First day I got back, I had a meeting at the flat to discuss setting up cable television.  I have been spoilt in my previous homes (well – apart from this one) because everywhere we have been so far we have been in charge of our own destiny so to speak.  In other words, the dish or cable came into our house, and that was the end of that.  We could watch stuff whilst recording other stuff, and generally be TV happy.  Now though we are attached to a communal dish.  Again, this would not be a problem if we only had one TV.  We have two cables coming into the flat, (at the bargain price of £120 a year) and because the box comes into a part of the house that is nowhere near where we want to watch television, we are now setting up what are known as magic eyes so that we can switch channels without having to leave the room.  The two cables (as far as I understand) mean that I can record something whilst watching something else.  Since I am reliably informed that my parents need to be able to watch television in the bathroom, in their bedroom, over dinner, breakfast, lunch and at all times, I now need to rig up the rest of the house for their viewing pleasure.  I happen to know my parents’ taste in television so wherever my mum is there will be some sort of tennis match going on.  She isn’t fussy, the Moldova Open is fine as long as there is grunting and athleticism on display.  Every time I come upon her watching a match and ask who’s playing, she gives me the stats of the players right down to their favourite superhero.  Anyway.  That is neither here nor there.  Dad is a news man.  Of course, he can’t actually operate the television so we often are sitting in one room chatting only to be summoned by an extremely irate Dad wanting us to find something for him to watch. Anyhow,  8am the day after my arrival in London found me trying desperately to acclimatise to the weather and battling the school run traffic to meet with Chris, the cable guy.

He had previously been to the house for what we thought would be a routine visit and called from there talking about how he wanted the cable to come into the house via the centre of the corridor and then run a cable all along the rest of the corridor and into the living room.  This would involve running a cable around a concealed door – thus highlighting said concealed door.  I mean we might as well put fairy lights around the thing. Thank goodness he had the presence of mind to realise that this might not work and called me.  We arranged to meet so that we could discuss the options.  We met and discussed and he did what he should have thought of in the first place, and snaked the cable in through the back door.  He promised to come and set up our cable boxes etc when we move and so the appointment is for two weeks from now.  We’ll see.

Also planned from before I left, was the replacement of all the blinds.  That was one of the battles I won against the interior designer from hell. I hate curtains.  I do appreciate that we need some sort of privacy, we’re not Dutch for goodness’ sake, so we agreed upon blinds.  After the tenants left, I had them all taken down cleaned, and re-lined.  I had arranged for them to be replaced soon after my return from Greece.  The last time I had had them taken down and cleaned was during some renovations to the flat.  The guys came, took them down, and the team of decorators saw fit to fill in all the holes and make it appear as if they had never been there. It didn’t occur to me or them to mention leaving the holes, or to the decorators not to fill them in.  When it was time to put them back up, the guys came round and said, sorry we can’t do this you’ve blocked up all the holes.  After much negotiation and parting with some cash, we were able to get them back up.  This time it was the first thing I told the decorators.  Leave the holes alone.  Do NOT refill the holes.  The blinds are coming back.  I put it as a PS in every email, text and phone call I made.  The guy thought I was completely obsessed with the holes for the blinds.  So the guys did as I asked.  They didn’t touch the holes.  They decorated, and put everything back, and left the holes for the guy to come on the 13th and re-hang the blinds.  I was fairly confident that I didn’t have to be there for this part, so I told the porters that he was coming and left him to get on with it.

I get a call from the guy at about 11am.

“Hello, it’s Roger, from the blind company.”

“Hi, Roger, how’s it going?  The porters have the keys, they are expecting you.”

“I am in the flat.  I can’t re-attach the blinds because the holes are too big, and the paintwork around them is chipped.”

There was a joke there somewhere, I could feel it hovering in the back of my mind.

“What do you mean the holes are too big?  The guy who took the blinds down told me to leave the holes as they were, and I did. Any chips that are there are there because he made them.”

“Yes, it was me who took them down, but they are too big for me to just re-hang the blinds in the same holes.  I think I will have to put brackets up and then it will be easier to take them down and put them back up again in the future.”

Privately, I thought I am never touching those bloody blinds again.

“Oh, ok, so what do you want to do?”

“I’ll have to put brackets up, but I don’t have time to do that today, I will have to come back another day.  Also it will cost you a bit extra.”

I gritted my teeth.  I mean, the cleaning and re-lining had already cost me an arm and a leg.  Now he needed a kidney too?

“OK, but you need to make it happen before Wednesday.”  Wednesday was the day I had arrange to have the flat cleaned.

We made an appointment for the following Tuesday.  Here was I thinking I was so organised, having planned all this from before I left on holiday. I should have known better. 

It only got worse.

On the Monday, I went to the flat again to wait for the BT engineer.  This was something else that I had organised from before I left.  I had to be there between 1pm and 6pm.  I was hoping that they would come early because it was my niece G’s first day of school and I had wanted to stop by and see her and ask about her day.  We got there for 1pm and waited.  And waited.  We busied ourselves unpacking a few things that had gotten delivered, and tidying a bit.  It took me (no word of a lie) about 45 minutes to order a pizza on R’s iPhone.  Seriously, that piece of tech is just not for me, but at least it passed the time.

At about 5, I thought I would call BT and see if anyone was coming.  There were a few clues pointing to the fact that there might not be.  I called, from my mobile, and then waited on hold for 24 minutes.  Finally, I got someone, Rajeev, and he assured me that there was no one coming to the property today.

I lost the plot.

“Would you mind telling me why the guy I spoke to to arrange all this told me to be at the flat between 1 and 6?  And why I have been here all day waiting for you?”

“I’m terribly sorry Madam, but you have been misinformed. It is not our policy to send someone out there for setting up the router etc.”

“Damn right I’ve been misinformed.  The guy specifically told me to be here, we even had a conversation about which time slot suited me better.”

“I am very sorry for this Madam.”

“How do I go about complaining?”

“I will file a complaint under this job number.  Would you like the complaint number?”

“Sure, ok.” I wrote down the 28 digit number. “What happens now?”

“Have a nice day Madam, and sorry for any inconvenience.”

“And the complaint?”

“It has been registered. Goodbye.”  Click.  Goodbye Rajeev.

That had to be good enough.  The complaint has been registered.  No, we’re not actually going to do anything about it, but you can know that you have complained.  Congratulations. Now leave us alone.  We have more people to misinform.

If that had been it with BT, it would have been alright.  Not great, but alright.  However, whilst all this was going on, the phone line at the other flat (the one we’re in now) stopped working.  I called BT.  Or rather, I online chatted with them because I didn’t have a phone to call them on.

Sanjeev was extremely helpful.  He made me unplug and plug in all the phones.  Unscrew the phone sockets and test them and sent me 3 video links on how to do it.  All the time he kept asking me to make sure that the problem wasn’t in my house because if it was, then it would cost me £130 for an engineer visit.  I did everything he asked me to do.  Unfortunately, while I was jumping through all his hoops, we lost internet connection and so I couldn’t arrange an engineer visit.  I tried again the next day.  Same story.  The guy was friendly, but treated me as if I was a complete incompetent idiot.  The only thing he didn’t ask me was “Are you holding the phone to your ear to make sure there’s no dial tone?”

He sent me the video links, I performed the tests (again) lost connection (again) and one more day was lost.  This was infuriating.  I decided to email. The email forms require an advanced qualification as they contain so many pre-determined answers.  I mean sometimes, you want to send an email and choose your own text.  Amazingly, they didn’t have an  “I’m emailing you because all you have done up til now is treat me like I’m special and I need a working phone, not a lesson in how to hold it to my ear” predetermined heading in their drop down menu.   I sent the email and got one of those we will get back to you asap automated responses.  Finally, someone called and asked me if I have performed all the checks (yes, twice), were the phones plugged in (yes),would I like her to send me the video links (got ’em), were any of them off the hook (Oh FFS I am losing my patience). 

“I have done all the checks, I think the problem is not within the property, I need an engineer to visit please.”

“Are you aware Madam that the engineer will charge you £130 if he comes and the problem is within your property?  We have done a line check and all the evidence suggests that this is the case.”

“I am aware, I would like to book the engineer anyway.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I am sure.” I swear, it’s easier to buy a handgun than organise a visit from a BT engineer.

“Our first available slot is Tuesday between 8 and 1pm.”

“Fine, please book it.”  At this point, any date and time they had offered would have been ok, I had been trying to get an engineer for so long.  I can imagine the conversation: yes I know it’s your wedding and we have been best friends since high school, but the BT engineer said he could only do Saturday between 11am and 11pm. Sorry!

Anyway, here we are, it’s Tuesday, the guy showed up at 8am and by 10am he had left.  The phones work, it was a problem with the exchange, and not our apartment.  I feel like calling BT and asking them in my most patronising tone:

“There, was that so hard?  The phone stopped working so you sent a little man to fix it.  You see how easy that was?  Maybe next time when I call, you could refrain from asking me if I have tried pushing the buttons to dial a number, and just – I don’t know – treat me like a paying customer and not like a silly time-waster with outrageous demands.”

I won’t of course, it will take me at least an hour to get through to someone and I feel that sarcasm is not the way to get my point across.  I will go all passive-aggressive on them and just blog about it.