ImageApart from the extreme temperatures, the flat is proving to be a lovely place to live.  There is a lot of space (especially in the kitchen) and I am in seventh heaven. Having somewhere to put everything should mean that there is nothing on the surfaces, but the truth is we are what we are, and a clear surface makes me nervous.  I am all about the clutter or as I like to call it euphemistically – the ‘lived-in’ look.  So although the kitchen has loads and loads of cupboards, drawers and cubby holes, the surfaces are not completely bare and gleaming.  I mean, I still need a toaster, a kettle, a Foreman grill, a bread basket, my utensils, oils and seasonings on the surface within easy reach.  My boss at my old job used to put her toaster away after every use, which was fine for her, but I can’t imagine having to do that every day, the toaster is an on-the-surface appliance for me.

The first thing that happened to me in the new flat is a call from the fraud team for my bank. Someone was basically siphoning money out of my account.  They said they would cancel my debit card so prevent any more money being taken, and arrange for a new one to be sent asap.  OK, so far, slightly inconvenient, considering you need your debit card to do everything these days, even park your car, but if it was going to prevent more money being taken, that was ok with me.  Then the guy gave me a number and told me to call on the Monday to get the money that was missing refunded.  It was not a massive amount, not thousands of pounds or anything, but still, it was enough that it flagged up on their system.  Monday dawned, and I called the dispute line.

“Hi, my name is Maria etc etc. (security questions involving higher level problem solving and the use of all of my limited brain function).  I am calling to talk about refunding a payment that was made from my account for (let’s say) £100.”

“Right, well the payment hasn’t gone through yet, and may not, so we can’t refund it.”

“Oh, ok, so I’ll just watch my account and if the money goes through, then you can refund the money?”

“No, we can’t refund this money.  You gave the company your details, we can’t stop the payment from going through because it’s a debit card which is a guaranteed payment card, so we can’t prevent a payment from going through once it has been authorised.”

“But it hasn’t been authorised.  I had no idea these people were going to take this money. I agreed to pay considerably less.”

“Yes, but the debit card is a guaranteed payment card, so we cannot cancel payments.”

“Ok, can I cancel payment?”

“No, you can’t either. “

“Ok, but if we have cancelled the card, which we did on Saturday morning, then these people can’t continue to take money out of the account, right?”

“Well, in theory they could, but they probably won’t because now they know we are onto them, and if they charge anything else to your account, then we can get the money back off them.  We can’t refund you the money they have already taken though. If you wanted us to put a block on that company, you should have called us on Saturday.”

“But your office isn’t open on Saturday, and the guy I spoke to told me to contact you on Monday. I just don’t understand how this is possible….”

“Look.  You signed up for the product they were selling, right?” her voice slowed as if she was explaining something to a small child.


“And you only paid P&P, that was the deal?”


“So, in the small print, it said that if you haven’t returned the stuff within 14 days, you would be charged for the product.  So technically they haven’t done anything wrong.”

I paused for a moment to contemplate all of the jobs this woman would be better at.  Crisis counselling wasn’t among them.

“Except that they haven’t sent me anything. So, yes, technically, they have taken money for a service they haven’t provided.  Is that illegal, or is that ok in Bankland too?”

“No, that isn’t ok.  I can send you a ‘goods not received’ form to fill out, and then you can try and get your money refunded that way, but it’s a long process and doesn’t always work.”

Wow, this woman was on a roll.  Any moment now she was going to tell me it was safer to keep my money in a pillowcase.

“OK, send me the form, and please block any more payments for these people and I still don’t understand how payments go through even after the card has been cancelled.”

Again, the speech slowed. “Let’s say you had authorised your debit card to pay your car insurance.  Then your card gets stolen and cancelled and when the insurance company came to take the funds, the payment would be denied.  You would be driving illegally without ever knowing it.  The debit card is a promise to pay immediately, so any payments you have authorised with this card before we cancelled it will be honoured.”

Ok that made a bit more sense, but I still want my £100 back.

Anyway, it happened on Saturday, but they did send me a card which I got on Tuesday, so not too bad.

After that conversation on Monday, my mood was a bit sour.  That afternoon, I was expecting the cable guy to connect our sky box etc.  He arrived and I explained that we had put the television at the furthest point from the aerial, and he seemed to take everything in his stride.  No problem, no problem he kept saying.  I let him get on with it, he ran a cable from the TV all the way around the door frame and to the aerial point.  So far so good.  I had bought the global TV links he told me to, so that was all good too.  Just as things started to look up, he said:

“I think there’s a problem with your Sky Box.  The RF output is faulty, which ordinarily wouldn’t be a problem, but since you now need to house your Sky box elsewhere, now it is.  There are two solutions.  Firstly, you could try to get a new sky box on the strength that this one is faulty.  But you have to ask them for an old style sky box as the new ones don’t have RF outputs.  Or we can run a cable around the other half of the room and use the two aerial points in the room. “

I was a bit confused, what with the not understanding a word he was saying thing.

“I would like to try and avoid running cables all around the room if that’s possible.” I said, filtering through what I could understand.

“Ok, well then you need to call Sky, and tell them you need a sky box as your RF output is broken and you are trying to feed a couple of rooms using a Global TV Link…”

“Wait, wait, I need to write all this down, you can’t just shout it at me and expect me to remember it!”

“Right, sorry.”

Then followed 10 minutes where he told me what to say and we did a few short role play scenarios with him offering advice on what to do if they said this or that.

He hooked up the box in the room next to the TV for the moment, and said that we could still record stuff but we couldn’t watch something else while it was recording.  Fair enough, at least we have television, I was beginning to have to talk to my family for goodness’ sake.

I called Sky.  After about 5 minutes on hold, I got a woman who was clearly not in the same country or from the same country as I am.  I told her the whole story about the RF output etc etc.  She just repeated what I was saying back to me.

“I think my sky box has a faulty RF output.”

“You think your sky box has a faulty RF output?”

“I need a new box”

“You need a new box?”

It was beginning to feel like therapy.

After a while of her parroting what I was saying, she asked me for my postcode.  I told her my old postcode and my new one.

“You are not on my system, Sir.”  This is after she had been calling me Maria for the whole conversation. “Maybe give me your viewing card number.”

I went and got the viewing card number.

“You do not exist on my system, sir.  Are you sure it is a SKY box?”

I took a deep breath.  “I am sure, yes, maybe I am not on your system because I have just moved?”

“No, sir, you aren’t anywhere.  You must be mistaken.  Do you have…BEEEEEP”

We were cut off.  I called back.  Gary answered after 6 minutes.  He assured me that I was on the system, the move was all in order and my records updated.  I explained about the RF output and he seemed to understand exactly what I was talking about and was going to talk to his manager about whether I could get a new ‘old’ sky box.

“Let me just pop you on hold for a minute Maria, and I’ll get you sorted.”

After about 5 minutes of (grating, repetitive, looped) hold music, BEEEEEEEP

We were cut off.  I called again.  This time I spoke to a woman who found me on the system, and I explained that I had already been cut off twice and could she please take down my number and call me back if we were cut off again.  She took the number and assured me that she would.  I re-explained the problem and she said that an engineer would need to come round and see if he could fix the box, or otherwise I could get a new box.  I explained that the new boxes don’t have an RF output which I need.  She told me that they have an IO connection for which you can buy an adaptor which converts it into an RF output.

“Let me guess, does it cost £300 from you?”

She laughed nervously, “No Ma’am, but you can get them from Amazon for seven or eight pounds.”

“Right, ok, so you can organise an engineer?”

“Yes Ma’am, let me put you on hold.”

“Please, hold doesn’t work for you guys.  You will call if there is a problem and we get cut off, right?”

“Of course Ma’am, don’t worry.  We won’t get cut off.  I am only popping you on hold for a minute.”

Five minutes later BEEEEEEEEEP.  We’re cut off.  15 minutes after that, she hasn’t called back.

I went online and found one of those live chat people and sorted an engineer out at a cost of £65 for two weeks’ time.  So, just to quantify how efficient Sky TV are, it only took me 80 minutes on the phone and online to organise a possible solution to the problem in a fortnight.  Well-oiled machine, I’m sure you’ll agree.  I was extremely honest on the chirpy feedback thing that pinged as soon as I had finished my online chat session, but drew the line at completing it again on my phone via text a few days later.

Apart from no telly, and no credit card, I also had no phone.  My mobile phone decided to pack up, one year to the day after I bought it (do you think these things are designed to last a certain length of time?).  It is a touch screen phone, and everywhere I was pressing would press the button to the left of it.  This was fine, but if I wanted the button on the right, there was nothing doing.  Add to this the fact that the phone can only unlock if you slide your finger from left to right, and you can imagine how much joy I was getting out of my phone.  I therefore decided to order a new one.  I did some research and found out where had the cheapest one I wanted.  Then I went off to buy it.  Of course, everyone had run out of it since there was a newer one out. The phrase ‘newer phone’ to me means ‘more complicated’.  They add features that are supposed to make your life easier, and all it does is make you feel like an idiot who can’t operate her phone.  I am aware that this is making me sound like a 90 year old we-used-the-good-old-fashioned-post-in-my-day woman, but the truth is that I get extremely frustrated by technology, especially when it appears to be designed to treat you like an imbecile.

Eventually I ordered a phone online, after changing my address on the virgin website.  After I had completed all the details and paid (or so I thought) I noticed that the website hadn’t logged the changes to the address.  Great, I thought, it’s going to be delivered to the old place.  I called to make sure that they had the right address, and was informed that I hadn’t actually ordered the phone.  I ordered another one to be delivered to the new place the next day.  Thank goodness that came on time, and I was able to switch phones without too much fuss.

At least I could have a nice hot shower in my new bathroom.  Nothing like a hot shower to ease the kinks in my neck and shoulders and wash my frustrations away.  I got into the shower, turned it on, and lifted the showerhead to wash my hair.  The water trickled down the shower hose.  Maybe I hadn’t turned on the pump.  I got out, checked, the pump was on, it just wasn’t working.  No pressure in my shower, and impossible to wash my body never mind my hair.  I was this close to just sitting on the floor and howling.

I didn’t do that though, because that isn’t what independent ladies what take care of themselves do.  I called a plumber, arranged for him to come over and take a look at it the next day, and then headed off to yoga.

Yoga was exactly what the doctor ordered.  It is hard to obsess about phones, and Sky TV and credit cards and plumbing when you are trying to fold yourself into a much smaller version of yourself and not fall over at the same time.  Add to that the fact that I was simultaneously trying to  let my ears float into my eyes and towards my mula bhanda and focus on my breathing and all my worries flew away to be replaced with aching and trembling muscles.

This particular Monday? I really hate Mondays.