Saturday, 25 June 2011

Simply headache inducing


A friend came over with a Lomo camera recently and took some great shots, including this one of the kids baking a cake. I've been dabbling on Instagram using my iPod Touch and it's ignited a habit of documenting my days with banal photos. For years we've used a Canon Ixus digital camera to take snaps of the kids and holidays but lately it's become sluggish and unresponsive and the photos just don't look as good as the ones I can take on my iPod. Rob agreed to go halves on a replacement camera and after a bit of investigation we decided on an Olympus XZ-1 which seems a step up from the Canon in terms of capabilities and results.

Four days ago I ordered the Olympus from which had the best price and offered a 1-2 day dispatch time. Unfortunately I then read some scathing reviews of this company and freaked out - I couldn't get through to cancel the order by phone and waited for them to respond to my email asking for confirmation that the camera was actually in stock.

One day later (and many minutes wasted on hold) I got through and was told all was OK and the order was being processed. I checked my online status the next day which asked for me to phone or email them. I phoned and was told it was a security check, but all was OK and the camera was being dispatched. I explained I'm on holiday later next week so if the camera wasn't going to make it in time I was happy to pay extra for next day delivery. They assured me it would make it.

This morning I was mortified to get another email from them asking me to provide a scan of my credit card, a utility bill and as an optional extra, a photocopy of some photo ID before they'd proceed with my order. Seeing as how the money was already deducted from my credit card, clearly they'd proceeded! I couldn't get through on the phone number due to "technical difficulties" (quelle surprise) so wrote an email asking for the camera to be dispatched or the order cancelled. I'm guessing they won't respond until Monday but have to say regardless what happens now, this online shopping experience has been uncessarily stressful and would make me cautious about recommending Simply Electronics. Will update in the next post no doubt - keep your fingers crossed for me!


I just spent 37 (!) minutes on hold at and finally got through to a human who confirmed that the delivery was being held until I could provide my ID as requested. I pointed out that if I wasn't the legitimate card holder I couldn't have seen the money was taken out from my account but she was insistent.

I've spent a lot more than £295 with online retailers and have to say that this level of 'consumer protection' smacks of delay tactics rather than a genuine need to protect from fraud.

I have cancelled the order and asked for a refund both on the phone and in writing. Apparently it takes 3 to 5 working days for refunds to come through. I will let you know just how long it takes. In the meantime I am off to New York on Friday without a new camera and am LIVID.


I got a refund on Saturday, and immediately ordered a replacement camera from Amazon which arrived 24 hours later. The whole ordeal took 2.5 weeks from start to finish and cost me HOURS in phone calls, emails and stress. I've learned my lesson!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Fake dog

I had some great feedback about owning a dog on my Facebook page, mostly from friends who are dog owners. It has definitely put me off: Everything from the cost of replacing damaged furniture to hiring dog walkers and finding time to take it to the vet, through to some of the more colourful medical conditions they get (swollen anal glands, anyone?)

I bought Marlo a life-size Dalmation for her birthday and I have to say it's pretty convincing. A neighbour saw me arrive home with it on the back of my bike a couple of months ago, but even she did a double take from her garden when she saw it propped up against the window. I'm hoping that potential burglars will see it when they poke their faces over the fence and think it's real. Regardless, the neighbours on the other side are chipping in to buy a security gate for our communal alleyway this summer so no-one will be able to get to our garden gate once that goes in.

But it's not all gloom and doom and dwelling on burglars - I found a wall mounted bottle opener at Oliver Bonas for £8.50 and it's been useful to have in the garden when there are beers to be drunk.