Thursday, 17 February 2011

Classic Album Sundays

My friend Colleen is a cracking DJ, producer, musician, re-mixer who goes by the name DJ Cosmo. She's especially awesome because she lives in East London and is a mum, too. The reason I mention her is that she's campaigning to make people listen to music properly - ie: a full album from beginning to end, on vinyl, with no distractions at a monthly session called Classic Album Sundays. I must admit, I listen to music all the time but I'm seldom fully immersed - there's usually dinner to cook, clothes to tidy away or I'm in the office listening to something on Spotify while I work on my computer.

I think it's a tremendous campaign to get behind as so many people don't sit and absorb full albums: they download the single tunes they like, or listen to songs on YouTube. It's a cliché but it's true - the same song on vinyl vs an MP3 is miles apart.

Another of my favourite DJs, Greg Wilson, is synchronising with Colleen for the Northern contingent. You can check his blog here. For details of upcoming Classic Album Sundays check out Colleen's blog on Tumblr.

In the meantime, I have lots of vinyl that I would love hear from beginning to end with no distractions and imagine that one day I'll be able to sit at home for a full two hours completely uninterrupted and do just that. And if I had the soundsystem turned up extremely loud or maybe with headphones on if it was late, I think I'd like to be lying in this (replica) Corbusier day chair, pictured, which you can buy on eBay for about £250.


Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Appliance insurance scammers

This story is rather boring but if it stops one person from being ripped off, I'll feel vindicated in sharing my woe. I mentioned a couple of posts ago that we'd paid 8-9 years worth of insurance premiums on an Indesit washer dryer that resides in our rental property. Two months ago it broke down and after numerous visits, piles of parts and I estimate something in the region of 4-5 hours wasted on hold at Domestic & General (the insurers) and Indesit (the manufacturer and service agents) trying to get this resolved, we finally had a break-through last Friday.

The two engineers dispatched to fix the machine indeed couldn't, and were going to try and source yet more parts. We kicked off at this point: every part had been replaced. The 7 call outs would've cost more than the value of the machine. Each visit was a week apart and meant someone had to wait in (I spent an hour at the flat myself on Friday as the tenants couldn't take time off work). The engineers conceded that the machine should be replaced.

Indesit customer service went into overdrive, phoning me four times on Friday to ensure the engineers had shown up (they did, six minutes after their allocated two-hour slot had expired, luckily Rob optimistically stayed on to let them in). Maybe they started to pay attention because I wrote this complaint or because I started a dialogue with the Press Manager of Domestic & General on Twitter - whatever, I was finally getting some action. The Indesit person assured me that D&G would call me on Friday evening to sort the replacement. They didn't call me about ordering the replacement until Monday, and even then it was to discuss the (wrong) model number. This evening someone had left a message: on top of the £600+ worth of premiums we've paid, they want another £66 to pay for the rest of the year's policy before ordering the replacement. Which incidentally, currently retails for less than £300. I think the term I'm looking for is "Taking the p*ss".

Thanks to the Press Manager we don't have to pay for delivery, but we will have to pay for removal of the old machine (which is still full of water) and installation of the new one (another £26 on top of the £66). For my poor tenants sake, I hope it will be delivered soon!

I have no truck with Indesit as a manufacturer (the machine lasted for 9 years after all) but their service department and Domestic & General are two companies I will never give a penny to after this saga is over, and I encourage you to cancel your policies with these modern day shysters!

I'll end this rant with some wise words from Debbie who responded to my complaint on Groubal:

"I gave up paying these outrageous insurance policies years ago because of this - my washing machine has broken down twice in the past five years and each time I got in a local, old fashioned repair man who did the job with minimum fuss and each time it cost me about £50! Same with my dishwasher! And you are keeping local repair men employed and get a personal service. I would urge everyone to consider this alternative as it works out cheaper."

Spread the word!

UPDATE: Domestic and General hilariously tried to sell me a five year policy on the new machine this morning when I booked the delivery. The £66 I pay buys a policy on my OLD machine for the rest of 2011, but as the machine is broken the policy is terminated (I don't think it makes any sense either... being forced to purchase cover on something that doesn't exist?!)

I've just paid for yet ANOTHER call to Indesit as they wanted to book a time. I explained that D&G had already made a delivery booking but alas, they hadn't, they can pass on the delivery preferences to Indesit but the slot must be booked directly. Between these two companies their income from premium rate phone lines must be through the roof!

POSTSCRIPT: The machine was successfully delivered today, but alas, not installed as they don't install in bathrooms. News to me too. I had to ring 2x numbers to get the installation fee refunded.

I am so over this saga.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

G-Plan coffee table

A couple of months ago I went the Vintage Furniture Flea fair at York Hall, just down the road from where we live. I didn't buy any furniture, despite finding a coffee table which looked similar - if not almost exactly the same - as the one pictured. It was £75 and I thought that it was a silly purchase given that we had a perfectly functioning coffee table.

I regretted it though as the perspex Muji number we have doesn't really do much in the way of enhancing the space. We originally bought it as our flat benefitted from a transparent table, by making the space seem larger.

I stumbled across this G-Plan coffee table on eBay last week and ended up winning it for £47. Fortunately it was ony five minutes drive away so I popped around to collect it at the weekend, and this photo shows it on our living room rug. The glass already had a crack in it and when I picked it up the crack gave way and a corner broke off so we'll have to replace that at some point. The wood has a few surface scratches so we may take it in for a French polish too.

The table looks great with our mid-century bar - they're almost exactly the same colour. And if we ever get around to hanging the retro mirror I bought nearly a year ago they'll look dandy together.