at £5.00! It was being sold, supposedly by a well renowned and respected seller called Car****ge K**G. The stupid thing was that at the side of, what I knew to be a fake, was cartridges sold by the genuine Car***ge K**G selling at £19.49. After about 10 minutes hunting around the site and a quick search on Google, I was able to locate the method of reporting the seller.
This difference this time was that the seller had set-up a fake profile and used images from the genuine seller. Whereas the previous time, the genuine account had been compromised. I’m told that both methods are so easy to do. For a compromised site, it is usually a site that has not been used for a while. Maybe set-up to make a single private sale and never used again. The second method, anyone can do. You simply set-up an account and start conning people.
Note to eBay: maybe have a look at some price comparisons. You may be surprised.
I recently decided that I needed a Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad. Never really liked typing on screen as I have more or less grown up with ‘proper’ physical keyboard. So I scoured eBay and found one that looked to be just what I wanted. Not the cheapest and not the most expensive either. It was about the price I was willing to pay so I ordered one. It duly arrived on time and I quickly read the instructions for setting up and pairing with my iPad. That done, I began to look at the features of the keyboard and its basic operating procedures. The first thing I needed to do was to charge it with the ‘ … enclosed micro USB to USB cable …’ and here was a problem. There was no cable! I was not worried as I seem to have more than my fair share of these cable which seem to come with everything. But, I thought, if there is one supposed to be included then there should be one. I decided to message the seller and advise them that the cable had not been included. I told them that I did not need a cable and that I was just letting them know so that they could contact their supplier in case there was a problem. After a few days I received a very polite reply, apologising for the delay and asking me what I wanted to do. Did I want a full refund or did I want a replacement? The caveat was that I would have to dispose the first unit myself. I emailed back and explained again, that it was only the cable, that I didn’t need another and wasn’t seeking a refund or replacement.
The email had only just been sent, when I had one of those “Doh!” moments. What had I done? The guy was going to either send a second unit or refund my payment. He didn’t want the first one back. So I would have had either a free unit or two units, and I turned him down! What can I say? Either getting soft or getting too old.
I’m always up for a bargain, so when I decided that I needed to buy some ink for my printer, I turned as usual to the internet. To be exact, I nearly always go though EBay and this occasion was no different. I ran a search and the price for a twin-pack (colour and black) seemed to be between £17.00 an £20.00, with the average price falling in at £18.49. A little more than I expected, so I sorted the list by price. Amazingly the price of £7.99 was listed for the same twin-pack size. A ‘bargain’ I thought and delved a little deeper into the product and seller. That is when I began to smell a rat!
A quick look at the seven reviews of the ink, showed that they were reviews for ink sold by a different seller. The reviews also had been made within 10 minutes of each other. Unusual to say the least. I then had a quick look at the sellers profile, which stated that they had been a member of EBay since August 7th 2017. The same day that I was looking. That rat smell was getting stronger. How could a seller have seven reviews (all showing 100%) for sales on the same day that they had started trading?
Unusually for me, I reported it to EBay, and was pleased to see that the following day, the listing had been removed. But what’s this? Further down the search was a new listing, from another new seller, selling the same pack at the same price, with even the same reviews! Another reporting to EBay. I look the next day (today) and once again the fraudulent listing has been removed, only to be replaced by two new listings for the same product, this time at £10.49. I will leave you to guess what I did next.
Now I would say that I’m quite a savvy shopper, so I wasn’t really taken in by this confidence trick, but there are many people that would see this is a real bargain. What seems to happening here is one of four things:
they are selling fakes – possible
they are selling stolen goods – more likely or
they are just stealing peoples money – which is my favourite
they are genuine
If number 4 was correct, and I have been mistaken, then why does EBay remove the listings?
The old adage seems to apply here – “If it looks too good to be true, then it probably isn’t”
I simply have to blog this. Tonight, Mathew I’m ….. no no no, that’s the wrong thing. Tonight I won my first eBay auction. Not such a big deal some may say, but this one has been. You see, I’ve been after an expanding briefcase, and this one person has been selling them with a starting bid of 99p. He has been adding them to his ‘store’ at the rate of one per day for the past few weeks. I’ve been bidding on the all up to a maximum, but have been out bid everytime …. until tonight. So I’m sat there, with eBay open, whilst watching QI on the TV. I suddenly turned around to see I had only 9 seconds to place my bid !!! Panic or what !! I placed and confirmed my bid and watched as the times counted down …… 4 seconds ….. 3 seconds ….. 2 seconds …… 1 second ..…. “You have won this auction!!” Giddy was not the word. Just hope it is as good as the blurb says it is ……
For sometime now, I have wanted a propelling pencil. I wanted one of the so called ‘old fashioned’ type, that you have to twist to move the lead out. I have a number of the more modern ‘clutch’ type, the ones that you click to move the lead. Whilst these have their uses, I often find that too much lead is ‘propelled’ with each click. This means that you only need to put the slightest over-pressure on the pencil and the lead will break. With the twist type, you twist out only as much lead as you need.
I looked in the two main high street stores and a couple of specialist writing shops. The high street stores only had the clutch type, and the specialist shops had some, but they were ridiculously overpriced. I then found one on Ebay at a very competitive price indeed. It was just what I wanted. I then realised that I would need some spare leads. Again a trip to the high street proved a waste of time. One did not have any 0.7mm (not good Theo) and the other wanted £4.99 for a pack of 24. As this was more than the price of the pencil itself, I left empty handed. It was back to Ebay!!
There were many sellers offering the type I wanted at various prices. I settled on one from Hong Kong who was selling the leads at £1.88 for a pack of 40 with free postage. As they the same make as I could buy in the high street, I bought them. Granted, it took about ten days to arrive, but at that price, it was too good to miss. They arrived this morning, by air-mail, well packed with a postage of $2.50HKD. A quick check with the currency calculator, showed that the postage converted to …………just over 20p !!!!
Are we being ripped off ?????? Twenty pence postage from Hong Kong !!!! £1.88 against £4.99 !!!! I agree, there is always a risk with buying over the internet, but anyone with an unusable gift voucher for HMV, might think it’s a risk worth taking.