This week, I thought I would hand out a few deserving bouquets, a refreshing alternative to my customary justified – in my opinion – moans, groans and ill-tempered persona.

Don’t, however, get too comfortable.  I shall also be handing out some brickbats and as you might assume, a brickbat never lies far from the tree of rant.

And while we’re at it, there are going to be some recipients who will be handed bouquets and brickbats at the same time.  I’ll be generous and simultaneously going for the jugular.

Let’s start with a brickbat for the telephone scammers.  Those unsolicited callers whose modus operandi is to artfully con you into giving away your personal details before you even realise that you have done so.

You know the kind of thing:

Ring, ring.  Ring, ring…

Hello

I’m telephoning from TalkTalk technical department.  I’m sorry to have to inform you that there is a problem with your Internet.  If you go to your computer, we can help you…

No thank you, I’m on the computer right now and the internet is fine – which for TalkTalk is a rarity!

OR:

Ring, ring.  Ring, ring…

I’m telephoning from TalkTalk accounts department.  You are in arrears with your payments and this could affect your Broadband supply unless you make an immediate payment…

Admittedly not always the sharpest knife in the cutlery tray, I knew these were scam calls.  

In the dark times I was with TALKTALK, I was never in arrears.  My monthly bills were paid by direct debit and I always hung up on these lowlifes quicker than you could say Dido Harding.

So concerned was I at the number of scam calls I was getting, however, that I (helpfully) wrote to TalkTalk’s high profile Chief Executive, Baroness Harding, to alert her.

In my naivety, I thought it possible that Baroness Dido/TalkTalk might be unaware that there were scammers telephoning their customers.

TalkTalk “unaware”?  How naïve could I be?

This incompetent, uncommunicative communications company was fully aware that in 2015 their security had been hacked and there had been a serious data breach.

TalkTalk failed to tell over 4,500 customers that their personal information, including bank details, names, addresses, dates of birth, email addresses, TalkTalk account numbers, had all been stolen.

Look at me!  This is over 5 years ago!  This is meant to be a ‘posthumous’ brickbat not a rant.

And really, I ought to be sending the good Baroness a bouquet for all her sterling work with Track and Trace.  But where is she?  She seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth.  I wouldn’t know where to send it…

Whilst writing the above, an email has just pinged up in my inbox from a dear friend asking for my help.  Oh, Lord!  I call him immediately. Unbelievably, with almost delicious synchronicity, he tells me:

I’ve been hacked, George.  You didn’t reply, did you?  It’s a scam!

                                                            * * * * * * * *

Yesterday my younger daughter rang me.  Between home-schooling her 6-year old, fending off 3-year old twins and running her business, my knackered, energetic daughter – that’s why she’s knackered – managed to take a telephone call from HMRC.

 ‘Dad, I think it was a scam call.

I’m bloody sure it was.  What did they say?

It was a recorded message.  HMRC urgently need some information.  To provide this information, I was told to press 1.’

I hope you hung up.

No, I pressed 1.

Dad sighs…

I spoke to someone who said he needed my bank details.

Dad closes his eyes and sighs again…

I hope you didn’t give them.

’Course not, dad, I’m not an idiot.

Pause.  Dad bites his tongue.  To his enormous relief it appears that she had told him, in no uncertain terms, that this was a scam call!

Well done, darling.  What did he say?

He said he’d like to ask one question.

Pause.  Dad wearily wonders what’s coming…

He asked if I shaved between my legs.

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Mirroring last week’s ‘L in L’, Dad was gobsmacked. 

Younger daughter wasn’t.   With awesome Larry Davidian speed, she had riposted:

Why – is it tax deductable??

B-boom!  And a bouquet is winging its way to her!!

(I should mention that between the home schooling, the twin care, the running of the house, the running of her musician hubby, the business she runs is her bespoke agency for stand-up comedians.)

She should sign herself up immediately!

                                                            * * * * * * *

Extended Warranties.  Love ‘em or hate ‘em?  Up selling or a good idea at the time?

I’ve got to tell you that I am so disorganised/lazy, that I have monthly Standing Orders and Direct Debits for warranties on appliances that I haven’t owned for years!

Before the current lockdown however, when our trusty Bosch dishwasher was not being especially trusty, indeed it was being decidedly temperamental, I was thrilled to find in my box file a warranty for this capricious dishwasher that was current and covered an engineer visit.

Terrific. A bouquet for yours truly!

The Bosch engineer duly turned up on the appointed day, earlier than the appointed time and wearing a mask, a bouquet for him!  He quickly went about his business, which involved considerable tapping away at his laptop.

This machine, Mr. Layton, is 5 years old.  No age when it comes to a Bosch appliance.

Yes…(giving him a cup of tea, 3 sugars)…it is a very good dishwasher.  Just being a bit temperamental at the moment.  Not always finishing the cycle and we seem to be using a bottle of Rinse Aid a week.

We share a laugh as he sips his mug of Tetley’s.

No problem, Mr. Layton.  Soon have this little chap back in working order.  Mmm, that’s a lovely cuppa.’ 

About 90 minutes and several mugs of tea later, Herr Bosch declared that the ‘no age’ Bosch appliance could not be fixed. 

My spirits sank.

Oh dear…

So, I’m putting you in for a new dishwasher.

Sorry?

Yes, Mr. Layton.  Under the terms of the warranty, if we can’t repair it, we supply a brand new dishwasher.  You’ll be getting an email.

My spirits lifted.

Would you like another cup of tea…?

The promised email arrived, detailing a wide choice of appliances to choose from.

It was like winning a raffle.  And for a modest financial contribution from ourselves, we could upgrade to an even better machine.  Bouquet time for Bosch!

Moya and I set about researching what model we should go for.  We surfed the website and finding the one we wanted, we called Bosch Customer Services to clarify a few queries.

Bosch Salesman:  Mrs. Layton, you have chosen a wonderful dishwasher.  You couldn’t have chosen a better model.  And the good news is that this one comes with a 5-year warranty.

A 5-year warranty!  High fives and bouquets all round!!

Operation New Bosch Dishwasher sprang into action. 

As soon as our eagerly awaited acquisition arrived, I was to call Peter the Builder.  He would down tools and head for Laytonia to plumb in the new appliance and dispose of the 5-year old ‘no age for a Bosch’ dishwasher.

If you are interested to know more about Peter, whom I call the “Mary Poppins of the Builder World”, do check out ‘L in L’ 5th October 2020.

The dishwasher was delivered within the promised time-slot (another bouquet) and an hour later Peter was plumbing in the new machine while I headed off to my computer to activate the 5-year warranty.

Except…

According to the documentation, the dishwasher came with a 2-year warranty and an option to purchase an extended 3-year warranty.

Hmm…

Bosch Customer Services: No sir, this appliance comes with a 2-year warranty and an option to purchase an extended 3-year warranty.  Would you like to purchase the 3-year warranty?

George: No, I was told by Bosch that this dishwasher came with a 5-year warranty.

Bosch Customer Services: This appliance comes with a 2-year warranty and an option to purchase an extended 3-year warranty. Would you like to purchase the 3-year warranty?

George: (voice getting strangled) I think you’ll find…

Bosch Customer Services: Oh yes, Bosch do have a promotion on; this appliance comes with a 5-year warranty.  Will there be anything else, sir?

“Will there be anything else, sir?”!! 

If I hadn’t done my research? If I hadn’t found out that this model came with a 5-year warranty? If I…? How many customers have been needlessly forking out the best part of £100 for a warranty that they don’t need?

With uncharacteristic patience, I tried to explain to the good lady that I could easily have paid out £100 for an extended warranty that was not necessary.

Bosch Customer ServicesExtended warranties are the customer’s choice. Will there be anything else, sir?

What a shame.  Bosch did so well, bouquet-wise, and they had to go and ruin it.  Sadly, that’s not the end of Warranty-Gate.

I don’t know if it’s the same in other people’s households but in the land that is Laytonia, when one thing goes wrong…

It was our Bosch washing machine, a few days later.  Yes, another Bosch appliance.  No warranty this time, the washing machine was very old and over the years the old girl had taken a battering. She had served us well.

With a sense of déjà vue, we were back surfing the Internet.

Bosch SalesmanMrs. Layton, you have chosen a wonderful washing machine.  You couldn’t have chosen a better model.  And the good news is that this one comes with a 5-year warranty.

A 5-year warranty!  More high fives and hopefully another bouquet for Bosch to compensate for the recent brickbat.

With Groundhog Day familiarity, Operation New Bosch Washing Machine sprang into action.

A bouquet to the reliable delivery company; a bouquet to the even more reliable Peter ‘Mary Poppins’ Builder; and a bouquet to Bosch when hopefully they process the 5-year Warranty without a hiccup.

Bosch Customer Services: This appliance comes with a 2-year warranty and an option to purchase an extended 3-year warranty. Would you like to purchase the 3-year warranty?

This time, with his more characteristic red mist, George harangues the voice at the other end with phrases like ‘Sharp Practice’, ‘Appalling Customer Service’ and ‘Can’t you understand that your customers are unknowingly paying for warranties, yada, yada yada…

Bosch Customer Services: Oh yes, Bosch do have a promotion on; this washing machine comes with a 5-year warranty.  Will there be anything else, sir?

You couldn’t bloody write it, could you? 

Except I did…